Scrutinizing a Straw Man: A Response to Eric Davis


In my plenary presentation at the 2015 Rethinking Hell conference, I lamented the fact that many “pastors, professors, apologists, authors, and radio show personalities feel comfortable writing, speaking, and teaching about the motives, errors, and dangerous teachings of conditionalists and universalists, all the while largely ignorant of what it is they actually think and argue.”1 A case in point is Eric Davis, Teaching Pastor of Cornerstone Church in Jackson Hole, WY. In his recent article at The Cripplegate, repackaged as a slideshow by Crosswalk.com, Davis purports to be “analyzing annihilationism” and “demonstrating that it is biblically untenable.”2
A close look at his article reveals that, rather than analyzing annihilationism, Davis is scrutinizing a straw man. Meanwhile, his case for the doctrine of eternal torment and against annihilationism simply does not hold up when the burning eye of scrutiny is turned back upon it. Continue reading “Scrutinizing a Straw Man: A Response to Eric Davis”

  1. Chris Date, “A Seat at the Table: An Appeal for Dialogue and Fellowship,” [presentation] 2015 Rethinking Hell conference, Pasadena, CA, June 18, 2015, https://youtu.be/qdTc-EQ1XPY (accessed July 26, 2017). []
  2. Eric Davis, “Analyzing Annihilationism: Will Those in Hell Cease to Exist?” The Cripplegate [blog], posted June 22, 2017, http://thecripplegate.com/analyzing-annihilationism/ (accessed July 26, 2017); repackaged as “9 Points That Argue the Eternality of Hell,” Crosswalk.com, http://www.crosswalk.com/slideshows/9-points-that-argue-the-eternality-of-hell.html (accessed July 26, 2017). []

Dismissive of Hell, Fearful of Death: Chris Date's 2017 Eastern Region ETS Presentation Available for Download

On March 31st, 2017, I was honored to speak in a parallel session at the 2017 ETS Eastern Region Meeting, held at Lancaster Bible College in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.1 There I presented a paper titled “Dismissive of Hell, Fearful of Death: Conditional Immortality and the Apologetic Challenge of Hell,” which I wrote in response to the claim that unbelievers don’t fear death and annihilation, and thus that conditional immortality will take the proverbial wind out of the sails of the Great Commission.2 For a cost of $4.00, ETS has made an audio recording of my presentation available for purchase and download here: http://www.wordmp3.com/details.aspx?id=24561. I welcome feedback on my paper, so email me at chrisdate@rethinkinghell.com with your thoughts if you’ve had a listen!
(Note that recordings of all plenary and parallel sessions, including mine, are available for purchase and download as a single set here: http://www.wordmp3.com/product-group.aspx?id=543. For what is surely a limited time, that set costs only $9.99, but apparently will one day cost $60.)
Continue reading “Dismissive of Hell, Fearful of Death: Chris Date's 2017 Eastern Region ETS Presentation Available for Download”

  1. I spoke at the same conference a year earlier at Liberty University, where I am finishing my undergraduate degree. See the list of links above to purchase and download that presentation. []
  2. I also handed out free bookmarks, fanning them out on the table at the center of the conference room in which I presented, as shown in the photo above. Be on the lookout for your opportunity to get yours here at Rethinking Hell! []

Episode 99: A Consuming Passion Festschrift Special (Part 3)

Rethinking Hell contributor Chris Date continues a series of special episodes celebrating 2015’s publication of the ministry’s second book, A Consuming Passion: Essays on Hell and Immortality in Honor of Edward Fudge, by interviewing its authors. In this third episode of the series, Chris interviews Jon Zens, Gordon Isaac, John Stackhouse, and Nick Quient.
Continue reading “Episode 99: A Consuming Passion Festschrift Special (Part 3)”

Episode 98: Date vs. Pettis Debate Review (Part 3)

Rethinking Hell contributors William Tanksley and Daniel Sinclair, and guest contributor Peter Berthelsen, join Chris Date for a massive five-hour review of his recent debate with Len Pettis of the Bible Thumping Wingnut, and of some of the conversations that have taken place since.
This episode contains part three of three.
Continue reading “Episode 98: Date vs. Pettis Debate Review (Part 3)”

Episode 97: Date vs. Pettis Debate Review (Part 2)

