Around the web June 2010

Reflections Regarding Calvinism and Theological Disagreement “Let’s look at the two doctrines causing all the fuss. The first is called conditional immortality. Under this view, Hell is not a place of eternal, enduring torment for humans. Instead, at some point in the judgment process, human souls of those who are not God’s children are annihilated. This view has been held for many years by those in some parts of the church and is not novel. In fact, when placed under the glare of theological scrutiny, the Biblical case upholding conditional immortality passes muster among the experts. Nevertheless, this teaching runs counter to traditional mainstream church teaching that predates the Reformation and scholars like Beckwith were unhappy to give ground on it. Despite this, under the “sola scriptura” rules of Protestant Biblical interpretation, tradition is not enough.” Forum discussion at Theology Web Campus on conditional immortality An article exploring Hell: Eternal Torture? Are Human Beings Immortal? The author does not come to Conditional Immortality conclusions but makes some good points. I quote “Now then, when one speaks of eternal life with God, one must also consider the flip side – eternal punishment.  Does eternal punishment require immortality?  The quick and easy answer is “no,” because one could interpret such “eternal” punishment not as an never-ending torment, but rather as a final, once-for-all-time, no-further-choice-to-made punishment.  The logical problem with such a solution is that if one applies this meaning to “eternal” on the punishment side of the equation, does not one then also have to be consistent and apply the same meaning on the blissful side?   Such a logic trap should not become a permanent snare.  Those who argue from the Biblical viewpoint alone, and not mixed with the Platonic presumption, anchor their understanding of immortality to God, and His election and His gift.” Discussion on Hell at the Lamp stand and Study forums

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4 Responses to Around the web June 2010

  1. Rick Lannoye says:

    You make some good points to show that the God of Jesus could never hurt anyone, certainly not for eternity!

    I’ve actually written an entire book on this topic–Hell? No! Why You Can Be Certain There’s No Such Place As Hell, (for anyone interested, you can get a free ecopy of Did Jesus Believe in Hell?, one of the most compelling chapters in my book at, but if I may, let me share just one of the many points I make in it to explain why.

    If one is willing to look, there’s substantial evidence contained in the gospels to show that Jesus opposed the idea of Hell. For example, in Luke 9:51-56, is a story about his great disappointment with his disciples when they actually suggested imploring God to rain FIRE on a village just because they had rejected him. His response: “You don’t know what spirit is inspiring this kind of talk!” Presumably, it was NOT the Holy Spirit. He went on, trying to explain how he had come to save, heal and relieve suffering, not be the CAUSE of it.

    So it only stands to reason that this same Jesus, who was appalled at the very idea of burning a few people, for a few horrific minutes until they were dead, could never, ever burn billions of people for an eternity!

    True, there are a few statements that made their way into the copies of copies of copies of the gospel texts which place “Hell” on Jesus’ lips, but these adulterations came along many decades after his death, most likely due to the Church filling up with Greeks who imported their belief in Hades with them when they converted.

  2. Andrew Thomson says:

    Hi Rick,

    The word “hell” has, over the years, taken on a life of its own as extra-biblical connotations have been added to it. It would be far better if we used the original Hebrew and Greek words (sheol, hades, Gehenna, Tartarus etc.) and sort to understand what was meant by those words as used in the Bible.

    “Sheol” and “hades” mostly refer to “the grave” or “the place of the dead”. However, “the lake of fire” along its metaphorical picture, “Gehenna”, as used by Jesus, do refer to a place of future punishment for those whose names are not found in the Book of Life. This is the second death (Rev 20:14). Death is the extinguishment of life, not never-ending torture. The punishment will be eternal in that there is no hope of resurrection from it.

    Regards, Andrew

  3. Andrew and Rick,

    “Hell” simply means where things are cast out, and is typically associated with death, destruction, the grave, and so forth, usually being a close synonym with “death.” If we had to abandon words every time someone tries to put a theological spin on them, then we should also refuse to translate words like:

    life, death,
    condemnation, damnation,
    worm, worms,
    lord, god, gods,
    love, charity…

    And the list would never stop, and we would have a bunch of archaic words strung together by a few English conjunctions like “and” and “if” and “then.” The answer is not to run away and start speaking in Hebrew and Greek, but to use these words as they are defined by our biblical text, and let them define themselves.

    Should we start using the words “zoe” and “thanatos” to try to dodge anticipated false theological ideas that have been associated with the English words of “life” and “death?” Ask many theologians what these words mean, and they will tell you that “life” means “happiness” and death means “conscious never-ending separation from God.”

    In a debate, the key is to always make sure that your terms are defined. When we deal with biblical subjects, one must always let the Bible define its own terms. There’s nothing wrong with the word “hell.” Rather, the fight is over the meaning and definition of “hell.”

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