February 2, 2009

Fire And Brimstone preaching

Fire and brimstone is a term used, sometimes pejoratively, to describe a motif in Christian preaching which uses vivid descriptions of judgment, and the damnation to Hell of sinners forever to encourage repentance out of fear of divine wrath and punishment.
Puritan preacher Thomas Vincent (an eyewitness of the Great Fire of London) authored a book called "Fire and Brimstone in Hell", first published in 1670. In it he quotes from Psalm 11:6 "Upon the wicked he shall rain snares, fire and brimstone, and a horrible tempest, this shall be the portion of their cup."
Preachers such as Jonathan Edwards and George Whitefield were referred to as "fire and brimstone preachers" during the Great Awakening of the 1730s and 1740s. Edwards' "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God" remains among the best-known sermons from this period. Reports of one occasion when Edwards preached it said that many of the audience burst out weeping, and others cried out in anguish or even fainted. One member of his congregation, Joseph Hawley, slit his throat after listening to it.
Today, preaching in more conservative branches of Christianity, such as many
Baptist, Nazarene, Pentecostal, Restoration Movement and Church of Christ churches, may be described as "fire and brimstone" in style. In contrast, such styles would be out of place in quietist traditions, such as the Society of Friends (or Quakers). The term "fire and brimstone" is more often used in current language to stereotype fervent preachers (though such few preachers would label themselves that way). -from Wikipedia

Edwards preached: "The God that holds you over the pit of hell, much as one holds a spider, or some loathsome insect, over the fire, abhors you, and is dreadfully provoked; his wrath towards you burns like fire; he looks upon you as worthy of nothing else, but to be cast into the fire; he is of purer eyes than to bear to have you in his sight; you are ten thousand times so abominable in his eyes as the most hateful venomous serpent is in ours."

I am not appealing for a modern gospel of love in which we follow a Christ who provided an example for us to follow our own path of righteousness. I believe in substitutionary atonement. God laid on Christ our sins and he bore the awful wrath for us. Edwards lost sight of that in his effort to bring about reformation of the youth he cared for. Edwards and Whitefield sought evangelistic results in Arminian style through compromising their Calvinism.

Fire and brimstone sermons are products of Arminian-like theologies. Calvinist who seek to compromise limited atonement and irresistible grace are proponents of fear sermons that fail to consider the substitutionary atonement. The preacher is insisting that the sinner's sins are not atoned until a decision by the sinner is made. This annuls the words of Christ from the cross, "It is finished!"


Anonymous said...

Is it getting too hot for you? All this Fire and Brimstone talk and you being the closet homo. One picture is worth a thousand words. Right? You would be surprised at how many people have hidden cameras. Have you been some place you shouldn't have been? I know the truth. Your friends don't

Anonymous said...

You know full well you won't cut anyone off because you crave the attention too much. After all you are the one going all over the web advertising your website on other people's blogs as if you have something important to say. If you cut off anonymous comments you won't have anyone commenting except you and your pretend buddy.

WatchingHISstory said...


Are you a believer? Where do you attend Church?

What is your interest in my blog?

Can we dialogue?

Anonymous said...

Are we begging? That is so unattractive. What I believe in is none of your business. According to your beliefs, either I am one of them or I am not. Now you go figure which one I am.