2016 Rethinking Hell Conference Announcement

2016 Rethinking Hell Conference Announcement

After the first two Rethinking Hell conferences drew speakers and guests from around the world to Houston in 2014 and Pasadena in 2015, we are excited to take our conference to the world! Announcing the third annual Rethinking Hell Conference, taking place at Highgate International Church in Highgate, London on October 7-8, 2016. Our theme this year will be “Conditional Immortality: Past, Present, Future.”

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Why J. I. Packer Is (Still) Wrong: A Response to The Gospel Coalition (Part 3)

Why J. I. Packer Is (Still) Wrong: A Response to The Gospel Coalition (Part 3)

The Gospel Coalition (TGC) recently published an article entitled “J. I. Packer on Why Annihilationism Is Wrong.” ((Gavin Ortlund, “J. I. Packer on Why Annihilationism Is Wrong,” The Gospel Coalition, posted October 7, 2015, http://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/j.i.-packer-on-why-annihilationism-is-wrong (accessed October 8, 2015). Ortlund was a breakout speaker at the 2015 Rethinking Hell Conference. An audio recording of his presentation is available for free download here.)) In it, TGC reproduces four arguments Packer originally offered against annihilationism in his 1997 article, “Evangelical Annihilationism in Review.” ((J. I. Packer, “Evangelical Annihilationism in Review,” Reformation & Revival 6, no. 2 (Spring 1997): 37-51. Online: http://www.rethinkinghell.com/research/critical/j-i-packer.)) In Part 1 of Rethinking Hell’s response, we demonstrated that Packer’s first argument fails at every point. ((Chris Date and Nicholas Quient, “Why J. I. Packer is (Mostly) Wrong: A Response to The Gospel Coalition (Part 1),” Rethinking Hell [blog], posted October 23, 2015, http://www.rethinkinghell.com/2015/10/why-j-i-packer-is-mostly-wrong-a-response-to-tgc-part-1 (accessed October 23, 2015).)) In Part 2, we refuted most of Packer’s second argument, demonstrating that the texts he cites actually support annihilationism. ((Chris Date and Nicholas Quient, “Why J. I. Packer is (Mostly) Wrong: A Response to The Gospel Coalition (Part 2),” Rethinking Hell [blog], posted October 23, 2015, http://www.rethinkinghell.com/2015/10/why-j-i-packer-is-mostly-wrong-a-response-to-tgc-part-2 (accessed October 23, 2015).)) In this third and final installment, we will wrap up our response to Packer’s second argument and refute his third and fourth arguments as well.

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Why J. I. Packer Is (Still) Wrong: A Response to The Gospel Coalition (Part 2)

Why J. I. Packer Is (Still) Wrong: A Response to The Gospel Coalition (Part 2)

The Gospel Coalition (TGC) recently published an article entitled “J. I. Packer on Why Annihilationism Is Wrong.” ((Gavin Ortlund, “J. I. Packer on Why Annihilationism Is Wrong,” The Gospel Coalition, posted October 7, 2015, http://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/j.i.-packer-on-why-annihilationism-is-wrong (accessed October 8, 2015). Ortlund was a breakout speaker at the 2015 Rethinking Hell Conference. An audio recording of his presentation is available for free download here.)) In it, TGC reproduces four arguments Packer originally offered against annihilationism in his 1997 article, “Evangelical Annihilationism in Review.” ((J. I. Packer, “Evangelical Annihilationism in Review,” Reformation & Revival 6, no. 2 (Spring 1997): 37-51. Online: http://www.rethinkinghell.com/research/critical/j-i-packer.)) In Part 1 of Rethinking Hell’s response, we critiqued TGC for calling into question the motives of annihilationists and doubting our commitment to the authority of Scripture, and demonstrated that the first of Packer’s reproduced arguments fails at every point as a challenge to annihilationism. ((Chris Date and Nicholas Quient, “Why J. I. Packer is (Mostly) Wrong: A Response to The Gospel Coalition (Part 1),” Rethinking Hell [blog], posted October 23, 2015, http://www.rethinkinghell.com/2015/10/why-j-i-packer-is-mostly-wrong-a-response-to-tgc-part-1 (accessed October 23, 2015).)) As we shall see, Packer’s remaining arguments fare no better.

