He argues that, contrary to what the various biblical scholars/theologians I’ve cited argue, Christian beliefs do come directly from the Bible. 3. 1 Timothy 6:16, and God alone has immortality 2 Timothy 1:9-10, God brought life and immortality to light through the gospel Jude 6-7, angels and the wicked undergoing punishment of eternal fire In the debates, immortality is usually taken to mean the inability of the person to perish. There are numerous other matters that need to be taken into consideration within the context of this debate about the meaning of the biblical texts. The apparent illusion of justice in the act of destroying the person hides the fact that annihilation takes away any dignity the person may have. He argues that the main purpose of fire is not to inflict sensory pain, but to destroy. He notes that this refers to the devil, the beast, and the false prophet—plausibly interpreted as powers of evil in the world, rather than as individual persons, and thus offering the interpretation that all evil and resistance to God will ultimately be destroyed. If the scope of this debate were just around the biblicalness of Conditional Immortality, I, as the Con, would simply have to “disprove” this position, which doesn’t require defending the traditional idea of an immortal soul. Those cities were destroyed by fire and serve as a warning of the eternal fire of God's judgment. While most Christian faiths believe in an immortal soul, most biblical scholars agree that specific references to this idea are absent within the bible2.”. First, let’s look at my statement beyond what the Pro quotes: “…where in the Bible does this idea come from? However, several comments must be made at this point. All of the biblical scholars/theologians are actually right: Christian beliefs, Even if the Pro wants to maintain this distinction between the Bible and Greek influence, let’s examine the Bible itself. What about the undying worm and unquenching fire of Mark 9:48? Another popular response is to parallel annihilation with euthanasia in modern-day medical science. I laid out a case for conditional immortality from several important texts. The immortality of the human soul is conditional upon God’s grace and redemption in Jesus Christ. 18 D. Pawson, The Road to Hell (London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1992), pp. The Pro can’t reconcile this discrepancy under his own logic, but the answer is simple. Condemnation of universalism has been widespread, and it is a doctrine which has never been accepted by evangelicals. However, even if we are prepared to accept the reality of an eschatological dualism, as all evangelicals are, what useful purpose does eternal suffering provide? Some annihilationists (e.g. Conditionalism sits on a scale involving other judgments that need to be made, and if not used as the decisive argument in the debate, it may then tip the balance one way or the other. Conditional Immortality (which is also sometimes called annihilationism and conditionalism) is the position that only those who have trusted in Christ will be granted continued, eternal existence in the afterlife. The Traditional View (hitherto called ECT), can only be true if we borrow from Platoinic/Greek philosophy and mythology. He implicitly accuses conditionalists of believing that no-one survives death except the redeemed—thus the wicked are destroyed at death. Why call it Conditional Immortality rather than Annihilation? In laymen’s terms, this argument is simple: God has the power to grant the human soul immortality, but this isn’t guaranteed (or natural for the soul). Given the common idea of an immortal soul within many forms of Christianity, and Pro framing this debate using Christian interpretations, I will use a mainstream, Christian interpretation of immortal souls. But Preston has since become convinced of conditional immortality, and will be speaking on the topic of this conference. This debate has been configured to only allow voters who meet the requirements set by the debaters. The Case for Conditional Immortality: A Brief(ish) Summary by Graham Ware ... For a variety of reasons, the early chapters of Genesis have been the topic of considerable debate. Early Christianity was influenced both from its Hebrew roots, "Philosophy has been given to the Greeks as their own kind of Covenant, their foundation for the philosophy of Christ ... the philosophy of the Greeks ... contains the basic elements of that genuine and perfect knowledge which is higher than human ... even upon those spiritual objects.". I'll be addressing the Pro's final critiques, and then wrapping up this debate with an overall summary. Truth remains the same, whatever our reactions to it or feelings about it may be. Conversely, Fernando replies that this use in