Episode 109: "Hell Under Fire" Under Fire, Part 7: Will Everyone Ultimately Be Saved?


 
Rethinking Hell contributors Daniel Sinclair and Graham Ware join Chris Date for the seventh of a series of episodes reviewing Hell Under Fire: Modern Scholarship Reinvents Eternal Punishment, edited by Christopher Morgan and Robert Peterson. This seventh episode in the series reviews chapter 8, “Universalism: Will Everyone Ultimately Be Saved?” by J. I. Packer
Continue reading “Episode 109: "Hell Under Fire" Under Fire, Part 7: Will Everyone Ultimately Be Saved?”

Why J. I. Packer Is (Still) Wrong: A Response to The Gospel Coalition (Part 3)

The Gospel Coalition (TGC) recently published an article entitled “J. I. Packer on Why Annihilationism Is Wrong.”1 In it, TGC reproduces four arguments Packer originally offered against annihilationism in his 1997 article, “Evangelical Annihilationism in Review.”2 In Part 1 of Rethinking Hell’s response, we demonstrated that Packer’s first argument fails at every point.3 In Part 2, we refuted most of Packer’s second argument, demonstrating that the texts he cites actually support annihilationism.4 In this third and final installment, we will wrap up our response to Packer’s second argument and refute his third and fourth arguments as well.
Continue reading “Why J. I. Packer Is (Still) Wrong: A Response to The Gospel Coalition (Part 3)”

  1. Gavin Ortlund, “J. I. Packer on Why Annihilationism Is Wrong,” The Gospel Coalition, posted October 7, 2015, http://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/j.i.-packer-on-why-annihilationism-is-wrong (accessed October 8, 2015). Ortlund was a breakout speaker at the 2015 Rethinking Hell Conference. An audio recording of his presentation is available for free download here. []
  2. J. I. Packer, “Evangelical Annihilationism in Review,” Reformation & Revival 6, no. 2 (Spring 1997): 37-51. Online: http://www.rethinkinghell.com/research/critical/j-i-packer. []
  3. Chris Date and Nicholas Quient, “Why J. I. Packer is (Mostly) Wrong: A Response to The Gospel Coalition (Part 1),” Rethinking Hell [blog], posted October 23, 2015, http://www.rethinkinghell.com/2015/10/why-j-i-packer-is-mostly-wrong-a-response-to-tgc-part-1 (accessed October 23, 2015). []
  4. Chris Date and Nicholas Quient, “Why J. I. Packer is (Mostly) Wrong: A Response to The Gospel Coalition (Part 2),” Rethinking Hell [blog], posted October 23, 2015, http://www.rethinkinghell.com/2015/10/why-j-i-packer-is-mostly-wrong-a-response-to-tgc-part-2 (accessed October 23, 2015). []

Why J. I. Packer Is (Still) Wrong: A Response to The Gospel Coalition (Part 2)

The Gospel Coalition (TGC) recently published an article entitled “J. I. Packer on Why Annihilationism Is Wrong.”1 In it, TGC reproduces four arguments Packer originally offered against annihilationism in his 1997 article, “Evangelical Annihilationism in Review.”2 In Part 1 of Rethinking Hell’s response, we critiqued TGC for calling into question the motives of annihilationists and doubting our commitment to the authority of Scripture, and demonstrated that the first of Packer’s reproduced arguments fails at every point as a challenge to annihilationism.3 As we shall see, Packer’s remaining arguments fare no better.
Continue reading “Why J. I. Packer Is (Still) Wrong: A Response to The Gospel Coalition (Part 2)”

  1. Gavin Ortlund, “J. I. Packer on Why Annihilationism Is Wrong,” The Gospel Coalition, posted October 7, 2015, http://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/j.i.-packer-on-why-annihilationism-is-wrong (accessed October 8, 2015). Ortlund was a breakout speaker at the 2015 Rethinking Hell Conference. An audio recording of his presentation is available for free download here. []
  2. J. I. Packer, “Evangelical Annihilationism in Review,” Reformation & Revival 6, no. 2 (Spring 1997): 37-51. Online: http://www.rethinkinghell.com/research/critical/j-i-packer. []
  3. Chris Date and Nicholas Quient, “Why J. I. Packer is (Mostly) Wrong: A Response to The Gospel Coalition (Part 1),” Rethinking Hell [blog], posted October 23, 2015, http://www.rethinkinghell.com/2015/10/why-j-i-packer-is-mostly-wrong-a-response-to-tgc-part-1 (accessed October 23, 2015). []

