The Doctrine of Hell

Discussion in '2003 Archive' started by Skandelon, Jan 29, 2003.

  1. Skandelon

    Skandelon
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    I wanted to get some perspectives from both Arminians and Calvinists on this:

    I had a professor in Seminary who seemed to lean toward the Calvinistic side of soteriology but he taught a view of hell that in my studies at that time I was not fimiliar with called, Annihiliationism.

    This view teaches that Hell is temporary and that all of the people who go there will only suffer as long as the deserve to suffer according to their deeds. After they have been sufficiently punished they will be annihilated or removed from existance.

    Now, as you can imagine, this view sounds much less harsh than the orthadox view of a Hell that literally never ends. As much as I would like to believe this view I really don't see how it can be supported in the scripture. I wondered how those who hold to this view dealt with the passages concerning an eternal hell.

    They teach that hell is everlasting or eternal in it's effect or result, but not an eternal process. In other words, hell, as separation from God, is eternal in that you will never be with God again, eventhough you may not be conscious of that after a determined amount of time of suffering. They use the example of "eternal salvation" (aionios soteria) which is eternal in it's effect but finalized in Christ's atoning work. So too, hell is viewed as being eternal in it's effect but finalized in hell. Make since?

    They also make the arguement that the bible does teach that those in hell will be completely separated from God and cut off from Him. They go on to reason that God is everywhere and the only true way to be separated from an omnipresent God is to cease to exist. Which is a compelling arguement.

    I hope I have explained the Annihiliationists viewpoint well. There are some obvious passages that present difficulty for this doctrine but I wanted to hear what some of you thought about it.

    Thanks,
    Sam
     
  2. KenH

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    Edward Fudge, a Church of Christ Calvinist teacher and author, is a major advocate of the annihilationist view. He has written The Fire That Consumes and has written Two Views of Hell as a dialogue with Robert Peterson where Peterson defends the God tortures people for eternity view.

    There is also a third view of hell that some Calvinists teach that hell is corrective instead of punitive - that after Jesus Christ defeats death as the last enemey there can be no more death, therefore the second death must come to an end and there is only life as those who do not repent and believe in this age will do so in the ages to come until all of God's creation is reconciled to Him in fact as well as in prospect.

    [ January 29, 2003, 10:45 PM: Message edited by: Ken H ]
     
  3. Skandelon

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    Ken,
    Thanks for the information. I'll look those books up. Have you read either of them? If so, what was your take on it all?

    Sam
     
  4. KenH

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    I have not read the books but I have studied the subject of hell some via the Internet, especially recently, and I have read some of Brother Fudge's writings via his gracEmail devotional and his website(www.edwardfudge.com). I think there are very solid reasons for questioning the traditional view that took hold during the Dark Ages that God tortures His creation for eternity and Brother Fudge makes these reasons clear. I question how God would receive glory for torturing His creation for eternity.

    The bottom line is I trust God to do right regardless of how poor my understanding is.

    [ January 29, 2003, 10:56 PM: Message edited by: Ken H ]
     
  5. Skandelon

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    Good point. That's what I've always fallen back on when the doctrine of Hell troubles me. God is in control.

    Hey thanks for the information. If anyone else has any info or opinions please let me know.

    Sam
     
  6. npetreley

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    I always thought Newark, NJ was hell, in which case it would go away when there's a new heaven and new earth. But I never did find scriptural support for it.
     
  7. Skandelon

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    Ha Ha Haaaa [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]
     
  8. Ray Berrian

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    I think if we take the Scriptures at full-face value we will see that Hell is not a kind of 'purgatory' or 'clearing house' on the way to Heaven and everlasting life.

    Some verses that are rather convincing are Matthew 18:8; Matthew 25:41; Matthew 25:46a and Jude 1:7. In Matthew 25:41 as in all of these verses the Greek words used is, {aionioa} meaning, as Dr. Strong in his concordance reveals and defines 'everlasting' as eternal or forever.

    I cannot speak for other people of the Arminian persuasion, but this is my view as to Hell not being an abbreviated, hellish mid-night stop off.

    I wonder if there are other Calvinistic authors, like Edward Fudge of the Church of Christ, noted in the above post who are trying to bring in a kind of 'back door universalism' by saying that after a sinner's punishment is completed, God will somehow bring them into Heaven by a back door behind His throne?

    To be Biblically correct I believe we have to allow {aionioa} to describe the unlimited endurance in the place reserved for the devil, his demons and all those who willfully remained in rebellion against Almighty God.
     
