Atonement Debate Redux: Lean Not On Your Own Understanding


While contending for Conditional Immortality within today’s evangelical world, it can often feel like one is in a battle of sorts: a contest of theological rigor, consistency, and biblical fidelity. This sense of contention gives rise to lively deliberations on social media, conversations with friends and family, discussions within churches, and even formal academic debate. What delights me most about all the interaction around conditionalism lately is the increased focus on the atonement and the soteriological implications of what we believe about what awaits the risen lost. In a theological battle that to date has been—to an extent—characterized by misunderstandings and vacuous rhetoric, it is encouraging to see a more focused approach come from both sides, especially those around the atoning sacrifice made by Christ on our behalf.

I recently had the privilege to join the fight for conditionalism on the Rethinking Hell Podcast and have eagerly awaited the continued dialogue that was sure to follow. So imagine my delight when I was informed that a former debate opponent of Chris Date has recently written about the connection between final punishment and penal substitutionary atonement! With great anticipation I prepared for doctrinal battle and awaited the pointed arguments I expected to encounter, only to find that in the end, the only attacks aimed at me fell upon straw men! How sad. Nevertheless, it is instructive to address what arguments have arisen in this new wave of focus on the atonement. Conditionalism’s critics often lean heavily on their own understanding of our claims, hastily waxing eloquent about our supposed errors without representing us fully or accurately. This article will address such arguments, and others, made in “Does the Doctrine of Hell Conflict With Penal Substitutionary Atonement” by  Hiram R. Diaz III on biblicaltrinitarian.com. Continue reading “Atonement Debate Redux: Lean Not On Your Own Understanding”

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”

Upcoming Conditionalism Debate: Northern California, September 9th

Do you live within a road trip’s driving distance from Northern California? And do you enjoy live debates, or are you on the fence when it comes to whether the Bible teaches conditional immortality or the traditional doctrine of hell? Striving for Eternity Ministries is hosting a debate between Rethinking Hell contributor Chris Date and Bible Thumping Wingnut co-host Len Pettis, at the ministry’s free, annual Norcal Fire conference on Friday, September 9th at Grace Bible Church in Redwood City. From the conference website:

Is conditional immortality biblical? A debate on the nature and duration of hell.

Chris Date, host of the Rethinking Hell podcast, will defend Conditional Immortality. According to this view, life is the Creator’s provisional gift to all, but will ultimately be granted to the saved forever as the gift of immortality, and revoked from the lost forever as the punishment of annihilation. Len Pettis, co-host of the Bible Thumping Wingnut show, will defend the historically dominant view of hell as Eternal Conscious Torment. Date and Pettis are conservative evangelicals and will argue for their respective views from Scripture, which they aim to uphold as their final authority.

Visit the conference website for more details and to register!

Hell and #thedress

I want to apologize straightaway for capitalizing on the baffling, yet wearisome global conversation happening around the color of a dress that was buzzing on the web last night (and if you’re reading this months later, I apologize for referencing something that has long been relegated to the dustbin of internet disinterest), but I think that the experience of cognitive dissonance (and indeed questioning of objective reality!) between those people who perceive a white & gold dress and those who obviously see the fabric as blue and black is analogous to what many of us at the Rethinking Hell project have experienced.
I tried (and may have failed) to explain this in my Preface to our book, Rethinking Hell: Readings in Evangelical Conditionalism, but my own obsessive interest in studying the topic of hell (which, I mean, why would ANYONE make this an object of 20 years of study??) comes from a very similar experience to those who see different colors in the dress.  How can we be looking at the same thing, but see something completely different? Continue reading “Hell and #thedress”

Episode 64: Up For Debate? A Response to Kevin Zuber, with Ronnie Demler and Chris Date (Part 2)

On December 14th, 2013, Moody Radio’s Julie Roys moderated an informal debate between Edward Fudge and Dr. Kevin Zuber on the radio show she hosts, Up For Debate. This episode contains the second half of Rethinking Hell contributors Ronnie D and Chris Date’s response to some of the arguments offered by Dr. Zuber.
Continue reading “Episode 64: Up For Debate? A Response to Kevin Zuber, with Ronnie Demler and Chris Date (Part 2)”

Episode 63: Up For Debate? A Response to Kevin Zuber, with Ronnie Demler and Chris Date

On December 14th, 2013, Moody Radio’s Julie Roys moderated an informal debate between Edward Fudge and Dr. Kevin Zuber on the radio show she hosts, Up For Debate. This episode contains part one of Rethinking Hell contributors Ronnie D and Chris Date’s response to some of the arguments offered by Dr. Zuber.
Continue reading “Episode 63: Up For Debate? A Response to Kevin Zuber, with Ronnie Demler and Chris Date”