I normally don’t post links such as this on this blog (it is a content blog, not a news blog), but due to our obsessive-compulsive excitement about release of The Discipleship Program tomorrow (yes, I did say “the”), I have not had much time to get stuff up here on the blog. Therefore, I point you to my friend Trevin Wax (author of Counterfeit Gospels), as he put together a wonderful post in response to N.T. Wright on hell.

See here.

The whole post is worth the read, but this stood out to me the most:

“Perhaps the caricature of “God as capricious monster” exists out there, somewhere. But I have yet to run across non-Christians who conceive of God this way. In my conversations with non-Christians, I am more likely to hear them articulate a vision of God that is held captive to Western notions of “love” (sentimentalism) and “fairness.” I don’t run across many people who are afraid of hell or final judgment. Instead, I see people who resemble those in Noah’s day, eating and drinking and marrying without any sense that judgment is coming.”

Out of this world, Trevin. Thanks.

C Michael Patton
C Michael Patton

C. Michael Patton is the primary contributor to the Parchment and Pen/Credo House Blog. He has been in ministry for nearly twenty years as a pastor, author, speaker, and blogger. Th.M. Dallas Theological Seminary (2001), president of Credo House Ministries and Credo Courses, author of Now that I'm a Christian (Crossway, 2014) Increase My Faith (Credo House, 2011), and The Theology Program (Reclaiming the Mind Ministries, 2001-2006), host of Theology Unplugged, and primary blogger here at Parchment and Pen. But, most importantly, husband to a beautiful wife and father to four awesome children. Michael is available for speaking engagements. Find him everywhere: Find him everywhere

    18 replies to "Trevin Wax’s Response to N.T. Wright: Do People Really Believe that God is a Monster?"

    • Phil Wood

      I don’t know whether the cultural difference has anything to do with it but I do come across people like that in the UK. I remember one young homeless woman with an abusive father that had a similar picture of God. I’ve done quite a lot of musing around this one. Here’s one example: http://radref.blogspot.com/search/label/Canaanites

      Shalom, phil

    • phantom

      Agreed with most of the post, but I definitely DO think there is a growing number of people who portray God as a moral monster. Guys like Dawkins and the growing movement of militant atheists, especially in my generation. Certainly there are a lot of nominal/cultural Christians, agnostics, and non-quite-orthodox Chirstians out there who downplay God’s judgment; at the same time, there is a growing group of people who are attacking the character of the Christian God. I think both are problems that should be addressed and not downplayed.

    • Lee

      I know! A God of love and fairness, the inhumanity!!

    • Michael T.

      I disagree with the assertion that atheists don’t see God as a arbitrary and capricious moral monster. Having spent some time in the reasonablefaith forums (William Lane Craigs site) as well as a number of other forums where I have interacted with atheists I come across this idea all the time. I would go so far as to say that just about every extended discussion I have had with an atheist has at least touched on God as a moral monster.

    • Dave Z

      “Perhaps the caricature of “God as capricious monster” exists out there, somewhere.

      I find that statement surprising in light of the prominence and book sales of the “New Atheists.”

    • Susan

      Excellent response to Wright. I’ve seen him speak of hell on a youtube clip and he made it sound like hell is the experience of the consequences of our sins and that happens here and now. He seemed to blur the lines between now and after the final judgement and he does this with heaven as well (Surprised by Hope).
      His snide comments about American evangelicals are typical. This statement: “the most prosperous affluent nation on earth is really determined to be sure that they know precisely who is going to be frying in hell and what the temperature will be ” is a typical mocking, over-statement by Wright which functions as a pot-shot against those who would be concerned about the true nature of Hell…apparently his way of downplaying the whole topic.

      That said I LOVE Trevin’s response. His conclusions are great! Hopefully, if we are properly acquainted with the Biblical Hell it will MOVE us to share the true gospel with whomever God should bring our way.

