For the perishable must clothe itsel… Can God ever possess the opposite of being all-powerful? Finally, to address my opponent’s critiques on Socrate’s four arguments: 1 & 4. The following is an examination of what is commonly called "conditional immortality" -- that a person's "immortality" is conditioned on receiving eternal life. Pro is asking for evidence that the soul survives after being the constant for human life. What we have to see here is simple: any notion of Hell and eternal damnation isn't just from "Natural Immortality" becoming a common presupposition. 20:10). It is my belief that traditionalists have often not listened to the arguments themselves. Themelios is a peer-reviewed international evangelical theological journal that expounds on the historic Christian faith. McMinn; Phillips (2001), Care for the soul: exploring the intersection of psychology & theology, pp. It concerns our future destiny, and more pointedly, the future of those whom we love. 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. Their existence must serve some purpose, and once that is admitted the view that their eternal punishment glorifies the justice of God seems perfectly logical.28, God’s justice is glorified in that sinners receive their due punishment. (Bridgend: Evangelical Press of Wales, 1991), p. 14, notes that at least ten years earlier Stott expressed his agnosticism concerning the precise nature of hell. The Pro “believes that Christian beliefs were born completely from the Bible.” If this is the true, and current mainstream Christian faiths believe in an immortal soul going to Heaven or Hell, then these beliefs must come from the Bible. Perhaps the strongest argument used by traditionalists is the idea that those in hell are continually impenitent. If so, is that a point for Con? The accusation is that most theologians interpret hell in the traditional manner for two reasons: (a) because their tradition has always done so, and their tradition precedes their interpretation of Scripture; (b) because the force behind that tradition has been the false assumption that men and women are created immortal, and so those who reject Christ endure for ever, suffering the consequences of their rejection. How can hell have an end, when there is explicitly ‘no rest day or night’ (Rev. Jude 7 And don't forget Sodom and Gomorrah and their neighboring towns, which were filled with immorality and every kind of sexual perversion. I too look forward to this interesting discussion. The point remains: no reset button is pressed when you get into heaven... if this button was pressed, then you'd have no recollection of the actions/reasons that got you into heaven in the first place. 15 Note that David Powys has proposed a new interpretation of this material, which he believes was used to attack the Pharisees’ understanding of the post-mortem state. The doctrine is often, although not always, bound up with the notion of "conditional immortality", a belief that the soul is not innately immortal. Stott points out that Jesus does not mention everlasting pain when he uses the imagery of Isaiah 66:24 here, whereas Judith 16:17 does use such language. First, I can’t adequately defend the con’s position (the traditional idea of immortality) from Biblical grounds alone because this traditional idea doesn’t stem from this source. This article will attempt to outline the nature of these recent debates. We need to exercise caution in this whole area, as it is all too easy to import contemporary ideas of victory and justice into a situation of which we know very little. This debate has been configured to only allow voters who meet the requirements set by the debaters. Through much of history, conditionalists have been arguing against the idea of an immortal soul that is impervious to the flames of eternal torment. Stott assumes that this passage does refer to the interim state, but that an alternative interpretation need not preclude the idea of annihilation subsequent to punishment. Man is perceptible: humans can be seen and destroyed. 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. Therefore, all the redeemed will be immortal, and life in heaven will be everlasting and consist of a perfect and glorious existence. and 2) What is your church's position on the doctrine? This debate either has an Elo score requirement or is to be voted on by a select panel of judges. This interpretation can best be summed up in the Westminster Confession, Simple put: souls are immortal and will either go to heaven or hell. For the moment we will leave these directly biblical considerations, and turn to the arguments that are generally theological in nature. • Why "Conditional Immortality" is absolutely true and all unsaved souls will one day be "destroyed". 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. 