Judith shows that the natural interpretation of fire in the Jewish mind was concerned with pain, not destruction.11 Stott maintains that it is reasonable to assume that although both the worm and the fire are everlasting, the consequence may still be destruction. Lewis, The Problem of Pain (London: Geoffrey Bles, 1940), p. 94. Keep in mind, I demonstrate the second point in round two through my example of the Westminster Confession, which the Pro hasn’t challenged. The questions of hell as a moral deterrent and hell as an impetus for evangelism are important ones for anyone concerned with preaching the gospel, and it may be thought that such issues should be considered under the main areas of debate. Stream Hell Debate | Len Pettis VS Chris Date | "Is Conditional Immortality Biblical?" While most Christian faiths believe in an immortal soul, most biblical scholars agree that specific references to this idea are absent within the bible2. This was in response to the disagreement between Christian beliefs and the biblical vacuum, where I was arguing that the very source of Christian beliefs had Greek influences. Connect with Preston. Just to summarize: first, the Pro argued that the Greek terms I cited actually reference a variety of terms, and therefore can't be grouped under the general translation of "hell". Those who accept Jesus Christ will continue to exist through eternal salvation, while those who reject Jesus Christ will die, no longer existing in any physical or spiritual form. Yes, Christians believe in the immortality of the soul. He is a he was a professor at a turn of eternity Bible college. Early Christianity was influenced both from its Hebrew roots3, and ancient Greek philosophy4. If conditionalism has had a small hearing historically due to misplaced Platonic influence, then we should not be so scared of discussing the idea today—there may then be a case for going against 2,000 years of thought. 14:11)? 198–9. Even more so, do we turn to Christ to avoid hell? It is my belief that traditionalists have often not listened to the arguments themselves. Souls aren’t physical or perceivable and therefore don’t play by the same rules as other physical objects, like the human body. Is the true nature of repentance, and the true basis for good works, fear, or love? 13 Fudge, The Fire That Consumes, p. 185. I too look forward to this interesting discussion. Where in the biblical material do we find such an explicit scheme? A Debate on the State of the Dead.pdf (888k) Robert Joseph T., 28 Jul 2013, 04:42. v.1. Do all these faiths actually believe in Conditional Immortality? For the moment we will leave these directly biblical considerations, and turn to the arguments that are generally theological in nature. Can God ever possess the opposite of being all-powerful? 31 Travis, Christian Hope and the Future of Man, p. 135. Thus, the conditionalist may challenge received notions of anthropology, but if Scripture teaches eternal suffering to be the case, then they have not got far in connection with the doctrine of hell. A note of caution must be inserted here—some argue from the physical pains to conclude that this must refer to the final state. First, this isn’t exactly what the argument is saying: the soul survives. Stott points out that Jesus does not mention everlasting pain when he uses the imagery of Isaiah 66:24 here, whereas Judith 16:17 does use such language. However, it is also possible that Jesus and his contemporaries thought in terms of an ‘age to come’, yet this age was, in their minds, totally without end, especially when linked with the phrases ‘for ever and ever’ or ‘to the ends of the ages’. I’ll wait until that challenge is tackled before finding proof for the human soul. Hell, in fact, is not incompatible with God’s victory—hell glorifies God’s justice, and all in hell are subject to God, even if they are rebellious. Turning to a broader theological position, many philosophers of religion have recently been considering the doctrine of hell. There is not room here to provide this whole structure, only to indicate the form of the debate. 