Rethinking Hell: Readings in Evangelical Conditionalism editors and contributors gather for a supersized episode of the podcast to share details about the 2014 Wipf & Stock publication, and July’s inaugural Rethinking Hell conference!
In Episode 48, we hear from Ralph Bowles. Ralph is involved in the work of the Anglican Church in Brisbane, Australia. He is also the author of “Does [esvignore]Revelation 14:11[/esvignore] Teach Eternal Torment? Examining a Proof-Text on Hell,” which appeared in the Journal Evangelical Quarterly back in 2001.
Are you hesitant to really reconsider your view of hell because you think it means you’ll have to adopt other beliefs, beliefs you may not think are biblical? Concerned that rethinking hell will require you to abandon other key doctrines that you believe are biblical? Well, if this describes you, then know that you have nothing to worry about.
Evangelical conditionalist theologians run the gamut of beliefs on other issues within the realm of Christian theology. But how can this be? Shouldn’t we all think the same about everything since we share a belief about this one issue?
Obviously, that is a silly question. You wouldn’t assume that all your premillennialist friends share the same view regarding baptism. The two views aren’t logically connected. ((This isn’t to deny that in practice, some collections of doctrines tend to be held together. But my point is not to deny that there is ever a connection between doctrines, but just to point out such connections are not logically necessary. And there are always exceptions to these tendencies as well. Dispensationalists, for example, tend to lean Arminian and charismatic, but John MacArthur is an outspoken Calvinist and cessasionist.)) You wouldn’t assume that all Calvinists hold the same view of how to interpret Genesis 1 for that same reason. Yet for some reason, this comes up with annihilationism. But there is no logical reason for it. There is no reason why one’s belief about hell would affect their view of baptism, for example. Why would it? Likewise, you can reconsider your view on hell and still keep all kinds of views on other topics. ((Of course, as you study the scripture more on this topic, you may reconsider other things because you have a better grasp of scripture than you did before. But that said, if you change your mind because you realize your former view on a different topic was unbiblical, how would that be anything but a positive change?))
Believe what is biblical: if our view on hell is biblical, and your view on another topic is biblical, then there is no reason why you can’t hold to both.
To recap, in Part 1, I gave an explanation for how Matthew 25:46 and “eternal punishment” is consistent with annihilationism. Here in Part 2, I will show why some of the rebuttals to what I put forth in Part 1 are insufficient to show that Matthew 25:46 proves eternal torment. I will also address an alternative conditionalist interpretation, one that I don’t hold but that is stronger than traditionalists usually give it credit for.