Feb. 17, 2019

Hot Topic

Subjects with negative connotations may not get prime ratings especially with those set on keeping positive. Here is a story which may contradict what you thought you knew. Even more than "getting it right" about the destiny of the wicked is the principle of learning from every situation in which we find ourselves. Not often do we find ourselves watching a movie or listening to a speech about hell on a Saturday night as a way to prepare for a Sunday morning gathering where hell used to be so popular with career pulpit ministers eager to build "church membership".

I attended Athens Bible School for three years while about two or three grades behind the controversial main character in the movie, "Hell and Mr. Fudge". The movie was made about Edward Fudge, son of one of the founders of the private school, Bennie Lee Fudge. During my third year of college, I took sales training with Bennie Lee in his book store. Once graduating in 1969 my first profession as a school teacher near Athens where I had the opportunity to hear Edward make talks for the first time on faith from the book of Hebrews and a series on the four accounts of the gospel. Never had I heard a young man with such knowledge deliver lessons so simply and with ease. Quite impressive!

Edward was approached sometime later by a curious student who had become perplexed about the nature of God...Would a loving God allow or consign some of His created people to consciously suffer excruciating pain in a burning fire without end...trillions of trillions of years? After about a day spent with skeptical Edward the inquisitive stranger finally made a breakthrough. He hired Edward, as a brilliant student of the original biblical languages to go to the original text in as much as possible to see what God said about the subject of the future of the wicked. Edward began to discover truths he had never realized and resolved to write a book on the subject. 

The Fire That Consumes (1982) was the result.  I promote "Hell and Mr. Fudge" not so much to convince others to change their minds on their views but for encouraging open-mindedness in accepting the truth even if it contradicts our hardened and cherished preconceptions. I keep a few copies to distribute and one to share with others willing to sit for about an hour-and-a-half of enjoyable and enlighting association with them and enjoy filling in some of the details they may not pick up on. This is one of the best opportunities to determine whether or not one is really open to truth or bound to the familiar.

The Fire That Consumes, which became available in 1982 was written on a scholarly level and impressed numerous theologians who also had never really delved into the subject so intently, fervently and deeply. Some held to the traditional beliefs while others accepted Edward's newly-discovered findings. Later another edition was published for the average reader. Scholars had also simply accepted the "common orthodox beliefs" of ingrained tradition almost without serious question until Edward's discovery rocked their world. 

Edward had turned the religious world on its head with his discovery and renewed the debate on the nature of a loving God and how His justice will eventually be served. The movie is entertaining and fast-moving as well as informative and well worth the time spent watching it. Edward's part is played by MacKenzie Astin, son of John and Patty Duke Astin.