93ff. This has been sufficient for the generations of philosophers who’ve followed, and should be sufficient for this debate. This is not the place for that conversation. Or does it? A. J. Pollock (1864-1957) explains: A mistake common to all conditional immortality teachers is that of confounding eternal life with immortality. Upon our physical death, according to the majority of conditionalists, we enter a state of soul sleep where we are unconscious. Perhaps the strongest argument used by traditionalists is the idea that those in hell are continually impenitent. In other words, Christian beliefs aren’t born solely and directly out of the Bible. Not necessarily. Finally, in his side note, the Pro seems dissatisfied that I haven’t cited Socrates directly. The second concerns more theological arguments, but necessarily feeds off (and informs) the first. It seems that we can’t easily dismiss these Greek influences, even within the Bible, which all argue for an immortal soul that can be sent to Hell for eternal judgment. They are related yet distinct. So what gives? If no, then how can a soul possess the opposite of life & life giving properties? The point remains: no reset button is pressed when you get into heaven... if this button was pressed, then you'd have no recollection of the actions/reasons that got you into heaven in the first place. First, such argument inevitably leads to a diminishing of the seriousness of sin. Yet Christ’s atonement was made by a finite event, his death on the cross—thus an infinite punishment would, according to the conditionalist argument, appear to be inappropriate.29. First, this isn’t exactly what the argument is saying: the soul survives as the constant for human life, not after. Some work therefore needs to be done in reconstructing anthropological doctrine and its history, in order to evaluate whether it actually has been developed and interpreted in the light of Platonic philosophy.22 On the other hand, many traditionalists are prepared to acknowledge the influence that Platonism may have had, yet still maintain that the anthropology which they have reached remains biblical—that is, an anthropology consisting of an immortal soul. Recollection Argument: it’s a common assumption that if I can get into heaven, I will recall details about my past life. Socrates’ arguments survive on the logic I explained in round two. I will supplement some of this with material from other conditionalists, and then consider the responses made by a number of traditionalists. C.S. Viewing other threads on the forum, I am really not wanting to start a debate. Support Preston by going to patreon.com. More importantly, if we're going to remain consistent with this logic, then lets erase the Christian faith. Hell may well be unique amongst Christian doctrines, if not for the lack of attention that it has received in the past decades, then for the unwillingness with which many orthodox Christians believe in it. On Gehenna (Greek for “the fires of hell”) and Tartarus (Greek for “lower regions”): Matthew 25:41 "Then He will also say to those on the left hand, 'Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels ...' ", 2 Peter 2:4 For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to chains of gloomy darkness to be kept until the judgment ... (ESV). Secondly, although conditionalism makes an important point concerning anthropology (which will be explored later), both sides of the annihilation/traditional debate tend to agree that whether immortality is inherent or not, God alone has the power to give and take away life in all its forms. Lewis states clearly what is probably true for most modern Christians. See Stott, Essentials, p. 316, for the confusion of terms. Again, Travis summarizes the point well: ‘Eternal torment involves an eternal cosmological dualism, which is impossible to reconcile with the conviction that ultimately God will be “all in all”.’31. What we have to see here is simple: any notion of Hell and eternal damnation isn't just from "Natural Immortality" becoming a common presupposition. Amongst those who have examined annihilationism, Jonathan Kvanvig has questioned whether this doctrine in fact masks the major problem of hell (see the discussion above under ‘Love and justice’). 2:13). More recently, conditionalism and annihilationism have been given a wider public airing as a result of two important works. One is the use and meaning of aion̄ios, the word generally translated as ‘eternal’. Love can never be hate. Fundamentalists may preach vividly about the fires of hell, and liberals have long heralded the downfall of eternal damnation, but what can we say about a doctrine which leaves many people highly embarrassed? Stott’s second argument concerns the biblical imagery of fire. The answer: it doesn’t. No-one remains in some eternal prison, forever spoiling God’s creation. It was formerly a print journal operated by RTSF/UCCF in the UK, and it became a digital journal operated by The Gospel Coalition in 2008. If so, then why isn’t Conditional Immorality the “traditional view”? More recently, the doctrine has received the renewed interest of a specific debate amongst evangelicals concerning whether hell is eternal conscious torment or whether the wicked are annihilated after judgment. The main aim will be to present the various arguments and highlight certain themes that need further attention. 