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Psalms Interpretation. Where exactly did Jesus or God pen their own words within the Bible? You don't go to Hell for a few years and then just die. It seems that many of its advocates can quite rightly be labelled as pillars of conservative orthodoxy. 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. No religion exists within a vacuum. The problem consists in being able to justify an eternal sentence for crimes committed in a finite amount of time. 107–8. Turning to a broader theological position, many philosophers of religion have recently been considering the doctrine of hell. 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.”. 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. Pro is asking for evidence that the soul survives after being the constant for human life. Another popular response is to parallel annihilation with euthanasia in modern-day medical science. ), Universalism and the Doctrine of Hell (Carlisle: Paternoster, 1992), pp. Finally, the Pro is attempting to win this argument on an over-simplified logic fallacy: either Conditional Immortality is biblical, or the Traditional View is biblical. 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. This contrasts with the idea of hell, which is popular in many forms of contemporary Christianity. However, let’s look at the Pro’s original challenge in Round One: “I, as the Pro in this debate, agree with this idea [Conditional Immortality] and challenge Con to defend the traditional idea that the soul is naturally immortal.”. Souls aren’t physical or perceivable and therefore don’t play by the same rules as other physical objects, like the human body. By using this site, you agree to our Privacy Policy and our Terms of Use. Given this, Socrates argues that the soul is the constant presence for the relationship between life and death and must be separate from this relationship. Traditionalists therefore believe that the parable must be referring to the final state, when all are reunited with physical bodies. 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. Pro raises a very important question: where in the Bible does this idea come from? The first was by John Wenham, in The Goodness Of God,5 where, in a chapter dealing with the moral difficulties of believing in hell, he presented conditionalism as a possible option. Granted, common assumption doesn't make a component necessarily true, however I'm not concerned with the absolute truth of a retained identity, but that it is a component of the traditional idea of an immortal soul. 66:24, and how best to understand Rev. 24 P. Helm, The Last Things Now (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, 1989), p. 118. by The Bible Thumping Wingnut Network from desktop or your mobile device 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. What about a priori knowledge, or knowledge I’ve gain without having experienced or learned? 2 Pet. Furthermore, recognize that I never claimed that these terms all translated into "Hell". It is when I make my decisions on those feelings alone, and ignore the witness of Scripture, that danger comes. In a religious debate such as this, the argument would be “this knowledge comes from God”. Even more so, do we turn to Christ to avoid hell? In the debates, immortality is usually taken to mean the inability of the person to perish. 2 The varying uses of terminology are helpfully explored by Kendall S. Harmon in ‘The Case Against Conditionalism: A Response to Edward William Fudge’, in Nigel M. de S. Cameron (ed. Throughout the literature, opinions abound as to how this text should be interpreted—is it a parable; does it refer to the intermediate state; can we lift details from such a text, etc? We have described the position of conditionalism, which attacks one of the premises of the traditional understanding of hell on the grounds that the wicked will not be given immortality and hence shall not suffer in torment for ever. Thus, the parable contrasts life with punishment rather than equating their duration. God, who alone is immortal, passes on the gift of immortality to the righteous, who will live forever in heaven or on an idyllic earth or World to Come, while the wicked will ultimately face a second death. 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. 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. 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. This is part three of our series on original sin. Truth remains the same, whatever our reactions to it or feelings about it may be. The doctrine is often, although not always, bound up with the notion of "conditional immortality", a belief that the soul is not innately immortal. Further more, as my biblical quotes on Hell point out, it's kind of an eternal sentence. Or does it? As mentioned above, the basic premises of the Christian religion (the wage of sin is death, the redeeming sacrifice of Jesus Christ, etc.) 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. Obviously, if the Pro wants to defend this idea through biblical references, as he did in round two, that’s his choice. The answer: it doesn’t. Thus, Annihilationism is sometimes called, “Conditional Immortality.”(Only the devil and the beast are accepted as beings that deserve to suffer eternally … 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). It just involves attacking Conditional Immortality. This has been sufficient for the generations of philosophers who’ve followed, and should be sufficient for this debate. ), Universalism and the Doctrine of Hell, pp. If we accept this logic, then we might as well erase Socrates from the field of philosophy altogether. Kvanvig maintains that even if the fate of those in hell is extinction, hell remains morally problematic because the sentence of being eternally separated from God is still inflicted for a finite amount of sin. Condemnation of universalism has been widespread, and it is a doctrine which has never been accepted by evangelicals. Therefore, if the soul is life, and gives life to the body, then it can never be the opposite: death. The two main thrusts of the story are the reversal of fortunes and the irreversibility of the two states.15 Traditionalists emphasize the physical aspects to this story. L.E. C.S. Why Conditional Immortality is true and "perish" really means "perish." 