  9. Ray Berrian

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    Ken H,

    Yes, I know you said, Edward Fudge believes in a final annihilation view for sinners.

    Ray
     
  10. npetreley

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    Is that where the expression comes from, "Fudge the scriptures to make them say what you want?" ;)
     
  11. Smoky

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    Hi Ken and Samuel, I would like to refer you to Tom Talbot's site on the internet that deals with this discussion and makes a case for universalism from an arminian point of view a lot better than I can. Several chapters of his book can be read online. I agree with him for the most part:http://tomtalbott.freeyellow.com/index.html
     
  12. TheTravelingMinstrel

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    A lot of stuff on hell cannot be soundly supported by scripture, therfore it is only a theroy.

    This is my personal view, i cannot support it strongly with scripture, so I treat is merely at a theory.

    My view is that hell is nothing, hell is the complete seperation from God. This complete seperation is what constitutes it as 'nothing'.
    True nothingness is the complete seperation from God.

    Before anything else, only God existed, anything apart from God, did not exist, or was 'nothing'.
    God is the only thing that is truly existant.
    Everything apart from God is evil and is 'nothing'
    evil = apart from God = nothingness.

    Non-existance is ten times more terrifying then 'eternety of torment', I don't know if ya'll have considered the implications of non-existance.

    I will close with this...

    It is not good for man to dwell on these things, that is why hell is not expounded too deeply in scripture.
     
  13. KenH

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    I have seen his site. I believe a better case for universalism can be made from the Calvinist point of view. In fact I think an Arminian viewpoint cannot make a convincing case at all because if salvation is based on free-willism there would remain a doubt that all would finally repent and believe regardless of the punishment of hell due to corrupted free will caused by the Fall in the Garden of Eden.
     
  14. Pastor Larry

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    Surely you are not serious. Hell is well supported in Scripture and its eternal conscious nature is well documented.

    Scripture's view is that hell is a lake of fire and brimstone where the worm never dies and the fire is not quenched.

    A lot more is said about hell than you give credit for. It is amazing that you posted this here ... disappointing.
     
  15. Skandelon

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    Pastor Larry,

    You seem to me to be well educated in the scriptures. I've been studying this view of annilihationism and it suprisingly has some pretty convincing arguements.

    The greek mind viewed the soul as being mortal during the times of Christ, meaning that it would come to an end. And people at that time, like Ponce De Leon in later years, were searching for something to give them immortality, or eternal life. But the scriptures, from what I have read thus far, teach that immortality is reserved for believers. Annilihationists argue that unbelievers will perish (apollumi) which is also translated "destroy" and literally means "to fully destroy or kill." So, can we be sure that all souls are immortal?

    Could it be the the writers of the NT were emphasizing the eternal life that was gained in Christ as compared to the final destruction of the unbelieving mortal (which is eternal in result, in that they will never live and be with Christ again, not necessarily eternal in duration)?

    Again, I still have problems with this view scripturally. But Hell, as never ending torment, is a hard pill to swallow for any system of belief. Ultimately, I trust God to do what is right, but I also want to be sure that I'm reading the intent of the NT authors correctly and not bringing my view to the text. Historical evidence shows, according to Fudge, that until Augustine the church had a temporal view of Hell. That's what makes me wonder if the Western world doesn't have a tainted view? Just some thoughts to ponder.

    Sam
     
  16. KenH

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  17. Eric B

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    Wow! I never knew there were so many people outside the Millerite movement (SDA/JW's/Armstrong, etc) toying around with the idea of annihilation. Temporal torment ending in eventual annihilation is now the unofficial position of the SDA. They had been the main promoters of immediate annihilation, but apparently they must have seen how this would not permit differing degrees of punishment for the works done in life (which convinced me out of their position in my early faith).

    Church of Christ too, is both traditional hell and also non-Calvinist, if I'm correct, so what kind of COC is Fudge? Is he apart of the Campbellite movement, or is it an independant group or church just using the name?

    Calvinistic reprobation/preterition would be more palatable if its preordained individual "vessels of wrath fitted for destruction" were just annihilated (put out of their misery), so I can see why that would go nicely with Calvinism, but I am surprised that some are actually confessing such an de-facto purgatory and universalism, when such beliefs are so condemned as heretical by the rest of "orthodox Christianity".

    Armstrong had an interesting view. It was kind of a twisted two-point Calvinism, agreeing perfectly with Total Depravity[inability] and Unconditional Election, but those passed over in this dispensation would be given what is really their first chance at the Great White Throne (which is not for sentencing, but for opening up the truth to all "blinded" in this age". Those who reject it then, or the "called" in this age who rejected it would be the only ones cast into the lake of fire.

