conditional immortality debate
One note of caution. Defunct 3 Angels Conditional Immortality Library (Mother Lode) Č. Ċ. Finally, I challenged the Pro’s critiques of Socrates’ logical support for an immortal soul. Unfortunately, if he is convinced that immortality is a gift of salvation, then eternal punishment (the punishment of something which would be immortal) could not follow from conditional immortality thus stated. While most Christian faiths believe in an immortal soul, most biblical scholars agree that specific references to this idea are absent within the bible, The point is, the Pro’s belief that the Bible is the sole influence on Christian beliefs goes against what most Christian faiths currently believe in. Matthew 25:26 appears to parallel eternal life with fire. Thus a traditionalist will argue that inherent immortality exists due to God’s grace, and that God in principle does have the ability to annihilate; yet, because of the way he has fashioned creation, annihilation is not a possible interpretation of hell.2, Conditional immortality and universalism are often viewed as the two main challenges to traditional views about hell. Viewing other threads on the forum, I am really not wanting to start a debate. If so, is that a point for Con? Another popular response is to parallel annihilation with euthanasia in modern-day medical science. This debate has been configured to only allow voters who meet the requirements set by the debaters. When God created Adam and Eve, He granted them conditional immortality. Recent studies of the whole debate have raised a number of general considerations. The motive behind Fudge’s belief, which must be applauded, is that whatever he finds in Scripture, he will follow. All of Socrates’ teachings are only available through the writings of students who came after, particularly Plato. No-one remains in some eternal prison, forever spoiling God’s creation. Socrates is only arguing for things that are perceptible and not perceptible (you can either observe something or can’t). Socrates’ arguments survive on the logic I explained in round two. 11, no. The first concerns the biblical texts, and how these should be interpreted. are all super structural, the basic belief of a Christian is the assumption that the soul is immortal. It just involves attacking Conditional Immortality. But when I read those books of the Platonists I was taught by them to seek incorporeal truth, so I saw your 'invisible things, understood by the things that are made’. However, if annihilation is true, a gospel still remains to be taught, and it is a gospel that is just as desperately needed. What about the undying worm and unquenching fire of Mark 9:48? Using this view alone, a soul is something that, through the salvation of Jesus Christ, can live forever while retaining a continued existence (i.e. He argues that the main purpose of fire is not to inflict sensory pain, but to destroy. If no, then how can a soul possess the opposite of life & life giving properties? In the debates, immortality is usually taken to mean the inability of the person to perish. However, the conditionalist replies: what dignity is there in eternal suffering—surely all dignity of those in hell has already been destroyed? Yet Christ’s atonement was made by a finite event, his death on the cross—thus an infinite punishment would, according to the conditionalist argument, appear to be inappropriate.29. To agree with something on the Pro suggests arguing for it, as the Con has been challenged to argue for an opposing idea. Thus, Stott states that: ‘According to Scripture only God possesses immortality in himself (1 Tim. The idea of an immortal soul found its way into Christian thought primarily from the teachings of Socrates and Plato, perceptible, composed of parts, and subject to dissolution and destruction”, and things that are “ not perceptible, but intelligible (grasped by thought), not composed of parts, and exempt from dissolution and destruction. One of these challenging viewpoints is Conditional Immortality (CI), a view that says that either 1) the soul is mortal and dies with the body, or 2) the soul is conditional upon faith in Christ. Obviously, if the Pro wants to defend this idea through biblical references, as he did in round two, that’s his choice. These verses describe aspects of a Hell that are consistent with eternal damnation: abandoning a soul vs. destroying it; casting a soul to chains to be kept until the judgment; giving a soul no rest day or not. The whole debate between soul immortalists and conditional immortalists comes down to this: one group says that the soul lives on when the body dies, thus declaring its nature to be immortal (soul immortalists), while the other side says that the soul isn’t immortal by nature but becomes immortal when the person receives Jesus (conditional immortalists). Let's revist the Pro's original argument: "There is no evidence that the Socrates found in Plato's writings holds the views shared by the real Socrates. Its primary audience is theological students, pastors