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New verses to discuss
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New verses to discuss 4 months, 2 weeks ago #5029

  • Piqsid
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I have listened to many debates and most of the Rethinking Hell Podcasts and after a while it gets repetitive. I don’t say this in a negative way, but it seems like every debate or discussion focusses on the same group of about a dozen verses. As I am working my way through the Bible this year with the idea of the two prominent views in my mind I am finding many more verses that speak on this issue but I never hear them brought up in debate. I wanted to share these verses with you and ask if you agree these are strong cases for Conditionalism, or is there a reason these verses are not used.

Psalm 9:3-6
Oddly enough, among all the passages available, this is the passage that changed my mind or perhaps closed the door for me on the traditional view. Before I discovered this passage, I saw strong cases for both sides. On one side you had many verses that said eternal life is only given to the saved, and on the other side you had a couple passages in Revelations that said the lost suffer eternal torment. Both sides had answers to each other’s points showing how those verses could be interpreted both ways. Then in the middle you have a bunch of verses that talk about Eternal Punishment or Eternal Destruction. Both sides say these middle passages support their view. But every reference text they point out could also be interpreted the other way. I wanted a clear concise passage that is not masked in a vision or apocalyptic prophecy that shows the lost in a permanent sate of destruction that lasts forever.
This is what Psalm 9:3-6 says:
"When my enemies turn back, they stumble and perish before your presence. For you have maintained my just cause; you have sat on the throne, giving righteous judgment. You have rebuked the nations; you have made the wicked perish; you have blotted out their name forever and ever. The enemy came to an end in everlasting ruins; their cities you rooted out; the very memory of them has perished."

To me this is very clear. No imagery. No apocalyptic language. Wicked perish. They are ruined. They have come to an end. And it is forever and ever; everlasting. You cannot read this passage and get eternal suffering. It is impossible. All you can do is say that David was writing about Philistines or some other temporal enemy. But that doesn’t work either. The enemy is brought into the presence of God. God is sitting on his throne in judgement. The punishment is eternal. This is clearly referring to final judgment.


Isaiah 33:10-14
10 "Now I will arise," says the LORD, "now I will lift myself up; now I will be exalted.
11 You conceive chaff; you give birth to stubble; your breath is a fire that will consume you.
12 And the peoples will be as if burned to lime, like thorns cut down, that are burned in the fire."
13 Hear, you who are far off, what I have done; and you who are near, acknowledge my might.
14 The sinners in Zion are afraid; trembling has seized the godless: "Who among us can dwell with the consuming fire? Who among us can dwell with everlasting burnings?"

I have no idea why I haven’t heard this passage brought up before. There is an ongoing debate on the interpretation of the term Unquenchable/Eternal Fire. The traditionalists say that it goes on forever and therefore anything thrown into it goes on forever, while the conditionalists say that it also speaks of the quality of the fire: it consumes completely. To me these arguments have often seemed circular since both sides continually reference the same texts that they both continually interpret differently. Because of Jude, I’ve agreed with the conditionalists. That verse definitely emphasizes the quality of the fire above its duration. But you still need to jump around between verses. I wanted one place that says it clearly. I feel Isaiah 33:10-14 does this. As I understand Hebrew poetry, the verses are set up to constantly repeat themselves, saying the exact same thing in a different way. (As I just did)
Verse 10
"Now I will arise," says the LORD,
"now I will lift myself up;
now I will be exalted.”
This verse actually repeats itself three times.
Verse 11
“You conceive chaff;
you give birth to stubble;”
Once again saying the exact same thing. Also, Isaiah speaks of chaff, which Jesus references and stubble which is referenced in Malachi 4:1.
Verse 12
“And the peoples will be as if burned to lime,
like thorns cut down, that are burned in the fire.”
Again, parallel lines saying the same thing.
Verse 13
“Hear, you who are far off, what I have done;
and you who are near, acknowledge my might.”
Here the lines are counter to each other, but I can’t imagine a Biblical scholar not agreeing that they are saying the same thing, namely that everyone (near and far) will acknowledge God’s power.
Verse 14
The sinners in Zion are afraid;
trembling has seized the godless:
"Who among us can dwell with the consuming fire?
Who among us can dwell with everlasting burnings?"
Again the first two lines say the exact same thing. Does that mean the last two lines are also saying the same thing? Are “everlasting burnings” the same thing as “consuming fire”? In the debate over terms like Eternal Punishment and Eternal Destruction, conditionalists are quick to say that it doesn’t say “Eternal PunishING” or “Eternal DestroyING.” Punishment and Destruction are nouns and can be easily interpreted as the result of the action. But “everlasting burning” is definitely an ongoing process. Why don’t traditionalists jump at this passage? Because it says that “everlasting burning” is the same thing as “consuming fire,” which in verse 12 says will burn people down to lime. So not only does this passage give the clearest evidence that eternal or unquenchable fire is a consuming fire, but it also adds the phrase “Who among us can dwell” in such fire? Traditionalists would have you believe that the lost can dwell for eternity in such fire. Isaiah disagrees.

