Monday, March 16, 2009

the nature of eternal judgement.

This post is intended to discuss the possibility that the orthodox view on hell, that hell is a place of eternal torment, is wrong. Note for my fellow church members the orthodox view is part of the Free Methodist constitution so you should ignore my heterodox view. The only reason I am even bringing this topic up is because it has relevence to the question of evil as discussed elsewhere. I will write a more comprehensive exposition of the conditionalist view as a response when I have more time later.

38 comments:

Antipelagian said...

The everlasting nature of hell is a biblical teaching...it is explicitly discussed in Revelation as being everlasting:

Rev 20:10
10 And the devil who deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are also; and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.

A little bit later, John tells us others are thrown into the lake of fire...which has already been described as lasting forever and ever:

Revelation 20:15
15 And if anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.

Christian Apologist said...

Indeed the lake of fire is eternal and everlasting and was created for the devil and his minions. This however says nothing about the nature of human beings who are thrown into it.

Antipelagian said...

It specifically says that "the beast" and "false prophet" will be *tormented forever*. Not just the devil.

Christian Apologist said...

The beast and false prophet are not human beings. The full context is:

Rev. 20: 10-15
"And the devil, who deceived them, was thrown into the lake of burning sulfur, where the beast and the false prophet had been thrown. They will be tormented day and night for ever and ever.

Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. Earth and sky fled from his presence, and there was no place for them. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books. The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what he had done. Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death. If anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire."

Notice that when it speaks of humans, whose names are not found in the book of life, they are thrown into the lake of fire which is the second death. This implys a different result than what happens when the devil, the beast, and the anti-christ are thrown in.

Also Phillipians 3: 17-19
"Join with others in following my example, brothers, and take note of those who live according to the pattern we gave you. For, as I have often told you before and now say again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is on earthly things. "

I Corinthians 15: 24-26
"Then the end will come, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death. "

You see the fate of death itself, is destruction. Death and Hades are thrown into the lake of fire on judgement day, along with all the human beings who reject Gods grace.

Antipelagian said...

Aaron, a lot of your argument hinges on what you presupposed "destruction" means...it doesn't mean annihilation. You also disagree that the Beast and false prophet are actual people...I don't want to get lost on these details. There is *explicit* teaching on Hell being a place of everlasting torment for unbelievers.

Let's consider one thing before looking at the Bible...one wonders how annihilation is any worse than never being born...yet Jesus says of Judas that it would have been better for him if he'd never been born. Yet you would say otherwise? What else does God the Son say?

Matthew 25
34"Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.'

37"Then the righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?'

40"The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.'

41"Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.'

44"They also will answer, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?'

45"He will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.'

46"Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life."

Christian Apologist said...

Aaron, a lot of your argument hinges on what you presupposed "destruction" means...it doesn't mean annihilation. You also disagree that the Beast and false prophet are actual people...I don't want to get lost on these details. There is *explicit* teaching on Hell being a place of everlasting torment for unbelievers.

This is not presupposition but the common english usage of this word. If you wish to interpret it otherwise you must show why we should do so. Where is this explicit teaching? I have searched the bible and it is not in there.

Let's consider one thing before looking at the Bible...one wonders how annihilation is any worse than never being born...yet Jesus says of Judas that it would have been better for him if he'd never been born. Yet you would say otherwise? What else does God the Son say?

I think being destroyed by fire or by worms would certainly be worse than never having been born.


46"Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life."

Would you not agree that for someone sentenced to death, once the sentence is carried out the punishment will never be revoked?

Also there is the contrast of punishment and life. If the punishment was anything other than death then why is life used to contrast the punishment?

Christian Apologist said...

An exhaustive (to the best of my ability) NT reference for the fate of the wicked and the righteous, any doctrine on hell should be consistent with these, as well as the rest of the bible.

