Intrinsic Value, Sanctity of Life, and Capital Punishment: A Response to J. P. Moreland

1998 marked the publication of journalist and legal editor Lee Strobel’s popular-level apologetic work, The Case for Christ: A Journalist’s Personal Investigation of the Evidence for Jesus. Two years later he went on to publish The Case for Faith: A Journalist Investigates the Toughest Objections to Christianity, which details his quest for answers to several issues that had still nagged at him even after having published his previous book. Among other questions, Strobel asked, “If God cares about the people he created, how could he consign so many of them to an eternity of torture in hell just because they didn’t believe the right things about him?”1
In his search for an answer to this objection Strobel turned to notable philosopher and theologian, Dr. James P. Moreland. Perhaps unsurprisingly the topic of annihilationism came up and, in answering Strobel’s questions, Moreland argued not only that the traditional view of hell is more consistent with the text of Scripture than annihilationism but that it is in fact morally superior to it. In so doing, however, he appears to have forgotten what a co-author and he had written a decade earlier concerning the ethics of capital punishment.
Continue reading “Intrinsic Value, Sanctity of Life, and Capital Punishment: A Response to J. P. Moreland”

  1. Lee Strobel, The Case for Faith: A Journalist Investigates the Toughest Objections to Christianity (Zondervan, 2009), Kindle edition, locations 305-306. []

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” (Romans 6:23; emphasis added). Those who do not believe in him will not have eternal life, and will instead perish (John 3:16). After rising from their first death to be judged, they will be sentenced to the second death (Revelation 20:14). 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. []
  3. MacArthur, J. “The Answer to Life’s Greatest Question, Part 1.” []
  4. Koukl, G. (Host). (2011, June 5). “Christopher Morgan on Hell and Inclusivism.” Stand to Reason [radio]. 1:09:25. []
  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. []