From the President's Desk Issue 4 1996

This is David Burge’s Editorial from the Issue 4 “From Death to Life” Magazine.

According to BBC World News (TV One, 11 Jan 96) the Doctrine Commission of the Anglican Church has said “hell exists, but the idea of an eternity spent in fire and brimstone is out-dated”. The report prepared for a clerical committee chaired by the Archbishop of Canterbury said, “It might be better to think of hell as a state of annihilation rather than everlasting torment”.
The traditional picture of hell as a place of eternal suffering and torment has “left many with searing psychological scars and it has portrayed God wrongly as a sadistic monster”. To portray hell in this way “is to say more than is said in the Gospels and in the New Testament”
The commission also offered a definition of the soul as “the information bearing pattern of the body rather than a separate entity that flies upward at death”.

I believe this willingness to re-examine God’s Word is prompted by the fact that the truth of conditional immortality speaks to the spirit of our times. It communicates the Gospel to modern unbelievers in language they relate to and as Pastor Russell Carle reminded us our aim as Christians should be to communicate the Gospel to those who are perishing ( 1 Cor 1:18)

In this day and age we who are conditionalists have a unique opportunity to do this.

Update from around the web

The Doctrine Commission of the Anglican Church report on hell caused quite a storm. Here are some links from around the web on this topic

Can the traditional view of hell be defended? An evaluation of some arguments for eternal punishment
Anglican Theological Review, Summer 2003 by van Holten, Wilko
I quote  “My conclusion is that none of the arguments discussed suffices to sustain the claim that eternal punishment is a justified penalty for human sin. This entails, I believe, the more radical conclusion that hell can no longer be conceived of as a punishment for human sins by God. Although it may not sound too disturbing in itself, this conclusion has ramifications, not only for our thinking about hell, but for the way in which we construct our entire theology. It seems to me that if the argument in the present paper is sound, the locus that has traditionally been assigned to the doctrine of hell within the Christian scheme of things, namely, God’s justice, which requires that human sin is punished, is misguided; indeed, the doctrine will have to be incorporated differently into our theology. How this ought to be done is another matter, which falls outside the scope of the inquiry undertaken in the present article. Let me close, finally, by saying that the considerations offered here are not meant as a mere mitigation of the doctrine of hell-as if I were to argue that hell is not as “hot” as it used to be! It is rather the case that belief in God’s perfect goodness prohibits us to affirm that he will punish some people everlastingly for their sins in hell.” (emphasis mine)

Have Anglicans Given Up on Eternal Torment? The Prosblogion reflects.

Large portions of the following book is available on Google Books. It is not a conditionalist book. The author is concerned that a disturbing number of professing Christians question it {hell} as well. “Perhaps more than at any other time in history, hell is under fire.”
Hell Under Fire: Modern Scholarship Reinvents Eternal Punishment By Christopher W. Morgan, Robert A. Peterson

a review of the book can be found here

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