With only a few weeks remaining until our second Rethinking Hell conference, taking place at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California, we wanted to share the full speaking schedule with you all and invite those who have not already signed up to consider registering at a special discounted price of $50, which we can offer thanks to some funds that have come in to help scholarship registrations (use discount code RH2015  at the checkout page of the registration process at www.rethinkinghellconference.com/2015/).
Here is the updated full speaking & activity schedule for this year’s conference, along with some notes about our plenary & breakout session presenters:

THURSDAY, JUNE 18

FRIDAY, JUNE 19

  • 9:00-9:10am | Introduction to the Rethinking Hell project
  • 9:10-10:30am | Plenary #2:  “Burning Love: The Theological Hermeneutics of Hell” – Robin Parry (Wipf & Stock Publishers) – this will be a key presentation of an “evangelical universalist” view on hell, by one of the leading Christian voices from this perspective (Parry is the author of The Evangelical Universalist, under the pseudonym Gregory MacDonald), which will help frame the discussion of the topic of universal salvation at the conference
  • 10:30-10:45am | Logos Bible software presentation (including significant discount on purchase or upgrades)
  • 10:50-11:50am | Breakout Session #1
    • “How One Biblical Annihilationist Became a Biblical Universalist” – Peter Hiett (The Sanctuary Downtown) – Philip Yancey, a former congregant of Peter Hiett’s has called this presenter “one of the best teachers I have ever had.” Hiett, a pastor in Denver, Colorado and the author of several books including Eternity Now!, will share some of his personal journey, as well as exploring exegetical analysis of biblical topics such as time and eternity, the “three hells,” and God’s call in Jesus Christ
    • “Annihilation or Salvation? A Philosophical Case for Preferring Universalism to Annihilationism” – John Kronen (University of St. Thomas) / Eric Reitan (Oklahoma State University)  – these professors of Philosophy have been have been defending universalism from a philosophical perspective for many years, and their recent co-authored book, God’s Final Victory: A Comparative Philosophical Case for Universalism, which will provide material for this presentation, has been called by Thomas Talbott “the most complete discussion to date of the relevant philosophical and theological issues” which “no philosopher or theologian who in the future addresses the issue of universalism will be able to ignore”
    • “Christian Apokatastasis contra Crisp & Walls” – Steven Nemeș (Fuller Theological Seminary Arizona) – in this presentation, an M.Div student will sketch the contours of a patristic, biblical universalist tradition, drawing from Ilaria Ramelli’s recent research in The Christian Doctrine of Apokatastasis, and argue for its superiority over those of the doctrine’s objectors, specifically those held by plenary speakers Oliver Crisp & Jerry Walls
    • “Is God Creation’s Biggest Loser?” – George W. Sarris – an M.Div graduate of Gordon-Conwell seminary, Sarris has served on staff with Campus Crusade for Christ as well as writing the popular “Engaging the Culture” blog on ChristianPost.com. In this presentation, he will examine the origins of eternal hell, contrast them with the teachings of early church fathers, and discuss the dominance of the traditional view of eternal torment in the Western church
  • 11:50am-1:10pm | Lunch
  • 1:10-2:10pm | Breakout Session #2
    • “Hermeneutical Considerations In The Discussion Of Eternal Punishment In Revelation and Beyond” – Lindsay Brooks (Apologetics.com) – Brooks is co-host of the radio program Apologetics.com and a contributor to the book Think and Live.  His presentation will defend the traditional view of eternal torment through a careful examination of the imagery and allusions in the book of Revelation
    • “Supporting the Claim that Conditionalism Is Philosophically Unmotivated” – Samuel Garcia (Fuller Theological Seminary) –  an adjunct professor of philosophy at Biola University, where Garcia obtained an MA  in Philosophy of Religion and Ethics before coming to Fuller to work on an MA in Theology, this presentation will raise an objection to both traditionalism and conditionalism regarding the Status Principle, which includes the idea that the guilt of an offending party is proportional to the status or nature of the offended party
    • “In Defense of Hell: Some Explorative Reflections” – Gavin Ortlund (Fuller Theological Seminary) – a PhD student in Historical Theology and editor with The Gospel Coalition, Ortlund will explore how the traditional doctrine of hell is logically correlated with the Christian notion of sin, as well as considering how the traditional doctrine of hell is logically correlated with the Christian view of God with particular reference to the work of C.S. Lewis and Tim Keller
    • “The Unified Character of God & the Purpose of Hell” – Jordan Wessling (Arizona Christian University) – an Assistant Professor with a PhD in Theology and Religion, Wessling argues against the view that God’s love and justice have different aims.  Instead, he contends that it is theologically preferable to hold that God’s love drives everything God does, in the sense that even God’s most severe punishments are a kind of tough love meant for the good of those punished. This unified view of God’s love and justice leads Wessling to retool the doctrine of hell. Drawing from Greggory of Nyssa and contemporary communicative theorists, he defends a broadly retributivist theory of God’s punishment, wherein God aims to communicate to offenders the censure they deserve, for the purpose of trying to persuade them to admit their evil, to try to reform themselves with God’s help, and to reconcile themselves with those whom they have wronged. Hell, in other words, is conceived along general purgatorial lines in which God seeks to transform the denizens of hell into those who are fit for fellowship with himself and the gloried saints.
  • 2:20-3:20pm | Breakout Session #3
