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August 24, 2011

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[B]ecause God is a Being of infinite worth, to whom we owe an infinite obligation, sin against God is an infinite evil requiring an infinite punishment.

This apologetic favorite is discussed here, for those interested:

http://lexmentis.wordpress.com/2011/07/02/against-a-popular-defense-of-hell-2/

I have often said that, "Were it possible for a person in Hell to know God, he or she would praise Him for putting them there." Obviously ending up in Hell and "knowing" God are incompatible. But I think it's the flip side of the view you have presented.

Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent. ~ John 17:3 (NIV)

The line Malebranche focused on, that the offense of human sinfulness is infinite, is an interesting theory. I don't actually think it is taught by Scripture. This is not to say that Scripture teaches the opposite. It is to say that I just don't know.

But even if the degree of human sinfulness were finite, you might still have a Hell that is infinite in duration. Those in Hell will continue to commit sins while there. Perhaps Hell is infinite because the rate of their commission of sins forever outstrips the rate at which they are punished for them.

But in the end, people are in Hell because and for as long as they freely choose to be there. Christ died for every single sin of every single soul in Hell. In an objective sense, every one of them is purchased and redeemed. Any one of them could repent and go to Heaven. We are told by Scripture that none of them ever will.

WisdomLover,

You stated "Christ died for every single sin of every single soul in Hell. In an objective sense, every one of them is purchased and redeemed."

Could you give your scripture reference(s) for this statement?

WisdomLover,

As you stated "Christ died for every single sin of every single soul in Hell. In an objective sense, every one of them is purchased and redeemed."

However, you then state that "Any one of them could repent and go to Heaven"

Just an observation but IMHO these two statements contradict each other. If Christ paid for every single sin, upon what basis could God judge charge a person with sin, if all the sins have been paid for? Sounds like double payment for the same sin(s).

From your statements, you seem to say that Christ paid for all sins except the for the sin of not repenting? How does that work? All sins but "repentance?" Specifically, repentance from which sin are you speaking of? Your statements sound confusing to me. Help me understand your position.

Blessings,

The article Malebranche refers to attacks an apologetic based on the following premise:

"The heinousness of the sin is determined by the dignity of the one the sin harms or offends." (emphasis mine)

How is that premise even related to the original post here?

For those of you who struggle, as I do, with the whole notion of Hell:

“Christ paid for All-Sin” somehow juxtaposed along side of “Hell”. Or, “how can man go to hell if the whole debt was pain”. Good question.

I’ll give it a try:

I do not know what I know about Hell’s nature, but I do know what I know about Love’s Nature, and, from that starting point:

Christ’s Atonement. This is true, but not in the way we think. For Christ does not take a Man and pick him up out of the gutter, and then remove Him from Hell, and then stop. In fact, Christ’s work has nothing to do with Hell whatsoever. This is why the Christians says that Christ pays for All-Sin, and yet offers that the Door-Out-Of-Love remains open: Christ Restores; He brings Man back to a Place of Choice called Eden, wherein, Man, this Created-Self, stands before/with Love Himself, and therein is Freely Able (once again, no longer a slave to sin) to Move-Into and/or Move-Out-Of that Eternal-Other called God. Man, or any Created-Self, need not Embrace this Uncreated-Other, for Love brings no violence towards its Beloved. Christ restores this relationship, this possible Marriage, this Engagement, between God and Man, and, latter, there will be a Wedding, but, the Groom will not, does not, now proceed to rape His Bride, rather, He Frees Her, pays Her debtors in Full, and once again humbles Himself upon His knee and asks Her hand in Marriage. The Bride/Groom Wedding announced long ago and promised in the New Testament will take place, and it will be between Consenting, Voluntary Beloveds as Man/God or Word/Flesh becomes the New-Creation. This Voluntary Self/Other Movement Among and Between Real Selves is the very Nature of the Triune God, wherein Love’s I/You and Singular Us/We Lives Uncreated. This will be Man’s Final-Good.

