Dr. James White Reviews Date vs. Whipps

After my debate with Joshua Whipps was published, I suspected that I would hear about it on the Dividing Line (DL), a webcast hosted by one of the theologians and apologists I respect and admire most, Dr. James White of Alpha & Omega Ministries (AOMin). Joshua frequents the AOMin chat channel, and he talked to Dr. White both leading up to and immediately following the debate. The thought of listening to Dr. White review the debate terrified me, but not because I feared being challenged by his arguments; rather, I have such deep respect and fondness for him and his ministry that to hear him speak negatively about me would crush me.
Tuesday’s DL came and went with no mention of the debate, and in it Dr. White said he would be speaking about Islam on Friday’s show. And so I didn’t listen to Friday’s show live, but as I prepared to leave work I visited the AOMin blog and my heart began racing as I read the words, “Started off with a quick review of a recent debate on annihilationism, then took calls. The first two were on the same subject, so we covered a lot of ground on the topic today.” I could feel my heart beating in my neck as I opened my Zune software, downloaded the episode, synced it to my Windows 7 phone and began to listen. But very quickly my terror was replaced by relief and my admiration for Dr. White swelled. I know not everybody is a fan but, I must confess, I love the man and his ministry.
Continue reading “Dr. James White Reviews Date vs. Whipps”

Lazarus and the Rich Man: It's Not About Final Punishment

I cannot count the number of times I have witnessed critics of conditionalism point to Jesus’ parable of Lazarus and the rich man as a challenge to our view. I understand and respect one explanation offered by some of my fellow conditionalists, even if I don’t yet affirm it: They would say that the parable borrows from a then-contemporary Jewish folktale of sorts in order to teach a moral lesson having to do with social inequality and is not intended to communicate anything about the conscious suffering of people like the rich man in the story. Unfortunately, however, traditionalists who find this explanation dubious think their challenge stands. Because of this, when my view of final punishment is objected to on the basis of this parable, I stress a different point: It’s not about final punishment.
Continue reading “Lazarus and the Rich Man: It's Not About Final Punishment”

Salted with Fire: Annihilation and Mark 9:49

Conditionalists frequently respond to the traditionalist argument from ’s undying worm and unquenchable fire. What doesn’t appear to come up as often, however, are Jesus’ words which immediately follow : “For everyone will be salted with fire.” Occasionally this verse is pointed to in defense of the traditional view of hell. As John Gill writes,1

that fire shall be to them, what salt is to flesh; as that keeps flesh from putrefaction and corruption, so the fire of hell, as it will burn, torture, and distress rebellious sinners, it will preserve them in their beings; they shall not be consumed by it, but continued in it: so that these words are a reason of the former, showing and proving, that the soul in torment shall never die, or lose any of its powers and faculties;

Leading up to my recent debate, when my opponent asked me how I understand this verse I did not yet have an answer. But with the help of some friends and fellow conditionalists I developed a confident response—and I’m glad I did because it came up briefly during cross-examination. Here I’ll explain in further detail the answer I gave.
Continue reading “Salted with Fire: Annihilation and Mark 9:49”

  1. Gill, J. (1999). “Commentary on Mark 9:49.” New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible. []

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.’

"Punishment" and the Polysemy of Deverbal Nouns

In the opening statement from my recent debate I had said,

What we disagree on is the meaning of punishment. Traditionalists see it as suffering forever, whereas annihilationists see it as the everlasting effect of being executed. Linguists call this a deverbal result noun, a noun referring to the results of its corresponding verb, and it’s a phenomenon found both in Scripture and in modern language.

This was recently misunderstood by pseudonymous blogger TurretinFan, and understandably so—excuse the pun—because it didn’t come across quite right. I did not mean to say that linguists call “punishment” a deverbal result noun; I meant that they call the object to which I was referring—namely, a noun that refers to the results of its corresponding verb—a deverbal result noun. What’s more, I neither said nor implied that “punishment” is in every case a deverbal result noun, but that it is in the case of .
Nevertheless, TurretinFan argued that the “noun ‘punishment’ is a deverbal noun, but it is not a deverbal result noun” (emphasis his), going on to seemingly argue that this is inherent in the meaning of the noun. Let us examine this claim.
Continue reading “"Punishment" and the Polysemy of Deverbal Nouns”

46 And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

Upcoming Podcast Interviews: Conditionalist Authors

It will not be long before the launch of the Rethinking Hell podcast, and I am excited and honored to host several upcoming episodes interviewing conditionalist/annihilationist authors of recent books.