Matthew
3:7-12; 5:21-22; 5:27-30; 7: 13-23; 8: 10-12; 10:28; 10:39; 11: 20-24; 12:36-37; 13: 24-30; 13:47-50; 16:17-20; 16:24-28; 18:7-9; 18:23-35; 22:1-14; 23:33; 24:45-51; 25:26-33; 25:41-46
Mark
8:34-38; 9:42-49; 12:38-40
Luke
3:15-18; 6:46-49; 9: 23-27; 10:13-15; 11:32; 11:47-51; 12:4-5; 12:8-10; 12:16-21; 12:46-48; 12:57-59; 13:1-9; 13:24-30; 15:23-32; 16:19-31; 17:1-4; 17:33; 18:18; 18:29-30; 19:9-10; 19:26-27; 20:17-18; 20:34-38; 20:45-47; 21:16-19
John
1:3-4; 3:10-21; 3:31-36; 4:13-14; 5:21-30; 5:39-40; 6:26-27; 6:32-40; 6:47-59; 8:21-24; 8:49-51; 9:39-41; 10:10; 10:28-30; 11:23-26; 11:47-50; 17:1-4; 17:12
Acts
2:23-28; 3:22-23; 5:1-11; 10:42; 11:18; 13:35-37; 13:40-41; 13:46-48; 17:28; 17:31; 24:15-16; 24:24-25; 26:15-18
Romans
1:18-20; 1:28-32; 2:1-16; 2:25-27; 3:5-8; 3:21-26; 4:13-17; 4:24-25; 5:12-21; 6:16; 6:21-23; 7:10-13; 8:6; 8:12-13; 9:2-3; 9:27-29; 11:8-12; 12:20-21; 13:1-7; 14:9-12; 14:22-23
I Corinthians
1:18; 3:10-17; 4:4-5; 5:5; 5:12-13; 6:9-10; 6:13-14; 8:9-13; 10:1-13; 13:3; 15:19-28; 15:35-57
II Corinthians
3:4-8; 4:3; 4:10-15; 5:1-10; 7:9-10; 11: 14-15
Galatians
1:3-9; 3:21-22; 5:10; 5: 13-15; 5:19-21; 6:7-10
Ephesians
2:1-10; 4:17-18; 5:5-7
Philippians
1:27-30; 2:16; 3:10-11; 3:17-21; 4:3
Colosssians
1:12-14; 2:13-15; 3:2-7; 3:22-25
I Thessalonians
1:9-10; 2:14-16; 4:3-8; 4:13-18; 5:1-3; 5:9-11
II Thessalonians
1:5-10; 2:1-4; 2:9-12
I Timothy
1:15-17; 4:8; 5:6; 5:24-25; 6:3-14; 6:11-14; 6:18-19
II Timothy
1:1; 1:10; 2:11-13; 2:22-26; 4:1-4
Titus
1:2; 3:7
Hebrews
2:8-9; 2:14-15; 3:7-11; 3:16-19; 5:7-9; 6:1-3; 6:7-8; 7:15-17; 9:14-15; 9:26-28; 10:26-31; 10:35-39; 12:25-29
James
1:9-15; 2:8-13; 3:1-6; 4:4; 4:12-14; 5:1-6; 5:15; 5:20
I Peter
1:22-25; 2:24-25; 3:18-22; 4:2-6; 4:16-18
II Peter
2:1-22; 3:6-7; 3:10; 3:16
I John
2:17; 2:24-25; 3:4-5; 3:13-15; 4:17-18; 5:11-12; 5:16-17
Jude
1:4-7; 1:10-15; 1:20-23
Revelation
1:18; 2:5-7; 2:11; 2:21-23; 3:4-5; 4:11; 6:7-11; 6:16-17; 9:1-3; 9:11; 11:16-18; 13:7-8; 13:16-17; 14:9-11; 15:1; 16:5-7; 16:10-11; 17:1-18; 18:8-10; 19: 1-3; 19:11-16; 19:20-21; 20:1-15; 21:5-8; 22:12-13

Antipelagian said...

This is not presupposition but the common english usage of this word.

I'm quite familiar with the English language...I've spoken it most of my life and studied it in college. The biblical concept of "destruction" may not be what we typically think of when we use the English word "destruction". In fact, I'm not going to surprise you by saying this, the Bible wasn't written in English...so there isn't always a one for one relationship.

Further, destruction never means annihilation even in English. If a building is destroyed, the rubble lays there, correct? It's not annihilated. Biblically, destruction is a state of being, not a state of not being...that's a pretty simple concept, really.

I think being destroyed by fire or by worms would certainly be worse than never having been born.

Except the fire and worm never dies:
Mark 9:47-48
47 And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye, rather than having two eyes, to be cast into hell fire— 48 where
‘ Their worm does not die
And the fire is not quenched

Can you please relay the significance of noting the worm doesn’t die and the fire isn’t quenched? Is Jesus simply relaying a fact that the worms will live forever with nothing to snack on and the fire will continue with no man to burn? Or is Jesus saying suffering will endure forever for unbelievers?

It gets more difficult when you consider another explicit teaching concerning the end of the wicked:
Revelation 14:9-11
9Then another angel, a third one, followed them, saying with a loud voice, "If anyone worships the beast and his image, and receives a mark on his forehead or on his hand,
10he also will drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is mixed in full strength in the cup of His anger; and he will be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb.
11"And the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever; they have no rest day and night, those who worship the beast and his image, and whoever receives the mark of his name."

