You are hereAn Interview with Dr. Edward Fudge

An Interview with Dr. Edward Fudge

  • strict warning: Non-static method view::load() should not be called statically in /home/vaduva/planetpreterist.com/sites/all/modules/views/views.module on line 842.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_handler_argument::init() should be compatible with views_handler::init(&$view, $options) in /home/vaduva/planetpreterist.com/sites/all/modules/views/handlers/views_handler_argument.inc on line 745.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_handler_filter::options_validate() should be compatible with views_handler::options_validate($form, &$form_state) in /home/vaduva/planetpreterist.com/sites/all/modules/views/handlers/views_handler_filter.inc on line 589.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_handler_filter::options_submit() should be compatible with views_handler::options_submit($form, &$form_state) in /home/vaduva/planetpreterist.com/sites/all/modules/views/handlers/views_handler_filter.inc on line 589.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_handler_filter_boolean_operator::value_validate() should be compatible with views_handler_filter::value_validate($form, &$form_state) in /home/vaduva/planetpreterist.com/sites/all/modules/views/handlers/views_handler_filter_boolean_operator.inc on line 149.

By Virgil - Posted on 10 January 2009

A few years ago someone (I do not remember who) sent me a recommendation for a book which now makes the list of "epiphanies" for me, something that dramatically changed my thinking regarding the traditional doctrine of hell and eternal punishment. The author was Dr. Edward Fudge and the book was The Fire That Consumes. Dr. Fudge, while not a "preterist," kindly agreed to visit with us and share with the readers of Planet Preterist some of his thoughts on hell, universalism, and other issues which are often discussed by the readers of this website. Throughout the interview process Dr. Fudge manifested an amazing spirit of kindness and love, so I am asking those willing to comment and respond to the interview to do the same.Dr. Fudge is a Christian scholar, author and Bible teacher living in Houston, Texas, who has been a pulpit preacher, pastor/elder, editor, publisher and, since 1988, a practicing attorney. He earned bachelor's (1967) and master's degrees (1968) in biblical languages from Abilene Christian University, and has a doctorate in jurisprudence (1988) from the University of Houston. He also studied theology and related topics at Covenant Theological Seminary and Eden Theological Seminary, both in St. Louis, Missouri.

Virgil Vaduva: Dr. Fudge, thank you so much for your willingness to share with the Planet Preterist readers. Would you please tell us a bit about yourself, your background and how you came to be where you are today in your life and ministry?

Dr. Edward Fudge: My life is a prime example of God's gracious, surprising sovereignty. I grew up in North Alabama in the 1940's and 1950's, and actually picked cotton to buy winter clothes. My father was a bi-vocational Christian publisher and "regular preacher." My mother, the daughter of missionaries, was born and raised in southern Africa. I attended a private Bible school from elementary through high school, and started preaching in 1960 when I was 16 years old.

In 1967, a month after graduating from university, I married Sara Faye Locke, whom I had met as an undergraduate. I earned an M.A. in biblical languages at Abilene Christian University in Texas, and we moved to St. Louis, Mo., where Sara Faye taught high school English and I preached, while taking courses at Covenant Seminary and Eden Seminary. These were prerequisites to a Ph.D. program in biblical languages at St. Louis University, my plan being to pursue an academic career.

That plan was interrupted abruptly in 1972 by my father's sudden death at age 57, at which point we moved back to Alabama to assist my mother in the family publishing business, which she afterward sold to a group of Christian businessmen. I was then 28 years old. Three years later, a cabal of sectarian adversaries secretly took over the business and fired me. I was unemployed for a year, but then found a job as typesetter in a print shop while serving as volunteer pastor of a small nondenominational church that met in a renovated barn.

In 1982, at age 38, I was hired as founding editor of an interdenominational Christian newspaper in Houston, Texas, where we moved with our two small children, Melanie and Jeremy. Three years later the paper died as the result of a bad economy and (to my great surprise) I ended up going to law school. I received a J.D. degree in 1988, joined a large Houston law firm and for the past 20 years have practiced law in three firms while continuing a teaching and pastoral ministry in writing, in person and by internet (my website is www.EdwardFudge.com).

