6 Reasons Preachers Avoid Sermons on Hell

6 Reasons Preachers Avoid Sermons on Hell

Recently, the modern standard-bearer for neo-Calvinism, The Gospel Coalition (TCG), published 5 Reasons Preachers Avoid Sermons on Hell. Their list boils down to a few causes:

  • Bad theology
  • Bad praxis
  • Fear of man

But we here at Rethinking Hell believe there may be a more accurate, longer list (6 is greater than 5; see what we did there?) of noble reasons why preachers are not preaching the doctrine of eternal conscious torment (ECT). Read more about 6 Reasons Preachers Avoid Sermons on Hell

How Conditionalists Approach Wrath, Love, and Other Things

How Conditionalists Approach Wrath, Love, and Other Things

In discussions of heaven and hell, one is hard-pressed to find a conversation in which questions of God’s love, wrath, and mercy do not arise. What is God’s wrath? How does it get reconciled with God’s love and mercy? Does God give every sinner what he or she deserves, or does he show some degree of mercy to the unrepentant by annihilating them? ((For our purposes here, we will not even entertain the idea that God would do unto anyone worse than they deserve.)) Is it loving for God to destroy the wicked—i.e. to send them to hell in the manner that the Bible actually describes (e.g. Matthew 10:28)?
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Sodom and Gomorrah in the Pseudepigrapha: A Survey and Analysis

Sodom and Gomorrah in the Pseudepigrapha: A Survey and Analysis

James H. Charlesworth offers general readers four initial thoughts on the importance of the Pseudepigrapha. They deserve to be quoted in full:

First, there is the very abundance of the literature, although we possess only part of the writings produced by Jews during the period 200 B.C. to A.D. 200. . . .
 
Second, the Pseudepigrapha illustrate the pervasive influence of the Old Testament books upon Early Judaism. . . . ((We can see this is so because of the numerous “Testaments” dedicated to the various patriarchs.))
 
Third, we learn from the Pseudepigrapha that the consecutive conquests of Palestinian Jews by Persians, Greeks, and Romans, and the intermittent invasion by Syrian, Egyptian, and Parthian armies did not dampen the enthusiasm of religious Jews for their ancestral decisions. . . .
 
Fourth [and finally], the Pseudepigrapha attest that the post-exilic Jews often were torn within by divisions and sects, and intermittently conquered from without by foreign nations who insulted, abused, and frequently employed fatal torture. . . .  ((James H. Charlesworth, “Introduction for the General Reader,” The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha, ed. James H. Charlesworth (Hendrickson, 2013), 2:xxviii.))

Most of these early Jewish writers believed they were free to reinterpret the various Old Testament texts, but it seems quite appropriate to state that they offered very little in the way of a positive reading of the Sodom and Gomorrah (S&G) narrative in Genesis. Instead, they treat the story as it is: a revelation of God’s judgment upon a sinful city (or cities). For an excellent introduction to apocalyptic literature, see the work of John J. Collins and George W. E. Nickelsburg. ((John J. Collins, The Apocalyptic Imagination: An Introduction to Jewish Apocalyptic Literature, 2nd ed. (Eerdmans, 1998); George W. E. Nickelsburg, Resurrection, Immortality, and Eternal Life in Intertestamental Judaism and Early Christianity, 2nd ed. (Harvard University Press, 2006).)) Read more about Sodom and Gomorrah in the Pseudepigrapha: A Survey and Analysis

Sodom and Gomorrah in the Apocrypha: A Survey and Analysis

Sodom and Gomorrah in the Apocrypha: A Survey and Analysis

Literature regarding the Sodom and Gomorrah (S&G) narrative spans multiple testaments and bodies of ancient literature, receiving interpretation and narration in the Pseudepigrapha, Apocrypha, Josephus, and Philo, as well as the Old Testament. The purpose of this blog post is not to examine each reference in depth, but to provide a broad overview of the various references to the S&G narrative within Second Temple literature. Investigation of this topic in the Old Testament ought to be its own blog post (or even series). For our purposes, we will limit our analysis to the Apocrypha. Read more about Sodom and Gomorrah in the Apocrypha: A Survey and Analysis

The New York Times on the Rise of Conditionalism—Al Mohler Responds

The New York Times on the Rise of Conditionalism—Al Mohler Responds

New York Times: Conditionalism Gains GroundHow do you know when your small movement is gaining momentum? Perhaps first, you get well-respected thought leaders or cultural icons to adopt and promote your cause. Perhaps next, you find recognition in a well known national or international publication. And finally, in terms of seeing an impact, you begin to receive increasing mention by thought leaders in the community you are trying to influence.

In the past couple of years, and especially in the past few months, that has happened with the theological movement of Conditionalism, and the ministry of Rethinking Hell.
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Obfuscating Traditionalism: No Eternal Life in Hell?

Obfuscating Traditionalism: No Eternal Life in Hell?