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. Instead, I wanted to ask that if you believe in Conditional Immortality, then 1) Which church denomination are you a member/regular attender of? I have recently come to believe in Conditional Immortality. Much work needs to be done (especially on hermeneutics, concepts of justice, and assumptions concerning immortality) and much is left for future discussion and debate. 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. And he co-authored erasing hell with Francis Chan A number of years ago, and at the time, they both landed on the doctrine of eternal torment. 181ff. In the New Testament, a few passages that directly mention the presence of Hell include, 3. 17 M. Green, Evangelism in the Local Church (London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1990), p. 70. First, it’s important to recognize that as Con, I’ve been asked to “defend the traditional idea that the soul is naturally immortal”. Many evangelicals have recoiled from notions of soul and body dualism, to speak of a ‘holistic identity’, which can refer to a variety of concepts and ideas, but basically means that soul and body are two inseparable aspects of the person, not two distinct substances where the soul is identified with the real person. I’ve shown how the Greek influence I introduced in round two actually exists within the Bible, and describes the presence of a Hell that requires an immortal soul for eternal damnation. 68–71. 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. See Stott, Essentials, p. 316, for the confusion of terms. These relationships need a constant: something that sleeps and wakes requires a body (take away the body and there is no sleeping or waking). 2. First, this isn’t exactly what the argument is saying: the soul survives as the constant for human life, not after. 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. 3 See especially L. Froom, The Conditionalist Faith of our Fathers (Washington: Review & Heal Publishing Association, 2 vols, 1965, 1966), and E. Fudge, The Fire That Consumes (Texas: Providential Press, 1982) (revised and compressed edition—Carlisle: Paternoster, 1994, in which Fudge responds to his critics). Second, the Pro argued that many of the verses I've presented have been misinterpreted since some only mention eternal fire instead of external survival. 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. This interpretation can best be summed up in the Westminster Confession, Simple put: souls are immortal and will either go to heaven or hell. However, does not the doctrine of annihilation allow the full force of the supposedly universalist verses (such as Rom. Neither is this true for Heaven. 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. This line of argument parallels discussions of universalism in many ways. 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. So both the language of destruction and the imagery of fire seem to point to annihilation.20. … The Pro seemed dissatisfied with my reasoning for bringing in Greek philosophy to challenge the logical inconsistencies with Conditional Immortality. 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. Once again, the Pro raises some interesting issues in this debate. Lewis, The Problem of Pain (London: Geoffrey Bles, 1940), p. 94. 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. Annihilationism is thus virtually a corollary of conditional immortality, for if immortality were inherent, then it follows that annihilation would not be a satisfactory explanation of hell. defend the traditional idea that the soul is naturally immortal”. If Conditional Immortality wants to maintain its position, it has to grant these qualities about the soul in order to allow for eternal salvation. Nevertheless, I shall continue on with this debate and attempt to refute some of the arguments posed by Con. Revelation 14:10 is interpreted by Stott and others to refer to the moment of judgment, rather than to everlasting conscious torment. In the debates, immortality is usually taken to mean the inability of the person to perish. ; David Powys, ‘The Nineteenth and Twentieth Century Debates About Hell and Universalism’, in Nigel M. de S. Cameron (ed. Second, science has been working on the whole “evidence” and “proof” thing for many Christian beliefs… starting with the proof of God’s existence. Where in the biblical material do we find such an explicit scheme? Semantic Studies of Genesis 1–11 (Biblical Interpretations Series 6). More importantly, if we're going to remain consistent with this logic, then lets erase the Christian faith. 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. 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. Whenever and wherever hell is discussed, it always raises questions concerning God’s love and justice which bring with them strong emotional feelings. This debate has been configured to only allow voters who meet the requirements set by the debaters. A. J. Pollock (1864-1957) explains: A mistake common to all conditional immortality teachers is that of confounding eternal life with immortality. 168. Support Preston by going to In this view, the "soul" is not immortal but rather "sleeps" (see Lazarus for example in John 11:11ff) until the resurrection. The main aim will be to present the various arguments and highlight certain themes that need further attention. We simply insist that that great gift will be given to humans at the appropriate time. Conditionalists acknowledge this, yet resist the doctrine in order to preserve the biblical insistence on human freedom, judgment and division. 