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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It is often the case when discussing matters of eschatology that a variety of terms will be used to argue for one’s position. Subtle nuances drive the need for additional terms, and our position of conditional immortality (“conditionalism”) is no exception. The primary reason that we prefer that term over “annihilationism” is that the study of eschatology involves much more than a narrow focus on what happens to the risen lost. While it is certainly true that the majority of our effort is often spent arguing for the annihilation of the risen lost, that’s not the full scope of what conditional immortality is.

With that in mind, I would like to offer a biblical case for the compatibility of conditionalism and what is often called “new creation” (NC) theology. For my purposes here, I will define that as the belief that the new heavens and new earth mentioned in Isaiah, 2 Peter and Revelation refers not to some other plane of existence where we will dwell after this world is destroyed, but rather to this world fully redeemed (even if possibly recreated), in which risen humanity will dwell with God, enveloped by His glorious, manifest presence—the final realization of God’s purposes for creation.
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This year’s Rethinking Hell Conference is in Auckland, New Zealand, on July 15th. There’s only a few more weeks to go—we look forward to seeing you there!

As we explore our theme, “Conditional Immortality: The Unfinished Business of the Reformation,” we’ll hear from a number of exciting speakers, including Rethinking Hell‘s own Chris Date! Joining him will be our Australian and New Zealand speakers, including well-known philosopher-theologians Dr. Matthew Flannagan and Dr. Glenn Peoples. Matthew teaches philosophy and theology at St. Peter’s College, Auckland, and his areas of expertise include Philosophy of Religion, and the field of Old Testament Ethics, about which he has co-authored a number of popular books with others such as Paul Copan and William Lane Craig. Glenn’s areas of expertise include Christology, religion in the public square, ethics, and the doctrine of hell. His writings in these areas are available in various books and journals (including our own two books), and also, together with social commentary, at his website, Right Reason.

Rev. Ian Packer is a Baptist minister and lecturer in Theology and Ethics at Morling College in Sydney, Australia. Previously, he served as Director of Public Theology at the Australian Evangelical Alliance, Assistant Director of the EA’s Centre for Christianity and Society, and as part of the Theological Commission of the World Evangelical Alliance. Ian will be speaking to us about hell and conditionalism through the lens of public theology and ethics, drawing on his knowledge of evangelicalism in the region and around the world.

We’re also very excited to hear from Rev. Dr. David Powys, a Bible Scholar and Anglican minister at St. John’s in Melbourne, Australia. David’s academic work on Hell has been recommended by J.I. Packer and others, and his monograph, “Hell: A Hard Look at a Hard Question: The Fate of the Unrighteous in New Testament Thought” is recommended reading for serious students of the topic.

 

Time is running out to grab your tickets!
You can grab them now from the conference website.

 

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The story of Lazarus and the Rich Man (Luke 16:19–31) is often one of the first to be mentioned as giving explicit details on the nature and geography of hell. Upon closer examination, these assumptions prove to be lacking and evidence pulls us in another direction. Jesus told this story as a condemnation against the Pharisees, after a prolonged controversy with them regarding the rich and poor. This will be shown by analyzing the context of the story within the gospel of Luke, as well as the cultural and sociological context. Also, the parabolic genre of this story will be considered against the background of extra-biblical parallels of Jesus’ time, which will further reveal its authorial intent.

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Biblical Exegesis Guest Contributions 9 Comments

 

There was a popular awareness test video from when I was in college that I think can be very illustrative of an important point to remember when reading the scriptures. And this lesson is not only relevant when studying what the Bible says about final judgment. Rather, it is something believers should always remember.

Here’s the video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ahg6qcgoay4

I do definitely encourage you to watch the above video if the link is still active. It’s short and humorous and it helps get the point across. Continue reading

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