Historically, traditionalists have not shied away from affirming their belief that the lost will rise from the dead immortal in the sense that they will live forever in hell. While some contemporary traditionalists are comfortable speaking this way, others are not. They appeal on the one hand to the longstanding dominance of their view of hell within the Church as a reason to be skeptical of alternatives, but on the other hand they claim that their predecessors were using biblically imprecise language. Their claim, however, does not hold up under scrutiny. Whether intentional or not, it only obfuscates the truth that their view is one in which the lost will, in fact, live forever—biblically speaking—thus failing to truly rescue it from the answer to the biblical question of immortality. Read more about Obfuscating Traditionalism: No Eternal Life in Hell?

Lessons You Learn as a Conditionalist (Part 1)

Lessons You Learn as a Conditionalist (Part 1)

Hello everyone,

Having held to this minority Christian view on the doctrine of hell for some time now, I find that it has taught me a lot about things that go far beyond final punishment. I also find that I am not alone in these things. Therefore, I have decided to write some of them down. This is the first installment in what we hope to be an ongoing series here at RethinkingHell. After all, there is always more to learn.

The point of this article is not so much to give further evidence for the evangelical conditionalist view as much as it is to share lessons that can benefit believers of whatever view on hell. It is, of course, inevitable that some examples and statements will promote the conditionalist view; that’s just the nature of the beast. Nevertheless, as you shall see, these lessons are applicable to all kinds of spiritual matters, not just hell.
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The Fire Is Not Quenched: Annihilation and Mark 9:48 (Part 2)

The Fire Is Not Quenched: Annihilation and Mark 9:48 (Part 2)

A few months ago we took a look at Mark 9:48, in which Jesus quotes Isaiah 66:24 and refers to gehenna as the place where “their worm does not die.” Critics of conditionalism often misquote or misunderstand the idiom as depicting a consuming maggot that eternally feeds upon but never fully consumes its host, and I had explained that quite the opposite is true. Similar to the scavengers of Deuteronomy 28:26 and Jeremiah 7:33 which will not be frightened away and prevented from fully consuming carrion, the worm “will not be prevented by death from fully consuming dead [bodies] … their shame is made permanent and everlasting by being fully consumed.” ((Date, C. (2012, July 17). “Their worm does not die: Annihilation and Mark 9:48.” Rethinking Hell [blog]. Retrieved 16 July 2012. http://www.rethinkinghell.com/2012/07/their-worm-does-not-die-annihilation-and-mark-948/))
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The meaning of “apollumi” in the Synoptic Gospels

The meaning of “apollumi” in the Synoptic Gospels

apollumi - the Greek word for "destroy"Does the Greek word for “destroy” – apollumi – really mean destroy in the strong sense that annihilationists think it does? Short answer: yes.

One of the key arguments for annihilationism is the fact that the biblical writers frequently claim that those who are not saved in the end will be destroyed. Why this appears to support annihilationism is fairly self-evident. It’s important to stress that this argument does not only rest on the fact that the word “destruction” or “destroy” is used. The biblical writers, like Jesus, sometimes describe destruction without using that specific word. Images of weeds burned up in a furnace or the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah being utterly consumed by fire also serve this purpose. But just now let’s look specifically at the term “destroy.”

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Traditionalism and the (Not So) Second Death

Traditionalism and the (Not So) Second Death

In his apocalyptic vision recorded in the book of Revelation, John sees a lake of fire into which the risen wicked are thrown (20:15). There they join a seven-headed, ten-horned beast, a two-horned beast (the false prophet), and the devil, all three of whom are in eternal torment (20:10). This imagery is often appealed to by proponents of the traditional view of hell, typically treating it incorrectly as if it were a literal description of future events, or offering no justification for assuming that the proper interpretation is one in which the damned will suffer for eternity, ((For one of several reasons to interpret the imagery otherwise, see Date, C. [2012, July 12]). “Consistency in Preterism: Annihilation and Revelation 20:10Rethinking Hell [blog]. Retrieved 26 August, 2012. http://www.rethinkinghell.com/2012/07/consistency-in-preterism-annihilation-and-revelation-2010)) despite the interpretation offered by “He who sits on the throne” (21:5) which is that the lake of fire is a symbol for “the second death” (21:8).

Conditionalists, recognizing this as the divine interpretation of the cryptic lake of fire imagery, take the interpretation in a quite straightforward way: those who die apart from Christ will rise and die a second time. Traditionalists offer an alternative explanation for the phrase, “the second death.” As the first death is a separation of body and soul, they often argue, so, too, is the second death a separation, one of the whole person from God for eternity (a claim which itself will be examined more closely in the future here at Rethinking Hell). And whereas the first death is physical, they tend to say that the second death is in some way a spiritual one. But in identifying the second death as spiritual death and separation from God, they demonstrate that they don’t really think it’s a “second” death at all.

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