We still live in Houston, where I have served a total of 19 years as an elder and taught Bible classes in a local church, while doing ministry elsewhere as God provided opportunity. Our two children are now both in their 30s and have two children each of their own, giving us a total of four grandchildren.

Virgil: Why was the subject of hell, immortality and post-mortem punishment something you became interested in and passionate about, and why did you decide to write a 500-page book on the subject (The Fire That Consumes: A Biblical and Historical Study of the Doctrine of Final Punishment)?

Dr. Fudge: Writing The Fire that Consumes was something I neither planned nor anticipated -- it was clearly the arranging of our sovereign God. From childhood I had been taught and accepted without question the traditional majority view of hell as a place of unending conscious torment. I was not particularly troubled by that view. Like most Christians holding it, I simply gave it little thought.

In 1976, while I was working in the print shop and preaching in the barn, I had an article on final punishment published in Christianity Today. That article simply noted contrasting language which New Testament writers use to portray the final destinies of the saved and the lost. As it happens, they most often describe the end of the lost with the words "die," "perish" or "destroy." Among those who read my article was an Australian theologian/publisher named Robert Brinsmead, who also happened to be a former Seventh-day Adventist. Brinsmead had re-studied most of the SDA's distinctive doctrines and rejected them. Now he wanted to re-study the doctrine of hell to decide whether to reject the SDA view that it is a place of total and everlasting destruction.
Brinsmead planned to hire a theological researcher to spend a year compiling everything on the end of the wicked, as found in the Old Testament, intertestamental literature (Apocrypha, Pseudepigrapha, Dead Sea Scrolls), New Testament, Apostolic Fathers, Ante-Nicene Fathers, Post-Nicene Fathers, medieval theologians, Reformers and a few modern theologians. When he saw my CT article, he decided to invite me to take on the project, which, after prayerful discussion and consideration, I did.

By the time I finished that year-long project, the evidence I found had compelled me to change my own mind, rejecting the notion of unending conscious torment and accepting Scripture’s overwhelming picture of hell as a place of total and irreversible destruction. I asked Brinsmead if I could use the material from the research project he had sponsored to write a book setting forth my findings. He not only gave permission; he offered to publish the book. The Fire That Consumes was published in 1982 -- 500 pages in length with 1600 footnotes and two fascinating appendices examining the treatment given hell by Augustine and by John Calvin. Evangelical Book Club made it an Alternate Selection, scholars who are far better known than I am gave it their endorsements and the rest is history. More accurately, the rest is providence.

Virgil: Often annihilationism or, as you call it, "conditional immortality" is described as a compromise between the traditional eternal conscious punishment position created by Tertullian and Origen's universalism. Is that a fair description in your opinion?

Dr. Fudge: The word "compromise" suggests the intentional choice of a position because it is located between two other extreme opposing views. Perhaps there has been someone who came to the view I hold through such intentional calculation, but I have never met or even heard of such a person. On the other hand, if we created a graph to visually illustrate the three views of hell which you mention, we would probably place "the fire that consumes" near the middle of the graph and situate "the fire that torments" (Tertullian) and "the fire that purifies" (Origen) at opposite ends. I teach "conditional immortality" or "annihilationism" because it is what I find in Scripture, not because of its position relative to the other views.

Virgil: You have suggested before that God's nature of love does not seem to have a place in the traditional doctrine of hell. A Universalist would argue that love does not have a place in the doctrine of conditional immortality either. How would you respond?

Dr. Fudge: Because we are finite and sinful creatures, we are incapable of deciding what God's love can or cannot do. However, God has revealed himself in Jesus Christ, who died so that sinners can have eternal life. The revelation of God in Jesus Christ seems totally consistent with the idea that those who reject God throughout life will finally be cut off from him entirely and eventually cease to exist. I don't see how anyone can say that about the traditional doctrine of unending conscious torment.

