(Photo: The Christian Post / Hudson Tsuei)
Countering false prophet Harold Camping, one Baptist professor says hell is a crucial part of God's final judgment on earth. Camping, according to Craig Blaising, executive vice president and provost of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, is wrong in deleting hell from the picture of the last days.
"[The final] judgment culminates in the judgment of hell for the unsaved," Blaising said.
For those who question the existence of hell, Blaising says there are extensive teachings in the Bible declaring it as a physical and spiritual end for non-believers.
The scriptures, he told The Christian Post, also established hell as a key part of God's final judgment after the millennial reign of Jesus Christ.
He refuted Camping's notion that death ends life as we know it for unbelieving humans beings. Just like Christians, the souls of non-Christians will live on eternally, but in different places. The Christian soul lives eternally in heaven while the non-believing soul will live eternally in hell he maintained.
Without hell, said the theologian, there is no heaven. "The final judgment, which is the judgment of hell ... makes possible the final state of the everlasting kingdom of God," he underscored.
Camping rejected the existence of hell in a Monday broadcast, explaining his May 21 Judgment Day prediction that failed to materialize.
Before the broadcast, Camping falsely proclaimed that the rapture would take place on May 21. Before his theory was disproven, several of his followers began quitting their jobs and spending their money in anticipation they would soon be taken to heaven. Even non-believers were shaken by the prediction – a mother tried to kill herself and her two children. A 14-year-old Russian girl was also reportedly so frightened by the prediction that she committed suicide.
Rather than apologizing for his failed doomsday prediction Monday, Camping insisted that on Saturday Judgment Day did come but spiritually, rather than physically. And he adjusted his prediction to say that the rapture and the apocalypse will all happen on the same day – October 21, 2011. He also revealed a little more about his beliefs with viewers.
He proclaimed that there is no hell because "God is a loving and compassionate and merciful God." Camping quoted Romans 6:23 to state that once you're dead, you're dead. Subsequently, he believes whoever is left behind on Oct. 21 will be destroyed by the end of the world.
“There will be shaming of those that are left behind or those who died … but they would not have any conscious existence,” he stated.
Blaising explained that hell exists because God is good. "If God is good, there has to be a hell because His judgment requires that evil be punished," he described.
God's natural disposition to abide in goodness and punish evil is also the reason there will be a time of final judgment upon the world, he said.
The Southern Baptist went on to note that the great tribulation – the seven year period of hardships such as famine, war and natural disasters following the rapture of the church into heaven – is an earthly manifestation of God’s judgment. Still, "that [judgment] does not reach its finality 'til there is judgment in hell."
Essentially, one cannot affirm one without the other.
Camping's insistence that there is a day of judgment but no hell is confirmation that he is a false prophet, Blaising contended. Camping is denying the truth of the Bible, he concluded.
Following the pattern of false prophets such as Edgar Whisenant who predicted the rapture would occur in 1988, Camping hasn't made just one wrong prediction but several. And according to Blaising, the Bible teaches that a true prophet cannot be wrong.