Ezekiel 18
In my Bible, the header of this entire chapter is “The Soul Who Sins Shall Die.” Verse 4 says “Behold, all souls are mine; the soul of the father as well as the soul of the son is mine: the soul who sins shall die.” The whole chapter basically says if you live a righteous life, you will live, if you live a sinful life you will die. Since everyone dies in this life, I don’t think it is talking about this life. In this life sinners also live and righteous also die. It only makes sense if he is talking about final judgement. Verse 30 says “Therefore I will judge you.” This is pretty clear that God will judge the wicked and he will kill their souls. I don’t feel that Jesus was quoting this passage in Mathew 10:28. I don’t see any study Bibles that link the two. But it is basically saying the same thing.

Ezekiel 27:36, 28:18-19
Ezekiel 27 talks about the judgement on the city of Tyre, while chapter 28 talks about the judgement against the Prince of Tyre. Ezekiel 27:36 says “…you have come to a dreadful end and shall be no more forever.” Ezekiel 28:18-19 says “By the multitude of your iniquities, in the unrighteousness of your trade you profaned your sanctuaries; so I brought fire out from your midst; it consumed you, and I turned you to ashes on the earth in the sight of all who saw you. All who know you among the peoples are appalled at you; you have come to a dreadful end and shall be no more forever.” These passages add a phrase that I don’t find elsewhere “shall be no more forever.” Ezekiel 26:21 says “I will bring you to a dreadful end, and you shall be no more.” This verse lacks the “forever.” These verses combine everything conditionalists believe. You have a consuming fire. You have the wicked reduced to ashes. You have the wicked being appalled by others as they are being destroyed. And you have them coming to an end and ceasing to exist forever. How would a traditionalist explain these passages?

Re: New verses to discuss 4 months, 2 weeks ago #5036

  • webb
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Piqsid wrote:
I wanted to share these verses with you and ask if you agree these are strong cases for Conditionalism, or is there a reason these verses are not used.

Psalm 9:3-6
Oddly enough, among all the passages available, this is the passage that changed my mind or perhaps closed the door for me on the traditional view. Before I discovered this passage, I saw strong cases for both sides. On one side you had many verses that said eternal life is only given to the saved, and on the other side you had a couple passages in Revelations that said the lost suffer eternal torment. Both sides had answers to each other’s points showing how those verses could be interpreted both ways. Then in the middle you have a bunch of verses that talk about Eternal Punishment or Eternal Destruction. Both sides say these middle passages support their view. But every reference text they point out could also be interpreted the other way. I wanted a clear concise passage that is not masked in a vision or apocalyptic prophecy that shows the lost in a permanent sate of destruction that lasts forever.
This is what Psalm 9:3-6 says:
"When my enemies turn back, they stumble and perish before your presence. For you have maintained my just cause; you have sat on the throne, giving righteous judgment. You have rebuked the nations; you have made the wicked perish; you have blotted out their name forever and ever. The enemy came to an end in everlasting ruins; their cities you rooted out; the very memory of them has perished."