Hell: A Final Word

Edward Fudge, author of The Fire That Consumes, 3rd edition (Cascade Books, 2011), has recently published a popular-level book, Hell: A Final Word (ACU Press, 2012). Since Fudge has been so influential within the annihilationist movement, and was personally so instrumental in my ‘conversion’ to what I now believe is the biblical view of final punishment, I will kick the podcast off interviewing him first to discuss both his latest book and the upcoming feature film telling his story, “Hell and Mr. Fudge.” I originally interviewed him on the Theopologetics podcast back in August of 2011, and as a result of preparing for and conducting that interview I moved to the fence between annihilationism and the traditional view of hell.

The Lie of Hell

Roger Harper was recently on the Unbelievable? radio show with Justin Brierley on Premier Christian Radio UK discussing the topic of immortality with skeptic Stephen Cave. In that discussion Harper briefly articulated the conditionalist/annihilationist position concerning final punishment, which he discusses at length in his recent book, The Lie of Hell. When I reached out to him asking if he would be interested in letting me interview him for the Rethinking Hell podcast, he graciously (and enthusiastically, it seemed to me!) agreed. He also expressed interest in my recent formal debate and volunteered to submit a question for my opponent to answer during the Q&A period with the public.

The Lie of Hell

David Instone-Brewer was also recently on Unbelievable?—in his case opposite Dr. James White of Alpha & Omega Ministries discussing the question, “Was Jesus a Calvinist?” (Being Reformed, I disagree with Dr. Instone-Brewer’s answer to that question.) In his recent book, The Jesus Scandals (Ladder Media, 2012), he discusses a variety of so-called scandals in Jesus’ life, among his friends, and in his teaching; and in one chapter he argues that Jesus taught conditionalism/annihilationism, which came up very briefly in the discussion on Unbelievable?. After that episode I emailed Dr. Instone-Brewer and we had a fruitful email exchange, iron sharpening iron, and he accepted my invitation to be interviewed on the new podcast.

Stay tuned for these first exciting episodes of the Rethinking Hell podcast!

Reformed and Rethinking: Introducing Chris Date

Chris DateIt is my tremendous honor to be invited to contribute to the RethinkingHell.com blog and podcast, and I would like to thank Peter Grice for inviting me.
Allow me to introduce myself and let you know a little bit about me. My name is Chris Date and I host the Theopologetics podcast, as well as contribute to my friend Dee Dee Warren’s The Preterist Blog and podcast. I am also a software engineer by trade.
I do not have any formal, higher education and lack any official ministry experience. That said, I believe theology and apologetics are nevertheless for every average Joe in the pews, and not just for pastors, philosophers, PhDs and the erudite in ivory towers (which some of my co-contributors are). And I am perhaps somewhat of an enigma, for while I am “rethinking hell”—by which I mean to say that I am a conditionalist or annihilationist (and I will refer to myself as the latter henceforth)—I’m also Reformed.
Continue reading “Reformed and Rethinking: Introducing Chris Date”

Chris Date vs. Joshua Whipps

I recently participated in my second formal, moderated debate defending annihilationism. The resolution was, “The final punishment of the risen wicked will be annihilation, the permanent end to the conscious existence of the entire person.” I affirmed, and Joshua Whipps, creator of the Razor’s Kiss blog and contributor to Choosing Hats, denied. My friend Dee Dee Warren, host of The Preterist Podcast, moderated.
You can listen to the debate by subscribing to my podcast, which you can find by searching for “Theopologetics” in the iTunes Store or Zune Marketplace, or you can subscribe to the feed here, or you can stream or download the audio from www.theopologetics.com. I have divided it into three episodes: (1) Episode 88, “Death Eternal,” contains our opening statements and the first round of rebuttals; (2) Episode 89, “God of Wrath,” contains the first round of cross-examinations and second round of rebuttals; (3) Episode 90, “Christ Died For Us,” contains the second round of cross-examinations, closing statements, and listener Q&A.
Since my opening argument was, in my opinion, a pretty decent argument in favor of annihilationism—and was a little unique, it seems to me, since it argues from texts historically used to make the case for the traditional view of hell—I’ve included it below. Read on if you’re interested.
Continue reading “Chris Date vs. Joshua Whipps”

Why "Rethinking Hell"?

For many of us the great symbol of deep contemplation is Auguste Rodin’s statue of The Thinker. He wanders restlessly through our culture seeking subjects worthy of his furrowed brow. I imagine he is regularly disappointed.
We keep him around in contexts as diverse as libraries and car dashboards for one simple reason: thinking is still a virtue. Or at least it can be, if the subject is worthy. That’s important, because when a culture stops thinking about noble things bad stuff can happen, like the horrors of biochemical warfare — and inflatable kitsch.
Originally, Rodin cast our bronze hero for the penetration of one mystery only. One worthy subject; one terrible theme.
Hell.
Continue reading “Why "Rethinking Hell"?”