From today’s GraceEmail
A sister from an independent Christian church in Idaho writes: “You mentioned a book you co-authored on the subject of final punishment, your part being to present the biblical case for conditional immortality. What exactly do you mean by ‘conditional immortality?’ ”
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The traditional doctrine of hell as unending conscious torment makes God the supreme torturer of the universe — a horrible slander to his character as it is revealed in Scripture and supremely in Jesus Christ. It also overlooks the fact that whenever Scripture ascribes immortality to humans it always refers to the saved, never to the lost; to the body, never to a disembodied soul or spirit; to God’s gift at the Resurrection, never to something inherent to humans by creation (Rom. 2:7; 1 Cor. 9:25; 15:52, 53, 54; 2 Tim. 1:10; 1 Pet. 1:4).
The clear implication is that the wicked are raised mortal, and that is confirmed by Scripture’s assertions that they will die, perish and be destroyed in the second death. God does not keep people alive merely to torment them forever. That is a horrible doctrine, a blasphemy that creates atheists, contradicts the Scriptures and grieves the Holy Spirit. Small wonder that godly scholars such as John Stott (Anglican), E. Earle Ellis and Dale Moody (Southern Baptist), Homer Hailey and Jim McGuiggan (Churches of Christ), F.F. Bruce (Brethren), Philip E. Hughes (Westminster Seminary) and many, many more have publicly questioned or denounced the traditional doctrine of everlasting conscious torment.
The phrase “conditional immortality” turns out to be a shorthand way of saying that God is God and we are not. It means that “the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 6:23). It simply says that “God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him will not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). If you remember nothing else from these two gracEmails, remember Romans 6:23 and John 3:16. Quote them without explaining them away and you are teaching “conditional immortality.”
Copyright 2010 by Edward Fudge. Permission hereby given to reproduce, reprint or forward this gracEmail, but only in its entirety, without change and without financial profit.