Virgil: In one of your regular mailings you mentioned Neal Punt's "biblical universalism" perspective. What is "biblical universalism" and how is it scripturally viable? Is it true that this view has been held for the first several centuries by the Church?

Dr. Fudge: "Biblical universalism," or "evangelical inclusivism," as Punt now calls it, means that Christ's atonement is so effective and far-reaching that it saves all who do not consciously reject God's revelation known to them. This is another way of stating the oft-repeated biblical truth that God will judge each person according to the light each was given. “Evangelical inclusivism” offers a way to account for the salvation of faithful people who lived and died before Jesus, as well as that of infants and little children who die, whether before or after Jesus. It also provides one biblical rationale for dealing with the troublesome question of how God will judge people who never heard of Jesus Christ. Punt documents the popularity of his view in the early church.

Virgil: You may not be aware, but some Preterists associate the "consuming fire" described in the Gospels with the fire of Gehenna, the trash dump located outside of Jerusalem where in A.D. 70 the bodies of tens of thousands of Jerusalem inhabitants (those who rejected Christ) were literally consumed and burned. What are your thoughts on this historical-exegetical approach and the destruction by fire of Jerusalem in A.D. 70?

Dr. Fudge: The figure of the smoldering waste-dump of Gehenna, originally known as the Valley of the sons of Hinnom, lies behind the biblical picture of hell (Greek: gehenna). What you describe happening there in A.D. 70 also likely happened to Sennecherib's invading army in the days of Isaiah. That event seems to be reflected in the famous picture of "hell" found in Isaiah 66:24, with its undying worms and unquenchable fire. If unbelievers' corpses were burned in Gehenna in A.D. 70, that event, like the one in Isaiah's day 800 years before, provided an historical example of the eternal destruction of soul and body in hell that still awaits the wicked.

Virgil: How about the pragmatics of the traditional doctrine of hell? Is the "fear" of eternal conscious torment effective in bringing people to Christ or is it doing a disservice to our faith?

Dr. Fudge: Judging by the popularity of the traditional doctrine within the church and by the ungodliness remaining in the world, such "fear" seems to have accomplished very little. The gospel, not hell, is our primary message, and love for God is a far more effective motivator than fear of hell. Most adults who believe that hell involves unending torment do not think they might go there, so its deterrent value is practically non-existent.

The traditional doctrine of unending torment has turned many people away from God, including famous atheists from Bertrand Russell to Anthony Flew -- the latter having now become a deist, who confesses that the traditional doctrine of hell prevents his becoming a Christian.

Virgil: How about a pragmatic fear of annihilation? Is that something you considered before?

Dr. Fudge: Only somewhat. Some people fear non-existence above all else. Others do not. That is really not important either way. What finally matters is what the Bible teaches. That and that alone is my authority, the basis of my own understanding and the point from which I always want to begin and at which I want to end.

Virgil: In an interview with The New Reformation Magazine, you made the (I believe correct) observation that "Adam was not created immortal." Why is this such an important observation for you?

Dr. Fudge: This truth is foundational in many respects. Keeping in mind that we are mortal creatures, wholly dependent on God for existence itself, instills proper humility, helps us remember that our salvation is wholly by grace and motivates us to serve God joyfully and to give him thanks and praise.

Virgil: Most Christians who know who you are, know about you primarily from your work on conditional immortality. This is unfortunate because there is a lot more to Edward Fudge. What other things have you worked on and what else excites you in the theological world?

Dr. Fudge: We are doing this interview in January 2009 and I will be 65 years old in July. For the past 13 years, I have published an international internet column called gracEmail three times each week, which goes to about 4,000 (free) subscribers across Christendom and around the world. Two of my other books are about ways that God guides his children (The Sound of His Voice) and the story of God's grace from Genesis to Revelation (The Great Rescue). My latest book is a commentary on Hebrews, to be titled Hebrews: Ancient Encouragement for Believers Today, scheduled for publication in May 2009 from Leafwood Publishers. These publications and more are described on my website mentioned above.
I have taught frequently on the Holy Spirit and grace-gifts, partly because those subjects were ignored or even minimized within the church fellowship in which I grew up. I also have a passion for promoting Christian unity, again in part as a corrective to a background that often did the opposite.