    It was this position that God actually used to lead me to Him, as I was one of those people who was totally offended at the idea of a Hell for "good people" who simply didn't believe in Christianity (which I saw as a corrupt, often racist religion of fear and control). So even in judgment, God was loving and merciful.
    All of these are nice ideas, but there just isn't enough scriptural support. (Armstrong had grossly twisted some OT prophecy about children living to 100 years old, or something, to prove the non-elect would get their chance in the 2nd resurrection)
    Samuel, could you elaborate more about the "historical evidence" Fudge refers to. The Millerites, who would blame the Constantinian/Augustinian period for a lot of the doctrines and practices they regard as false, I have never heard blame Augustine. They say it is just the Platonic/Gnostic influence that had been creeping in all along. Don't the Christian writings from the second century on assume eternal consciousness?

    [ January 30, 2003, 10:29 PM: Message edited by: Eric B ]
     
  18. TheTravelingMinstrel

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    Surely you are not serious. Hell is well supported in Scripture and its eternal conscious nature is well documented.

    Scripture's view is that hell is a lake of fire and brimstone where the worm never dies and the fire is not quenched.

    A lot more is said about hell than you give credit for. It is amazing that you posted this here ... disappointing.
    </font>[/QUOTE]I never said that Hell wasn't supported by scripture, I just said that Hell and evil = true nothingness, being unsupported.

    I know that Hell exists, i'm not denying existance. I'm just sharing some theorys which i said where unsupported by scripture, thus I cannot prove.

    You have misunderstood my point.
     
  19. KenH

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    Brother Fudge is a different kind of Church of Christ teacher - kind of like Max Lucado.

    Here are some of his gracEmails from his website on the subject of hell:

    ~ gracEmail ~
    Edward Fudge
    _____________________________________________________

    THE 'WORMS' AND 'FIRE' OF HELL


    A Bible student writes, "I am sympathetic to your position of total destruction instead of everlasting conscious torment. But how do you explain the verse which says: 'where the worm dies not and the fire is not quenched?' "


    * * *


    The phrase you cite first comes from Isaiah 66:24, which portrays the righteous going out of the city of Jerusalem, following God's final judgment on the wicked, and viewing their dead corpses in the city "dump" -- where maggots ("the worm") and smouldering garbage fire ("the fire") race to consume them. It is a scene, Isaiah says, of disgust or abhorrence (v. 24). Note that the picture includes dead corpses, not living beings. It involves shame, not pain. These are the "corpses of those whom the Lord has slain." Throughout the Bible, the figure of "unquenchable" fire refers to fire which cannot be resisted, and which thus completely BURNS UP whatever is put into it (Matt. 3:12; Ezek. 20:47-48; Amos 5:5-6).

    During intertestamental times, this language came to be associated with the Valley of the Sons of Hinnom, also known as "Gehenna," the word translated "hell" in the New Testament. Gehenna is an actual place outside Jerusalem, which I viewed with my own eyes in June 1999 during a pilgrimage to Israel. Gehenna was once the site of child sacrifice (2 Kings 16:3; 21:6) and later the city "dump" for garbage and dead carcasses (Jer. 7:31-33; 19:2-13). It was a repugnant and disgusting place in biblical times, crawling with maggots and filled with sickening sights and smells.

    The Jewish literature from between the Testaments (the Apocrypha, the Pseudepigrapha, and the Dead Sea Scrolls) uses the word "Gehenna" to speak of the place of final punishment, although with some diversity of meaning. Most of these writers reveal an expectation of total and eternal annihilation, although one passage in apocryphal Judith clearly says the wsicked will endure conscious torment forever and a few texts in the Pseudepigrapha might suggest that fate as well.

    When Jesus borrows language from Isaiah 66:24 for his own teaching (Mk. 9:48), we must read the Scripture he quotes if we wish to understand his meaning. That biblical text clearly describes total destruction, not conscious torment. Since Jesus says nothing to change the original meaning, but rather confirms it in other places (see Matt. 10:28), we are safe to leave it just as it stands.

    A LOVING CHALLENGE TO
    THE EVANGELICAL CHURCH
    (1 of 3)
    Edward Fudge
    ____________________________________________________

    Are you ready for a challenge to your thinking? If so, read on. (If not, perhaps you will want to delete this message now and read no further.)

    For 1500 years, most Christians have assumed as true a doctrine which . . .

