The Same Before and After: A Response to Matt Slick

I like Matt Slick, President and Founder of the Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry. I’ve called into his radio show several times and have even interviewed him on the topic of complementarianism. (For an egalitarian response to Matt, you can listen to my two-part interview with Dr. Philip Payne.) Generally Matt is smart and knowledgeable and I appreciate his ministry, but when it comes to the topic of final punishment he is not a sound thinker.
Approximately 31 minutes into the 26 June 2012 episode of CARM radio, a caller asked Matt about physicalism,1 which led to a conversation that also included conditionalism. In addition to his arguments against physicalism he offered an argument against annihilation as final punishment, wherein he labeled a man’s state prior to conception as A,2 his state after conception as B, and his state following annihilation as A again since it is allegedly identical to his state prior to conception, that of non-existence.
Matt concluded that since the first A state could not be called a punishment, neither can the second A state. So this might be called the “A, B, A” argument against conditionalism. Were I his teacher, I would give Matt an F.
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  1. Physicalism is a monistic view of man which denies the existence of an immaterial soul or spirit that lives on after death. To learn more, you can check out my interviews on the topic. []
  2. Since a man does not exist prior to his conception, technically this is not a “state,” but to keep things simple I’ll use the term to refer even to the state of non-existence. []