What does capture the popular imagination is the drama that led to the creation of hell. Ray Griggs, a film producer in Simi Valley, Calif., is trying to raise the $160 million he says it will cost to film his trilogy on the fallen archangel Lucifer, described at www.luciferthemovie.com. An eight-minute film short won a best animation award at the 2007 Beverly Hills Film Festival.
Mr. Griggs is marketing his project as a drama about the fall of the most exalted created being in the universe, whose ambition corrupted his judgment, alienated him from other angels and caused him to foment division in heaven.
“I want to tell how he fell from pride, about the great battle in heaven, his dislike for Christ, his control over humans and his final end,” Mr. Griggs said. “But I didn’t want the stereotypical Christian film. I have made an exciting action and adventure story out of Lucifer, one that has really great biblical principles.”
This kind of backdoor approach may be one of the few ways people feel comfortable bringing up hell.
“While the church isn’t talking about hell, the very best people in the culture are,” Mr. Harmon said. “The single best depiction of hell in the 20th century is Jean Paul Sartre’s ‘No Exit.’
“In the 19th century, there was a moral revolt inside the church against the God of the Bible, so the emphasis of theology on judgment, sin, hell and the wrath of God all got thrown into question. Now when I talk about it, I ask people when [was] the last sermon you heard on hell. It is always a small number. And it’s usually the Baptists who’ve heard about it.
“But you cannot dislodge hell out of Christianity. If salvation means anything, there has to be something from which you are saved. It is a crucial part of the overall faith fabric but culturally the church has lost that.”