Episode 86: Four Views on Hell 2.0—Conditionalism, with John Stackhouse

Professor John Stackhouse joins Rethinking Hell contributor Chris Date to discuss his chapter on Conditionalism (or “terminal punishment” as he calls it), and his responses to other contributors, in Zondervan’s forthcoming second edition of Four Views on Hell.


Four Views on Hell @ Zondervan
Four Views on Hell @ Amazon
First Edition of Four Views on Hell
Crandall University
John Stackhouse’s Website
A Consuming Passion: Essays on Hell and Immortality in Honor of Edward Fudge
Rethinking Hell Books
Interviews Podcast
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One Response to Episode 86: Four Views on Hell 2.0—Conditionalism, with John Stackhouse

  1. Stephen Bawden says:

    I wanted to comment regarding the difficulty some traditionalist see in how Christ’s death fits into a CI model.

    I think a good way of understanding this is to see ‘death’ as simply meaning ‘the soulish life exiting the body’. Whatever happens after that is not part of death but the aftermath of death.

    Building on this model, for the soulish life of a person to continue on disembodied after death, or to be returned to the body in resurrection, requires an active input from God. This can fit with both a duelist and a physicalist account, but the duelist would have to see it that the ‘soul’ substance would under normal conditions die with physical death were it not for God’s active sustaining it in a disembodied state.

    This model helps with the question of the atonement because it underlines the fact that the eternal nature of the second death is not in itself an active part of the punishment, but rather the aftermath of the punishment. The punishment is the suffering and the death (the soulish life leaving the body) and only in virtue of it having eternal results is it everlasting.

    So then, on the cross Jesus suffers and goes through death – real death on our behalf. His soulish life exits his body, he faces the judgement of sin. However, after this death (after the punishment is paid) God sustains his soul in an active way. To reiterate – it is the death that needs substitution not the time after the death.

    If someone asks ‘if Jesus death wasn’t eternal how can he have been a substitute for us’ then this simply misses the point. The punishment for sin is death, not eternal death. Don’t get me wrong, the death that is faced in the final judgement is eternal, but the fact it is eternal is not itself the active part of the punishment – it is death itself that is the punishment. Or, in other words, the eternity following death is passive on God’s part not active.

    To put it another way, at the final judgement the lost will face death, and after this death God does not step in to give his life giving power. But God is not actively keeping them in death, he is merely leaving the state of things be as they are. By contrast, at the resurrection (and in the intermediate state if you are a duelist) God actively inputs life giving power to change what would passively be the case.

    Can you comment on whether this would fit with the original of the texts?

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