Rethinking Hell contributors Glenn Peoples and Graham Ware join Chris Date for the first of a series of episodes reviewing Hell Under Fire: Modern Scholarship Reinvents Eternal Punishment, edited by Christopher Morgan and Robert Peterson. This first episode in the series reviews the book’s introduction, as well as the first chapter, “Modern Theology: The Disappearance of Hell,” by Al Mohler.

 

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Daniel 12:2 and “Eternal Contempt”1

Few passages from the Old Testament are cited as evidence that hell is a place of eternal torment. Given the Old Testament’s emphasis on death and destruction, this shouldn’t surprise us. If I believed that the unsaved live forever in torment, I wouldn’t run to passages about the wicked withering and dying like grass,2 or that call for them to melt away like slugs,3 or that describe them being burned to ashes and left without root or branch at the final judgment (like Malachi 4:1-3 does) either. But one passage stands out as an exception. One passage is a commonly cited as proof of eternal torment. That passage is Daniel 12:2:

Many of those who sleep in the dust of the ground will awake, these to everlasting life, but the others to disgrace and everlasting contempt (NASB).

Basically, this passage speaks of the resurrection of both the saved and the unsaved. But aside from the fact that this does not speak of inherent immortality, it doesn’t say anything about eternal conscious existence for the damned, period.
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  1. Adapted From The Bible Teaches Annihilationism by Joseph Dear, Section XX. []
  2. Psalm 37:2. []
  3. Psalm 58:8. []
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Several members of the Rethinking Hell team gather to celebrate one hundred episodes of the Rethinking Hell podcast! Peter Berthelsen, Darren Clark, Mark Corbett, Chris Date, Joey Dear, Peter Grice, Glenn Peoples, Nick Quient, Christopher Ray, Daniel Sinclair, William Tanksley, and Graham Ware chat about the systematic implications of conditional immortality, the recent conference in Auckland, upcoming conference and ministry plans, and more! Also featuring words of appreciation and questions from you, the listening audience!

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In my plenary presentation at the 2015 Rethinking Hell conference, I lamented the fact that many “pastors, professors, apologists, authors, and radio show personalities feel comfortable writing, speaking, and teaching about the motives, errors, and dangerous teachings of conditionalists and universalists, all the while largely ignorant of what it is they actually think and argue.”1 A case in point is Eric Davis, Teaching Pastor of Cornerstone Church in Jackson Hole, WY. In his recent article at The Cripplegate, repackaged as a slideshow by Crosswalk.com, Davis purports to be “analyzing annihilationism” and “demonstrating that it is biblically untenable.”2

A close look at his article reveals that, rather than analyzing annihilationism, Davis is scrutinizing a straw man. Meanwhile, his case for the doctrine of eternal torment and against annihilationism simply does not hold up when the burning eye of scrutiny is turned back upon it. Continue reading

  1. Chris Date, “A Seat at the Table: An Appeal for Dialogue and Fellowship,” [presentation] 2015 Rethinking Hell conference, Pasadena, CA, June 18, 2015, https://youtu.be/qdTc-EQ1XPY (accessed July 26, 2017). []
  2. Eric Davis, “Analyzing Annihilationism: Will Those in Hell Cease to Exist?” The Cripplegate [blog], posted June 22, 2017, http://thecripplegate.com/analyzing-annihilationism/ (accessed July 26, 2017); repackaged as “9 Points That Argue the Eternality of Hell,” Crosswalk.com, http://www.crosswalk.com/slideshows/9-points-that-argue-the-eternality-of-hell.html (accessed July 26, 2017). []
Criticisms 4 Comments

I thank God for John Piper and the work God has done and continues to do through him. I have been one of many to benefit from Piper’s books, sermons, and articles. I was blessed with the opportunity to serve the Lord in the world’s largest Muslim nation for fourteen years. During those years my coworkers and I were often encouraged and strengthened to continue in a very difficult ministry by things Piper wrote or said. And just last night, not knowing that I would be writing this article this morning, I used an article of Piper as part of a Bible study at the church where I serve.1 And if I had known that I would be writing this article this morning, I still would not have hesitated to use Piper’s article last night.

Having said all that, I believe that Piper is simply wrong about the nature of hell and the fate of the unrighteous. A good, godly man who God uses mightily can occasionally be just plain wrong. An excerpt from a message he gave on the topic of Hell was just posted this morning at the Desiring God website.2 I won’t be quoting every word of Piper’s article, so I encourage you to read it for yourself, it’s not long. Continue reading

  1. John Piper, “Biopsy Blows and the Helmet of Hope,” Desiring God, July 28, 2009, accessed July 20, 2017, http://www.desiringgod.org/articles/biopsy-blows-and-the-helmet-of-hope. []
  2. John Piper, “Unforgiven: The Eternal Tragedy of the Lost,” Desiring God, July 20, 2017, accessed July 20, 2017, http://www.desiringgod.org/messages/gods-wrath-vengeance-is-mine-i-will-repay-says-the-lord/excerpts/unforgiven-the-eternal-tragedy-of-the-lost. []
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The book of Malachi is not only one of the last (if not the last) books of the Old Testament written, but it is also the last book most of see in our Old Testaments.1 Therefore, it is all the more appropriate that the final chapter speaks of the final end of history. As far as the fate of the finally unrepentant goes, Malachi’s God-breathed prediction leaves little to the imagination.

For behold, the day is coming, burning like a furnace; and all the arrogant and every evildoer will be chaff; and the day that is coming will set them ablaze,” says the LORD of hosts, “so that it will leave them neither root nor branch. But for you who fear My name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings; and you will go forth and skip about like calves from the stall. You will tread down the wicked, for they will be ashes under the soles of your feet on the day (Malachi 4.1-3, NASB).

You can see why annihilationists might point to this passage. God will destroy the wicked. He will set them on fire like chaff, and no remnant of them will remain. Then He says that they will be like ashes under the feet of the wicked. Whether plain and literal or highly symbolic, how much clearer could the picture of final destruction (i.e. annihilation) possibly be?2
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  1. This is true for both Protestant and Catholic Bibles, as typically arranged. []
  2. Portions of this article are adapted from The Bible Teaches Annihilationism by Joseph Dear, Section XXXIX. []
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