Theology

Hell And Mr. Fudge: The Most Important Movie Of The Year?

Hell and Mr. Fudge Movie PosterMy family and I had the honor to attend the Athens, AL pre-release screening of Hell and Mr. Fudge on June 5th, 2012. The public response to the screenings was so great that they had to add a third screening to accommodate all of the interest!

The movie was outstanding in every way. It was authentic and thought-provoking, with rich characters who draw you into their lives. My wife and our two youngest daughters all thoroughly enjoyed the movie, revealing its wide appeal.

Hell and Mr. Fudge details the life of Edward Fudge, a devoted Bible scholar, pastor, and lawyer. It focuses on Fudge’s boyhood home life, his college days, his early-married life as a pastor, and especially his exhaustive study of the Bible’s teaching on final punishment.

The audience sees Fudge’s intense Bible study, one that moves him from the traditional teaching of a hell of endless conscious torment to the view that hell is a place of complete destruction. Fudge is a prodigious, honest, humble and gracious truth seeker, who nervously but courageously stands for the truth. Edward reaches out beyond his denomination as well, showing that God’s love and grace extends to all who believe Christ’s message regardless of their church affiliation.

The masterful cinematography keeps the story very visually interesting. We move back & forth in time—from a light documentary look to a real life movie feel. Each of these transitions flow naturally, opening layers of understanding into the lives of the characters.

Fudge’s family and friends are a huge part of who he is, and the film communicates its message through these relationships. It depicts his father is as a great example to him, and his wife falls in love with Edward after hearing him speak the first time. Banter with friends adds some humor and lightness to the movie.

Executive producer Pat Arrabito opened the screening by saying that they had made this film to the glory of God. I believe they have achieved that goal. The movie honors God’s character, being filled with His love and grace for all, while showing the ability to find His truth in the Bible if we are willing to allow it to interpret itself.

Edward Fudge recently wrote: “[The movie] has a message to communicate but not an ax to grind. It conveys that message gently and with grace.”

The movie was a first-class quality Hollywood production. The Platinum Award from the Worldfest Houston International Film Festival was very well deserved. Everyone involved should be proud of their accomplishment.

This may very well be the most important movie of the year. Given the love and prayer that has gone into its message, I think it has the potential to ignite a new reformation in our day. The message of God’s love and grace with a devotion to the Scriptures will touch believers and non-believers alike.

As soon as I hear more about movie distribution or other news, I’ll be sure to post it here.

Theology

Edward Fudge’s New Book: Hell: A Final Word

Hell: A Final WordThe discussion of the afterlife has become a very popular subject. Recent books like Rob Bell’s Love Wins followed by Francis Chan’s Erasing Hell have brought this topic to the “front burner.” Believers and non-believers alike are re-evaluating their understanding of heaven and hell.

“No doubt about it … HELL is a hot topic” (p. 11). With that opening line, Edward William Fudge joins the conversation with an unparalleled mastery of this subject. In Hell: A Final Word, Fudge steps onto the stage of this discussion as a maestro–a master director. In fact, if Fudge’s scholarly, 500 page work The Fire That Consumes was like Beethoven’s 5th symphony, his latest project is like “Ode to Joy.”

With a hopeful, good-natured, and sometimes playful tone, Fudge articulates the Bible’s message. It is this: God offers eternal life to everyone, but those who reject God’s offer will be completely destroyed in hell. The Bible does not teach a hell of endless conscious torment, nor a hell of purification where everyone ends up in heaven.

The voice of the author often sounds like he has a gracious smile, and a knowing twinkle in his eye. This especially comes through when he discusses the apostle’s message in the book of Acts. Some advocates of the traditional view think that the fear of an endless hell is needed for successful evangelism or missionary work. Fudge shows that the evangelists in Acts focus on the resurrection of Christ, and never mention hell. With that knowing smile, he says: “One begins to suspect that the apostles motivated people with something better than fear” (p. 120).

Thoughout the book, Fudge weaves the events of his personal life between chapters that teach the Scriptures. We see Fudge as a child, struggling with the death of a friend. We move through his early Christian education, his masters in Biblical languages, and two other seminary opportunities. He even humbly reveals how his thinking had changed as he studied, being refined as he embraced the clear message of the Bible. He says: “What a mess I made. But as my friend Jeff Walling says, if there were no mess, we would not need a Mess-iah!” (p. 38).

Fudge’s love for the Bible and his devotion to God is evident on every page of this book. His father taught him, “If the Bible says it, it’s true, no matter what any person may say” (p. 148). His writing shows that he is faithful to his father’s teaching, and is willing to challenge both tradition and popular culture when they fail to align with the plain teaching of Scripture.

I believe this book and the movie Hell and Mr. Fudge have the potential to ignite a new reformation in our day. We are not done being “reformed.” We do not have perfect knowledge. We have strayed from the clear teaching of Scripture on this important subject and in the process, are driving people away from the One who died and rose again to save everyone. It’s time to return to the Scriptures and ask God for the message He wants us to share with the world today.

I encourage everyone to buy this book and take it to your church, small group, Bible study, or Sunday School, and discuss it together. Bring “an open Bible, and open heart, and an open mind” (p. 11). Let’s see what God will do!