A Response to Four Views on Hell, Pt. 3 (Robin Parry on Universalism)

A Response to Four Views on Hell, Pt. 3 (Robin Parry on Universalism)

Ever read something you know you disagree with but still can’t help but admire the actual argument presented? That’s how I felt about Robin Parry’s presentation in the second edition of Four Views on Hell. Parry is an editor with Wipf & Stock Publishers (who published both Rethinking Books through their subsidiaries Cascade and Pickwick), and a friend of the Rethinking Hell project. Like John Stackhouse, he’s appeared twice on the podcast (here and the second as part of our series with Chris Date and the contributors to Four Views) and he was one of the plenary speakers at the second Rethinking Hell conference at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena in 2015 (that lecture is available on the conference DVD set). But of the four presentations in Four Views, I am inclined to say that Parry’s is the best in the sense of a well argued, compelling case. This isn’t to say I think he’s right, but simply that of the four authors, Parry has plead his case for universal reconciliation better than the other authors did for their views.

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Episode 77: Burning Love (and Consuming Fire), a Response to Robin Parry (Part 2)

Episode 77: Burning Love (and Consuming Fire), a Response to Robin Parry (Part 2)

Rethinking Hell contributors Nick and Allison Quient join Chris Date to respond to some clips from Dr. Robin Parry’s plenary speech at the 2015 Rethinking Hell Conference, in which he presented a theological case for universalism. This episode contains the second half of their two-and-a-half-hour discussion; listen to the first half in episode 76.

Read more about Episode 77: Burning Love (and Consuming Fire), a Response to Robin Parry (Part 2)

Episode 76: Burning Love (and Consuming Fire), a Response to Robin Parry (Part 1)

Episode 76: Burning Love (and Consuming Fire), a Response to Robin Parry (Part 1)

Rethinking Hell contributors Nick and Allison Quient join Chris Date to respond to some clips from Dr. Robin Parry’s plenary speech at the 2015 Rethinking Hell Conference, in which he presented a theological case for universalism. This episode contains the first half of their two-and-a-half-hour discussion; the second half will be made available in episode 77.

Read more about Episode 76: Burning Love (and Consuming Fire), a Response to Robin Parry (Part 1)

Conditional Immortality, Origen, and the Second Council of Constantinople

Conditional Immortality, Origen, and the Second Council of Constantinople

In the discussion regarding hell amongst evangelicals, Scripture should be our starting point and final authority. Of course, this doesn’t mean that historical theology is irrelevant. How the biblical texts have been interpreted throughout almost 2000 years of Church history matters in a very real sense. The Church Councils can be informative for our doctrine, but are not supposed to take precedence over Scripture. Sola Scriptura does not mean tradition doesn’t matter, but that Scripture is over tradition. But it’s worth looking at historical theology when trying to shed light on biblical interpretation when it comes to the doctrine of final punishment/hell.

In the discussion of final punishment, the Councils give us precious little to go on. However, some evangelicals have turned to the Second Council of Constantinople to assert that the early Church condemned all views other than eternal conscious torment. Read more about Conditional Immortality, Origen, and the Second Council of Constantinople

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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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