I've been taking on a challenge to myself since I graduated college last Spring by reading some guys I wouldn't typically read, or agree with. I'm a part of an Acts29 church, Mark Driscoll's church planting group, and wanted to educate myself on the whole "emergant" issue. I've read plenty of Driscoll, and why he left the emergant camp, plenty ABOUT those who are a part of the emerging church, but never anything those guys actually have to say (except for blogs). I started with Brian Mclaren. I just finished his trilogy on "A New Kind of Christian", and am in the middle of "Generous Orthodoxy". Now that I've been reading some of what he actually has to say, I TOTALLY UNDERSTAND THE CONTROVERSY. Now I'm not advocating Mclaren's thoughts in any way. Although I do think he has some challenging remarks for everyone, but he definitely takes things too far. My question is regarding his discussion of hell in his fiction trilogy. He states that, although fiction, much of the content displays his thought process about these issues. One of the main characters, Neil, represents the messenger of this new kind of Christian. His arguments go against a literal place of firey torment for those who don't believe in Christ. Rather, he explains that this is a construct by modernism. The character repeatedly refers to the Ancient world, saying that their talks of hell never meant a literal place of punishment. Even Jesus never intended that meaning, but rather through centuries (and modernism) it was constructed in that way for the purpose of threatening nonbelievers with something literal with the intent of them believing. I thought his argument was interesting about modernism. At one point, he explains that modernism tends to think of things as right/wrong, real/fake, etc. This is part of the process in making it a "heaven or hell" type arrangement. Now, I am not even remotely entertaining the idea of Mclaren being right. However, I'd love to hear from some guys who understand church history in a little more detail than myself about hell. Especially in the Ancient world. Mclaren repeatedly insists that never in the New Testament was hell to be taken as a literal place. In fact, he mentions many of the places where it is spoken of, and his character Neil, always has some sort of interpretation that Jesus was not focusing on a literal hell in the afterlife, but turning the focus on peoples' actions in the present. He also explains the "evolution" (his word, not mine) of hell through Augustine, Dante, Reformers, etc. Any thoughts? Let me know if I need to clarify my question.