Read more about Why J. I. Packer Is (Still) Wrong: A Response to The Gospel Coalition (Part 2)

Why J. I. Packer Is (Still) Wrong: A Response to The Gospel Coalition (Part 1)

Why J. I. Packer Is (Still) Wrong: A Response to The Gospel Coalition (Part 1)

In its eschatology-themed, Spring 1997 issue, Reformation & Revival magazine published an article by J. I. Packer entitled “Evangelical Annihilationism in Review.” ((J. I. Packer, “Evangelical Annihilationism in Review,” Reformation & Revival 6, no. 2 (Spring 1997): 37-51. Online: http://www.rethinkinghell.com/research/critical/j-i-packer.)) In it Packer attempts to refute what he understands to be several arguments advanced in favor of annihilationism, though he has some refreshingly charitable things to say about those who offer them. Reproducing quotes from John Wenham and John Stott in which they warn against the unreliability of emotion and its ability to cause us to twist Scripture, Packer acknowledges that these men embraced annihilationism from a commitment to the authority of Scripture, and not from emotionalism or sentimentality. In the end he calls them and other evangelical annihilationists “honored fellow-evangelicals,” and says “it would be wrong for differences of opinion on this matter to lead to breaches of fellowship.”

Packer also concludes, however, that John Stott was wrong to suggest that “the ultimate annihilation of the wicked should at least be accepted as a legitimate, biblically founded alternative to their eternal conscious torment.” ((David L. Edwards & John Stott, Evangelical Essentials: A Liberal-Evangelical Dialogue (InterVarsity, 1988), 320.)) Packer says Stott “asks too much, for the biblical foundations of this view prove on inspection, as we have seen, to be inadequate.”

Much ink has been spilled in defense of annihilationism in the nearly twenty years since Packer’s article. ((See, for example, David J. Powys, ‘Hell’: A Hard Look at a Hard Question: The Fate of the Unrighteous in New Testament Thought (Wipf & Stock, 2007); Edward W. Fudge, The Fire That Consumes: A Biblical and Historical Study of the Doctrine of Final Punishment, 3rd ed. (Cascade, 2011); Edward W. Fudge, Hell: A Final Word (Leafwood, 2012); J. Webb Mealy, The End of the Unrepentant: A Study of the Biblical Themes of Fire and Being Consumed (Wipf & Stock, 2012); Kim Papaioannou, The Geography of Hell in the Teaching of Jesus: Gehena, Hades, the Abyss, the Outer Darkness Where There Is Weeping and Gnashing of Teeth (Pickwick, 2013); J. Gregory Crofford, The Dark Side of Destiny: Hell Re-Examined (Wipf & Stock, 2013). See also David Hilborn, The Nature of Hell: A Report by the Evangelical Alliance Commission on Unity and Truth Among Evangelicals (ACUTE) (Paternoster, 2000), as well as Francis Chan and Preston Sprinkle, Erasing Hell: What God Said About Eternity, and the Things We’ve Made Up (David C. Cook, 2011), both of which side with the traditional view but acknowledge annihilationism as a plausible reading of Scripture. Books which attempt to present both views of final punishment neutrally include Douglas A. Jacoby, What’s the Truth About Heaven and Hell? Sorting Out the Confusion About the Afterlife (Harvest House, 2013); Steve Gregg, All You Want to Know About Hell: Three Christian Views of God’s Final Solution to the Problem of Sin (Thomas Nelson, 2013).)) It seems strange to some of us, therefore, that The Gospel Coalition (TGC) would republish some of Packer’s arguments without dealing with the responses annihilationists have since offered, but that’s what they did in a recent article entitled “J. I. Packer on Why Annihilationism Is Wrong.” ((Gavin Ortlund, “J. I. Packer on Why Annihilationism Is Wrong,” The Gospel Coalition, posted October 7, 2015, http://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/j.i.-packer-on-why-annihilationism-is-wrong (accessed October 8, 2015). Ortlund was a breakout speaker at the 2015 Rethinking Hell Conference. An audio recording of his presentation is available for free download here.)) Stranger still, the article’s author says of these arguments that they “are some of the more pithy and incisive points I’ve read regarding annihilationism, and are still relevant today.” ((Ibid.)) In reality, Packer’s arguments do not hold up to scrutiny as challenges to annihilationism, and TGC’s commentary reflects uncharitable and inaccurate assumptions concerning the motives of annihilationists, assumptions Packer demonstrates to be false in his own article. Read more about Why J. I. Packer Is (Still) Wrong: A Response to The Gospel Coalition (Part 1)