The teaching of Scripture is clear.

Christian Apologist said...

Further, destruction never means annihilation even in English. If a building is destroyed, the rubble lays there, correct? It's not annihilated. Biblically, destruction is a state of being, not a state of not being...that's a pretty simple concept, really.

By that definition annihilation is meaningless. Nothing is ever annihilated in the natural world. Matter cannot be created or destroyed. Of course since God created all matter he certainly has the power to annihilate it.

In your example the building is still destroyed. It is no longer a building but a pile of rubble or ruins.

Perhaps it would be easier if you could just give me what you think the bible means when it uses the word destruction.

Can you please relay the significance of noting the worm doesn’t die and the fire isn’t quenched? Is Jesus simply relaying a fact that the worms will live forever with nothing to snack on and the fire will continue with no man to burn? Or is Jesus saying suffering will endure forever for unbelievers?

Since the lake of fire is burning before anyone is thrown in it is absurd to maintain that the bodies of men are the fuel for it. As for the significance Jesus is quoting Isaiah 66 which says:

12-24
"For this is what the LORD says:
"I will extend peace to her like a river,
and the wealth of nations like a flooding stream;
you will nurse and be carried on her arm
and dandled on her knees.

As a mother comforts her child,
so will I comfort you;
and you will be comforted over Jerusalem."

When you see this, your heart will rejoice
and you will flourish like grass;
the hand of the LORD will be made known to his servants,
but his fury will be shown to his foes.

See, the LORD is coming with fire,
and his chariots are like a whirlwind;
he will bring down his anger with fury,
and his rebuke with flames of fire.

For with fire and with his sword
the LORD will execute judgment upon all men,
and many will be those slain by the LORD.

"Those who consecrate and purify themselves to go into the gardens, following the one in the midst of [a] those who eat the flesh of pigs and rats and other abominable things—they will meet their end together," declares the LORD.

"And I, because of their actions and their imaginations, am about to come [b] and gather all nations and tongues, and they will come and see my glory.

"I will set a sign among them, and I will send some of those who survive to the nations—to Tarshish, to the Libyans [c] and Lydians (famous as archers), to Tubal and Greece, and to the distant islands that have not heard of my fame or seen my glory. They will proclaim my glory among the nations. And they will bring all your brothers, from all the nations, to my holy mountain in Jerusalem as an offering to the LORD -on horses, in chariots and wagons, and on mules and camels," says the LORD. "They will bring them, as the Israelites bring their grain offerings, to the temple of the LORD in ceremonially clean vessels. And I will select some of them also to be priests and Levites," says the LORD.

"As the new heavens and the new earth that I make will endure before me," declares the LORD, "so will your name and descendants endure. From one New Moon to another and from one Sabbath to another, all mankind will come and bow down before me," says the LORD. "And they will go out and look upon the dead bodies of those who rebelled against me; their worm will not die, nor will their fire be quenched, and they will be loathsome to all mankind."

Christian Apologist said...

As to the question of Revelations 14 I will have to give it thought and prayer. I will try to have an answer by tommorrow. For now I do not have the wisdom to know how this peice fits into the overall puzzle.

Antipelagian said...

By that definition annihilation is meaningless.

No...see, you're *equivocating* on two different terms...that, actually, was one of my points. "Destruction" is not the same as "annihilation".

In your example the building is still destroyed. It is no longer a building but a pile of rubble or ruins.

Again, destroyed, but not annihilated. Remember, I was using an analogy, and no analogy is ever a 1 for 1...otherwise, no need for analogies! When unbelievers reach their end, which is destruction, it is a state of wretchedness and torment...certainly not a state of perfection, nor of bliss, nor of integration. This is what the Bible means when it talks about "destruction" as the end for unbelievers.

Since the lake of fire is burning before anyone is thrown in it is absurd to maintain that the bodies of men are the fuel for it.

Unfortunately, that doesn't begin to address the thrust of my argument. How do you make sense of what Jesus says? The language He was using was indicating something...was He merely relaying a fact about how worms will live forever with nothing to eat, and fire burn with no one to burn?

That is precisely what your view does to the meaning.

Antipelagian said...

Also, I would like to see you interact with Rev 14:9-11...it was on your long list of Bible verses a couple of posts ago.

Christian Apologist said...

