Episode 2: A Final Word With Edward Fudge (Part 2)

Hell: A Final WordPart two of Chris Date’s discussion with Edward Fudge, author of The Fire That Consumes, who shares his story and talks about the recent movie that tells it, and about his latest and final book on the topic of final punishment, Hell: A Final Word. Also, we share the first installment of a segment telling the story of formerly convinced traditionalists who are now rethinking hell. Continue reading “Episode 2: A Final Word With Edward Fudge (Part 2)”

No Penitent in Hell: A [Reformed] Response to D. A. Carson

On June 22, 2012, well-known and respected theologian and scholar D. A. Carson told his audience that, as far as he could see, in Scripture “there is no hint anywhere that people in hell genuinely repent.”1 As part of an exposition of Revelation chapters 21 and 22 he cited both and Jesus’ parable of Lazarus and the rich man in as evidence that “hell is not filled with people who are deeply sorry for their sins.” To the contrary, Carson said, it is “filled with people who for all eternity still shake their puny fists in the face of God Almighty, in an endless existence of evil.”
Although he didn’t include it as part of that presentation, in the past he has also pointed to (“Let the one who does wrong, still do wrong”), writing of “the vileness they will live and practice throughout all eternity.”2 He has also elsewhere suggested the possibility that this perpetual lack of repentance on the part of the wicked, and their ongoing sinfulness, is part of the ground and justification for their eternally ongoing punishing.
Carson’s view raises several questions. How legitimate is his application of the parable of Lazarus and the rich man? Will those consigned to final punishment fail to repent and continue to sin following their judgment and sentencing? Does the Bible indicate that they will go on sinning forever, implying that they have been raised immortal? Even if it does not, if they continue to sin after judgment at all, wouldn’t they accrue additional retributive debt, requiring further punishment, during which their continued rebellion would earn them still further punishment, and so on ad infinitum throughout eternity?
Continue reading “No Penitent in Hell: A [Reformed] Response to D. A. Carson”

  1. Carson, D. A. “Home at last: The spectacular God at the center (Revelation 21-22).” http://thegospelcoalition.org/resources/a/home_at_last_the_spectacular_god_at_the_center_revelation_21-22. []
  2. Carson, D. A. (2009). The Gagging of God: Christianity Confronts Pluralism. (Zondervan, Kindle Edition) p. 533. []

But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.”

16:1 He also said to the disciples, “There was a rich man who had a manager, and charges were brought to him that this man was wasting his possessions. And he called him and said to him, ‘What is this that I hear about you? Turn in the account of your management, for you can no longer be manager.’ And the manager said to himself, ‘What shall I do, since my master is taking the management away from me? I am not strong enough to dig, and I am ashamed to beg. I have decided what to do, so that when I am removed from management, people may receive me into their houses.’ So, summoning his master’s debtors one by one, he said to the first, ‘How much do you owe my master?’ He said, ‘A hundred measures of oil.’ He said to him, ‘Take your bill, and sit down quickly and write fifty.’ Then he said to another, ‘And how much do you owe?’ He said, ‘A hundred measures of wheat.’ He said to him, ‘Take your bill, and write eighty.’ The master commended the dishonest manager for his shrewdness. For the sons of this world are more shrewd in dealing with their own generation than the sons of light. And I tell you, make friends for yourselves by means of unrighteous wealth, so that when it fails they may receive you into the eternal dwellings.

10 “One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much, and one who is dishonest in a very little is also dishonest in much. 11 If then you have not been faithful in the unrighteous wealth, who will entrust to you the true riches? 12 And if you have not been faithful in that which is another’s, who will give you that which is your own? 13 No servant can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.”

14 The Pharisees, who were lovers of money, heard all these things, and they ridiculed him. 15 And he said to them, “You are those who justify yourselves before men, but God knows your hearts. For what is exalted among men is an abomination in the sight of God.

16 “The Law and the Prophets were until John; since then the good news of the kingdom of God is preached, and everyone forces his way into it. 17 But it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for one dot of the Law to become void.

18 “Everyone who divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery, and he who marries a woman divorced from her husband commits adultery.

19 “There was a rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. 20 And at his gate was laid a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, 21 who desired to be fed with what fell from the rich man’s table. Moreover, even the dogs came and licked his sores. 22 The poor man died and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried, 23 and in Hades, being in torment, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus at his side. 24 And he called out, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the end of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am in anguish in this flame.’ 25 But Abraham said, ‘Child, remember that you in your lifetime received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner bad things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in anguish. 26 And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, in order that those who would pass from here to you may not be able, and none may cross from there to us.’ 27 And he said, ‘Then I beg you, father, to send him to my father’s house— 28 for I have five brothers—so that he may warn them, lest they also come into this place of torment.’ 29 But Abraham said, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them.’ 30 And he said, ‘No, father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’ 31 He said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead.’”

