One of the central descriptions of the fate of the unsaved in the Bible is death, contrasted with life for the saved. We see this for example in Romans 6:23: “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” James 5:20 speaks of saving a sinner’s soul from death. Death there is not only the general fate of the lost but of their souls; that is, the very soul of the lost will die! John warns three times in Revelation of the “second death” (2:11; 20:14; 21:8). Many passages that don’t mention death per se nonetheless make the point by emphasizing the fate of the saved in contrast to the wicked—which is life.1For example, Matthew 7:14, John 3:16; Galatians 6:8. Whatever is meant by death—and its opposite, life—it must have been pretty important to get across. So what does the Bible mean when it talks about the ultimate fate of the unsaved being death?2Unless otherwise indicated, all scripture comes from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version (ESV). Copyright 2000 by Crossway Bibles.
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,1Blanchard, J. Whatever Happened to Hell? (Crossway, 1995). 211. who gave “the first clear expression of annihilationism,”2Peterson, R. Hell On Trial: The Case for Eternal Punishment (Presbyterian & Reformed, 1995). 104. that annihilationism “was first advanced by Arnobius, a 4th-century ‘Christian’ apologist, according to standard reference works such as Baker’s Dictionary of Theology.”3Morey, R. Death and the Afterlife (Bethany House, 1984). 199. 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”4Peterson. Hell On Trial. 103. whose very faith is of questionable legitimacy. Continue reading “Deprived of continuance: Irenaeus the conditionalist”
Christian philosopher Jeff Cook joins Rethinking Hell contributor Joshua Anderson to discuss conditionalism and his recent book, Everything New.
Does the Greek word for “destroy” – apollumi – really mean destroy in the strong sense that annihilationists think it does? Short answer: yes.
One of the key arguments for annihilationism is the fact that the biblical writers frequently claim that those who are not saved in the end will be destroyed. Why this appears to support annihilationism is fairly self-evident. It’s important to stress that this argument does not only rest on the fact that the word “destruction” or “destroy” is used. The biblical writers, like Jesus, sometimes describe destruction without using that specific word. Images of weeds burned up in a furnace or the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah being utterly consumed by fire also serve this purpose. But just now let’s look specifically at the term “destroy.”
A number of months ago I had the honor of being invited by my friend Nick Ahern to participate in a written debate on the three major views of hell. I was asked to write promoting the conditionalist view; Jason Pratt, who debated pseudonymous blogger TurretinFan on my Theopologetics podcast, wrote promoting the universalist view; and T. Kurt Jaros, founder of Real Clear Apologetics, wrote promoting the traditionalist view. You can read the introduction to the written debate at Nick’s blog, Split Frame of Reference, which includes links to the three essays.
Joseph Dear, fellow contributor here at Rethinking Hell, will be responding to Jason Pratt’s universalism essay, whilst in this article I will be responding to T. Kurt Jaros’ traditionalist essay. As I hope to make clear, the presentation delivered by Jaros, like that of most traditionalists, is mistaken about hell.
Traditionalists say a lot of things about the fate of the unsaved, about what will and will not happen to them.1Special thanks to Ronnie of the Consuming Fire Blog for supplying me with many of these quotations. What they say for the most part is logically necessary given traditionalism being true. But what does the Bible say in comparison?2Except where indicated otherwise, all scripture comes from the Holy Bible, English Standard Version (ESV). Copyright 2000 by Crossway Bibles. You might be surprised.
Continue reading “What Traditionalists Say vs. What the Bible Says”
Dr. Glenn Peoples joins fellow RethinkingHell.com contributor Chris Date to discuss his open letter to traditionalists, and some of the reasons traditionalists are losing the battle over the doctrine of hell.
Continue reading “Episode 8: A Message to Traditionalists from Glenn Peoples”
Like my fellow contributors, it is truly a delight to join the Rethinking Hell project. I have been hoping for years to be part of a larger conversation among evangelicals on the topic of hell. For a long time I was constrained from talking about my views due to my position on staff at Biola University and my role as an elder at two conservative evangelical churches. However, I now have the freedom to express my own convictions about hell without having to honor an institutional position with which I respectfully disagree—namely, eternal conscious punishment of the unsaved. I am now able to openly share and talk about this view of hell that I have come to hold known as “conditional immortality.” More often than not I would refer to myself as an annihilationist, as that succinctly describes my view of the nature of hell itself, but since this term has some baggage and unhelpful associations attached to it I am comfortable referring to myself as an evangelical conditionalist.
Part two of Chris Date’s discussion with Dr. Preston Sprinkle, co-author of Erasing Hell with Francis Chan, to discuss why, though finding himself now leaning toward conditionalism, a few passages still give him pause.
Continue reading “Episode 6: Erasing Hell with Preston Sprinkle (Part 2)”