Again, destroyed, but not annihilated. Remember, I was using an analogy, and no analogy is ever a 1 for 1...otherwise, no need for analogies! When unbelievers reach their end, which is destruction, it is a state of wretchedness and torment...certainly not a state of perfection, nor of bliss, nor of integration. This is what the Bible means when it talks about "destruction" as the end for unbelievers.

Where is the basis for this definition of destruction? The overwhelming majority of verses in the bible which speak of the punishment of sinners speak of destruction, perishing, and death. I fail to see how these terms could possibly indicate a state of wretchedness and torment.

I do not yet know how the few verses that do speak of everlasting torment mesh with the verses that speak of destruction and death. I am going to have to look into the greek for this one I think.

One thing to keep in mind is that Revelations uses a lot of symbolism and imagery and should be interpreted with this in mind.

Antipelagian said...

The overwhelming majority of verses in the bible which speak of the punishment of sinners speak of destruction, perishing, and death.

Aaron, the Bible also speaks about unbelievers (as you and I were at one time) as being "dead" in sin. If anything, you need to demonstrate that your incredibly stringent understanding of "destruction" is a full-orbed Biblical understanding. Taking the example of "death" having more than just a physical referrent, would it not be likely destruction is also more than "annihilated"?

The reason you're having trouble reconciling the verses that speak of everlasting torment with other verses is that you are *wrong* about what "destruction" means. If Scripture interprets Scripture, can you interpret "destruction" as "annihilated" given examples I've shared with you?

Of course not.

One thing to keep in mind is that Revelations uses a lot of symbolism and imagery and should be interpreted with this in mind.


Revelation is very symbolic, indeed. Symbols *mean* something...what does the symbolism of this passage point to?
"And the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever; they have no rest day and night, those who worship the beast and his image, and whoever receives the mark of his name."

Christian Apologist said...

I've looked back and as far as I can tell I never explicitly stated destruction=annihilation. You've put these words in my mouth. I would equate it more with death. The bodies and souls may still remain, in some form or another, but there will be no more conciousness.

Antipelagian said...

Aaron, you seem to have backed off of your initial position (which is pointing in the right direction). I admit I used the word "annihilation" first, but you found that term acceptable, even saying it was the equivalent of "destruction". Here's a quote where you say as much:

"This is not presupposition but the common english usage of this word."

The word being "destruction", the meaning being "annihilation".

Further, you expanded on this concept. You did not use the specific term, but this encapsulates annihilationism (which is the slippery slope of conditionalism):

Nothing is ever annihilated in the natural world. Matter cannot be created or destroyed. Of course since God created all matter he certainly has the power to annihilate it.

Were you simply stating a fact that God "could" do this? Given the context of the discussion, it seems you are suggesting God annihilates unbelievers.

So when you say this now:
The bodies and souls may still remain, in some form or another, but there will be no more conciousness.

You've altered your original position (which is fine, we just ought to be clear). Unfortunately, this modified position still does dis-service to the Biblical doctrine of everlasting torment in Hell...after all,
And the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever; they have no rest day and night...

Being unconscious would be sort-of restful...correct?

I'm glad you're wrestling with this. If you're committed to the Bible's authority, I'm certain you'll end up on the right side of the fence :)

Christian Apologist said...

I really have no idea what the specifics are on destruction, other than that it will resemble death, perishing, and torment. To say that it is synonymous with eternal torment however ignores the majority of scriptural direction on this topic in favor of a small minority of verses.

I'm glad you're wrestling with this. If you're committed to the Bible's authority, I'm certain you'll end up on the right side of the fence :)

I am absolutely commited to biblical authority. I have just finished going through the entire bible looking for every verse that might have something to do with final judgement. Now I have to put all the peices of the puzzle together to get to a systematic theology. I really appreciate your feedback and counterpoints as they help me see things from another point of view. So keep the criticism coming.

Antipelagian said...

I really have no idea what the specifics are on destruction, other than that it will resemble death, perishing, and torment.

Again, this is back-peddling from what you were asserting previously. You seemed to know for certain that destruction, in the end, meant annihilation. You were also were ready to confidently advocate a conditionalist position with a "comprehensive exposition".

I don't mention this to "score points"...I don't care to do that. I don't say it to push you back into a different position than you have now...I only mention it because you have gotten a bit slippery on this.

To say that it is synonymous with eternal torment however ignores the majority of scriptural direction on this topic in favor of a small minority of verses.