    • A.M. Mallett

      I have encountered the monstrosity caricature of God innumerable times on the part of non-believers. Pointing to the slaughters of whole tribes and an eternal burning hell is a frequent theme among many who fight against the LORD. Hope onto a progressive liberal combox discussion and start chatting about a loving God and see what the results entail.

    • Ed Kratz

      I do think that there are a limited number of outspoken atheists and antagonists to traditional Christianity who are bringing up the “moral monster” thing.

      However, I think that Trevin makes a good point that the majority of nominal Christianity in Evangelicalism and pop-culture are far in the other direction, not understanding the righteousness of God and opting for a God without wrath and man without sin.

    • A.M. Mallett

      Br Patton,
      I agree with that sentiment but keep in mind that as soon as the God of the Bible is presented along with our sinfulness and need for redemption, the can of ugly comes out rather quickly.

    • Susan

      So be it, A.M., there’s no other way to present Him….and if we are willing to do so we might often be surprised by the longing of people’s hearts to be released of their guilt and shame….their readiness to hear about the One who loves them so much He was willing to die in their place. We are so often fearful of reprisal at the mention of sin and Hell, but that perhaps reflects our own lack of faith or trust in God. He is on our side when we faithfully present the whole truth. His Spirit works with us. Whom to we have to fear?

    • A.M. Mallett

      I was not arguing against the presentation of the truths of scripture. I was instead pointing out that when these truths are presented, the monstrosity caricature of God reveals itself quite frequently contrary to the assertion that it is uncommon.

    • Susan

      Perhaps with some, but I have never experienced that response at all.

    • rick


      Nothing really to see here.

      N.T. Wright believes in hell, he just tries to make it fit into his attempt at a faithful understanding of the scriptures. Some people disagree with that, others agree.

      Some American evangelicals seemed pretty obsessed with trying to figure out who is in hell and who is not. Some don’t pay it much attention.

      Wright probably over spoke when he said we were all hyper concerned about the topic.

      What he should have said is that a lot American evangelicals really don’t like Rob Bell. Because in the end, the entire Bell dust up had so very little to do about hell, and a lot to do with Bell.

      While I don’t agree with Wax all that much, at least he has the common courtesy to critique Wright honestly and fairly… something that still many folks haven’t done with Bell. I wish more bloggers were as gentlemanly and Christian like as Wax.

    • george57

      george57,,,hi,lets get things in order,on nt wright, we seem in the christian world to give large platforms to false teachers who want to change bible doctrine .evangelicals ,most of us just study the word, then get the gospel out, now we know the gospel, believe in christ,,dont question jesus like your Rob Bell,the word tells us where they end up and what fruit is on there tree, they work for the devil, Some don’t pay it much attention others who give them a platform to tell lies and half-truths to confuse the weak , its like we are asleep in hearing lies lies and more lies with very little bible doctrine to back up most of it, nt wright agenda is to lead the christians back to rome and the pope, works salvation, calvin, and the reformers got it wrong ,yes it was a big mis-understanding the popes were always true and honest, brothers and sisters in christ nt wright and Rob Bell types are calling war on truth, we must not let them get too close or we might get damaged bigtime,,bless

    • A. M. Mallett

      Which of Wrights books have you read and what was it about it or them that gives you cause to label him a false teacher?

    • george57

      Mat 24:11 And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many.

    • Lyndon Unger

      In my experience, I find that the people with the “God is a monster” caricature are all ex-professing believers. Every aggressive atheist I’ve ever read or met has some serious connections with Christianity somewhere in their past.

      Every atheist I’ve ever met who doesn’t have a history with the Christian church (i.e. never went to church at ALL), thinks more of God as “love” or “peace” or something esoteric.

      I have theories as to why, but I’m just offering the observation.

    • Michael T.

      Which of Wrights books have you read and what was it about it or them that gives you cause to label him a false teacher?”

      “Mat 24:11 And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many.”

      This has to be the single greatest example of a non-response I’ve seen this year – and I spend most my online time debating atheists!!! It is hard to take someone seriously when they can’t give a proper response or write using English in a manner that is comprehensible (referring to his first post).

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