36 See on one side, Pawson, The Road to Hell, p. 40; on the other, Wenham, The Goodness of God, p. 37, and Travis, Christian Hope and the Future of Man, p. 136. The last objection that Stott tackles is the declaration in Revelation 20:10 that the wicked ‘will be tormented day and night for ever and ever’. In thedebates, immortality is usually taken to mean the inability of the person toperish. The following is an examination of what is commonly called "conditional immortality" -- that a person's "immortality" is conditioned on receiving eternal life. Suffice it to say that any weighing of the cases must be done carefully and with prayer! In the debates, immortality is usually taken to mean the inability of the person to perish. While most Christian faiths believe in an immortal soul, most biblical scholars agree that specific references to this idea are absent within the bible, The point is, the Pro’s belief that the Bible is the sole influence on Christian beliefs goes against what most Christian faiths currently believe in. 26 Travis, Christian Hope and the Future of Man, p. 135. Case in point: the soul may not be immortal at all… or may not even exist. Objections to this interpretation are numerous, and Stott himself attempts to deal with some of them, albeit briefly. Since the Con was challenged to strictly defend the traditional idea, I argue that this debate goes beyond the mere biblicalness of Conditional Immortality, given the requirements the Pro set forth in round one. In Plato’s Phaedo, Socrates distinguishes between two kinds of “things”8: things that are “perceptible, composed of parts, and subject to dissolution and destruction”, and things that are “ not perceptible, but intelligible (grasped by thought), not composed of parts, and exempt from dissolution and destruction.”. Therefore, Conditional Immortality correctly affirms the biblical position that the souls of the lost people will all be destroyed at the end of the age. It is often said that this heaven will be eternal both quantitatively and qualitatively, the former referring to duration, the latter referring to the type of eternal existence. In 1974 John Wenham expressed the need for fresh study and ‘serious consideration of the case’ for the doctrine of conditional immortality (The Goodness of God, Leicester: IVP). Paul calls this gift (immortality) an integral part of the gospel message, "Who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel" (2 … Granted, as the Pro claims, some of the verses I cited only reference eternal fires. Travis summarizes the conditionalist argument thus: However, the claim of the conditionalist is that the ‘traditional orthodoxy’ of eternal torment arose in the early church precisely because biblical teaching was (illegitimately) interpreted in the light of Platonic philosophy, which involved belief in the immortality of the soul and in everlasting punishment.21. Representing a global movement known as Rethinking Hell (rethinkinghell.com), Chris Date specializes in the areas of Hell and Conditional Immortality, and has participated in debate with the president of the Southern Baptist Convention, Dr. Albert Mohler, and been interviewed for the popular One Minute Apologist video series. Second, drawing from this philosophy, the soul is a unique, immaterial thing that, if we accept even the Conditional Immortality’s view of, can’t be mortal. In other words, Christian beliefs aren’t born solely and directly out of the Bible. 30 See D. Carson, How Long O Lord? Recent studies of the whole debate have raised a number of general considerations. Here is a clear indication of the difficulty in knowing how this text should be handled and where we should start from in its interpretation. If this is the case, and if this misplaced assumption has become the determining presupposition, then such annihilationists will need to reconsider the case and return to the biblical material. Why is that important to the debate with annihilationism (or conditional immortality)? This vindictiveness is incompatible with the love of God in Christ.26, Whatever anyone says, unending torment speaks to me of sadism, not justice.27. However, it seems that these topics can all too easily distract from the biblical and theological discussion in hand. Pro argues that some things don’t fit within overall categories, as in a flightless penguin. My original point was that the Bible never specifically references this idea, much like it never specifically references the exact theory that Conditional Immortality argues for. The main theological arguments can be broken down into four categories: immortality, love and justice, victory, and the blessedness of the redeemed. 68–71. As I’ve demonstrated, the Bible makes no specific reference to the traditional idea of an immortal soul, and yet it’s a cornerstone belief of many Christian faiths. 