This isn't about how many verses say this, or that. Everything in context, correct, lest we fall into mere proof-texting. As I mentioned before, Scripture interprets Scripture, and we understand "ambiguous" texts with clearer ones. Are you suggesting there is ambiguouty when Christ says that the worm will never die and the fires burn forever? This is using figures of speech, and points not so much to worms and fire, rather, the extended, unending suffering of men in Hell. Besides this, we have clear Scripture that describes perpetual torment and unbelievers having *no rest*...day and night. The smoke of their torment goes up forever.

Again, I have no issues with the Scriptures that point to destruction...I am taking issue with your interpretation of destruction.

Either you need to throw out parts of the Bible (which I know you don't want to do) or you must adjust your thinking to Biblical teaching.

Christian Apologist said...

This isn't about how many verses say this, or that. Everything in context, correct, lest we fall into mere proof-texting. As I mentioned before, Scripture interprets Scripture, and we understand "ambiguous" texts with clearer ones. Are you suggesting there is ambiguouty when Christ says that the worm will never die and the fires burn forever? This is using figures of speech, and points not so much to worms and fire, rather, the extended, unending suffering of men in Hell. Besides this, we have clear Scripture that describes perpetual torment and unbelievers having *no rest*...day and night. The smoke of their torment goes up forever.

Christ is not using ambiguous words here which point to eternal suffering. He is explicitly referring to Isaiah 66 which talks about the people of God looking down on the dead bodies of those who disobeyed God who are being consumed by fire and by worms. I posted the reference I am talking about above but the whole chapter is good to read if you want the full context. This is what we mean when we say interpreting scripture with scripture.

I am also saying that the two verses in revelations are unclear in what they assert for two reasons. The first is they are prophetic imagery and symbolism, second, a plain reading would seem to contradict other verses which say the fate of the wicked is death, perishing, and destruction.

Craig French said...

Aaron,
Isaiah 66 uses an earthly figure to convey the truth of God's judgement. Christ interprets that for us and makes it clear what that means.

You also keep referring back to your own misunderstanding of what destruction means...if we were formally arguing, this is called "begging the question". That is the very thing that is up for debate.

If you'd like to make a brief journey on responses to conditionalism/annihilationsim, I recommend this link to Triablogue, they have a few articles that discuss some of the things you keep bringing up: http://www.triapologia.com/hays/#HELL

Christian Apologist said...

You also keep referring back to your own misunderstanding of what destruction means...if we were formally arguing, this is called "begging the question". That is the very thing that is up for debate.

You are doing the very same thing with your understanding of the word. My understanding of the word destruction lines up with the everyday common usage of the word. Yours takes on connotations and meanings not found in any notion which destruction might take. Therefore it is up to you to show that the english word destruction is an innacurate translation of the greek word.

Craig French said...

You are doing the very same thing with your understanding of the word.

Not really. I've given you Scripture passages that convey a very different understanding of Hell. Your only argument against my understanding of a particular passage is a reference to Isaiah 66. Your other responses have been basically "Revelation is highly symbolic"...well, what kind of language is Isaiah using in chapter 66? Is is not *highly symbolic*? He is talking about eschatology and incoporates Old Testament shadows that have been done away with...we don't bring grain offerings to the Lord any longer...yet Isaiah uses this as a simile...he also talks about chariots and other means of transport we don't use...highly symbolic.

Yet you, in the midst of this symbolim, decide that when believers (described as "Israel", btw) look upon the dead bodies of those God has judged, this is to be taken literally?

You are selectively literal. Why would I, in the middle of an eschatological prophecy incorporating imagery we recognize isn't literal, suddenly take a portion as being literal? We don't...on this, your argument's resting point is mere assertion.

Besides this, the judgement God is speaking of here is focusing, not so much on the torment, but the absolute ruin of God's enemies...their battle comes to nothing...and what better way to show the battle for what it is by using images of a battle scene to depict this?

Now look at what Jesus says...he often took Scripture from the Old Testament and added insight we wouldn't normally see...but being God Himself, it makes sense that He can do this. He says:
47 And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye, rather than having two eyes, to be cast into hell fire— 48 where
‘ Their worm does not die
And the fire is not quenched


Now Isaiah 66 doesn't say it is about Hell...but Jesus makes it clear. Further, what *significance* would using the facts that the worm doesn't die and the fire isn't quenched have if it refers only to those facts and has no reference to duration for those in Hell? Perhaps we can glean from this that amputees have it better in Hell?

Yours takes on connotations and meanings not found in any notion which destruction might take.

As I've noted, you get tripped up on figures of speech and selectively take them literally...then when I present Scripture using figures of speech, you say that is merely symbollic.

I'm sorry, but we don't dismiss metaphor/simile/personification, and the like, as mere symbols...we look at what those symbols mean. You haven't done that.