Rethinking Hell contributors William Tanksley and Daniel Sinclair, and guest contributor Peter Berthelson, join Chris Date for a massive five-hour review of his recent debate with Len Pettis of the Bible Thumping Wingnut, and of some of the conversations that have taken place since.
This episode contains part two of three.
Continue reading “Episode 97: Date vs. Pettis Debate Review (Part 2)”

Episode 96: Date vs. Pettis Debate Review (Part 1)

Rethinking Hell contributors William Tanksley and Daniel Sinclair, and guest contributor Peter Berthelsen, join Chris Date for a massive five-hour review of his recent debate with Len Pettis of the Bible Thumping Wingnut, and of some of the conversations that have taken place since.
This episode contains part one of three.
Continue reading “Episode 96: Date vs. Pettis Debate Review (Part 1)”

Episode 94: "Is Conditional Immortality Biblical?" Chris Date and Len Pettis Debate Hell

On Friday, September 9th, 2016, Len Pettis of the Bible Thumping Wingnut and Rethinking Hell contributor Chris Date debated the proposition, “Is Conditional Immortality Biblical?” Date affirmed, articulating and defending conditional immortality. Pettis denied, articulating and defending the traditional view of hell as eternal torment.
Continue reading “Episode 94: "Is Conditional Immortality Biblical?" Chris Date and Len Pettis Debate Hell”

Episode 93: A Consuming Passion Festschrift Special (Part 2)

Rethinking Hell contributor Chris Date continues a series of special episodes celebrating last year’s publication of the ministry’s second book, A Consuming Passion: Essays on Hell and Immortality in Honor of Edward Fudge, by interviewing its authors. In this second episode of the series, Chris interviews Peter Grice and Glenn Peoples.
After the interview, Chris announces the upcoming third annual Rethinking Hell Conference, being held in London on October 7–8.
Continue reading “Episode 93: A Consuming Passion Festschrift Special (Part 2)”

Cross Purposes: Atonement, Death and the Fate of the Wicked (Part 2)

In a recent article, guest contributor Terrance Tiessen, Professor Emeritus of Systematic Theology and Ethics at Providence Theological Seminary, explained that after being convinced of conditional immortality he nevertheless thought for a while “that neither traditionalism nor annihilationism gains an apologetic advantage from the doctrine of Christ’s penal substitutionary atonement” because “Jesus neither suffered endlessly nor was annihilated.”1 Upon further reflection, however, Tiessen has come to conclude that “Since the penalty for sin is death, what Jesus suffered as our sin bearer was death,” while “the unrepentant wicked, who must pay the penalty for their own sin, necessarily die the ‘second death.'” He concludes, therefore, that “penal substitutionary atonement accords much better with conditionalism than it does with endless conscious torment.”2
Tiessen echoes my own sentiments, captured in the conclusion to my 2012 article “Cross Purposes: Atonement, Death and the Fate of the Wicked.” “Traditionalists say that Jesus died for our sins,” I wrote, “but what they mean is that he suffered pain leading up to his death . . . And because traditionalists don’t believe the bodies of the risen wicked will ever die, their view of eternal punishment is at the very least considerably more unlike the substitutionary death of Christ than [that of conditionalists].”3
However, I also noted the existence of “the reverse challenge from traditionalists who insist that conditionalism must be false because either Christ wasn’t annihilated or because of conditionalism’s allegedly heretical Christological implications,” and I said we at Rethinking Hell would address the challenge in the future.2 It is to this challenge that I turn now, if belatedly. Continue reading “Cross Purposes: Atonement, Death and the Fate of the Wicked (Part 2)”

  1. Terrance Tiessen, “What did Jesus suffer ‘for us and for our salvation’?” Rethinking Hell [blog], posted July 17, 2016, http://rethinkinghell.com/2016/07/what-did-jesus-suffer-for-us-and-for-our-salvation/ (accessed July 17, 2016). []
  2. Ibid. [] []
  3. Chris Date, “Cross Purposes: Atonement, Death and the Fate of the Wicked,” Rethinking Hell [blog], posted August 12, 2012, http://www.rethinkinghell.com/2012/08/cross-purposes-atonement-death-and-the-fate-of-the-wicked/ (accessed July 17, 2016). []