    1. Is nowhere found in the Word of God;

    2. Sprang from explicitly pagan presuppositions;

    3. Slanders the character of God and the Lord Jesus Christ;

    4. Prevailed in Protestantism for political, not biblical, reasons; and

    5. Has been rejected by an increasing number of such faithful scholars as W. Graham Scroggie, John R. W. Stott, Philip Edgcumbe Hughes, F. F. Bruce, John W. Wenham, Clark Pinnock, Michael Green and Dale Moody.

    That unbiblical tradition is the notion that God will keep the wicked alive forever in hell for the purpose of suffering unending conscious torment.


    FIVE ASSUMPTIONS OF THE TRADITIONAL VIEW

    The tradition of everlasting torment, as expressed by its most able advocates, depends on five undergirding assumptions:


    1. That the OT is silent about the wicked's final end;

    2. That the doctrine of unending conscious torment was the uniform Jewish view of Jesus' day;

    3. That Jesus' references to Gehenna all presuppose this supposed "uniform" view;

    4. That NT language on this subject demands unending conscious torment; and

    5. That historic Christian orthodoxy requires unending conscious torment.


    These were also my assumptions 20 years ago, as I began a year-long research project on the subject. That investigation led me through the Old Testament, the Apocrypha, Pseudepigrapha and Dead Sea Scrolls, the New Testament, the apostolic fathers, the Greek and Latin fathers, the ancient creedal statements of the undivided Church, medieval and Reformation theologians, and pertinent works from then until now. It also revealed, to my total surprise and consternation, that all five of my traditional assumptions were wrong!

    The product of that work was my book entitled THE FIRE THAT CONSUMES: THE BIBLICAL CASE FOR CONDITIONAL IMMORTALITY. The revised and updated edition from Paternoster Press examines 1,000 passages of Scripture from Genesis to Revelation and interacts with approximately 200 other works on the subject.
    (to be continued)


    _______________~ gracEmail treasury ~_________________

    A LOVING CHALLENGE TO
    THE EVANGELICAL CHURCH
    (2 of 3)
    Edward Fudge
    ____________________________________________________

    Twenty years ago, I undertook a year-long professional research project on the doctrine of final punishment. Almost immediately, I began to discover that my very fine biblical and theological training had overlooked many startling facts. How many of the following facts of Scripture and church history catch you by surprise?

    * * *

    1. The OT utilizes some 50 Hebrew verbs and 75 figures of speech to describe the ultimate end of the wicked -- and every one sounds exactly like total extinction.

    2. The notion of unending conscious torment arose for the first time in anything resembling biblical literature in the non-canonical book of Judith -- in a clear "twisting" of words taken straight from Isaiah.

    3. By Jesus' day, there were at least three "Jewish" ideas about the end of the wicked: (a) annihilation at the grave; (b) resurrection for everlasting torture; and (c) resurrection for judgment followed by total and irreversible extinction in hell.

    4. When our Lord taught on this subject, he generally used Old Testament language which most naturally describes complete disintegration of the entire person in the "fire" of the Age to Come.

    5. New Testament writers choose the word "hell" (gehenna) to describe the fate of the lost only in the Gospels, only speaking to Jews, and only when addressing people familiar with the geography of Jerusalem.

    6. Most often, New Testament authors use the words die, death, destroy, destruction, perish and corruption to describe the end of the wicked -- in contexts which suggest the normal, straightforward meaning of these ordinary terms.

    7. All New Testament expressions thought to teach eternal torment come from earlier biblical literature -- where they regularly describe destruction that is irresistible, total, and which cannot be reversed.

    8. No passage of Scripture teaches the inherent or natural immortality of the "soul," "spirit," or any other aspect of the human creature.

    9. Although Scripture clearly affirms a resurrection of both just and unjust, the Bible nowhere says the lost will be raised immortal, as the saved will be.

    10. The notion of everlasting torment appears explicitly in Christian literature for the first time in the writings of the Apologists, who expressly base it on the Platonic assumption that the soul is "immortal" and cannot be destroyed.

    11. No creedal formulation of the undivided Church requires eternal conscious torment.


    _______________~ gracEmail treasury ~_________________

    A LOVING CHALLENGE TO
    THE EVANGELICAL CHURCH
    (3 of 3)
    Edward Fudge
    ____________________________________________________

    When I began my scholarly research project on the topic of final punishment in the late 1970's, I assumed that the traditional view of unending conscious torment rested on biblical revelation. As I delved deeply into the actual texts of Scripture, the literature between the Testaments, and the writings of the church fathers and Reformers, I was flabbergasted to discover that my assumption was completely false -- and to uncover the historical origins of unending torment in ancient pagan philosophy.

