Exegesis Interrupted: A Critique of Stand To Reason’s Article “Hell Interrupted, Part 2”

Darren J. Clark

I consider myself an exegete. For seven or so years last decade during my dual degrees at Malyon College–a Baptist seminary in Brisbane, Australia–I developed a passion for biblical hermeneutics and exegesis that remains with me today.1 At the start of each semester, I would make sure I could fit every single exegetical subject into my schedule. I became capable enough in this area to be employed by the college as their first study skills tutor, a role in which I was responsible for teaching new students hermeneutical and exegetical principles. I point all this out simply to show that I am in a position to recognize when these principles may be incorrectly applied, or not even applied at all. Continue reading “Exegesis Interrupted: A Critique of Stand To Reason’s Article “Hell Interrupted, Part 2””

  1.  In this article the term hermeneutics refers to those principles one employs when interpreting and applying a text. Exegesis is the process of applying hermeneutical principles to properly read meaning out of a text. Eisegesis is the hermeneutical sin of reading meaning into a text. []

Episode 114: “An Unquenchable Doctrine”: Chris Date on the Recent History of Conditional Immortality

Rethinking Hell contributor Chris Date recently presented a paper at Lloyd Strickland’s and Andrew Crome’s conference, “Imagining the Last Things: Eschatology and Apocalypticism, 1500-Present.” Chris’s paper, “An Unquenchable Doctrine: The Tenacity of Conditional Immortality in Recent History,” outlines the history of conditionalism since the Reformation and its increasing popularity despite attempts by traditionalists to stamp it out, and the evolution of the doctrine of eternal torment into something much more moderate than would be recognizable to Christians of the past.

Continue reading “Episode 114: “An Unquenchable Doctrine”: Chris Date on the Recent History of Conditional Immortality”

The Many and Varied Problems with the Modern, Metaphorical View of Eternal Conscious Hell

One always unpleasant but ultimately necessary task that comes into play when discussing the nature of final punishment is digging into the specifics. Historically, Christian writers have not shied away from expounding on hell beyond just the basic question of whether hell is a place of eternal torment, annihilation, or temporary discipline that that leads to universal salvation. And this is the case today as much as ever, as more and more who hold the traditional view expound upon the specifics of it in a way that I argue makes it increasingly untenable (and less traditional).

Increasingly among evangelicals (though not only among evangelicals), hell is seen not as a place of eternal conscious burning, of the unsaved being tormented by fire and manifestations of God’s wrath, but as a place where the chief element of the suffering is sadness from being separated from God. The fire is seen as a metaphor. The torment is described as emotional and spiritual, not physical torture inflicted by God or his agents. An attempt is made to depart from the common pop culture trope of the eternal torture chamber.


Continue reading “The Many and Varied Problems with the Modern, Metaphorical View of Eternal Conscious Hell”

Episode 112: “Does the Bible Teach Eternal Conscious Torment?” Date and Quient Debate Richardson and Lauriston

A live-streamed debate between Damon Richardson of UrbanLogia Ministries and Elce Lauriston (affirmative), and Chris Date and Nick Quient of Rethinking Hell (negative) answering the question, “Does the Bible teach eternal conscious torment?” You can also watch the debate on YouTube or in the player below. Click here to download the slides presented by Chris and Nick in PDF form.


Continue reading “Episode 112: “Does the Bible Teach Eternal Conscious Torment?” Date and Quient Debate Richardson and Lauriston”

The New Creation Millennialism Paradigm: A Radical Biblical-Eschatological Alternative to Everlasting Torment

J. Webb Mealy

I want to make a big ask at the beginning of this article. I want to ask my readers to lay aside your natural prejudice against the new and unfamiliar, and give my presentation a hearing as though you had not yet decided on an eschatological model. Jesus has a parable about the psychology that goes along with repeatedly hearing the same doctrine repeated until it seems—merely because of the repetition—to be obviously the best:

No one after drinking old wine wants the new, for they say, ‘The old is better’ ().

Continue reading “The New Creation Millennialism Paradigm: A Radical Biblical-Eschatological Alternative to Everlasting Torment”

39 And no one after drinking old wine desires new, for he says, ‘The old is good.’”

What the Bible Actually Says about “Eternal Fire” – Part 2

As you might imagine, traditionalists have given rebuttals to the general case put forth in Part 1. These rebuttals break down into two broader camps. The first camp is that should be translated differently from how it is presented in Part 1. Those in this camp would argue that the text does not really say that Sodom and Gomorrah themselves were burned with eternal fire in the first place.