5:18; 11:32; 1 Cor. Warnings and loving invitations intermingle to encourage us to flee the wrath to come.39. It is oftensaid that this heaven will be eternal both quantitatively and qualitatively,the former r… 198–9. The answer: it doesn’t. To understand man’s condition in death we must begin with the book of Genesis. 30 See D. Carson, How Long O Lord? 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. 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). Stott’s second argument concerns the biblical imagery of fire. ... You can find Chris's debate with Al Mohler here. No-one remains in some eternal prison, forever spoiling God’s creation. 13 Fudge, The Fire That Consumes, p. 185. The existence of hell and heaven side by side presented no problem for the biblical authors, and so it should not for us. Many ancient Greeks, and many Christian faiths, viewed the soul as something separate from the body, capable of holding knowledge and using the body to experience the material world. Defunct 3 Angels Conditional Immortality Library (Mother Lode) Č. Ċ. 6 J. Stott and D. Edwards, Essentials: A Liberal-Evangelical Dialogue (London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1988); Eryl Davies, An Angry God? This discounts any other possible option without any sort of logical reasoning. Perhaps the Pro would like to offer counter evidence as to why this isn’t a component of the traditional idea of an immortal soul? 2:13). Matthew 25:26 appears to parallel eternal life with fire. Revelation 14:11 And the smoke of their torment ascends forever and ever; and they have no rest day or night, who worship the beast and his image, and whoever receives the mark of his name. 21 Stephen H. Travis, Christian Hope and the Future of Man (Leicester: IVP, 1980), p. 135. [ The Conditionalist Faith of Our Fathers, Herald Pub., 1966]. Pro points out that we’re debating whether Conditional Immortality is biblical or not, which in part I agree with. Themelios is a peer-reviewed international evangelical theological journal that expounds on the historic Christian faith. 35 Jonathan Kvanvig, The Problem of Hell (Oxford: OUP, 1993), pp. Cohen 1987 From the Maccabees to the Mishnah Library of Early Christianity, Wayne Meeks, editor. everlasting) conscious torment? Powys’s material may in fact be the most able defence of one specific form of annihilationism thus far. A Debate on the State of the Dead.pdf (888k) Robert Joseph T., 28 Jul 2013, 04:42. v.1. 4, 1995, p. 240. where in the Bible does this idea come from? 93ff. I will supplement some of this with material from other conditionalists, and then consider the responses made by a number of traditionalists. 14 S. Travis, I Believe in the Second Coming of Jesus (London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1988), p. 199. For example, the number three, being an odd number, can never be the opposite, even number. On the other hand, some may have chosen this option because of uncertainty concerning the biblical data and the assumption that annihilationism does solve the moral problems associated with hell. If souls fall into this same general category of things as God, then how can they ever possess the opposite of their defining feature? However, if annihilation is true, a gospel still remains to be taught, and it is a gospel that is just as desperately needed. 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. The same meaning has more particular reference when Jesus warns his disciples to ‘fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell’. For conditionalists, memories of the lost remain, but perhaps heaven contains healing and understanding. Kendall Harmon has been critical of conditionalists for importing a timescale of events into biblical material which in itself provides no warrant for such detail.33 Thus, conditionalists envisage death for the sinner, then subsequently resurrection, then punishment, and then destruction. This interpretation can best be summed up in the Westminster Confession1: a reformed confession of faith made in 1646 by the Church of England that remains influential for many forms of Christianity world-wide. 26 Travis, Christian Hope and the Future of Man, p. 135. 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. 12 J. Blanchard, Whatever Happened to Hell? Yes, Christians believe in the immortality of the soul. 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. However, the conditionalist replies: what dignity is there in eternal suffering—surely all dignity of those in hell has already been destroyed? While most Christian faiths believe in an immortal soul, most biblical scholars agree that specific references to this idea are absent within the bible2.”. (Bridgend: Evangelical Press of Wales, 1991), p. 14, notes that at least ten years earlier Stott expressed his agnosticism concerning the precise nature of hell. 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 The second position is more of the mainstream view within Conditional Immortality, as it says that immortality itself is “conditional” upon salvation. 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. First, I can’t adequately defend the con’s position (the traditional idea of immortality) from Biblical grounds alone because this traditional idea doesn’t stem from this source. Shaye J.D. Thus, any biblical investigation into this topic requires the examination of a large amount of material. 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. In the New Testament, a few passages that directly mention the presence of Hell include1: Mark 9:43 If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. 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.

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