To me this is very clear. No imagery. No apocalyptic language. Wicked perish. They are ruined. They have come to an end. And it is forever and ever; everlasting. You cannot read this passage and get eternal suffering. It is impossible. All you can do is say that David was writing about Philistines or some other temporal enemy. But that doesn’t work either. The enemy is brought into the presence of God. God is sitting on his throne in judgement. The punishment is eternal. This is clearly referring to final judgment.
I think it is proper to read it in this prophetic way, and that it does show the Bible-wide pattern of total, final, irrevocable destruction for the enemies of the faithful. It is not, however a door-slammer, so to speak. The psalmists speak not infrequently of God's help against their enemies as though God is hearing their prayer for vindication in a kind of heavenly courtroom, and God will make a verdict in their favor. Psalms can also be somewhat hyperbolic. I agree with you that this psalm invites being interpreted eschatologically and that, when so interpreted it perfectly captures the idea of annihilationism. Keep it in your toolbox--it's a very good passage.
Isaiah 33:10-14
10 "Now I will arise," says the LORD, "now I will lift myself up; now I will be exalted.
11 You conceive chaff; you give birth to stubble; your breath is a fire that will consume you.
12 And the peoples will be as if burned to lime, like thorns cut down, that are burned in the fire."
13 Hear, you who are far off, what I have done; and you who are near, acknowledge my might.
14 The sinners in Zion are afraid; trembling has seized the godless: "Who among us can dwell with the consuming fire? Who among us can dwell with everlasting burnings?"

I have no idea why I haven’t heard this passage brought up before.
It is another good passage, and it is used by conditionalists. You just haven't seen it yet. I think one of the founders of this site (I don't remember which one) likes to ask traditionalists, "Who can live with the everlasting burnings?" Because traditionalists have this idea that "everybody lives forever--the only question is where." But this passage makes it very clear that the wicked cannot live with everlasting burnings.
As I understand Hebrew poetry, the verses are set up to constantly repeat themselves, saying the exact same thing in a different way.
Not exactly. Hebrew parallelism is somewhat flexible. You cannot in fairness to this genre try to press the matter as though the two legs of the parallelism must say precisely the same thing. For example, chaff (the inedible parts of the wheat berry) and stubble (the portion of the wheat plant that remains in the soil after the scythe has chopped off the main stalk) are not the same thing. Notwithstanding this flexibility in Hebrew parallelism, your point is strong and correct.

Your comments on Ezekiel are also astute. Thanks for bringing your own independent biblical research and thinking to this important topic. You've got good things to contribute.
Last Edit: 4 months, 2 weeks ago by webb. Reason: gave example of imprecise Hebrew poetic parallelism

Re: New verses to discuss 4 months, 2 weeks ago #5037

  • Singalphile
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I will push back a bit on these. I am a conditionalist and annihilationist, so a URist or ECTist would likely have even more reason to be skeptical.

- Psalm 9:3-6 -

It is a song/poem, so we can expect lots of imagery and hyperbole and the like. Like webb, I agree that the general idea fits better with the idea of annihilationism (like the whole OT), but the fact that God was on a throne and that the enemies perished before Him do not indicate that this is the final judgment. It seems to speak - in past tense, notably - about God's past defeat of David's enemies.

- Isaiah 33:10-14 -

I have heard it used in this debate. I've even heard it used to promote ECT, which I can't understand. I think your observations are correct. However, again, is this a reference to the final judgment? I can't say for sure.

- Ezekiel 18 -

I don't see this as clear support for any view of hell. First, if you look at the uses of the Hebrew word that was sometimes translated "soul", I think you'll see that it just means something like "living creature/person/being/life", as you may know. Second, yes, we will all die (probably), but not all are put to death, and that might be what's in view. (Again, does it generally fit better with CI and annihilationism? Yes!)

- Ezekiel 27:36, 28:18-19 -

Again, does it fit better with our view. Yep. Is the passage about what we would call "hell"? I don't know.

Conclusion:

I find it difficult to refer much to OT passages when it comes to hell. It's not clear if the authors are actually thinking about our NT revelation about the final judgment. I agree that ECT cannot be found in the OT, but I would also say that our view of annihilation is not all that clear either. Conditional immortality is very clear, I would argue, but that's not exactly the same thing.
"Singalphile" - Name chosen (hastily) to indicate being on a narrow path, pursuing the love of God. Male, upper-30's, USA.

Re: New verses to discuss 4 months, 1 week ago #5048

Oh, I have thought of a few of these verses you've mentioned in your OP, Piqsid, and brought them up in on an argument with a traditionalist. You'd be amazed at how they respond in trying to make these verses fit their view. They basically reason backwards in saying that, "well, eternal torment is true and we all know the human soul is eternal, therefore what this verse is REALLY saying is this ...." And then afterward or at some point in the debate they will have the utter gall to claim that conditionalists like me knowingly deny the obvious word of God.
Last Edit: 4 months, 1 week ago by SarahsKnight.
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