Christian Apologist said...

The word hell is used in the NIV 14 times. 12 of those times the word translated as hell is Gehenna. Once Hades is translated as hell(the parable of lazarus and the rich man.) once the word is Tartarus which I dont know anything about.

The significance of this is that gehenna is a greek transliteration of the valley of Hinnom. In Jesus' day this valley was used as the trash dump for Jeruselems garbage and the bodies of the poor and criminals. Constant fires burned there to consume the trash. Before it was a garbage dump this valley had a not very good history. It was the valley where some of the kings of Judea sacrificed firstborn infants to Molech. This is very important context for what the new testemant has to say about hell and should not be overlooked. When the bible speaks of fire and worms it is using these terms as objects which cause destruction and decay of the human body. The reason to call these things eternal is to stress the fact that there is no rescue for those subjected to this punishment. The fire will not be put out and the worm will not die.

For info on the valley of Hinnom see:

2Chronicles28; 2Chronicles 33; Kings 23; Jeremiah 7; Jeremiah 19; and Jeremiah 32

Craig French said...

Aaron,
I'm not interested in conditionalist talking points. I would be interested in your thoughts on my previous comment.

Christian Apologist said...

Aaron,
I'm not interested in conditionalist talking points. I would be interested in your thoughts on my previous comment.


This is not a 'talking point' the subject of gehenna has much to do with what Jesus is talking about. It is the word he is using when referring to the fire and worms. This all came as a response to what you posted. If you want to interpret symbols correctly you have to have some knowledge of what the symbol is.

Christian Apologist said...

I am not sure we are getting anywhere right now. Let us take a slight diversion. The Gospel message is that Christ died once, for all so that whoesoever believes in him will have eternal life. This he accomplished by defeating death and ressurecting on the third day.

Now in order to for Jesus to be an atoning sacrifice for our sins he has to take the punishment for our sins upon himself. Otherwise Gods justice is not satisfied, and mercy cannot be offered. If eternal torment was the price of sin then Christ would not have paid the price by his death he would have had to suffer eternal torment in the lake of fire. However the bible states in various places that the wages of sin is death. That is precisely the price that Emmanue paid on the cross.

Craig French said...

If you want to interpret symbols correctly you have to have some knowledge of what the symbol is.

Agreed. Unfortunately, you are limiting the concept without Scriptural warrant. If Gehenna is simply to show that unbelievers will be destroyed, then it really isn't terribly symbolic.

Besides this, Gehenna is used in a differen way by Christ in Matthew 23:15
15 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you travel land and sea to win one proselyte, and when he is won, you make him twice as much a son of hell (Gehenna) as yourselves.

I thought Gehenna was a place of destruction, yet Pharisees are birthed from it? Certainly Christ has a multi-faceted use of the symbol of Gehenna, so it is up to you to show your limited usage is correct. I believe I've been faithful to the context, therefore the symbol makes sense. You're incorporating a limiting concept that is not necessitated by the context.

in order to for Jesus to be an atoning sacrifice for our sins he has to take the punishment for our sins upon himself. Otherwise Gods justice is not satisfied, and mercy cannot be offered.

On this, I trust we are both in hearty agreement!

If eternal torment was the price of sin then Christ would not have paid the price by his death he would have had to suffer eternal torment in the lake of fire.

Unbelievers are not merely punished for past sins, they are punished because they are *sinners*. Upon regeneration, we are "born again", we are given new natures...Christ paid for all of our sins and we are given a new nature which means we are no longer "children of wrath".

Unbelievers have sinned, and are by their fallen nature, children of wrath. They will be punished forever as they are vessels of wrath that will not become vessels of regeneration.

Christian Apologist said...

Unbelievers are not merely punished for past sins, they are punished because they are *sinners*. Upon regeneration, we are "born again", we are given new natures...Christ paid for all of our sins and we are given a new nature which means we are no longer "children of wrath".

Unbelievers have sinned, and are by their fallen nature, children of wrath. They will be punished forever as they are vessels of wrath that will not become vessels of regeneration.


You dont honestly believe this do you!?

Craig French said...

You dont honestly believe this do you!?

That's not really your response, ist it!?

Christian Apologist said...

Do you believe Hitler was evil and why?

Craig French said...

Aaron,
Try to stay on topic. Until the last 2 comments from you, we were doing quite well.

You managed to ignore the fact Christ Himself used Gehenna in a more multi-faceted way than you are allowing the term. You also haven't addressed why your muddled approach to figures of speech is preferable to my own.

Christian Apologist said...