42, 150f. For this section I depend largely on two of Stott’s four main arguments as they are presented in a helpful summary fashion (the other two, concerning justice and universalism, come under our heading of ‘the theological case’). Thus the wicked consistently refuse God, repeatedly sin, and therefore deserve eternal punishment.30 Even if this is not the case, it is not clear whether annihilation (eternal death) is any easier to justify than conscious hell (eternal suffering). So, be warned: hell is an emotional subject, but we must let the Scriptures be the final arbiter on the truth of the matter. Stott’s first argument is from language. Secondly, although conditionalism makes an important point concerning anthropology (which will be explored later), both sides of the annihilation/traditional debate tend to agree that whether immortality is inherent or not, God alone has the power to give and take away life in all its forms. As I’ve demonstrated, the Bible makes no specific reference to the traditional idea of an immortal soul, and yet it’s a cornerstone belief of many Christian faiths. I’d be happy to, if he had in fact written anything down to begin with. 14:11 and 20:10). 24 P. Helm, The Last Things Now (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, 1989), p. 118. God is not perceptible: we can neither see God nor destroy God. Annihilationism, which is usually associated with conditional immortality, states that the wicked will not suffer conscious torment for ever, but that after death and judgment they will be destroyed, ceasing to exist. You have made known to me the paths of life; you will make me full of gladness with your presence.' Representing a global movement known as Rethinking Hell (rethinkinghell.com), Chris Date specializes in the areas of Hell and Conditional Immortality, and has participated in debate with the president of the Southern Baptist Convention, Dr. Albert Mohler, and been interviewed for the popular One Minute Apologist video series. 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. However, the conditionalist replies: what dignity is there in eternal suffering—surely all dignity of those in hell has already been destroyed? Connect with Preston. Why is that important to the debate with annihilationism (or conditional immortality)? Traditionalists therefore believe that the parable must be referring to the final state, when all are reunited with physical bodies. These relationships need a constant: something that sleeps and wakes requires a body (take away the body and there is no sleeping or waking). 21 Stephen H. Travis, Christian Hope and the Future of Man (Leicester: IVP, 1980), p. 135. 66:24, and how best to understand Rev. Nevertheless, I shall continue on with this debate and attempt to refute some of the arguments posed by Con. Therefore, all the redeemed will be immortal, and life in heaven willbe everlasting and consist of a perfect and glorious existence. It is oftensaid that this heaven will be eternal both quantitatively and qualitatively,the former r… Here is a clear indication of the difficulty in knowing how this text should be handled and where we should start from in its interpretation. Whenever and wherever hell is discussed, it always raises questions concerning God’s love and justice which bring with them strong emotional feelings. This is not the place for that conversation. Conditionalists base their argument on 1 Timothy 1:17, 1 Timothy 6:16 and 2 Timothy 1:10. These concepts of Hell were present within both Greek culture and the Biblical references to eternal damnation. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. If this is the case, then the soul must carry this knowledge before birth, which gives credence to the idea of a soul before life. 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. It follows, then, that these personifications cannot suffer everlasting torment, as suffering cannot be experienced by symbols. 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. If my soul isn’t in control of my body, then my body could go on living after the annihilation of my soul. While most Christian faiths believe in an immortal soul, most biblical scholars agree that specific references to this idea are absent within the bible2. There seems to be some clash around the parameters of this debate. 2 Pet. In the first death, only the body is destroyed in the graveyard. One is the use and meaning of aion̄ios, the word generally translated as ‘eternal’. Early Christianity was influenced both from its Hebrew roots, "Philosophy has been given to the Greeks as their own kind of Covenant, their foundation for the philosophy of Christ ... the philosophy of the Greeks ... contains the basic elements of that genuine and perfect knowledge which is higher than human ... even upon those spiritual objects.". Babies are a good example of this. In a religious debate such as this, the argument would be “this knowledge comes from God”. First, such argument inevitably leads to a diminishing of the seriousness of sin. 68–71. Why call it Conditional Immortality rather than Annihilation? 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. No religion exists within a vacuum. It is when I make my decisions on those feelings alone, and ignore the witness of Scripture, that danger comes. Kendall Harmon has been critical of conditionalists for importing a timescale of events into biblical material which in itself provides no warrant for such detail.33 Thus, conditionalists envisage death for the sinner, then subsequently resurrection, then punishment, and then destruction. Therefore, is the issue of immortality irrelevant in the face of positive teaching about eternal torment, as Fudge implies? The argument is forceful: where is the love and justice in eternal (i.e. 