Wisdomlover comments that All-Is-Restored/Paid-For, and by this I think Christianity means that Man is brought once again into Eden, wherein Man is again Free to Act, no longer a Slave-To-Sin, and, therein, Man again finds himself between Two Trees, that Tree of Embracing Life, which is to Embrace Love’s [Other and not Self] and move into the I-You of God’s Singular Us/We, and, that other Tree of Self-Empowering I, I, and only I wherein we hear Lucifer, and eventually Man, moving Fatally towards Self, and Out-Of-Union-With-Life-Himself, into the Prison of the Pure-Self’s Isolated-I which is by default void of the I-You, void of Community, void of We, and therein void of Love, and if void of Love, void of the God who Is-Love.


This Movement Towards the Self is not within itself the issue, for within Scripture we see in the Triune “My Will and not Thy Will” and we find “Thy Will and not My Will” and we find “Let Us/We Create…” in the Will of the Singular We. And inside of the Uncreated wherein Every Self of the Triune God is Perfect, Sinless, and Life-Sustaining, there is no Fatal Movement in any direction, for All Choices of One Self Honoring Self/Other are Life-Giving in the God who “cannot sin”.

But while this motion towards the Self, towards the “My Will and not Thy Will” is not Fatal for God, cannot be Fatal for God, for that Uncreated Triune I/You/We of Love Himself, we find that such is not, cannot be, the case for any Created-Self whatsoever, for if the Created-Other should ever sever Itself from the Uncreated-Other, and therein find It-Self in that Pure-Self of Hell’s Isolated-I then it is by default cut off from Life-Itself, simply because any Uncreated-Self is not Self-Sustaining, Self-Existent, in the way that God is.

God, Love Himself, that Uncreated Triune Embrace of the I and the You and the Singular Us/We of Love’s Essence, sets about to Create Man in His/That Image. And inside the Triune we find multiple Scriptures showing us this My/Thy/Us with Each Real Self Freely Giving/Getting/Offering/Receiving Into and Out-Of the Self/Other. This is what Love is. We all know this. If Love is to be Real-Love, we must ask if the Movement Among and Between Real Selves which Love is will take place Freely, Voluntarily, in Delight of the Beloved by the Beloved, or, if such a Marriage will be by Force, by Enslavement, by the rape of one by the other. If God is Love, and if that promised Marriage of God/Man is to be made in His Image, which is Love, will this Self/Other Reality be housed inside of Real Personhood with Real Voice and Real Choice into/out-of Real Love?

I don't know about Hell. I think Love has within it a Door-Out innately. And, if that is Hell then so be it. And, some say that such a result will last forever, while others hold that it will not. I do not know. I can make a strong case in both directions. But, I know Love does not rape, and, therein, we find an Open Door into, and an Open Door Out-Of, the Marriage of a certain Bride/Groom announced long ago. And, if a Door-Out, then, well, that fierce imprisonment within the Pure-Self’s Isolated-I. The “duration” of that imprisonment I cannot comment on.


Is there a “Door-Out”? I know Love Himself in His Word points us toward the model, the pattern, of Marriage and what Marriage “is” as His hint, His echo, of where all of this is heading towards over that next horizon in what is to be our Final-Good, the Soul’s Final Felicity inside of that Bride/Groom Reality of God/Man or Word/Flesh soon to come (I have no idea how He will do THAT, but He says He will). Marriage houses within it what Love “is” and is comprised of a very real and distinct “I”, a very real and distinct “You”, and, a very real and Singular and distinct “Us/We”. Such is Love. Such is Marriage, such is the Triune God, and God tells us He is Love, and He points us toward Marriage as the Pattern of what The-Real is ultimately to Become (New Creation/God/Man). This Voluntary Movement Among and Between Real Selves is the “experience we taste as love” and it not only is comprised of Me, but it also surpasses Me, exceeds Me, improves upon Me, and brings Me to Something Beyond the purely One-Dimensional “I”, and into the I-You. Love comprises this Singular We. A Love that is void of a real I is not Love as we taste Love. And, a Love that is void of a real You is not Love as we taste Love. And, a Love that is void of a real Us, a real We, is not Love as we taste Love. Love is both Pleural and Singular by default and when God tells us He “is” Love, and we find in Him the Triune, and when He points us towards Marriage as a Hint/Echo, we are given the Bedrock upon which to build our analysis.


