Cross Purposes: Atonement, Death and the Fate of the Wicked (Part 2)

Cross Purposes: Atonement, Death and the Fate of the Wicked (Part 2)

In a recent article, guest contributor Terrance Tiessen, Professor Emeritus of Systematic Theology and Ethics at Providence Theological Seminary, explained that after being convinced of conditional immortality he nevertheless thought for a while “that neither traditionalism nor annihilationism gains an apologetic advantage from the doctrine of Christ’s penal substitutionary atonement” because “Jesus neither suffered endlessly nor was annihilated.” ((Terrance Tiessen, “What did Jesus suffer ‘for us and for our salvation’?” Rethinking Hell [blog], posted July 17, 2016, http://rethinkinghell.com/2016/07/what-did-jesus-suffer-for-us-and-for-our-salvation/ (accessed July 17, 2016).)) Upon further reflection, however, Tiessen has come to conclude that “Since the penalty for sin is death, what Jesus suffered as our sin bearer was death,” while “the unrepentant wicked, who must pay the penalty for their own sin, necessarily die the ‘second death.'” He concludes, therefore, that “penal substitutionary atonement accords much better with conditionalism than it does with endless conscious torment.” ((Ibid.))

Tiessen echoes my own sentiments, captured in the conclusion to my 2012 article “Cross Purposes: Atonement, Death and the Fate of the Wicked.” “Traditionalists say that Jesus died for our sins,” I wrote, “but what they mean is that he suffered pain leading up to his death . . . And because traditionalists don’t believe the bodies of the risen wicked will ever die, their view of eternal punishment is at the very least considerably more unlike the substitutionary death of Christ than [that of conditionalists].” ((Chris Date, “Cross Purposes: Atonement, Death and the Fate of the Wicked,” Rethinking Hell [blog], posted August 12, 2012, http://www.rethinkinghell.com/2012/08/cross-purposes-atonement-death-and-the-fate-of-the-wicked/ (accessed July 17, 2016).))

However, I also noted the existence of “the reverse challenge from traditionalists who insist that conditionalism must be false because either Christ wasn’t annihilated or because of conditionalism’s allegedly heretical Christological implications,” and I said we at Rethinking Hell would address the challenge in the future. ((Ibid.)) It is to this challenge that I turn now, if belatedly. Read more about Cross Purposes: Atonement, Death and the Fate of the Wicked (Part 2)

No True (Evangelical) Scotsman?—Denny Burk and National Geographic on the Rise of Conditionalism

No True (Evangelical) Scotsman?—Denny Burk and National Geographic on the Rise of Conditionalism

Recently, National Geographic interviewed Chris Date and Preston Sprinkle in preparation for this article on the rise of evangelical conditionalism, which is somewhat reminiscent of the 2014 article in the New York Times, documenting the same phenomenon (on that occasion, Chris Date, Edward Fudge, and John G. Stackhouse, Jr. were interviewed). While the article has its flaws, and the title (“The Campaign to Eliminate Hell”) is sensationalist and just plain inaccurate, overall NatGeo is to be commended for a willingness to report on this topic in a balanced way. Both articles serve to instruct Christians on the curiosity of many in the secular world, not only about the topic of hell, but also the prospect of reform, which is deemed newsworthy.

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Episode 91: Fear, Fire, and the Pharisees; A Response to Joel Richardson (Part 2)

Episode 91: Fear, Fire, and the Pharisees; A Response to Joel Richardson (Part 2)

Rethinking Hell contributors William Tanksley and Nick Quient join Chris Date to respond to arguments against conditionalism recently published by Joel Richardson, host of the web TV series “The Underground.” This episode contains part two of their discussion; listen to episode ninety if you missed part one.

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Episode 90: Fear, Fire, and the Pharisees; A Response to Joel Richardson (Part 1)

Episode 90: Fear, Fire, and the Pharisees; A Response to Joel Richardson (Part 1)

Rethinking Hell contributors William Tanksley and Nick Quient join Chris Date to respond to arguments against conditionalism recently published by Joel Richardson, host of the web TV series “The Underground.” This episode contains part one of their discussion; listen to episode ninety-one to hear the rest.

Read more about Episode 90: Fear, Fire, and the Pharisees; A Response to Joel Richardson (Part 1)

A Response to Four Views on Hell, Pt. 2 (John Stackhouse on Terminal Punishment)

A Response to Four Views on Hell, Pt. 2 (John Stackhouse on Terminal Punishment)

John Stackhouse has been a faithful friend to Rethinking Hell. He has appeared on our podcast twice (Episode 3, and Episode 86). He wrote the foreward to the first Rethinking Hell book, Rethinking Hell: Readings in Evangelical Conditionalism (Eugene: Cascade, 2014), and was a plenary speaker at the first Rethinking Hell conference in 2014 (that address was printed in our second book, A Consuming Passion: Essays in Honor of Edward Fudge. Eugene: Pickwick, 2015.). So Rethinking Hell contributors were pleased to hear he had been tapped on the shoulder to contribute to the second edition of Four Views on Hell.

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Sure as Hell: Is Scripture really clear about final punishment?

Sure as Hell: Is Scripture really clear about final punishment?

In a recent discussion with Chris Date on the Rethinking Hell podcast, Professor Jerry Walls of Houston Baptist University expressed his incredulity that we could think the Bible is really so clear on the subject of hell. But I don’t think his reasons for giving up that certainty are particularly compelling.

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Episode 83: Pastor With No [Good] Answers (On Hell), a Response to Sean Cole (Part 3)

Episode 83: Pastor With No [Good] Answers (On Hell), a Response to Sean Cole (Part 3)

Rethinking Hell contributor William Tanksley joins Chris Date to play and respond to clips from an episode of Pastor Sean Cole’s “Understanding Christianity” podcast, which he recorded before his debate with Chris was published on Bad Christian’s “Pastor With No Answers” podcast. This episode contains the third and final part of their three-part discussion.

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Episode 82: Pastor With No [Good] Answers (On Hell), a Response to Sean Cole (Part 2)

Episode 82: Pastor With No [Good] Answers (On Hell), a Response to Sean Cole (Part 2)

Rethinking Hell contributor William Tanksley joins Chris Date to play and respond to clips from an episode of Pastor Sean Cole’s “Understanding Christianity” podcast, which he recorded before his debate with Chris was published on Bad Christian’s “Pastor With No Answers” podcast. This episode contains the second of their three-part discussion.

Read more about Episode 82: Pastor With No [Good] Answers (On Hell), a Response to Sean Cole (Part 2)

Episode 81: Pastor With No [Good] Answers (On Hell), a Response to Sean Cole (Part 1)

Episode 81: Pastor With No [Good] Answers (On Hell), a Response to Sean Cole (Part 1)

Rethinking Hell contributor William Tanksley joins Chris Date to play and respond to clips from an episode of Pastor Sean Cole’s “Understanding Christianity” podcast, which he recorded before his debate with Chris was published on Bad Christian’s “Pastor With No Answers” podcast. This episode contains the first of their three-part discussion.

Read more about Episode 81: Pastor With No [Good] Answers (On Hell), a Response to Sean Cole (Part 1)

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.

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