The Annihilation of Hell? A Response to Alan Gomes

Back in 1991, when hardly anyone had discovered the internet, anti-cult author and Biola university professor Dr. Alan W. Gomes wrote “Evangelicals and the Annihilation of Hell,” a two-part article (see Part 1 and Part 2) for The Christian Research Journal.1 Those familiar with the debate over hell will recognize that things have moved on since then. Responding now could seem a little anachronistic. After all, Dr. Gomes can hardly be faulted for not interacting with more recent writings by evangelical conditionalists.

However, like J. I. Packer’s critical review from 1997, Dr. Gomes’ article is still doing the rounds, suggesting that a belated response may be warranted. My intention will not be to find fault with Dr. Gomes himself, but for practical reasons I will proceed as if Dr. Gomes had been apprised of the clear statements and arguments of today’s evangelical conditionalists. He at least had access to the pre-1991 contributions of evangelical conditionalists such as Edward Fudge and the late John Stott, with whom we are in substantial agreement. This interaction with a decades-long dialogue then should hopefully be instructive, perhaps even taking us all a little further. Continue reading “The Annihilation of Hell? A Response to Alan Gomes”

  1. Alan W. Gomes, “Evangelicals and the Annihilation of Hell,” Christian Research Journal, Spring 1991, pp. 14ff. and Summer 1991, pp 8ff. []

The Edward Fudge Festschrift Interview

Last year Rethinking Hell published our second book, A Consuming Passion: Essays on Hell and Immortality in Honor of Edward Fudge. For some time it had been a dream of ours to publish a festschrift in honor of Edward, whose work on the nature of final punishment has so influenced us, whose character so inspires us, and whose friendship is so dear to us. A few months ago I had the privilege of presenting A Consuming Passion to Edward with my co-editor Ron Highfield, and interviewing them both.
 

 
Continue reading “The Edward Fudge Festschrift Interview”

Rethinking Hell's Second Book!


In April of 2014, shortly before the inaugural Rethinking Hell conference at the Lanier Theological Library, we published our first book, Rethinking Hell: Readings in Evangelical Conditionalism. A year later, we are excited to announce the upcoming publication of our second book, A Consuming Passion: Essays on Hell and Immortality in Honor of Edward W. Fudge! (Cover design in image at left is indicative only.) Wipf & Stock, who published our first book and the 3rd edition of Edward Fudge’s The Fire That Consumes, has agreed to publish our second book through Pickwick Publications, its most academic imprint.
Continue reading “Rethinking Hell's Second Book!”

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”

Episode 42: Hell and Mr. Fudge, with Jim Wood

Jim Wood, co-producer of Hell and Mr. Fudge, joins Rethinking Hell contributor Greg Stump to discuss the making of the movie, and the story it tells of Edward Fudge’s life and persistence in the face of controversy and opposition.
Listen from start to finish to find out how you can be entered into a drawing to win a free copy of Hell and Mr. Fudge on DVD! Submissions are due by November 30th. The winner will be notified by email. Continue reading “Episode 42: Hell and Mr. Fudge, with Jim Wood”

No Need to Waver in View of Evidence

I recently received an email in which the writer said his reading had led him to believe that “the clear preponderance of scriptural evidence is easier read as annihilationist,” such that in his thinking “the annihilationist case is the stronger in all of scripture, but fails in the Apocalypse,” particularly . This is “the only real weakness” he can see in the case for annihilationism, but he considers it fatal to that view nevertheless. “Where am I going wrong?” he asks.
I suggest that the answer is clear and simple, and it is as follows. One should not base a doctrine on the book of Revelation, much less on two or three passages in it, when the preponderance of scriptural evidence throughout the rest of the Bible supports a different point of view. Indeed, I know of no doctrine beside this one about which any responsible scholar does such a thing. Continue reading “No Need to Waver in View of Evidence”

10 and the devil who had deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur where the beast and the false prophet were, and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.

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. []

Cross Purposes: Atonement, Death and the Fate of the Wicked

Conditionalists believe that “the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (; emphasis added). Those who do not believe in him will not have eternal life, and will instead perish (). After rising from their first death to be judged, they will be sentenced to the second death (). Traditionalists, on the other hand, say the body that rises “dies not again,”1 confessing that “the evil ones … shall be made immortal” (emphasis added).2 Their language is unambiguous: “Every human being ever born lives forever;”3 “everybody lives forever;”4 the unsaved “will continue living in a state with a low quality of life.”5
Adherents to both views argue that the punishment Jesus Christ bore on the cross, in place of those who believe in him, poses a real challenge to their opponents’ doctrine. Conditionalists point out that Jesus was indeed executed, not eternally tormented. Traditionalists, however, point out Christ wasn’t annihilated, that he did not cease to exist.
Leon Morris writes, “The atonement is the crucial doctrine of the faith. Unless we are right here it matters little, or so it seems to me, what we are like elsewhere.”6 If one’s view of final punishment logically leads to an unbiblical understanding of the atonement, it must be rejected. Contrary to the claims of traditionalists, it is often they, not conditionalists, whose eschatology clashes with what the Bible reveals about the cross. Continue reading “Cross Purposes: Atonement, Death and the Fate of the Wicked”

  1. Gill, J. A Body of Doctrinal Divinity: Or a System of Evangelical Truths (The Baptist Standard Bearer, Inc., 2001), 679. []
  2. The Belgic Confession, Article 37. http://www.reformed.org/documents/BelgicConfession.html []
  3. MacArthur, J. “The Answer to Life’s Greatest Question, Part 1.” http://www.gty.org/resources/print/sermons/42-141 []
  4. Koukl, G. (Host). (2011, June 5). “Christopher Morgan on Hell and Inclusivism.” Stand to Reason [radio]. 1:09:25. http://www.strcast2.org/podcast/weekly/060511.mp3. []
  5. Habermas, G. and Moreland, J.P. Immortality: The Other Side of Death (Thomas Nelson, 1992), 173. []
  6. Morris, L. The Cross in the New Testament (Eerdmans, 1999), 5. []

23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

14 Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire.