Episode 50: Necrophobia! with Glenn Peoples and Chris Date

Dr. Glenn PeoplesChris DateRethinking Hell contributors Glenn Peoples and Chris Date discuss thanatophobia or necrophobia, the fear of death, and its relevance to the evangelical debate over hell.


Greg Koukl on Stand to Reason, November 12, 2013
Glenn’s blog, “Right Reason”

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8 Responses to Episode 50: Necrophobia! with Glenn Peoples and Chris Date

  1. Tim says:

    What supporters of eternal conscious torment are saying is that God wants people to follow him out of fear of the consequences of not following him and not because they love and desire God?

    How many Christians do you think really believe this? I have heard testimonies to this exact fact.

  2. The Remonstrant says:

    I found it highly illuminating that Koukl didn’t even attempt to exegete Matthew 10:28. His first response was to philosophize as to what he considers “fearful”. He muses final annihilation isn’t that fearful at all; therefore, endless conscious torment must be true. This is horrible reasoning. Philosophy may have its place in biblical interpretation, but it can’t play the primary role.

    If Koukl had bothered to locate the text in its broader context, he would have to grapple with the rather obvious fact that “kill” and “destroy” being used as synonyms in Matthew 10:28. Also, he would have to note that apollumi is used on several occasions throughout Matthew’s Gospel to denote one agent taking (i.e., killing/terminating) another individual’s life. Apollumi is used twice a few verses later in 10:39 where Jesus urges the Twelve to lose/destroy their lives now in order to ultimately preserve their lives in the age to come (cf. John 12:25). The ultimate loss of life is what’s at stake, not unending torment. So much for philosophizing on what seems to terrify us most.

  3. Frank Armstrong says:

    I think the argument that Koukl and others espouse which says that annihilation isn’t something to be feared (as opposed to eternal conscious torment) because of its effect (nonexistence), misses the point that death is feared by those who LOVE LIFE – which, in the end, is everyone! When atheists stand before God on judgment day they will be horribly afraid of annihilation because they will see the very fact that they had the chance to inherit eternal life but they chose not to, and this will cause much wailing on their part (and also gnashing of teeth in anger that their choice is honored).

    Supporting the fact that everyone loves life is seen in the example of people who commit suicide, ironically, because they always end their lives not because they don’t want to live, but because they want to end their suffering. Everyone wants to live. Given the chance, they would end their suffering and live. Annihilation will be feared by every unredeemed person on judgment day precisely because everyone loves life.

  4. Lotharson says:

    Hello Chris.

    I thank both of you for these wonderful episode! This raised lots of terrific questions.

    As I pointed out in our interview (some of your readers might be interested in) question 2, it would have been extremely unfair (to my mind) for God in the OT to have threatened people with death, if

    a) the true punishment will be eternal torment
    b) death is not to be feared at all, as Greg Koukl put it.

    Given the assumptions of such traditionalists, I would expect to read clear verses about everlasting pain within the page of the OT as God was warning His people.
    It makes absolutely no sense to have menaced them with destruction if this fate is not frightening by any means.
    You are right that traditionalists DO find death horrible in all other contexts.

    So I think that proponents of eternal torment would be well advised to give up this crappy line of reasoning and instead say something like this:

    “Yeah annihilation is truly a terrible destiny. But eternal torment is far worse, and the Bible leaves us absolutely no other choice than accepting this doctrine.”

    As far as I can remember, I found (as a young atheist) the perspective of ceasing to existing more despairing than an eternity of pain.

    Otherwise I find it good that both of you articulated your reformed perspective. I clearly part company with you here.
    I think that God loves everyone, wants everyone to be saved and that it is freedom which gets in the way of redemption.

    I believe that Arminians agreeing with these presuppositions are terribly inconsistent if they deny the possibility of post-mortem conversions.
    Calvinists are the only ones who can confidently reject this doctrine.

    Lovely greetings / Liebe Gruesse aus England.

    P.S: wann wird das Lernen von Deutsch fuer dich beginnen? :-)

  5. Mike Ranieri says:

    I really appreciate the work both of you are doing in this area. I’m very sympathetic to some form of the Conditional view (I’m still working through it). But I don’t think you were entirely fair with some of your comments in this podcast.

    Glenn finds the argument that Eternal Torment is scarier than Annihilationism to be an implausible idea. I agree that thinking that Annihilationism is some how encouraging and not extremely disheartening and even terrifying is silly but, come on, Eternal Torture is much worse and scarier than non existence. Young peoples’ fascination with slasher movies is evidence of that.

    One of the things that made the ancient martyrs’ deaths so noble was the horrific tortures they endured. Some how I don’t think the movie “The Passion of the Christ” would have been as shocking if Jesus had been poisoned in his jail cell.

    If I’m over reacting I apologize but, as you make clear, some of the opponents of Conditionalism are using ridiculous argumentation to score points — please don’t use the same tactics!

    • Ronnie says:

      Mike, it’s been a little while since I listened so I might be mistaken but I don’t believe that Glenn or Chris argued that endless torment is not “scarier” than eternal destruction. In fact, I recall they affirmed that in terms the of the subjective experience of the unrepentant, the former would indeed be worse than the latter.

    • Glenn Peoples says:

      “much worse and scarier”

      Mike, those are two quite distinct concepts, actually. What is scarier is not necessarily worse. Wouldn’t you agree? But I certainly didn’t say that eternal torment is somehow more pleasant
      – as an experience – than not being alive at all. That’s obviously not

      You’ll note that one of us (I forget which) pointed out that there is this myth out there that whatever the punishment is, it *must* be the worst, most awful thing that we can come up with. I rejected that claim.

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