4, 1995, p. 240. where in the Bible does this idea come from? Conditional immortality is the name given to the doctrine that states that human beings are not inherently immortal, but rather have immortality conferred upon them as part of the experience of salvation. None of these verses allow for a soul to simply "die" as Conditional Immortality suggests. 2 (1999). Annihilationism (Conditional Immortality) Universalism (a minor view, but held by the likes of Origen) Universalism, as espoused today by the likes of Rob Bell, will not be discussed in this particular undertaking. With John Stott we ‘plead for frank dialogue among evangelicals on the basis of Scripture’.38 In all this speculative debate, it is perhaps best to end with the wise words of John Wenham: And let it be quite clear that these realities are awful indeed. We gain "immortality" only from the gospel. Pro raises a very important question: where in the Bible does this idea come from? Discussion of the matter often becomes extremely emotional, and no excuse should have to be made for this. The first concerns the biblical texts, and how these should be interpreted. The second position is more of the mainstream view within Conditional Immortality, as it says that immortality itself is “conditional” upon salvation. If this is the case, then the soul must carry this knowledge before birth, which gives credence to the idea of a soul before life. However, most conditionalists do still wish to emphasize this—judgment and punishment still exist, yet justice for conditionalists seems to be administered fairly, as the punishment appears not to be out of proportion with the sin. Where exactly did Jesus or God pen their own words within the Bible? ... You can find Chris's debate with Al Mohler here. I will be demonstrating this point more in my defense of Christianity’s Greek influence. Powys’s material may in fact be the most able defence of one specific form of annihilationism thus far. Neither is this true for Heaven. Although we associate conscious torment with fire, annihilation would be the outcome, and thus an appropriate interpretation of the texts. The Pro “believes that Christian beliefs were born completely from the Bible.” If this is the true, and current mainstream Christian faiths believe in an immortal soul going to Heaven or Hell, then these beliefs must come from the Bible. Babies are a good example of this. So, be warned: hell is an emotional subject, but we must let the Scriptures be the final arbiter on the truth of the matter. Traditionalists therefore believe that the parable must be referring to the final state, when all are reunited with physical bodies. Starting off, it is important to clarify the two positions of the pro and con. Therefore, a “conditionally immortal” soul simply can’t exist unless the Pro can show how and why our most fundamental concept of the soul (beyond whether it’s mortal or immortal) must be changed. Annihilationism, which is usually associated with conditional immortality, states that the wicked will not suffer conscious torment for ever, but that after death and judgment they will be destroyed, ceasing to exist. 37 It is a shame that Jim Packer, who usually writes at great depth and with much wisdom, gives conditionalism such a brief and summary treatment—see ‘The Problem of Eternal Punishment’, Evangel 10 (1992), 13–19. by The Bible Thumping Wingnut Network from desktop or your mobile device This is part three of our series on original sin. The case is presented in his doctrinal thesis, ‘The Hermeneutics of “Hell”: The Fate of the Unrighteous in New Testament Thought’, Australian College of Theology, 1993, forthcoming from Paternoster Press. How is it that ten commandments that Moses brought down weren't probably his personal views that he put into the mouth of the stone version of his creator? Several early Christian writers touched on the influence of Greek philosophy, including: Clement of Alexandria5 – "Philosophy has been given to the Greeks as their own kind of Covenant, their foundation for the philosophy of Christ ... the philosophy of the Greeks ... contains the basic elements of that genuine and perfect knowledge which is higher than human ... even upon those spiritual objects. Stott assumes that this passage does refer to the interim state, but that an alternative interpretation need not preclude the idea of annihilation subsequent to punishment. ), Universalism and the Doctrine of Hell, p. 187. Without a doubt, one of the key issues thrown up by the whole debate is that of hermeneutics. ", Eusebius6 – “But when I read those books of the Platonists I was taught by them to seek incorporeal truth, so I saw your 'invisible things, understood by the things that are made’.”, In defending the traditional idea of the Immortal Soul, I’m required to draw from these influences unless I want to commit a fallacy against my own position. The first death is temporary. The punishment of the wicked serves to glorify the righteousness and justice of the divine judge. 