Virgil: Thank you again for your time and kindness. Do you have any last words for our readers?

Dr. Fudge: Thank you for visiting with me. May we all remember that the heart of our message and the basis of our unity is Jesus Christ himself. We might hold a variety of views on any number of secondary or tertiary topics, but we must never allow any of those opinions to overshadow or distract from what is truly central.

chrisliv's picture

Yeah,

Very refreshing interview, and a perspective I have been coming to for a while now, I think, i.e annihilation of the wicked and unbelieving, rather than a seemingly inequitable eternal torture by God.

I'm sure some Dispensationalists will say, "What about where Jesus said that the queen of the South and the Ninevites would rise up to condemn that generation."

Of course, they still are condemning that generation, comparatively speaking, or even eternally speaking, relative to Humanity on Earth.

But, Futurism is usually the rule for such passages.

And Futurism is the rule for a lot of passages dealing not only with how the wicked are judged, but also about the current and present reality of Christ's Kingdom and covenantal status in the Holy Spirit, e.g, "In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you." John 14:2

I think we've all heard futurists preach that Jesus has been busy for the last 2000 years getting places ready for Christians to go, when they're dead.

But, I do indeed think believers do have some kind of consciousness after death of the body, although I don't know how much of the Memory that resides in human brains is retained after physical deaths, as anyone who has seen Dementia patients up close and personal will understand that the human brain often gives up the Memory before the death of a body.

Anyway, nice dialog and interview.

Peace to you all,
C. Livingstone

Virgil's picture

Those are good observations Chris. That is why the work Dr. Fudge is doing is so important in furthering a good and decent understanding of scripture among Christians, regardless of his eschatology.

Virgil's picture

Dr. Fudge, I wanted to again thank you for this interview. I recently started a class with our congregation on this very topic. It is so amazing to see folks being willing to look at this and see their excitement as we wind our way through the scripture and through the process of dismantling the original doctrine of hell. It is a very refreshing and interesting process.

Kyle Peterson's picture

I haven't done a thorough job remaining educated on the various Universalist options out there so I'm simply going to speculate.

What about the option that because God is sovereign He knows what's best for us - more than we do - in that He simply draws everyone to Heaven because we are incapable of making such an important and grave decision on our own during our stay on earth. I suppose this has a bit of Calvinistic flavor to in that it removes much of the human choice factor, but wanted to see if anything like this had been discussed before.

Of course, there are still passages like Matthew 18, Matthew 25, 2 Thess 1 and Rev 22 that seem to indicate some would not ever be a part of the Kingdom and/or inherit eternal life.

Virgil's picture

"Of course, there are still passages like Matthew 18, Matthew 25, 2 Thess 1 and Rev 22 that seem to indicate some would not ever be a part of the Kingdom and/or inherit eternal life."

Assuming the Kingdom is an after-death thing...those passages could very well describe an earthly experience away from God.

Kyle Peterson's picture

I like to think that God's Kingdom still encompasses post-mortem but I suppose it is entirely possible that all life (including eternal/spiritual) ends at physical death to where we simply cease to exist in any capacity.

Below are the verses in full.

Matthew 18:8 - "If your hand or your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it from you; it is better for you to enter life crippled or lame, than to have two hands or two feet and be cast into the eternal fire."

Matthew 25:46 - "These will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life."

2 Thess 1:9 - "These will pay the penalty of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power"

Rev 22: 14-15 - "Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter by the gates into the city. Outside are the dogs and the sorcerers and the immoral persons and the murderers and the idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices lying.

Virgil's picture

No no, I am not saying that just because the Bible describes the Kingdom in this earthly life, that the Kingdom does not extend past physical death. What I was saying is that the passages describing people not enjoying the benefits of Kingdom living may be describing what they are missing by not entering the kingdom in this life. It does not necessarily describe what they are missing in the afterlife.

