Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life. (Joh 8:12)
Chuck and Nancy Missler of Koinonia House ministries have found themselves having to respond to criticism regarding their take on the Outer Darkness mentioned three time in the book of Matthew. They have contended in the past that it is not representative of the condemnation, or the eternal state of those without Christ Jesus, the Lord. In an attempt to understand why they would take this view perhaps something can be learned from their reasoning. The Misslers seem to have inherited the fallacy of false dilemma on the topic from Charles Stanley; whom they reference among a few others holding the same interpretation. All of them proceed to their position by first discounting Outer Darkness as a representation of hell. Yet, the fact that the Outer Darkness is not a description of hell does not necessarily mean it must apply to something other than complete separation from God and Christ for all eternity. The Lake of Fire is not a description of hell either, but that does not mean people don’t end up there, or that it is not a place of eternal torment for those who reject Christ in this life (Rev 20:15).
Expositors are prone to error when they attempt to assign a stationary or geographic location to something that is only representative of a state of existence; just as they are likely to error by treating as permanent a location that is only temporary. Outer Darkness is representative of the condemnation, and is the state of damnation; and even hell is a temporary abode which, after fulfilling its purpose, will itself be cast into the Lake of Fire (Rev 20:14).
In their latest installment,1 the Misslers contend that the Outer Darkness is “a place of restoration, renewal and reinstruction in the ways of the Lord” in the millennial kingdom.2 They claim it is a place for saints who will go to heaven, but who aren’t quite ready to be there, or are not fit to hold down a job in the millennial kingdom until they are “reestablished in holiness” by spending time in Outer Darkness.3 For a proof they reference the processes of chastening and scourging we undergo here on earth as sons, and which are means our heavenly father uses to perfect us. This is true to scripture, but there is no scriptural support for the continuing of this refinement process once we are in our glorified bodies (1John 3:2).
There is, however, scripture that refutes it: “But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away…. For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known” (1Cor 13:10, 12). When we see our Lord, we will no longer be encumbered by flesh, and the hindrances of our fallen natures will be removed; our minds will then perfect, and we will be perfect in our knowledge of God, and his plans and purposes throughout the ages. Again the Bible tells us: “Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is” (1Jn 3:2). The entire transformation takes less than the twinkling of an eye. There will be no need for remedial classes in heaven, or the millennial kingdom, for resurrected or translated saints.
The Misslers would do well to jettison this misinterpretation and absorb any costs to their ministry now while such are easier to be borne. If they continue to argue for it, they will come to find themselves arguing that the very wicked generation Christ condemned for rejecting Him is yet to be found in a rehabilitation center in the millennial kingdom. They will not be there.
When the Pharisees questioned Christ’s authority (Mat 21:23) they were rejecting Him (Mat 21:42). Christ then responded to their rejection by directing three parables to the Pharisees with each one becoming more exacting in its severity until the final point was driven home. In the first, they are superseded in their entrance to the kingdom by those outside their religious order (Mat 21:28-31). In the second, they are supplanted in their title to the kingdom by a new nation of saved Jews and Gentiles (Mat 21:33-43). In the third, they are finally sentenced to an eternal destiny outside the kingdom (Mat 22:2-13). If any doubts were to remain as to their damnation, Christ made it clear in his pronouncement of the eight woes following the three parables (Mat 23:13-39).
In the eighth woe Christ pronounced on the Pharisees He made it clear that they were representative of all who rejected God in the history of humanity, past, present, and future; and as a composite “generation” none of them would escape the “damnation of hell” (Mat 23:22). Earlier in the third of the three parable to the Pharisees, Christ made it clear that this damnation was in effect being bound “hand and foot” in their sins for all eternity (Mat 22:13), and being cast into “outer darkness” where “there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Mat 22:13). Those Pharisees, and everyone else of their wicked generation, will not inhabit heaven, nor the millennial kingdom of Christ.
The Outer Darkness is representative of final and eternal separation from God and Christ, the “light of the world” (John 8:12). It is regrettable that the both Charles Stanley and the Misslers are in error on this point. While the Misslers take pains to separate their doctrine from that of the Catholic purgatory,4 and deny that weeping and gnashing of teeth denotes punishment,5 they nonetheless portray by it the same place in Greek mythology known as the Elysian Fields.5 These, and their precursor from Egyptian mythology’s Reed Fields, gave rise the that doctrine of purgatory, and the idea of second chances after death for the lost and unrepentant.
1 – 5. Koinonia House, “The Kingdom, Power, and Glory: How Secure Is our Salvation?” Personal Update: The News Journal of Koinonia House 20, no. 1 (2010) 31.
5. Ibid, 32.
6. The Greeks borrowed from the Egyptians’ Reed Fields in composing their Elysium where souls who survived journeys of purification through the fields were able to spend eternity in happy circumstances. Several variations of this exist in literature. Originally, only the mortal relatives of the king of the gods made it to Elysium and a blessed after life, and later lessor souls were portrayed making a frightful journey of to an area of remorse and suffering, but heroes and the virtuous fared better.