    • “Freedom, Evil and Tom-Tom: Some Philosophical Reasons to Prefer the Annihilationist View of Hell to Soteriological Universalism” – Jeff Cook (Atlas Church/University of Northern Colorado) – a pastor and Lecturer in Philosophy, Cook will raise several problematic questions of Soteriological Universalism: Why has God made this kind of world when others are possible? Does the nature of evil complement a purgatorial interpretation of hell, or make it bizarre? Are human beings free and if so can the Soteriological Universalist make claims about the renewal of all things? And if hell is a place of refinement, where is hell located in a theistic cosmology? Ultimately, he will posit that metaphysical commitments common to the Christian tradition are better explained by Annhilationism than Soteriological Universalism
    • “Justification and Life for All? A Response to an Evangelical Universalist Exegesis of ” – Allison Quient (Fuller Theological Seminary) – Quient is a PhD student in Systematic Theology who argues that, although the typological parallelism between Adam and Christ in might appear to the universalist to support universal salvation, a more thorough reading reveals support for universal accessibility to salvation
    • “Worth a Thousand Words: A Conditionalist Reading of the Book of Revelation” – William Tanksley Jr & Chris Date (Rethinking Hell) – these presenters, who both serve on the Rethinking Hell leadership team, will examine models for interpreting the book of Revelation, its imagery, and its embedded interpretations. In addition to producing a set of broadly useful guidelines for reading the text, they will apply those guidelines to several texts frequently brought up by universalist and traditionalist readers from Revelation , and 20-22, and will show that both the broad trajectory and those specific passages of Revelation best support the conditionalist model
    • “A Philosophical Case for Conditionalism” – Daniel Sinclair (Rethinking Hell) – an Mdiv student at Fuller Seminary Northern California and Assistant Teaching Pastor, as well as a part of the Rethinking Hell leadership team, Sinclair will present an extended version of a paper delivered recently at the Evangelical Philosophical Society, which contends that, while the primary argument of modern Conditionalists is exegetical, and the self-understanding of the movement is as a continuance of the unfinished work of the Reformation, a strong secondary argument for the position and against the traditional position can be made from philosophy and reason alone without appealing to Biblical authority
  • 3:30-4:50pm | Plenary #3:  “Jesus’ Rejection of Universal Jewish Salvation: The background of rabbinic theology about hell and forgiveness” – David Instone-Brewer (Cambridge, UK) – a Senior Research Fellow in Rabbinics, Baptist minister, and author of scholarly volumes on rabbinic traditions, Instone-Brewer will present a paper that explores some Jewish views of final punishment contemporary to the New Testament, including Jesus’ response to the universalism of his own day
  • 5:00-6:20pm | Dinner
  • 6:30-7:30pm | Breakout Session #4
    • “The Biblical Tour of Hell”  – Matthew Ryan Hauge (Azusa Pacific University) – a Professor of Biblical Literature and Ancient History, Theologian-in-Residence at Mountainside Communion, as well as the author of The Biblical Tour of Hell, Hauge will discuss the “tours of hell” tradition and carefully examine the only biblical “tour of hell” – the story of the Rich Man and Lazarus in , which is unique in the biblical tradition as the only narrative in the Bible that includes a postmortem setting and postmortem dialogue. These two unique features provide a narrative framework for thoughtful reflection on the fate of the dead
    • “An Orthodox/Catholic Eschatology: The Hopeful Inclusivism of Hans Urs Von Balthasar and Metropolitan Kallistos Ware” – Brad Jersak (Westminster Theological Centre) – serving on the faculty as head of the New Testament and Patristics department at Westminster Theological Centre (Cheltenham, UK) and Senior Editor at Plain Truth Ministries (Pasadena, CA), Jersak is also the author of Her Gates Will Never Be Shut: Hope, Hell, and the New Jerusalem.  Jersak will propose that, in arguing our views of hell, we prematurely enter the debate and the quest for ‘a doctrine’ wearing lenses that cannot perceive the role of paradox or bow before an inscrutable mystery, which itself represents a major stream within the Great Tradition—a possibility that holds our greatest hopes with an open hand, namely a hopeful inclusivism, which will be exegeted through the thought of the Roman Catholic theologian, Hans Urs Von Balthasar, and Orthodox Metropolitan, Kallistos Ware
    • “Hell Is For Christians? Eternal Judgment as a Unique Theological Emphasis in the Gospel of Matthew” – Laura Robinson (Duke University) – a PhD student in Religion at Duke University, Robinson will explore why hell and judgment are such pressing concerns in Matthew, and what didactic and practical lessons the author is seeking to share with his audience through the language of judgment, particularly language which seems to imply the possibility of hell and judgment for current insiders (Jews) who reject the message, rather than as the fate of community outsiders
    • “Toward a Charitable Epidemic of Amendments: Viral Change and the Hope for Diversity on the Nature of Hell” – Jason Schroeder – this paper will examine possible ways and means to promote openness within Christian institutions such as universities, churches, organizations to various views on final judgement
  • 7:40-9:00pm | Plenary #4:  “Christian Particularism” – Oliver Crisp (Fuller Theological Seminary) – a Professor of Systematic Theology and author of a number of books, including Deviant Calvinism, Crisp will defend the view that there is some particular number of individuals that are saved through the work of Christ, which has been the traditional view in Christianity, while also focusing on Robin Parry’s evangelical universalism as an important alternative to the version of particularism he will be defending
  • 9:00pm | Dismissal and blessing