The point I am trying to make is that you are ascribing to God an act of evil indescribable. You are saying that God created a whole bunch of people who will be tortured forever who have no chance of escape.

Christian Apologist said...

Lets just do the simple exercise of replacing the word Hell with the word 'trash heap' as this might be a more literal translation of gehenna.

Matt 5:21,22
"You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, 'Do not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.' But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother[b]will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to his brother, 'Raca,' is answerable to the Sanhedrin. But anyone who says, 'You fool!' will be in danger of the fire of the trash heap.

Matt. 5:27-30
"You have heard that it was said, 'Do not commit adultery.' But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into the trash heap. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into the trash heap.

Matt. 10:28
Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in the trash heap.

Matt. 18:7-9
"Woe to the world because of the things that cause people to sin! Such things must come, but woe to the man through whom they come! If your hand or your foot causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life maimed or crippled than to have two hands or two feet and be thrown into eternal fire. And if your eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into the fire of the trash heap.

Matt. 23:15
"Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when he becomes one, you make him twice as much a son of the trash heap as you are.

Matt. 23:33
"You snakes! You brood of vipers! How will you escape being condemned to the trash heap?

Mark 9:42-49
"And if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to be thrown into the sea with a large millstone tied around his neck. If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life maimed than with two hands to go into the trash heap, where the fire never goes out. And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life crippled than to have two feet and be thrown into the trash heap. And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into the trash heap, where
" 'their worm does not die,
and the fire is not quenched.'Everyone will be salted with fire.

Luke 12:4-5
"I tell you, my friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that can do no more. But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear him who, after the killing of the body, has power to throw you into the trash heap. Yes, I tell you, fear him.

Notice the alternative to hell in some of these verses is life. All these verses make perfect sense when you realize that gehenna is where they throw the dead bodies of criminals to be destroyed by fire.

Craig French said...

Romans 9:11-16
11for though the twins were not yet born and had not done anything good or bad, so that (God's purpose according to His choice would stand, not because of works but because of Him who calls,
12it was said to her, "THE OLDER WILL SERVE THE YOUNGER."
13Just as it is written, "JACOB I LOVED, BUT ESAU I HATED."
14What shall we say then? There is no injustice with God, is there? May it never be!
15For He says to Moses, "I WILL HAVE MERCY ON WHOM I HAVE MERCY, AND I WILL HAVE COMPASSION ON WHOM I HAVE COMPASSION."
16So then it does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on God who has mercy.


In anticipation of your very response, Paul said:

19You will say to me then, "Why does He still find fault? For who resists His will?" 20On the contrary, who are you, O man, who answers back to God? The thing molded will not say to the molder, "Why did you make me like this," will it?

According to Paul’s thinking, you’re in no place to shake your fist at God…God is not obligated to save *sinners*.

But it’s not even necessary to get into predestination at this point…if you simply affirm an evangelical understanding of Original Sin, then you would agree we are by nature children of wrath (Eph 2:3). This is why I said you were straying off topic: if man is born in sin (as evangelicals all believe), and sins because he is a sinner, then in Hell, there is more than just past sins for God to torment sinners over…they are, by nature, children of wrath. Every moment of torment, sinners will sin…and in the torment of the sin that follows, more sin is committed…more torment…so the smoke of their torment will rise continually.
As for your replacing “Hell” with “trash heap”, that says *absolutely nothing*…you continue a fallacious form of circular logic. Changing the words adds nothing to your argument. It’s purely superficial.

Christian Apologist said...

What is the biblical concept of wrath? That is the question you should ask yourself. You are inserting the idea that an object of wrath is tormented forever. This is inconsistent with the biblical use of the word. If you look back into the old testament where God's wrath is displayed over and over again, you would see that wrath always ends in death and destruction of its objects. We should also assume that the old testament idea of wrath carries over when new testament writers use the word. Paul especially. In Galatians 1:13,14 Paul says "For you have heard of my previous way of life in Judaism, how intensely I persecuted the church of God and tried to destroy it. I was advancing in Judaism beyond many Jews of my own age and was extremely zealous for the traditions of my fathers. "

Every moment of torment, sinners will sin…and in the torment of the sin that follows, more sin is committed…more torment…so the smoke of their torment will rise continually.

this does not have any biblical support. There is one day of judgement and after that punishment. (Heb. 9:23-28)

As for your replacing “Hell” with “trash heap”, that says *absolutely nothing*…you continue a fallacious form of circular logic. Changing the words adds nothing to your argument. It’s purely superficial.

You assert much but prove little.

Craig French said...