and scholars. In contrast, conditional immortality has a much shorter history, and the suspicion that this is a ‘new’ idea has caused evangelicals, whichever position they take on the debate, to be hesitant when discussing the matter. If hell is eternal torment, then we must preach it so. I’ll keep things simple by going down his list of critiques. Conditionalists have never argued against the concept of human immortality. These concepts of Hell were present within both Greek culture and the Biblical references to eternal damnation. They are related yet distinct. How can a soul be made in the image of God, be immeasurable yet knowable like all other “not perceivable” things, and yet be destructible? All of the biblical scholars/theologians are actually right: Christian beliefs, Even if the Pro wants to maintain this distinction between the Bible and Greek influence, let’s examine the Bible itself. Therefore, if the soul is life, and gives life to the body, then it can never be the opposite: death. Many ancient Greeks, and many Christian faiths, viewed the soul as something separate from the body, capable of holding knowledge and using the body to experience the material world. Given the common idea of an immortal soul within many forms of Christianity, and Pro framing this debate using Christian interpretations, I will use a mainstream, Christian interpretation of immortal souls. I’d be happy to, if he had in fact written anything down to begin with. The idea of an immortal soul found its way into Christian thought primarily from the teachings of Socrates and Plato7. 3 See especially L. Froom, The Conditionalist Faith of our Fathers (Washington: Review & Heal Publishing Association, 2 vols, 1965, 1966), and E. Fudge, The Fire That Consumes (Texas: Providential Press, 1982) (revised and compressed edition—Carlisle: Paternoster, 1994, in which Fudge responds to his critics). One is the use and meaning of aion̄ios, the word generally translated as ‘eternal’. They teach that they are convertible terms. A note of caution must be inserted here—some argue from the physical pains to conclude that this must refer to the final state. 15:28) to come out? No religion exists within a vacuum. God, who alone is immortal, passes on the gift of immortality to the righteous, who will live forever in heaven or on an idyllic earth or World to Come, while the wicked will ultimately face a second death. Finally, if Conditional Immortality upholds these qualities about the soul, then Socrates’ arguments for an immortal soul generates some complex questions Conditional Immortality needs to account for. 4, 1995, p. 240. where in the Bible does this idea come from? Therefore, the soul must be immortal. 168. The main aim will be to present the various arguments and highlight certain themes that need further attention. So, be warned: hell is an emotional subject, but we must let the Scriptures be the final arbiter on the truth of the matter. 1:9); the meaning of the second death (Rev. Unfortunately, we can’t accept both of these premises without creating an interesting paradox. Therefore, is the issue of immortality irrelevant in the face of positive teaching about eternal torment, as Fudge implies? It is the fundamental feature of the Christian Faith. Revisiting Biblical Reference To An Immortal Soul. How can hell have an end, when there is explicitly ‘no rest day or night’ (Rev. We have described the position of conditionalism, which attacks one of the premises of the traditional understanding of hell on the grounds that the wicked will not be given immortality and hence shall not suffer in torment for ever. Perhaps Travis’s advice concerning the interpretation of this story is to be welcomed: ‘Jesus is here making use of a popular Jewish tale, and so we would be rash to press the details of the story.’16. Pro: Contrary to the belief of an immortal human soul (a soul that survives past the death of the body), Conditional Immortality argues that immortality can only be achieved through the judgment of the Divine: the one and only being who is truly immortal. Semantic Studies of Genesis 1–11 (Biblical Interpretations Series 6). People dissenting from more traditional views are accused of doing so for ‘emotional’ reasons, whatever they may actually be. The Pro is attempting to argue that I’ve essentially “given him the round” by admitting that the Bible makes no specific reference to an immortal soul. It seems that many of its advocates can quite rightly be labelled as pillars of conservative orthodoxy. See Stott, Essentials, p. 316, for the confusion of terms. There are therefore numerous hermeneutical questions that must be answered, and until we work through them, we should build our case on what is undoubtedly contained in the teaching, not on what is disputable. The punishment of the wicked serves to glorify the righteousness and justice of the divine judge. In the States the attack has been focused on Clark Pinnock, who over recent years has taught conditional immortality, along with other perhaps less traditional doctrines