"Hell is not filled with people who are deeply sorry for their sins"

D.A. Carson on Hell and repentance (Women’s Gospel Coalition Conference)


As it stands alone this statement does not represent a proper soteriology. I am interest in what sorrounded it. I read some in the article and it was not satisfactory. I am sure there is nore which would shed better qualifying light.

Suggest reading the linked article more thoroughly. There is plenty there.

Are you claiming that those in Hell are repentant?

Views expressed are always my own and not my employer's, my church's, my family's, my neighbors', or my pets'. The house plants have authorized me to speak for them, however, and they always agree with me.


What specifically was improper about Dr. Carson’s soteriology in this piece?

Andrew Henderson

“Deeply sorry for their sins” is not equivalent to faith in Christ. I read the article again and while there is some material which may qualify his soteriology I believe it does not correct the errant properties of this statement. Many religious people are deeply sorry for their sins while never believing on Christ. And the Gospel is not a call, even, to be deeply sorry for our sins but to understand our sin has separated us from God and Christ is the means of reconciliation/forgiveness. The anecdote of understanding our separation from God may or may not be deep sorrow but deep sorrow in itself is not the call of the gospel nor saves. I don’t imagine Carson believes otherwise and I am sure this simply was an immediately less desirable choice of words with given more consideration.

Alex, he doesn’t appear to be offering a discourse on soteriology. It’s an exposition of the story of Lazarus and the Rich Man.
Some interesting ideas there. I hadn’t noticed before the way the Rich Man continues to view himself as the center of everything and Lazarus as his servant—or at least someone he can presume to send instructions to.
Carson’s pt with these observations is that the post-death Rich Man is not a changed man. Even as he suffers the judgment, he continues to deserve it.

If there is a problem with Carson’s POV here, it might be assertion we find in Philippians 2 (and quoted/paraphrased from OT, if memory serves) that “every knee shall bow and every tongue confess” that Christ is Lord. I’d concluded that those who do not bow here will bow there, and assumed they’d mean it. But it isn’t necessary to read it that way. Perhaps they bow but do not “mean it.”
In any case, the Rich Man—at the point in time we see him in Luke 16—is not bowing yet in any sense. That’s for sure.

Views expressed are always my own and not my employer's, my church's, my family's, my neighbors', or my pets'. The house plants have authorized me to speak for them, however, and they always agree with me.

It is fallacious to argue that since one is not presenting a discourse on a doctrine that statements such a person makes cannot be measured against sound doctrine. I believe it is certainly not unreasonable to expect sound soteriology in soteriologically based declarations. Maybe you missed it but I did state since he was speaking, given more time for word choice, he would have chosen a different expression. The remainder of your post I do concur with.

This parable was not meant to be the ground on which to construct a doctrine of whether those in Hell repent. Rather, Jesus was showing that those who enjoy riches and luxury in this life, while ignoring the plight of the poor who are suffering, will themselves suffer eternal torment in eternity. While the poor and afflicted in this world, who trust in God, will be comforted in eternity.

As to whether or not the people in Hell repent- how could they not? They are burning in the lake of fire, in eternal darkness, while their rotting bodies are being eaten by worms. Then they will repent, but it will be too late.
For me, the significance of Carson’s interpretation lies in explaining why a merciful God could reject someone’s cries for help even if those cries came from hell —a point with which I always struggled in this text. Is it that our temporal death makes so much difference to an eternal God—why within time would He respond to our desperate cries for help if only to turn a deaf ear in eternity? Carson’s rendering puts that piece in place. In his paradigm, the rich man’s torment is the result of his continued lack of true repentance—not the result of some fundamental change in the nature of God.

Tim Keller has a pretty good sermon on hell http://sermons2.redeemer.com/sermons/hell-isnt-god-christianity-angry-j…] here.

He makes similar points regarding Lazarus and the rich man. One thing that terrifies me about hell is that part of God’s judgement is letting the damned continue to be evil, and that evil must grow over “time.” Think of what would happen if we as sinful individual humans lived for thousands of years on the earth. Our evil would multiply to the point where we would destroy ourselves and the planet. It is part of God’s mercy that he lets us die. It is merciful to the earth and others around us that he doesn’t let us continue in sin while on earth. The lake of fire is a terrifying prospect, but even more so to me is the prospect of growing more and and more evil. In his sermon, Keller quotes C.S. Lews -

“Christianity asserts that we are going to go on forever and that must either be true or false. Now there are a great many things that wouldn’t be worth bothering about if I was only going to live eighty years or so, but I had better bother about if I am going to go on living forever. Perhaps my bad temper or my jealousy are getting worse so gradually that the increase in my lifetime will not be very noticeable but it might be absolute hell in a million years. In fact, if Christianity is true, hell is precisely the correct technical term for it. Hell begins with a grumbling mood, always complaining, always blaming others, but you are still distinct from it. You may even criticize it in yourself and wish you could stop it. But there may come a day when you can no longer. Then there will be no you left to criticize the mood or to even enjoy it, but just the grumble itself going on and on forever like a machine. It is not a question of God ‘sending us’ to hell. In each of us there is something growing, which will BE Hell unless it is nipped in the bud.”

Carson’s points are very Lewisian. Hell is self chosen. Whatever Lewis’ foibles are regarding his view of hell, this point is salient.

Lewis’s words sound pretty, but there is no scripture to back them up. It’s just a writer’s imagination let loose…

[Alex Guggenheim] CC

I had very similar thoughts. A misuse of imaginative license.
True. And unfortunately many preachers like to quote Lewis simply because what he says sounds nice- and well, because he is C.S. Lewis, the guy who wrote the Narnia books. But we must be careful to avoid speaking or declaring something to be a certain way, where the Scriptures are silent.

All we know about Hell is what is written in Scripture.(e.g. that it is lake of fire, that the angels of God will cast Satan and his followers therein, that it will be a place of darkness, that there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth, that those in it will be separated from God, etc.) All else is just conjecture and speculation.

we must also be careful to hold our own preachers and evangelists to these same standards of interpretation if we are going to so finely evaluate Lewis and Carson. Because you really need only attend a prophecy conference at any typical ifb church to get a good dose of “imaginative license.” :~

All Christians, indeed, must have their declarations tested and cross-examined, Teachers all the way to individual believers with whom we engage and discuss the Word of God. What is at stake is the truth so I believe it is incumbent upon us all as much as possible to finely evaluate the doctrines of Teachers of the Word and when we do discover careless articulations they should not be ignored for the sake of that Teacher or any other cause which might encourage us to minimize concerns. Obviously such statements must be balanced with all relevant material from the Teacher and in this case, with Carson, I certainly do not believe that this statement he made while speaking is a flagship articulation regarding his overall or primary view of repentance. I get that, but still, its carelessness, in my view, and it does inform me in a way which I must record and keep in mind as I read and hear him teach in the future.

However, there are singular statements an otherwise orthodox Teacher may make that can place him well out of the orbit of orthodoxy in spite of all of his previous works and I have seen such theological offenses committed and either ignored or minimized by those whom I ascertained, had simply made too large an ego-investment of some sort in that Teacher where they simply could not bring themselves to admit the gravity of what was said or what now was being taught which they would normally reject in another Teacher with whom they are not as closely identified..

I do not attend prophecy conferences myself but I have heard and read material that misused imaginative license. I can think of a book series.