Aaron,
I've tried being patient here. I'm going to pretty much part ways after this post. It is disheartening to see the way you approach God's Word and it is even more disheartening to find out you may end up with some form of teaching authority. For me, this isn't about arguing with you and simply winning. No, I've got better things to do than that.

I've mentioned a number of items where you have been incredibly sloppy...and your last comment is a continuation of sloppiness.

If you look back into the old testament where God's wrath is displayed over and over again, you would see that wrath always ends in death and destruction of its objects.

This is sheer sloppiness again because this is what you're supposed to be proving...so far, though you won't admit it, you got TKO'd by my points concerning Gehenna and your fumbling with figures of speech...so no, I will not always see that "destruction" is always the way *you've defined it* extrabiblically. That's why we've been arguing, right?

this does not have any biblical support. There is one day of judgement and after that punishment. (Heb. 9:23-28)

Hebrews says 27 Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment…it doesn’t limit punishment…in fact, God's Word says:

35 The Father loves the Son and has placed everything in his hands. 36 Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God's wrath remains on him."

If it “remains”, it must already be, correct? At least in some sense, as God’s Word says it *remains*.
So what does Hebrews mean? Obviously it is pointing to the official Judgment Day, which I have in no way denied. Consider convicts that are in prison, they can receive further demerits and punitive measures, correct? That doesn’t mean they’re “more”guilty than before…it isn’t that God’s judgment has changed either.

It's amazing to me how quickly you dismiss texts that I’ve brought forward with argument, shift to another subject, and then try to proof-text me (sloppily I might add)…I haven’t studied systematic theology outside of reading some systematics, but it is striking how narrow your use of Scripture is.

You have yet to address items brought up several posts ago…you’ve merely dismissed the smoke of their torment going up continually, and there being no rest day or night as “symbolism”…without offering what the symbol *means*. But you’re oh so ready to accept symbolic uses of Gehenna (after all, Hell is not literally Gehenna) and an un-substantiated limiting concept that is foreign to Scripture…as I pointed out, Christ says that people are children of Gehenna…obviously pointing to the fact that “destruction” isn’t merely an obliteration of a person, it is a state of being.

You assert much but prove little.

I encourage you to re-read our exchanges. You’ve shifted the conversation in a number of directions and you have yet to address anything substantively. You proof-text and manage to display a significant level of ignorance when it comes to understanding the Scriptures in any systematic way. I’m baffled you even want to argue on this subject let alone be a teacher, or an “apologist”. These are good positions to seek, but I’d ask you to consider learning from godly sources and ignoring heterodox teaching like conditionalism, and the heresy of Open Theism that is promoted at Barb’s Blog.

Christian Apologist said...

Im sorry you feel that way. It seems we have come to an impasse in understanding. The very errors you are seeing in my responses I am seeing in yours. I appreciate the feedback you have given, hopefully our discussion hasnt been fruitless. The reason I ignore the torment passages is that I dont understand them or how they relate to all the verses which speak of death and destruction. I have recently gone through the bible and pulled out all the verses that I thought might pertain to final judgement so If you want I can send you the document. Just e-mail me at a.patchett@plastictechnologies.com and let me know whether you want it in .doc or .docx

Barb said...

Sorry this thread is probably dead now --you need to re-post on the subject, maybe --for a new post.

Extinction could be everlasting punishment. forver punished by eternal death--the 2nd death.

Chaff that burns up is temporal, Jesus suggests--destroyed. Here, no more. We have eternity by faith in Christ and are gathered in like the harvest grain.

It says the lake of fire is eternal, the fire is unquenchable, it doesn't necessarily say unrepentant sinners will remain "alive" in some sense, feeling the burning for eternity. That IS a notion rather inconsistent with our view of a merciful God.

However, the parable of the rich man in Hell told by JEsus suggests a place and awareness of being in that place for Eternity.

I think there is scripture for either view --but the merciful nature of God, the saving grace of Christ --would suggest that we gain eternal life by faith --and otherwise eternal DEATH by not embracing Christ --not necessarily in every reference, "eternal suffering."

What I find interesting is the REvelations scripture that says the false prophet will be tormented day and night --could that be Mohammad? He has been the biggest spiritual deceiver of all times, hasn't he? It sounds like it is one person--but could refer to all false prophets.

Why is there this hard-edged anger to some comments of a particular doctrinal persuasion --an arrogance. I've heard others say that there is an arrogance to the non-arminian perspective and presentation. I think even STeve? Brown says as much?

Seems unwise to be dogmatic where Scripture supports more than one possible view.