The eternal destruction passages are still the ones which make the case for Dr. Fudge's position, so that's where the difficulties in interpretation come to light. Destruction clearly imply annihilation, not eternal conscious torment.

Kyle Peterson's picture

Gotcha. Well, then its a matter of determining if the spiritual nuances of 'Eternal Fire', 'Eternal Punishment' and 'Eternal Destruction' describe physical people not enjoying a healthy spiritual life or if it extends to a separation beyond physical death.

Ed's picture

Actually Kyle, the description of destruction in the NT has to do with the judgment on Jerusalem by God via the instrument (God's Avenger - Minister of Justice) of the Roman Empire's army in AD70. It is here that I have a slight disagreement with Dr. Fudge's understanding of those passages, which he uses to describe afterlife experiences. I believe they were THISlife experiences, specifically with regard to the Israel of God who were dwelling in darkness.

Sam Dawson, although an annihilationist, gives a wonderful description of these facts in his paper/booklet "Jesus' Teaching on Hell" available at his website: www.gospelthemes.com. Unlike Dr. Fudge (who I do respect greatly, don't get me wrong), Dawson is a preterist.

ed

Papa is especially fond of us

Virgil's picture

Well I am not sure if the description is accurate; from what I understand, Dr. Fudge is saying that the physical destruction of victims in Gehenna/Jerusalem are types for what happens to nonbelievers after death. Maybe I am understanding him wrong, but that is where I am myself btw.

Ed's picture

I was not trying to imply any particular view upon Dr. Fudge; I was trying to answer Kyle's question in regards to "universalism" and how the verses that he cites might possibly contradict that view. The only comment I made in regards to Dr. Fudge was that he was not a preterist, which I believe is a true statement.

I respect that you and he holds that view, but I take the Covenant Creation view [couldn't help it Norm :)] which sees those unbelievers who experienced these imprecations as unfaithful Israelites, not humanity in general. This is a real problem for the CC view that Norm espouses in that it means, in my opinion, that the scriptures were meant for and written to and about God's covenant people - Israel and her forefathers (Adam, Noah, Abraham, Isaac).

The law brought death - that death was experienced in AD70, not post-mortem. If Jesus became sin and the annihilationist view is correct, then Jesus should have been annihilated - otherwise, he wasn't REALLY sin. If the Torment view is correct, Jesus should have been tormented - otherwise, he wasn't really sin. However, we see his punishment for BEING sin was DEATH, which he experienced on the cross. His resurrection meant that death had no power over him, and that he brought life, first to Israel and then to all the world. His parousia proved that his sacrifice was acceptable to the Father. Israel was saved by the work of Jesus Christ - some as by fire.

This meant life for the whole world. That's how I see it.

ed

Papa is especially fond of us

davo's picture

Ed: ...I take the Covenant Creation view [couldn't help it Norm :)] which sees those unbelievers who experienced these imprecations as unfaithful Israelites, not humanity in general. This is a real problem for the CC view that Norm espouses in that it means, in my opinion, that the scriptures were meant for and written to and about God's covenant people - Israel and her forefathers (Adam, Noah, Abraham, Isaac).

BINGO!! Ed...

davo

Starlight's picture

Ed,

You make some interesting arguments. Let’s consider that Christ became “sin” and thus he should have been annihilated at death. Well does it matter whether he was Gentile or Jew in this regard? Since He was a Jew He was born under a promise that would negate that annihilation. I’m not sure your analogy will hold up theologically since there was a major difference for those of the promise. Jesus being a Jew throws a big monkey wrench in that argument it seems to me.

By the way Ed, I really never expressed myself in depth upon how the Gentiles tie into the Covenant story. I see the Gentiles redemptive story standing side by side all the way through the scriptures with Israel which of course is what was fulfilled in the story of Acts. In Acts 10 we see these unclean animals formerly declared unclean now as acceptable. That is those who were God fearers. The sad story is that unfaithful Old Covenant Israel became like the “dogs” that were formerly the Gentiles at the “second death”. They were cast out of God’s presence.

