The God Who Punishes: Universalism & Matthew 25:46

The God Who Punishes: Universalism & Matthew 25:46

“. . . while to those who have proved of inferior merit, or of something still meaner than this, or even of the lowest and most insignificant grade, will be given a body of glory and dignity corresponding to the dignity of each one’s life and soul; in such a way, however, that even for those who are destined to ‘eternal fire’ or to ‘punishments’ the body that rises is so incorruptible, through the transformation wrought by the resurrection, that it cannot be corrupted and dissolved even by punishments.” (( There is a gap that follows this sequence, left by Rufinus ))

Origen of Alexandria, On First Principles, Chap. X. Sec. 3.

I’m an odd case in this debate. Though I now lean towards annihilationism, I consider the above quote to be one of my favorites, especially since I consider it a fine piece of patristic literature. With respect to the current debate on the eternality and function of eschatological post-resurrection punishment, all three views must put forth somewhat speculative arguments in support of refinement, torment, or death. Having been immersed in evangelical universalist literature for over a year, ((Indeed, I was one before I discovered far more evidence in favor of the eternal death of mortal men and women)) I think I’m in a good position to offer the universalist some grist for their theological mills. This post will specifically focus on the singular proof-text ((Usually cited, erroneously, by traditionalists)) containing a statement by Jesus in Matthew chapter twenty-five and verse forty-six. I am not entirely settled on my interpretation of this verse, as I find the narrative-historical interpretation generally offered by Andrew Perriman ((The Coming of the Son of Man: New Testament Eschatology for an Emerging Church (Wipf & Stock, 2012), 282 pp.)) to be quite compelling. However, for the sake of this discussion, I will assume that this climactic point concerns post-mortem final judgment. For the most part I find the universalist interpretation of this text rather strained so my intent is to offer a constructive critique that will hopefully add some light instead of heat. ((There are multiple authors I could engage but since Tom Talbott has the most influence within an evangelical universalist context I will limit myself to engaging with him. Also, many universalist Christians use Talbott as an exegetical and theological springboard)) Read more about The God Who Punishes: Universalism & Matthew 25:46

The End of Hell:  Introducing Greg Stump

The End of Hell: Introducing Greg Stump

Getting knocked by John Knox
Like my fellow contributors, it is truly a delight to join the Rethinking Hell project. I have been hoping for years to be part of a larger conversation among evangelicals on the topic of hell. For a long time I was constrained from talking about my views due to my position on staff at Biola University and my role as an elder at two conservative evangelical churches. However, I now have the freedom to express my own convictions about hell without having to honor an institutional position with which I respectfully disagree—namely, eternal conscious punishment of the unsaved. I am now able to openly share and talk about this view of hell that I have come to hold known as “conditional immortality.” More often than not I would refer to myself as an annihilationist, as that succinctly describes my view of the nature of hell itself, but since this term has some baggage and unhelpful associations attached to it I am comfortable referring to myself as an evangelical conditionalist.

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Evangelical and Unashamed: Introducing Joseph Dear

Evangelical and Unashamed: Introducing Joseph Dear

Joseph Dear

Hello everybody. I think I can say, like friend and fellow-contributor Chris Date, that it is indeed a tremendous honor for me to get to contribute to this website and this overall effort. I can only hope that when all is said and done I will have served you all well, and most importantly, that I will have served God well.

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Reformed and Rethinking: Introducing Chris Date

Reformed and Rethinking: Introducing Chris Date

Chris DateIt is my tremendous honor to be invited to contribute to the RethinkingHell.com blog and podcast, and I would like to thank Peter Grice for inviting me.

Allow me to introduce myself and let you know a little bit about me. My name is Chris Date and I host the Theopologetics podcast, as well as contribute to my friend Dee Dee Warren’s The Preterist Blog and podcast. I am also a software engineer by trade.

I do not have any formal, higher education and lack any official ministry experience. That said, I believe theology and apologetics are nevertheless for every average Joe in the pews, and not just for pastors, philosophers, PhDs and the erudite in ivory towers (which some of my co-contributors are). And I am perhaps somewhat of an enigma, for while I am “rethinking hell”—by which I mean to say that I am a conditionalist or annihilationist (and I will refer to myself as the latter henceforth)—I’m also Reformed.
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Why “Rethinking Hell”?

Why “Rethinking Hell”?

For many of us the great symbol of deep contemplation is Auguste Rodin’s statue of The Thinker. He wanders restlessly through our culture seeking subjects worthy of his furrowed brow. I imagine he is regularly disappointed.

We keep him around in contexts as diverse as libraries and car dashboards for one simple reason: thinking is still a virtue. Or at least it can be, if the subject is worthy. That’s important, because when a culture stops thinking about noble things bad stuff can happen, like the horrors of biochemical warfare — and inflatable kitsch.

Originally, Rodin cast our bronze hero for the penetration of one mystery only. One worthy subject; one terrible theme.

Hell.

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