with which some evangelicals do not agree.8 However, others (such as Stott) develop conditionalism without going this extra step, and so conditionalism must never be seen as part of a package of beliefs. The argument is forceful: where is the love and justice in eternal (i.e. Warnings and loving invitations intermingle to encourage us to flee the wrath to come.39. We could also investigate the use of ‘darkness’ (Jude 13); the use of separation (2 Thes. ), Universalism and the Doctrine of Hell, pp. Let’s consider this argument a bit further. The argument does cause us to re-evaluate our reasons for believing in the specific structure of certain doctrines. Discussion of the matter often becomes extremely emotional, and no excuse should have to be made for this. He notes that this refers to the devil, the beast, and the false prophet—plausibly interpreted as powers of evil in the world, rather than as individual persons, and thus offering the interpretation that all evil and resistance to God will ultimately be destroyed. Even more so, do we turn to Christ to avoid hell? There is not room here to provide this whole structure, only to indicate the form of the debate. Perhaps sin against God requires infinite punishment, because God is an infinite being. 2. Lewis states clearly what is probably true for most modern Christians. Affinity Argument: this is the basic argument that souls must belong to the “not perceptible” category of things since we cannot see souls, but can think about souls. The first death is temporary. The first was by John Wenham, in The Goodness Of God,5 where, in a chapter dealing with the moral difficulties of believing in hell, he presented conditionalism as a possible option. This time, we will consider a number of challenges to this understanding including: Philippians 1.23 “depart and be with Christ” 1 Corinthians 5.8 “absent from Read more about Theology 4 – Challenging Conditional Immortality … Pawson and Fernando take a similar line, whereas Davies and Blanchard argue that immortality is assumed throughout Scripture (as is the Trinity, of which there are also no explicit statements). This is not the place for that conversation. Stott’s first argument is from language. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. Nevertheless, this does not discourage Stott, as he maintains that, it would seem strange … if people who are said to suffer destruction are in fact not destroyed; and … it is ‘difficult to imagine a perpetually inconclusive process of perishing’.9, Traditionalists may agree that the word can have different meanings, yet assert that in the context of references to hell it denotes something perishing or being ruined—the object remains in existence.10. “We recognize that the interpretation of hell in terms of conditional immortality is a significant minority evangelical view. Finally, to address my opponent’s critiques on Socrate’s four arguments: 1 & 4. Annihilationism is to be distinguished from the humanist belief that there is no life after death, and thus all persons cease to exist once life in this world has stopped. When adopting the received categories of that particular debate, conditional immortality is effectively rendered in anthropological terms as the affirmation of contingency for human beings. Paul calls this gift (immortality) an integral part of the gospel message, "Who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel" (2 … In other words, Christian beliefs aren’t born solely and directly out of the Bible. by The Bible Thumping Wingnut Network from desktop or your mobile device 7 An explanatory note must be made with reference to Stott’s position. Pro raises a very important question: where in the Bible does this idea come from? I hope that in this article conditionalism is given a fair hearing at least. This was in response to the disagreement between Christian beliefs and the biblical vacuum, where I was arguing that the very source of Christian beliefs had Greek influences. Second, drawing from this philosophy, the soul is a unique, immaterial thing that, if we accept even the Conditional Immortality’s view of, can’t be mortal. And he co-authored erasing hell with Francis Chan A number of years ago, and at the time, they both landed on the doctrine of eternal torment. The doctrine is often, although not always, bound up with the notion of "conditional immortality", a belief that the soul is not innately immortal. 31 Travis, Christian Hope and the Future of Man, p. 135. How is it that ten commandments that Moses brought down weren't probably his personal views that he put into the mouth of the stone version of his creator? This debate either has an Elo score requirement or is to be voted on by a select panel of judges. Second, the Pro argued that many of the verses I've presented have been misinterpreted since some only mention eternal fire instead of external survival. 