I think what may be bypassing many with the use of animals in the OT is that we have a metaphor of Gentile Peoples being classified as animals. This was recognized as what limited their usefulness to God as they were presented as helpers to Adam but none were found suitable. Only those in who called on God in Covenant (Eve/Israel) were suitable for this covenant relationship. Eventually though in the fullness of time through Christ even the animals were deemed acceptable. That is the God fearing ones became "sons of God" and no longer animals while unfaithful Israel became the new Gentile “Dogs” of Revelation 22. The implication of animal life to Gentiles in the OT is one that I believe continues to go over most folks heads.

It also seems to me that Romans 2:12 is a powerful indictment for the process of judgment upon the Gentile and Jew. One was to perish and the other was to be judged. Those Jews who were to be judged unworthy met the “second death” and became like the perishing Gentile dogs. Now we should also realize that Gentile dogs was a term reserved for pagan Gentiles and not God fearing Gentiles. God fearing Gentiles had been and were entering into true Israel all along from the earliest days of scripture.

Rom 2:12 ESV
(12) For all who have sinned without the law WILL ALSO PERISH without the law, and all who have sinned under the law will be judged by the law.

Ed, by the way I’m going to keep watch between you, Sam and Davo on who can come up with the best version of a new “Covenant Creation” approach. It should be interesting. LOL :-O

Blessings

Norm

Kyle Peterson's picture

Sorry for coming back late to the game here. I guess I'm just not understanding how the language in those passages (ie eternal death, destruction, separation) refer exclusively to our spiritual lives while we are physically alive on earth.

In other words...are the sorcerers, idolators living today experiencing a spiritual 'eternal death' as they grow old on this earth? And then when they die physically they enter into the presence of God? I guess I'm just having trouble understanding this from a Universalist position.

Ed's picture

Kyle, the best way I can describe it, I think, is that the bible was written to a covenant people - Israel. Included in its pages is that covenant people's history, who saw, in their oral traditions, stories of how God formed them and gave them dominion (service) over the other nations, which they lost when Adam, their forefather sinned. Jesus changed all that, and according to Psalm 110 was given the nations as his inheritance.

The word "eternal" in english is ainion (sp?), which means "of the age." So, when the first century believers were given "life of the age," they were "saved" from the coming destruction. The unbelievers in Israel did not have life, but "were dead already." (Jn 3:16). But Jesus didn't come to condemn the world, but to save it (Jn 3:17). That world, in my opinion, was covenant Israel/Eve. This Adam could redeem his bride, unlike the first. "Death of the age" ("eternal death") meant that they would die for their own sins, which they did in AD70 - as a covenant people, of sorts. They were, in my view, resurrected FROM death, and joined in the Israel of God, who had been resurrected FROM Life (i.e., baptism); and thus, all Israel was saved.

Israel, which many believe (and I am starting to reaffirm it once more) we join through baptism in this present age, is now the Priestly Kingdom that ministers blessings and life to all the nations of the world; so that through Abraham's seed, all the nations of the earth are blessed. Now some may argue that word "earth" means LAND, and refers to Israel exclusively. I would argue that the LAND spoken of is CANAAN, which was purified when Israel took possession of it in the Exodus. All the nations that lived in CANAAN, which was a type of the entire planet, were to be blessed by Israel's presence (we know that the original presence meant death for them, but Jesus brings LIFE).

Jesus suffered physical death for the sins of Israel. It was truly a spiritual death as well, but not as we think of like a soul dying, but as a relational thing. Spiritual death meant separation from God's covenant blessings. Jesus suffered it for those who believed in him, and when he conquered physical death, he went back to the Father to prove that his relationship was being restored with Father. It was, and so his bride was also accepted by Father. Those who experienced "the second death" (they were already dead in their sins and trespasses), which was the destruction of Jerusalem, were not accepted by the Father UNTIL their works (the law) that they had built upon the one true foundation were burned up. So then, their souls (relationships) were saved, but as by fire.