    I was so shocked initially at the fruit of this research that I briefly considered boxing up all my data, shipping it off to the research sponsor, and never mentioning it again. Yet I knew that I must offer this to Christian brothers and sisters for critical review. So instead of hiding the material, I wrote THE FIRE THAT CONSUMES, setting out this exhaustive compilation of biblical and historical fact. That book was published in 1982.

    Seventeen years have now passed, and THE FIRE THAT CONSUMES has gone through three printings in the first edition and one printing of a second edition. Although there have been numerous responses in America, England and Australia, including a doctoral dissertation at Oxford University, to this day no one has stepped forward and refuted the many arguments of this book from the Word of God. Instead, thoughtful evangelicals in increasing numbers have felt compelled to reject the traditional notion of unending torment because of the scriptural and historical evidence this book presents.

    The evangelical church today faces a challenge which it can no longer ignore -- the challenge to prove its alleged "high view" of Scripture by putting it into practice. Eternal conscious torment is either true or it is not. God's Word gives the only authoritative answer. The time has come to re-examine our traditional view in the bright light of Holy Scripture.


    WILL YOU ACCEPT MY
    LOVING CHALLENGE?

    Will you take up this loving challenge with an open Bible and an open mind? If so, I invite you to call an easy toll-free number today to order THE FIRE THAT CONSUMES -- then sit down with your Bible and search the Scriptures as you read, testing everything by the Word of God.

    -------------------------


    WHAT REVIEWERS SAY ABOUT "THE FIRE THAT CONSUMES"


    COLIN BROWN, Fuller Theological Seminary, Pasadena, Calif.: "A very strong case for rethinking the notion of the eternal torment of all the lost."

    F. F. BRUCE (Deceased), University of Manchester, England: "While this subject is one on which there is no unanimity among evangelical Christians, it is at the same time one on which they have often engaged in fierce polemic. What is called for, rather, is the fellowship of patient Bible study, the fruit of which Mr. Fudge presents here."

    LYNN MITCHELL, University of Houston, Texas: "One of the most important books produced by conservative evangelicals in this century."

    JOHN W. WENHAM (Deceased), Oxford, England: "The author is biblical, reverent and fair, showing soundness and independence of judgment. He makes his main points with force and persuasiveness."

    CLARK H. PINNOCK, McMaster Divinity College, Hamilton, Ontario: "I know of no book which answers this powerful case."

    W. WARD GASQUE, Eastern College, Philadelphia: "An important and thought-provoking book that gives careful attention to the actual words of Scripture."

    DALE MOODY (Deceased), The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, Ky: "I know of no biblical passage which, interpreted rightly and in context, conflicts with the conclusions of this book."

    THOMAS H. OLBRICHT (Retired), Pepperdine University, Malibu, Calif: "Evidence for the common assumption that the wicked will suffer eternal conscious torment may not be as conclusive as assumed."

    JOHN F. WALVOORD (Retired), Dallas Theological Seminary: "The most extensive study [of the subject] in recent years . . . commendably brings into the discussion many items that are often overlooked." (Dr. Walvoord expressly disagrees with the conclusions of this book.)

    GEORGE LEONARD GOSS, former editor, Evangelical Book Club: "A thorough and convincing exposition."

    NEW OXFORD REVIEW: "Exceptionally even-handed, forceful and to the point."

    MISSION JOURNAL: "A formidable scriptural argument which defenders of the popular view will be hard pressed to meet."

    EVANGELICAL BOOK CLUB: "A thoughtful case for an opinion that deserves a hearing."

    RESURRECTION MAGAZINE: "The definitive work on conditional immortality."

    ADVENT CHRISTIAN WITNESS: "A work of impeccable scholarship and pleasing readability."

    CHURCH OF ENGLAND NEWSPAPER: "Essential reading for anyone interested in the subject."
     
  20. Monergist

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    I'm reading things here I wish I'd never seen!

    I'm no scholar but here's my $.02, for what its worth. I affirm the "five points of calvinism" without reservation. I also believe in a literal burning hell and a literal burning eternal lake of fire. And I believe that God is just-- and good-- in sending sinners there.

    Its totally unneccessary to devise a scheme that takes God off the hook in punishing the guilty. Don't start to question God's goodness about this.. or anything else. You're just gonna uncover more snakes than you can kill.
     

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