RH Conference 2015: Breakout Audio!

RH Conference 2015: Breakout Audio!

Two weeks ago about 100 evangelicals gathered to discuss the perennially hot topic of hell. What transpired was, by all accounts, unprecedented. As Jerry Walls put it, “Historic? I’m not sure it’s too strong a word. I can’t think of anything quite like this!” Seldom, if ever, have passionate evangelical proponents of competing views on a controversial topic gathered with the express purpose of discussing (arguing about) it, while nevertheless voicing their critiques with respect and in Christian love, enjoying the kind of camaraderie, fellowship, and unity to which their Lord has called them.

We understand that there are many who would have liked to attend but were unable, and so we are making recordings of nearly all of the plenary and breakout presentations available for free or at a very reasonable price. We are publishing video recordings of all six plenary and four breakout sessions, as well as the concluding panel discussion between the plenary speakers, on a 4-DVD box set which you can purchase for $35 here: http://rethinkinghell.com/about/order-dvds. Video recordings of some of the breakout sessions will be available on YouTube in the “2015 Rethinking Hell Conference” playlist. And aside from the sessions which were filmed for the DVD set, audio recordings of all of the breakout sessions presented by their authors are available for free download below. Read more about RH Conference 2015: Breakout Audio!

RH Conference 2015: Full Schedule!

RH Conference 2015: Full Schedule!

With only a few weeks remaining until our second Rethinking Hell conference, taking place at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California, we wanted to share the full speaking schedule with you all and invite those who have not already signed up to consider registering at a special discounted price of $50, which we can offer thanks to some funds that have come in to help scholarship registrations (use discount code RH2015  at the checkout page of the registration process at www.rethinkinghellconference.com/2015/).

Here is the updated full speaking & activity schedule for this year’s conference, along with some notes about our plenary & breakout session presenters: Read more about RH Conference 2015: Full Schedule!

2015 Rethinking Hell Conference Announcement

2015 Rethinking Hell Conference Announcement

After a successful and inspiring first conference in Houston last summer, we are looking forward to the prospect of more conferences both in the US and abroad! We are pleased to now announce the second Rethinking Hell Conference, which will take place at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California from June 18-20, 2015.


Our theme this year will be “Conditional Immortality and the Challenge of Universal Salvation.”

In selecting this theme, Rethinking Hell is promoting dialogue among evangelicals, by bringing our own view of conditional immortality (also called annihilationism), into conversation with universalism. Universalists believe that hell is a place of purification, out of which God will eventually redeem all who are sent there. This view has gained some popular momentum within evangelical communities since the publication of Rob Bell’s best-selling book Love Wins.

As well as the engagement of these two views, our conference will also facilitate a “trialogue” with representatives of the widely-held traditional view of eternal torment.
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Episode 58: Persuasive or Evasive? Subtle and Not-So-Subtle Shifts in Traditionalist Dialectics, with Ronnie Demler

Episode 58: Persuasive or Evasive? Subtle and Not-So-Subtle Shifts in Traditionalist Dialectics, with Ronnie Demler

Rethinking Hell contributor Ronnie Demler delivers his presentation, “Persuasive or Evasive? Subtle and Not-So-Subtle Shifts in Traditionalist Dialectics,” at the inaugural Rethinking Hell Conference, 2014.

Read more about Episode 58: Persuasive or Evasive? Subtle and Not-So-Subtle Shifts in Traditionalist Dialectics, with Ronnie Demler