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. 2 The varying uses of terminology are helpfully explored by Kendall S. Harmon in ‘The Case Against Conditionalism: A Response to Edward William Fudge’, in Nigel M. de S. Cameron (ed. ", Eusebius6 – “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’.”, 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. Socrates’ arguments survive on the logic I explained in round two. The second concerns more theological arguments, but necessarily feeds off (and informs) the first. On Gehenna (Greek for “the fires of hell”) and Tartarus (Greek for “lower regions”): Matthew 25:41 "Then He will also say to those on the left hand, 'Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels ...' ", 2 Peter 2:4 For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to chains of gloomy darkness to be kept until the judgment ... (ESV). Revelation 14:11 And the smoke of their torment ascends forever and ever; and they have no rest day or night, who worship the beast and his image, and whoever receives the mark of his name. He argues that the main purpose of fire is not to inflict sensory pain, but to destroy. Travis states that a better translation would be ‘the punishment of the age to come’ and ‘the life of the age to come’.14 The traditionalist response has been to wonder whether the word ‘eternal’ could change meaning so quickly in such close proximity. However, if annihilation is true, a gospel still remains to be taught, and it is a gospel that is just as desperately needed. The same meaning has more particular reference when Jesus warns his disciples to ‘fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell’. 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. 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. 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. Caution must be exercised when using the biblical texts, as in all debates. Then, fourteen years later, John Stott advocated a well-argued, yet tentative, case for the annihilationist position, when questioned by David Edwards in Essentials: A Liberal-Evangelical Dialogue.6 The fact that one of the most respected leaders of modern evangelicalism supported the doctrine made people listen, and hence brought the debate to the attention of a wider Christian public.7 Since then, a range of books on both sides of the Atlantic has been published, most of them attacking the conditionalist position. There are several difficulties with these arguments, applying both to traditionalists and conditionalists. If Natural Immortality isn't biblical, then Conditional Immortality must be. Another popular response is to parallel annihilation with euthanasia in modern-day medical science. Many evangelicals have recoiled from notions of soul and body dualism, to speak of a ‘holistic identity’, which can refer to a variety of concepts and ideas, but basically means that soul and body are two inseparable aspects of the person, not two distinct substances where the soul is identified with the real person. 181ff. If we accept this logic, then we might as well erase Socrates from the field of philosophy altogether. To understand man’s condition in death we must begin with the book of Genesis. Revelation 14:10 is interpreted by Stott and others to refer to the moment of judgment, rather than to everlasting conscious torment. Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol. The first death is temporary. In laymen’s terms, this argument is simple: God has the power to grant the human soul immortality, but this isn’t guaranteed (or natural for the soul). 22 On this whole area, see the work of J. Cooper, Body, Soul and the Life Everlasting (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1989); see also Powys, ‘The Hermeneutics of “Hell” ’. Hell, in fact, is not incompatible with God’s victory—hell glorifies God’s justice, and all in hell are subject to God, even if they are rebellious. Once again, the Pro raises some interesting issues in this debate. A. J. Pollock (1864-1957) explains: A mistake common to all conditional immortality teachers is that of confounding eternal life with immortality. There is not room here to provide this whole structure, only to indicate the form of the debate. 13 Fudge, The Fire That Consumes, p. 185. The questions of hell as a moral deterrent and hell as an impetus for evangelism are important ones for anyone concerned with preaching the gospel, and it may be thought that such issues should be considered under the main areas of debate. 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. Pro is asking for evidence that the soul survives after being the constant for human life. For example, the number three, being an odd number, can never be the opposite, even number. Many people may feel the strong attraction of universalism, even if their theological convictions lead them to conclude otherwise. While most Christian faiths believe in an immortal soul, most biblical scholars agree that specific references to this idea are absent within the bible, So what gives? 3. 12 J. Blanchard, Whatever Happened to Hell? 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