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. 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. The punishment of this verse could then be destruction—punishment all the same. The following is an examination of what is commonly called "conditional immortality" -- that a person's "immortality" is conditioned on receiving eternal life. It is when I make my decisions on those feelings alone, and ignore the witness of Scripture, that danger comes. Instead, I wanted to ask that if you believe in Conditional Immortality, then 1) Which church denomination are you a member/regular attender of? Gerald Bray provides the most explicit statement of this view: … if the non-elect have no hope of salvation and God does not want them to suffer unduly, why were they ever created in the first place? It has not been the possession of all humans from birth. Nevertheless, even his extensive investigation leaves questions unanswered concerning the interpretation of specific texts (especially the use of Is. Is the true nature of repentance, and the true basis for good works, fear, or love? Not necessarily. I will be demonstrating this point more in my defense of Christianity’s Greek influence. However, the conditionalist replies: what dignity is there in eternal suffering—surely all dignity of those in hell has already been destroyed? 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. I laid out a case for conditional immortality from several important texts. Another popular response is to parallel annihilation with euthanasia in modern-day medical science. Granted, as the Pro claims, some of the verses I cited only reference eternal fires. The accusation is that most theologians interpret hell in the traditional manner for two reasons: (a) because their tradition has always done so, and their tradition precedes their interpretation of Scripture; (b) because the force behind that tradition has been the false assumption that men and women are created immortal, and so those who reject Christ endure for ever, suffering the consequences of their rejection. They teach that they are convertible terms. Or does it? You have made known to me the paths of life; you will make me full of gladness with your presence.' Themelios is a peer-reviewed international evangelical theological journal that expounds on the historic Christian faith. The song at the end is Breakfast by Newsboys. 107–8. 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? Others, convinced that this refers to the final state, then argue that physical pain must be in mind! 4, 1995, p. 240. where in the Bible does this idea come from? 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. Blanchard emphasizes the personal pronoun—the smoke is of ‘their’ torment, and thus the suffering must be everlasting. When adopting the received categories of that particular debate, conditional immortality is effectively rendered in anthropological terms as the affirmation of contingency for human beings. No-one remains in some eternal prison, forever spoiling God’s creation. 5 J. Wenham, The Goodness of God (Leicester: IVP, 1974); the work also provides helpful warnings concerning decisions on the issue, and a brief history of how Wenham learnt of the doctrine; the chapter dealing with hell has been revised and stated less cautiously in The Enigma of Evil (Guildford: Eagle, 1993). 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. 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. 5:18; 11:32; 1 Cor. 7 An explanatory note must be made with reference to Stott’s position. 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. While most Christian faiths believe in an immortal soul, most biblical scholars agree that specific references to this idea are absent within the bible, So what gives? Cook, "How Deep the Platonism," 269-286 in Farms Review of Books, vol. Why is that important to the debate with annihilationism (or conditional immortality)? A Debate on the State of the Dead.pdf (888k) Robert Joseph T., 28 Jul 2013, 04:42. v.1. In the New Testament, a few passages that directly mention the presence of Hell include, 3. If hell is eternal torment, then we must preach it so. Souls aren’t physical or perceivable and therefore don’t play by the same rules as other physical objects, like the human body. It's better to enter eternal life with only one hand than to go into the unquenchable fires of hell with two hands. Finally, if Conditional Immortality upholds these qualities about the soul, then Socrates’ arguments for an immortal soul generates some complex questions Conditional Immortality needs to account for. 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. The idea of an immortal soul found its way into Christian thought primarily from the teachings of Socrates and Plato7. First, let’s look at my statement beyond what the Pro quotes: “…where in the Bible does this idea come from? 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. 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. ), Universalism and the Doctrine of Hell, p. 187. 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. 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. 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. It is now recognized that this word may have both a qualitative and a quantitative aspect—thus ‘the age to come’ is a possible phrase to describe the concept, and this would cohere with some annihilationist apologetic. A. J. Pollock (1864-1957) explains: A mistake common to all conditional immortality teachers is that of confounding eternal life with immortality. : 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. The doctrine is often, although not always, bound up with the notion of "conditional immortality", a belief that the soul is not innately immortal. 2 (1999). Connect with Preston. ), Universalism and the Doctrine of Hell (Carlisle: Paternoster, 1992), pp. This suggests a greater burden on the Pro than simply “proving” it’s biblical. If Natural Immortality isn't biblical, then Conditional Immortality must be. 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. 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. These are issues which we can only highlight here, but are important topics in themselves. I’ll keep things simple by going down his list of critiques. 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. A note of caution must be inserted here—some argue from the physical pains to conclude that this must refer to the final state. Once again, there are other issues that could have been discussed. This suggests that the soul is capable of retaining knowledge. 28 G. Bray, ‘Hell: Eternal Punishment Or Total Annihilation’, Evangel 10.2 (Summer 1992), p. 23. If so, is that a point for Con? However, several comments must be made at this point. If Conditional Immortality wants to maintain its position, it has to grant these qualities about the soul in order to allow for eternal salvation. 32 See Fernando, Crucial Questions About Hell, p. 69. Form of Life Argument: like other “not perceptible” things, a soul can’t admit to being the opposite of something it naturally is. The answer: it doesn’t. 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. 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’. 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’). 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. 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. People dissenting from more traditional views are accused of doing so for ‘emotional’ reasons, whatever they may actually be. We gain "immortality" only from the gospel. As mentioned above, the basic premises of the Christian religion (the wage of sin is death, the redeeming sacrifice of Jesus Christ, etc.) Case in point: the soul may not be immortal at all… or may not even exist. In a religious debate such as this, the argument would be “this knowledge comes from God”. Pro is asking for evidence that the soul survives after being the constant for human life. Love can never be hate. are all super structural, the basic belief of a Christian is the assumption that the soul is immortal. We could also investigate the use of ‘darkness’ (Jude 13); the use of separation (2 Thes. Theology is always close to home when we have a vested interest in the subject, and this is even more the case when it comes to the doctrine of hell. The answer: it doesn’t. 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. 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. 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’. 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. The voting period for this debate has ended. 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