Hope I'm making sense.

ed

Papa is especially fond of us

Kyle Peterson's picture

Ed,

Thank you for the explanation. So the Eternal Death, Destruction, Separation spoken of was the spiritual dissolution of the covenant between God and Israel made manifest in the physical act of the destruction of Jerusalem in 70AD? I just want to make sure I understand the connection so I can take some more time and study the passages I mentioned with an accurate idea of what you (guys) are explaining.

-Kyle

davo's picture

Kyle Peterson: What about the option that because God is sovereign He knows what's best for us - more than we do - in that He simply draws everyone to Heaven because we are incapable of making such an important and grave decision on our own during our stay on earth. I suppose this has a bit of Calvinistic flavor to in that it removes much of the human choice factor, but wanted to see if anything like this had been discussed before.

Yes Kyle you are absolutely right… in two words, it's called "Irresistible Grace".

davo

Kyle Peterson's picture

Yes, ironic isn't it? But in this instance it's God's love that overpowers His anger. I'm still not convinced of the Universalist approach but in my studies I noticed how similar the premise is to the "I" in TULIP.

Ed's picture

Funny you should mention that Kyle. I was an ardent Calvinist in my previous life. It was my belief in the sovereignty of God that led me to embrace fulfilled redemption.

ed

ed

Papa is especially fond of us

Kyle Peterson's picture

I don't know why that came to me one day but I've always kept that tucked away. I do wonder, however; where 'choice' comes into play. Or rather, is the choice to have a relationship with God one that we make while on earth (so we can enjoy the fullness of Him) and then when we die we join up with everyone else in His ethereal presence?

davo's picture

Yes Kyle it is ironic, yet we have numerous Scriptures tell us often enough that on God's behalf towards man "mercy triumphs over judgment" – now that didn't negate temporal "punishment" for errant actions, BUT that never nullified God's redeeming grace.

Psa 99:8 O LORD our God; You were to them God-Who-Forgives, THOUGH You took vengeance on their deeds.

Lam 3:31-32 For the Lord will not cast off forever. Though He causes grief, YET He will show compassion according to the multitude of His mercies.

Thus Pantelism understands Israel's divine punishment in terms of the temporal outworking of temporal actions, that is, their actions had real consequences in this life. As per AD70 for example, their fiery situation was the fruit of their trespass, thus their judgment, but all this never without hope:

Isa 54:8 With a little wrath I hid My face from you for a moment; but with everlasting kindness I will have mercy on you,” says the LORD, your Redeemer.

Isa 60:10b For in My wrath I struck you, but in My favor I have had mercy on you.

Further… we know that ALL Israel, that is, the believing faithful AND the unbelieving unfaithful were altogether REDEEMED out of bondage, period. Redemption had nothing to do with their actions, Israel's redemption was God's unilateral work. Those believing faithful however went on into the fullness of their redemption finding "salvation" or deliverance [as distinct from redemption] in the Land of Promise. Now the "Land of Promise" is NOT analogous of life after death, no, it speaks to the fullness of covenant life in this life.

Now those unfaithful rebellious ones who were no less "redeemed" than their believing brethren in the course of time were duly judged and "annihilated" – but such "biblical" annihilation is pertinent to ones "physicality" no more and no less. IOW, they did not inherit the fullness of their redemption. We see yet a continuing example of this plainly in the NT:

2Pet 2:1 But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction.

The reality of this verse above CANNOT be ignored. Certain rebellious ones having ALREADY being redeemed [bought] by the Lord at Calvary, suffered "swift destruction" in the conflagrations of AD70. Returning to law righteousness i.e., having "fallen from grace" to "another gospel", cost them dearly. However, if you believe that God "has set eternity in the hearts of men" and that "the spirit returns to God who gave it" [Eccl 3:11; 12:7] then swift destruction can be understood as remedial and restorative. Thus where the likes of those having been "handed over to Satan for the destruction [annihilation] of the flesh" was to lead to their "spirits" being "saved in the day of the Lord" [1Tim 1:20; 2Cor 5:5].