Rebuttals of the second category do not challenge the translation of the NASB (which I used in Part 1). Instead, when Jude says they were burned with eternal fire, this does not challenge the standard interpretation that “eternal fire” is fire that burns for eternity.1

Given the scope of this article, I will touch upon some of the common objections to the aforementioned interpretation, though I encourage the curious reader to consult my free ebook, The Bible Teaches Annihilationism, Sections XVI and XVII, regarding relevant passages.
Continue reading “What the Bible Actually Says about “Eternal Fire” – Part 2”

  1. Recall in Part 1 that there is a conditionalist interpretation of “eternal fire” in that asserts the term does mean a fire that burns for eternity because it emanates from God, who is eternal and said to be a “consuming fire” (, ). []

just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding cities, which likewise indulged in sexual immorality and pursued unnatural desire, serve as an example by undergoing a punishment of eternal fire.

just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding cities, which likewise indulged in sexual immorality and pursued unnatural desire, serve as an example by undergoing a punishment of eternal fire.

24 For the Lord your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God.

29 for our God is a consuming fire.

What the Bible Actually Says about “Eternal Fire” – Part 1

is often cited in support of the doctrine of eternal torment in hell, owing to its description of the unsaved being sent into “eternal fire.” The phrase is also used in Matthew 18:8 and Jude 7, which are commonly cited as well (although less frequently). The idea is relatively simple: if hell is eternal fire, then it would appear to mean that hell is a fire that burns for eternity. If hell is a fire that burns for eternity, it must have fuel to burn forever. And since that fuel is people, it follows that people will be burned in that fire for eternity.1

However, this argument for eternal torment fails when we look more deeply at what the Bible has to say on the matter. In fact, when we understand how it uses the phrase “eternal fire,” it can even be seen as evidence in support of evangelical conditionalism.
Continue reading “What the Bible Actually Says about “Eternal Fire” – Part 1”

  1. Of course, many traditionalists today do not believe that hell is actually fire in the first place, which presents a lot of problems for their view, as discussed in a previous article titled “Why the Modern Version of the Eternal Torment Doctrine Falls Short.” []

41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.

Introduction to Evangelical Conditionalism – Mark 9:48

If someone spoke of hell as a fire that will not be quenched and worms that will not die, many believers would hear such language and think it was referring to worms and fire biting and burning and tormenting people forever. And that is fair, given the traditions and presuppositions many of us will bring to the table by default. For this reason, , most notably , is commonly believed to speak of eternal torment in hell.

But when we look at it just a little bit deeper, especially after taking into account the Old Testament background of the passage, this passage no longer makes a good case for eternal torment. If anything, in light of the passage’s Old Testament background, this passage serves as evidence for evangelical conditionalism and against the traditional view, not the other way around.

Their worm shall not die!

Continue reading “Introduction to Evangelical Conditionalism – Mark 9:48”

43 And if your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life crippled than with two hands to go to hell, to the unquenchable fire. 45 And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life lame than with two feet to be thrown into hell. 47 And if your eye causes you to sin, tear it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into hell, 48 ‘where their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched.’

48 ‘where their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched.’

Does Matthew 8:29 Teach the Eternal Torment of Unclean Spirits?

Do the demons expect that one day, Jesus will torment them in hell for ever and ever? And is that what will ultimately happen to them?

The wording of a group of demons in one of the encounters Jesus had with a demon-possessed man is sometimes brought up as indicative of the eternal torment awaiting demons (according to the traditional view of hell):

And they [the demons] cried out, saying, ‘What business do we have with each other, Son of God? Have You come here to torment us before the time?’” ().1 

Some have taken this to mean that demons will be tormented day and night for ever and ever.234
Continue reading “Does Matthew 8:29 Teach the Eternal Torment of Unclean Spirits?”

  1. Unless otherwise noted, all scripture is quoted from the New American Standard Bible (NASB). Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960,1962,1963,1968,1971,1972,1973,1975,1977,1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. []
  2. Robert Reymond, A New Systematic Theology of the Christian Faith (Thomas Nelson, 1998), 1076. []
  3. Michael burgos, Jr., “Hell No: The Terrible Hermeneutics of Annihilationism,” Biblical Trinitarian [blog], posted on October 21, 2016, http://www.biblicaltrinitarian.com/2016/10/hell-no-terrible-hermeneutic-of.html (accessed August 11, 2018). []
  4. “Hell,” Let Us Reason Ministries, n.d., http://www.letusreason.org/doct12.htm (accessed August 11, 2018). []

29 And behold, they cried out, “What have you to do with us, O Son of God? Have you come here to torment us before the time?”