Why J. I. Packer Is (Still) Wrong: A Response to The Gospel Coalition (Part 1)

In its eschatology-themed, Spring 1997 issue, Reformation & Revival magazine published an article by J. I. Packer entitled “Evangelical Annihilationism in Review.”1 In it Packer attempts to refute what he understands to be several arguments advanced in favor of annihilationism, though he has some refreshingly charitable things to say about those who offer them. Reproducing quotes from John Wenham and John Stott in which they warn against the unreliability of emotion and its ability to cause us to twist Scripture, Packer acknowledges that these men embraced annihilationism from a commitment to the authority of Scripture, and not from emotionalism or sentimentality. In the end he calls them and other evangelical annihilationists “honored fellow-evangelicals,” and says “it would be wrong for differences of opinion on this matter to lead to breaches of fellowship.”
Packer also concludes, however, that John Stott was wrong to suggest that “the ultimate annihilation of the wicked should at least be accepted as a legitimate, biblically founded alternative to their eternal conscious torment.”2 Packer says Stott “asks too much, for the biblical foundations of this view prove on inspection, as we have seen, to be inadequate.”
Much ink has been spilled in defense of annihilationism in the nearly twenty years since Packer’s article.3 It seems strange to some of us, therefore, that The Gospel Coalition (TGC) would republish some of Packer’s arguments without dealing with the responses annihilationists have since offered, but that’s what they did in a recent article entitled “J. I. Packer on Why Annihilationism Is Wrong.”4 Stranger still, the article’s author says of these arguments that they “are some of the more pithy and incisive points I’ve read regarding annihilationism, and are still relevant today.”5 In reality, Packer’s arguments do not hold up to scrutiny as challenges to annihilationism, and TGC’s commentary reflects uncharitable and inaccurate assumptions concerning the motives of annihilationists, assumptions Packer demonstrates to be false in his own article. Continue reading “Why J. I. Packer Is (Still) Wrong: A Response to The Gospel Coalition (Part 1)”

  1. J. I. Packer, “Evangelical Annihilationism in Review,” Reformation & Revival 6, no. 2 (Spring 1997): 37-51. Online: http://www.rethinkinghell.com/research/critical/j-i-packer. []
  2. David L. Edwards & John Stott, Evangelical Essentials: A Liberal-Evangelical Dialogue (InterVarsity, 1988), 320. []
  3. See, for example, David J. Powys, ‘Hell’: A Hard Look at a Hard Question: The Fate of the Unrighteous in New Testament Thought (Wipf & Stock, 2007); Edward W. Fudge, The Fire That Consumes: A Biblical and Historical Study of the Doctrine of Final Punishment, 3rd ed. (Cascade, 2011); Edward W. Fudge, Hell: A Final Word (Leafwood, 2012); J. Webb Mealy, The End of the Unrepentant: A Study of the Biblical Themes of Fire and Being Consumed (Wipf & Stock, 2012); Kim Papaioannou, The Geography of Hell in the Teaching of Jesus: Gehena, Hades, the Abyss, the Outer Darkness Where There Is Weeping and Gnashing of Teeth (Pickwick, 2013); J. Gregory Crofford, The Dark Side of Destiny: Hell Re-Examined (Wipf & Stock, 2013). See also David Hilborn, The Nature of Hell: A Report by the Evangelical Alliance Commission on Unity and Truth Among Evangelicals (ACUTE) (Paternoster, 2000), as well as Francis Chan and Preston Sprinkle, Erasing Hell: What God Said About Eternity, and the Things We’ve Made Up (David C. Cook, 2011), both of which side with the traditional view but acknowledge annihilationism as a plausible reading of Scripture. Books which attempt to present both views of final punishment neutrally include Douglas A. Jacoby, What’s the Truth About Heaven and Hell? Sorting Out the Confusion About the Afterlife (Harvest House, 2013); Steve Gregg, All You Want to Know About Hell: Three Christian Views of God’s Final Solution to the Problem of Sin (Thomas Nelson, 2013). []
  4. Gavin Ortlund, “J. I. Packer on Why Annihilationism Is Wrong,” The Gospel Coalition, posted October 7, 2015, http://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/j.i.-packer-on-why-annihilationism-is-wrong (accessed October 8, 2015). Ortlund was a breakout speaker at the 2015 Rethinking Hell Conference. An audio recording of his presentation is available for free download here. []
  5. Ibid. []

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 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. []
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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.”