SATURDAY, JUNE 20

  • 9:00-10:20am | Plenary #5: “Optimal Grace and Eternal Hell” – Jerry Walls (Houston Baptist University) – a Professor of Philosophy and the author of a trilogy of books on the afterlife from Oxford University Press, as well as the recent popular volume Heaven, Hell, and Purgatory: Rethinking the Things That Matter Most, Walls will argue for a Protestant version of purgatory, wherein the unsaved would be given an opportunity for salvation after death, while maintaining that some unbelievers may never choose to accept Christ’s work on their behalf, remaining eternally separated from God
  • 9:20-9:40am | Break
  • 9:45-10:30am | Panel questions; small group discussion
  • 10:30am-11:50am | Plenary #6:  “Summing up the Case for Conditional Immortalism” – James Spiegel (Taylor University) – a Professor of Philosophy as well as the author of The Making of an Atheist and a number of forthcoming articles on annihilationism, Spiegel will provide a wide-ranging response to the tenets of universalism and traditionalism, as well as providing positive reasons for considering the conditionalist perspective
  • 11:50-1:10pm | Lunch
  • 1:20-3:45pm | Panel discussion with all plenary speakers – this will be an opportunity to hear some personal stories, clarifications, and closing remarks from the six plenary speakers, as well as an opportunity for the to respond to audience questions
  • 3:45-4:00pm | Final announcements & dismissal

A number of people have asked if the Rethinking Hell conference will be an annual event. We held our inaugural conference in July, 2014, in Houston with the dual topic of “The Legacy of Edward Fudge & the Future of Conditionalism.”  You may visit our YouTube page here for video clips of many of the sessions from this conference, a number of which will be published in the forthcoming volume A Consuming Passion: Essays on Hell and Immortality in Honor of Edward W. Fudge.

We are currently in the midst of planning conferences abroad in the U.K. and Australia, so we may not have a multi-day conference in the US for some years to come.  However, our leadership team has explored the possibility of smaller regional gatherings in the US to discuss conditional immortality, so if you are interested in seeing Rethinking Hell come to your area, please let us know at conference@rethinkinghell.com.  However, we hope that we can see you this summer at this one-of-a-kind event that is not to be missed!