I'm not saying you should buy this Kyle, but hope biblically it makes some sense.

davo

Virgil's picture

There are also several passages in Job and Psalms which recall the deliverance from Sheol...along the lines of "I was in Sheol, and the Lord delivered me..." etc. This is powerful language.

Ribs's picture

If 'age' or aion and its adjective comes to an end anywhere in the scriptures, then let us forgive ourselves for believing that our Creator must be doing good by tormenting or eliminating any human.

See John Saggio's new web page: twilightofreligion.com, and his new book The Destiny of Israel and the Twilight of Christianity.

Elm W. Stand
ewstand@yahoo.com

E. W. Stand

Virgil's picture

Is this an advertising for a website/book or how is this comment relevant to the conversation?

davo's picture

“Evangelical inclusivism” offers a way to account for the salvation of faithful people who lived and died before Jesus, as well as that of infants and little children who die, whether before or after Jesus. It also provides one biblical rationale for dealing with the troublesome question of how God will judge people who never heard of Jesus Christ.I wonder why this is considered such a "troublesome question"? – certainly a consistent prêteristic perspective resolves this apparent dilemma… we have God's pattern for how judgement worked in the Parousia – judgement came according to one's "works"; this was the standard by which judgement was made [2Cor 5:10; Rev 20;12], and it was THIS by which determination was then made in relation to "rewards" or their subsequent lack or loss. Thus it was the potential for loss of rewards according to one's WORKS and NOT loss of personal existence after death as per annihilationism, or the place of personal existence after death as per ECT as to where the concern lay.

It should also be noted that physical demise i.e., death, was not a prerequisite for the receiving or losing of "rewards" in the Parousia – IOW, post-mortem was NOT the key to "inheritance".If unbelievers' corpses were burned in Gehenna in A.D. 70, that event, like the one in Isaiah's day 800 years before, provided an historical example of the eternal destruction of soul and body in hell that still awaits the wicked. When one understands "eternal destruction" in terms of the TOTALITY of destruction, then annihilation can rightly be biblically understood as referring solely to one's physical demise – nothing more and nothing less, that is; it does not touch on one's post-mortem condition at all, but scripturally speaks to temporal and corporeal judgement, and most often is relative to the covenant people – either in terms of punishment for disobedience or that of the punishment that befell those who mistreated the people of God. Thus when it comes to annihilation, "post-mortem" is invariably read into the text – and I am yet to see any texts furnished that actually shows this to be the case.

It should also be noted that the NT writers when using the word "hell" [gehenna] do so to describe the fate of the lost only in the Gospels, and only in speaking to Jews, and thus only when addressing such people as are familiar with the topography of Jerusalem. [James is the only exception, but even then his audience is also "Jewish"].

I am still yet to see an explanation from any annihilationist here [Virgil et al] as to HOW there is ultimately any difference from the "endless torment" dogma, because as I see it, both are as "utterly pointless" as each other. Typically used, "annihilationism" fails just as miserably as ECT to identify any purposeful meaning to life for the vast bulk of humanity, in that most do not or have not to-date come to a "Christian" understanding of life.

Example: a little child grows up in a poor destitute dirt-swept village somewhere on the backside of the planet. She is ravaged with hunger and choked by thirst. Those around her are similarly plagued with pestilence, pain and starvation. Eventually she succumbs to the claws of death and dies. Then, when Jesus finally returns from Heaven [assuming popular futurism] He raises her up only to then set her ablaze, and thus with a cavalier wave of the royal hand dismisses her to final extinction. What then was the point and purpose of her life and that of countless millions like her? The answer – "NOTHING!!" Her meaningless torturous existence was nothing but an absurd tragedy bereft of any purpose, save that of satisfying the wants of an [supposedly] angry God – "IMO" only a cruel and false gospel would perpetuate such a message.

This is not the first time I've raised this, so why is this not a reasonable posit worthy of some thoughtful response from an annihilationist?

davo

Recent comments

Poll

Should we allow Anonymous users to comment on Planet Preterist articles?
Yes absolutely
23%
No only registered users should comment
77%
What are you talking about?
0%
Total votes: 43