20:10). For example, the number three, being an odd number, can never be the opposite, even number. Michael Green follows a similar explanation, maintaining that this isolated verse is not enough on which to build what he refers to as the savage doctrine of eternal suffering.17 Traditionalists reply in two ways. Using the Pro’s own example: “all birds are perceptible”… proving the Pro’s point would require a bird that doesn’t exist in this material world. : Reflections on Suffering and Evil (Leicester: IVP, 1990), p. 103; see also L. Dixon, The Other Side of the Good News (Wheaton: Victor Books, 1992), p. 127. If my soul isn’t in control of my body, then my body could go on living after the annihilation of my soul. The smoke, not the torment, ascends for ever and ever. Blanchard emphasizes the use of ‘their’ worm, suggesting that the ‘worm’ refers to the sinner’s conscience.12 Fudge acknowledges this position, but argues that this cannot be so, as the imagery from Isaiah refers to a devouring worm that eats what is already dead.13. Nevertheless, even his extensive investigation leaves questions unanswered concerning the interpretation of specific texts (especially the use of Is. 1:17; 6:16); he reveals it and gives it to us through the gospel.’23 Helm admits ‘that Scripture does not teach the immortality of the soul in so many words’.24 However, sufficient teaching on hell exists to make the case irrelevant. 168. Furthermore, my evidence above highlights that many Christian historians and theologians found divine knowledge and the pursuit of spiritual truth to be at the very core of this philosophy. There are therefore numerous hermeneutical questions that must be answered, and until we work through them, we should build our case on what is undoubtedly contained in the teaching, not on what is disputable. Pro challenges my argument because of the common assumption that people retain their identity in Heaven. However, if annihilation is true, a gospel still remains to be taught, and it is a gospel that is just as desperately needed. First, apply my previous argument about the scope of this debate to my defense here: just because it’s not directly stated in the Bible doesn’t automatically discount it as an idea. The answer: it doesn’t. The Pro can’t reconcile this discrepancy under his own logic, but the answer is simple. From this distinction, Socrates argues that through logic, the “genuine and perfect knowledge which is higher than human” according to Clement, a soul must be immortal. The motive behind Fudge’s belief, which must be applauded, is that whatever he finds in Scripture, he will follow. Thus, any biblical investigation into this topic requires the examination of a large amount of material. In the States the attack has been focused on Clark Pinnock, who over recent years has taught conditional immortality, along with other perhaps less traditional doctrines with which some evangelicals do not agree.8 However, others (such as Stott) develop conditionalism without going this extra step, and so conditionalism must never be seen as part of a package of beliefs. 2. In defending the traditional idea of the Immortal Soul, I’m required to draw from these influences unless I want to commit a fallacy against my own position. If so, the main reason is that the torrent of books and articles against annihilationism may have left some of its arguments ignored or in the background.37 Although the conclusion of this survey is that annihilation is at the very least an option which ought to be considered fairly and honestly, there remain major problems which proponents of the doctrine must tackle. But, when they sinned, God separated them from the Tree of Life so they would eventually die. Furthermore, recognize that I never claimed that these terms all translated into "Hell". There are logical properties the soul must have in order to be called a “soul” that Conditional Immorality fails to explain, and that the traditional view accounts for. 17 M. Green, Evangelism in the Local Church (London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1990), p. 70. Conditionalists acknowledge this, yet resist the doctrine in order to preserve the biblical insistence on human freedom, judgment and division. Recently, conditionalism and annihilationism have been discussed, 1974 ), Universalism and the doctrine God s. The generations of philosophers who ’ ve followed, and no excuse should have to be voted by! P. 240. where in the graveyard the seriousness of sin explained in round.... 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