Obfuscating Traditionalism: No Eternal Life in Hell?

Historically, traditionalists have not shied away from affirming their belief that the lost will rise from the dead immortal in the sense that they will live forever in hell. While some contemporary traditionalists are comfortable speaking this way, others are not. They appeal on the one hand to the longstanding dominance of their view of hell within the Church as a reason to be skeptical of alternatives, but on the other hand they claim that their predecessors were using biblically imprecise language. Their claim, however, does not hold up under scrutiny. Whether intentional or not, it only obfuscates the truth that their view is one in which the lost will, in fact, live forever—biblically speaking—thus failing to truly rescue it from the answer to the biblical question of immortality. Continue reading “Obfuscating Traditionalism: No Eternal Life in Hell?”

Deprived of continuance: Irenaeus the conditionalist

Arnobius of Sicca
Critics of conditionalism often credit fourth-century apologist Arnobius of Sicca with being the first clear proponent of conditionalism. From Robert Peterson to John Blanchard to Robert Morey, there is an abundant tendency among traditionalists to indicate Arnobius as “the first name usually associated with” annihilationism and conditional immortality,1 who gave “the first clear expression of annihilationism,”2 that annihilationism “was first advanced by Arnobius, a 4th-century ‘Christian’ apologist, according to standard reference works such as Baker’s Dictionary of Theology.”3 Each of these authors is critical of Arnobius and his work; Morey is even hesitant to identify Arnobius as Christian, enclosing the term in scare quotes. The impression these authors apparently intend to leave their readers with is that conditionalism emerged hundreds of years after the writing of the New Testament, first espoused by a “less-than-careful thinker”4 whose very faith is of questionable legitimacy. Continue reading “Deprived of continuance: Irenaeus the conditionalist”

  1. Blanchard, J. Whatever Happened to Hell? (Crossway, 1995). 211. []
  2. Peterson, R. Hell On Trial: The Case for Eternal Punishment (Presbyterian & Reformed, 1995). 104. []
  3. Morey, R. Death and the Afterlife (Bethany House, 1984). 199. []
  4. Peterson. Hell On Trial. 103. []