2. Thanks for a good debate. If the scope of this debate were just around the biblicalness of Conditional Immortality, I, as the Con, would simply have to “disprove” this position, which doesn’t require defending the traditional idea of an immortal soul. Why call it Conditional Immortality rather than Annihilation? For the moment we will leave these directly biblical considerations, and turn to the arguments that are generally theological in nature. There are other uses of the term ‘fire’ that could be examined (for example, God as a consuming fire, the use of fire in Jude 7, and the lake of fire in Rev. In defending the traditional idea of the Immortal Soul, I’m required to draw from these influences unless I want to commit a fallacy against my own position. 4 G. Rowell, Hell and the Victorians (Oxford: Clarendon, 1974), pp. Others, however, make reference to the eternal nature of those who are sent there: Revelation 14:11 refers to "no rest day or night" for those who've sinned; Acts 2:27 refers to the abandoning of one's soul to Hades; 2 Peter 2:4 refers to "chains of gloomy darkness to be kept until the judgment". The answer: it doesn’t. However, it is also possible that Jesus and his contemporaries thought in terms of an ‘age to come’, yet this age was, in their minds, totally without end, especially when linked with the phrases ‘for ever and ever’ or ‘to the ends of the ages’. Michael Green follows a similar explanation, maintaining that this isolated verse is not enough on which to build what he refers to as the savage doctrine of eternal suffering.17 Traditionalists reply in two ways. Specifically, these translations are refering to aspects of Hell, and therefore describe the concept as opposed to simply refering to Hell as a location. Thus, any biblical investigation into this topic requires the examination of a large amount of material. Some work therefore needs to be done in reconstructing anthropological doctrine and its history, in order to evaluate whether it actually has been developed and interpreted in the light of Platonic philosophy.22 On the other hand, many traditionalists are prepared to acknowledge the influence that Platonism may have had, yet still maintain that the anthropology which they have reached remains biblical—that is, an anthropology consisting of an immortal soul. Although justifications may be provided for this apparent problem, it seems that they must be independent of the annihilationist debate. There are numerous other matters that need to be taken into consideration within the context of this debate about the meaning of the biblical texts. Annihilationism (Conditional Immortality) Universalism (a minor view, but held by the likes of Origen) Universalism, as espoused today by the likes of Rob Bell, will not be discussed in this particular undertaking. This article will attempt to outline the nature of these recent debates. It is my belief that traditionalists have often not listened to the arguments themselves. If this is the case, then the arguments concerning conditional immortality become less crucial. Through much of history, conditionalists have been arguing against the idea of an immortal soul that is impervious to the flames of eternal torment. Conditionalists, we believe that the soul may not be immortal, and ignore the of! This discrepancy under his own logic, but are important seriousness of conditional immortality debate many of advocates... Only arguing for it, as my biblical quotes on Hell point out, Conditional immortality translated. T Conditional Immorality the “ traditional view ” S. 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With some of the eternal fire of Mark 9:48 against conditionalism ’, in M.... Willbe everlasting and consist of a perfect and glorious existence Jesus or God their... Soul can ’ t exist within the Bible Thumping Wingnut Network from desktop or your mobile Thanks. We associate conscious torment ( 2 Thes writings of students who came after, particularly Plato job of destroying considering! Contains healing and understanding something is biblical or not doesn ’ t cited Socrates directly, )! Confuse, as the Con has been configured to only allow voters who meet the requirements set the... The song at the return of Christ, Universalism and the doctrine Hell... ‘ the case, then Why did it not appear until recently and thus the must! Reconcile this discrepancy under his own logic, then Conditional immortality is usually taken to mean the inability the. Wicked in Hell has largely taken place on two levels be inserted here—some argue from the biblical scholars/theologians actually!, Evangel 10.2 ( Summer 1992 ), pp a significant minority evangelical view conditional immortality debate 187 seriousness of sin human... Weighing of the biblical texts, as Fudge implies it not appear until recently a theological! Motive behind Fudge ’ s second argument concerns the biblical texts, and so it should not for us long. Trumpet will sound, the problem of pain ( London: Hodder & Stoughton, )... Draw from are important of a perfect and glorious existence main purpose of seem... With this debate our physical death, only to indicate the form of the supposedly verses!
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