It was one year ago today, on April 15, 2014, that our book, Rethinking Hell: Readings in Evangelical Conditionalism, was released by Cascade Books.* We thought that we would take a moment to honor this anniversary with a post reflecting on the process of publication, pointing out some responses to the book, and finally, sharing a special 50% DISCOUNT offer on obtaining this volume directly from us (see end of post for info).
Hell is on a lot of people’s radars these days. We here are obviously not the only ones rethinking hell. Rob Bell’s Love Wins brought the discussion to the popular level. Love it or hate it, Love Wins got people talking.
Another, more recent book has many talking again. Joshua Ryan Butler (pastor of local and global outreach at Imago Dei Community in Portland) has recently published The Skeletons in God’s Closet: The Mercy of Hell, the Surprise of Judgment, the Hope of Holy War. The book covers more than just the doctrine of hell/final punishment, but for our purposes, I will only address the first part, in which Butler examines the topic of hell (look for responses to parts 2 & 3 on my own blog). Joshua was kind enough to supply me with a free copy to review (two, in fact. One will be given away through my own blog, so stay tuned if you want to dive into this yourself). After two attempts to get the book to me and over a month of frustration, it finally arrived. Continue reading
I want to apologize straightaway for capitalizing on the baffling, yet wearisome global conversation happening around the color of a dress that was buzzing on the web last night (and if you’re reading this months later, I apologize for referencing something that has long been relegated to the dustbin of internet disinterest), but I think that the experience of cognitive dissonance (and indeed questioning of objective reality!) between those people who perceive a white & gold dress and those who obviously see the fabric as blue and black is analogous to what many of us at the Rethinking Hell project have experienced.
I tried (and may have failed) to explain this in my Preface to our book, Rethinking Hell: Readings in Evangelical Conditionalism, but my own obsessive interest in studying the topic of hell (which, I mean, why would ANYONE make this an object of 20 years of study??) comes from a very similar experience to those who see different colors in the dress. How can we be looking at the same thing, but see something completely different? Continue reading
For some people, the concept of hell as a state of eternal torment is so central to their faith and their portrait of God that giving it up would mean giving up the faith altogether: giving up the authority of Jesus; giving up, in principle, the authority of Scripture; discarding the testimony of the church; and ultimately denying the gospel. This is the stance Tim Challies takes, somberly telling his readers that “If I am going to give up hell, I am going to give up the gospel and replace it with a new one.” Of course, by “hell,” he means eternal torment, not the biblical picture of final judgement and the loss of life and being forever.
Setting aside more popularist visions of hell like that of Challies and turning to the biblical account of life, death, judgment, and eternity, we could ask a similar question: If we were to give up the biblical position of immortality and eternal life found in Christ alone and to instead embrace the doctrine of eternal torment, what would we have to give up? What would be the cost of embracing the traditional view instead of the biblical one?
On the January 3, 2015 episode of the Unbelievable? radio show with Justin Brierley, our very own Chris Date debated Dr. Albert Mohler on the topic of conditionalism. In episode #65 of the Rethinking Hell podcast, Chris was joined by Rethinking Hell contributors Daniel Sinclair and Peter Grice for a debate debrief. Here’s the fascinating remainder of their discussion.