12 Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned— 13 for sin indeed was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not counted where there is no law. 14 Yet death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sinning was not like the transgression of Adam, who was a type of the one who was to come.

15 But the free gift is not like the trespass. For if many died through one man’s trespass, much more have the grace of God and the free gift by the grace of that one man Jesus Christ abounded for many. 16 And the free gift is not like the result of that one man’s sin. For the judgment following one trespass brought condemnation, but the free gift following many trespasses brought justification. 17 For if, because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ.

18 Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men. 19 For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous. 20 Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, 21 so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

12 Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned— 13 for sin indeed was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not counted where there is no law. 14 Yet death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sinning was not like the transgression of Adam, who was a type of the one who was to come.

15 But the free gift is not like the trespass. For if many died through one man’s trespass, much more have the grace of God and the free gift by the grace of that one man Jesus Christ abounded for many. 16 And the free gift is not like the result of that one man’s sin. For the judgment following one trespass brought condemnation, but the free gift following many trespasses brought justification. 17 For if, because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ.

18 Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men. 19 For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous. 20 Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, 21 so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

5:1 Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. 10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. 11 More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.

12 Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned— 13 for sin indeed was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not counted where there is no law. 14 Yet death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sinning was not like the transgression of Adam, who was a type of the one who was to come.

15 But the free gift is not like the trespass. For if many died through one man’s trespass, much more have the grace of God and the free gift by the grace of that one man Jesus Christ abounded for many. 16 And the free gift is not like the result of that one man’s sin. For the judgment following one trespass brought condemnation, but the free gift following many trespasses brought justification. 17 For if, because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ.

18 Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men. 19 For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous. 20 Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, 21 so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Romans 14

14:1 As for the one who is weak in faith, welcome him, but not to quarrel over opinions. One person believes he may eat anything, while the weak person eats only vegetables. Let not the one who eats despise the one who abstains, and let not the one who abstains pass judgment on the one who eats, for God has welcomed him. Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand.

One person esteems one day as better than another, while another esteems all days alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind. The one who observes the day, observes it in honor of the Lord. The one who eats, eats in honor of the Lord, since he gives thanks to God, while the one who abstains, abstains in honor of the Lord and gives thanks to God. For none of us lives to himself, and none of us dies to himself. For if we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord. So then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s. For to this end Christ died and lived again, that he might be Lord both of the dead and of the living.

10 Why do you pass judgment on your brother? Or you, why do you despise your brother? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God; 11 for it is written,

“As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me,
and every tongue shall confess to God.”

12 So then each of us will give an account of himself to God.

13 Therefore let us not pass judgment on one another any longer, but rather decide never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother. 14 I know and am persuaded in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself, but it is unclean for anyone who thinks it unclean. 15 For if your brother is grieved by what you eat, you are no longer walking in love. By what you eat, do not destroy the one for whom Christ died. 16 So do not let what you regard as good be spoken of as evil. 17 For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. 18 Whoever thus serves Christ is acceptable to God and approved by men. 19 So then let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding.

20 Do not, for the sake of food, destroy the work of God. Everything is indeed clean, but it is wrong for anyone to make another stumble by what he eats. 21 It is good not to eat meat or drink wine or do anything that causes your brother to stumble. 22 The faith that you have, keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the one who has no reason to pass judgment on himself for what he approves. 23 But whoever has doubts is condemned if he eats, because the eating is not from faith. For whatever does not proceed from faith is sin.

19 “There was a rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. 20 And at his gate was laid a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, 21 who desired to be fed with what fell from the rich man’s table. Moreover, even the dogs came and licked his sores. 22 The poor man died and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried, 23 and in Hades, being in torment, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus at his side. 24 And he called out, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the end of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am in anguish in this flame.’ 25 But Abraham said, ‘Child, remember that you in your lifetime received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner bad things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in anguish. 26 And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, in order that those who would pass from here to you may not be able, and none may cross from there to us.’ 27 And he said, ‘Then I beg you, father, to send him to my father’s house— 28 for I have five brothers—so that he may warn them, lest they also come into this place of torment.’ 29 But Abraham said, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them.’ 30 And he said, ‘No, father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’ 31 He said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead.’”