11 Let the evildoer still do evil, and the filthy still be filthy, and the righteous still do right, and the holy still be holy.”

Salted with Fire: Annihilation and Mark 9:49

Conditionalists frequently respond to the traditionalist argument from ’s undying worm and unquenchable fire. What doesn’t appear to come up as often, however, are Jesus’ words which immediately follow : “For everyone will be salted with fire.” Occasionally this verse is pointed to in defense of the traditional view of hell. As John Gill writes,1

that fire shall be to them, what salt is to flesh; as that keeps flesh from putrefaction and corruption, so the fire of hell, as it will burn, torture, and distress rebellious sinners, it will preserve them in their beings; they shall not be consumed by it, but continued in it: so that these words are a reason of the former, showing and proving, that the soul in torment shall never die, or lose any of its powers and faculties;

Leading up to my recent debate, when my opponent asked me how I understand this verse I did not yet have an answer. But with the help of some friends and fellow conditionalists I developed a confident response—and I’m glad I did because it came up briefly during cross-examination. Here I’ll explain in further detail the answer I gave.
Continue reading “Salted with Fire: Annihilation and Mark 9:49”

  1. Gill, J. (1999). “Commentary on Mark 9:49.” New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible. []

48 ‘where their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched.’

48 ‘where their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched.’

Upcoming Podcast Interviews: Conditionalist Authors

It will not be long before the launch of the Rethinking Hell podcast, and I am excited and honored to host several upcoming episodes interviewing conditionalist/annihilationist authors of recent books.

Hell: A Final Word

Edward Fudge, author of The Fire That Consumes, 3rd edition (Cascade Books, 2011), has recently published a popular-level book, Hell: A Final Word (ACU Press, 2012). Since Fudge has been so influential within the annihilationist movement, and was personally so instrumental in my ‘conversion’ to what I now believe is the biblical view of final punishment, I will kick the podcast off interviewing him first to discuss both his latest book and the upcoming feature film telling his story, “Hell and Mr. Fudge.” I originally interviewed him on the Theopologetics podcast back in August of 2011, and as a result of preparing for and conducting that interview I moved to the fence between annihilationism and the traditional view of hell.

The Lie of Hell

Roger Harper was recently on the Unbelievable? radio show with Justin Brierley on Premier Christian Radio UK discussing the topic of immortality with skeptic Stephen Cave. In that discussion Harper briefly articulated the conditionalist/annihilationist position concerning final punishment, which he discusses at length in his recent book, The Lie of Hell. When I reached out to him asking if he would be interested in letting me interview him for the Rethinking Hell podcast, he graciously (and enthusiastically, it seemed to me!) agreed. He also expressed interest in my recent formal debate and volunteered to submit a question for my opponent to answer during the Q&A period with the public.

The Lie of Hell

David Instone-Brewer was also recently on Unbelievable?—in his case opposite Dr. James White of Alpha & Omega Ministries discussing the question, “Was Jesus a Calvinist?” (Being Reformed, I disagree with Dr. Instone-Brewer’s answer to that question.) In his recent book, The Jesus Scandals (Ladder Media, 2012), he discusses a variety of so-called scandals in Jesus’ life, among his friends, and in his teaching; and in one chapter he argues that Jesus taught conditionalism/annihilationism, which came up very briefly in the discussion on Unbelievable?. After that episode I emailed Dr. Instone-Brewer and we had a fruitful email exchange, iron sharpening iron, and he accepted my invitation to be interviewed on the new podcast.

Stay tuned for these first exciting episodes of the Rethinking Hell podcast!

Reformed and Rethinking: Introducing Chris Date

Chris DateIt is my tremendous honor to be invited to contribute to the RethinkingHell.com blog and podcast, and I would like to thank Peter Grice for inviting me.
Allow me to introduce myself and let you know a little bit about me. My name is Chris Date and I host the Theopologetics podcast, as well as contribute to my friend Dee Dee Warren’s The Preterist Blog and podcast. I am also a software engineer by trade.
I do not have any formal, higher education and lack any official ministry experience. That said, I believe theology and apologetics are nevertheless for every average Joe in the pews, and not just for pastors, philosophers, PhDs and the erudite in ivory towers (which some of my co-contributors are). And I am perhaps somewhat of an enigma, for while I am “rethinking hell”—by which I mean to say that I am a conditionalist or annihilationist (and I will refer to myself as the latter henceforth)—I’m also Reformed.
Continue reading “Reformed and Rethinking: Introducing Chris Date”