From that starting point, we find within Him (but not within man) every choice to be a Perfect Choice, and this is very unlike our (Man’s) current status. And here we begin to see the problem with Man choosing Self-And-Not-Other.


Within God, within Love Himself, to choose the Will of My-Will is a Perfect Choice which leads to Life and More Life, and, to choose the Will of Thy-Will is also Sinless and Perfect, and leads to Life and More Life, and, to choose the Will of Us/We is Sinless and Perfect. Look at Marriage. Look at Love. I/You/We. All three live there and within that Perfect God who Is-One and who is Love’s Triune I-You-We there are [only] Sinless/Perfect Directions within which to choose/move among/between, and Each is Distinct, Real, Valid, and each Move is Voluntary. God is Three. God is One in the Singular We. Herein Personhood (Self/Other) becomes Real, [Uncreated]. Herein Love and its Voluntary Movement Among and Between Real Selves becomes Real, [Uncreated]. Herein Choice lives from before the world is and becomes forever Real, [Uncreated].


But, if Love, then there comes with the Created-Other, the Created-Self, a Being who is by definition not "of itself life sustaining" and so is by default somehow, probably forever, "dependent" on that Other-Eternal-Self, whose name is God, for Existence. I do not know if Man ever will become Self-Existent and Self-Sustaining, but I do not think so. I guess here. But if not, if Man (any Created Other) will always be in some way dependent on God for Existence then the Created is dependent on the Uncreated for Existence, and, if we concede that, and then concede that there will be Love between/within God/Man (the Bride/Groom that will one day Be) then there will be, if there will be Love, the Voluntary and Free Motion Among and Between Real Selves which we all taste and know inside of what Love is, for there is no rape in love. And, if this is so, then, maybe, I don't know, but maybe there must be, if Love is to Live, a Free and Open Door both Into and Out-Of Love’s Embrace. And, if Out-Of, then Out-Of what? Life as well as Love? Perhaps it must be so when there can only be ONE “self-existent” Being (if the Created is dependent on the Uncreated for Existence, which I think is likely/probably the case forever).


God is the only Self who is in Himself Self-Sustaining. And, added to this, He is the only Self who can move within Himself towards The-Self and not suffer Loss-Of-Life by this Move, for He is Life in Each Real Self within the Triune, and there is no Fatal Move therein, among and between Real and Perfect Selves. God is like that by default. But He is the Uncreated. All other Beings whatsoever are by default Created, and therein Not-Self-Existent. And, therein, perhaps forever, dependent upon Life Himself, who is Self-Existent, for their very existence; for Life.


I do not know if Man will ever be “like that” (Like God) wherein All Choices are Life-Giving, or Sinless, for, we know that within the Uncreated Himself the Choice of “I” (My and not Thy) is simply Perfect, Sinless, and leads to more Life, whereas, for the Created-Other, perhaps, to ever choose “I” (My and not Thy) may be, perhaps, I don’t know, forever a Fatal choice as it cleaves the Created-Other’s “I” off of Life Himself by severing the I-You and therein aborting the We/Us it has with Life-Himself and so becomes an Exit out of Life. Maybe this Door will, [even must], exist forever whenever a “Created-Other” enters the picture, as apposed God’s Forever-Life-Full Self/Other wherein there is no Exit-Out of Life possible because of the simple fact that He, or They, or the Triune, or the My/Thy/We are all Three Perfect Life and All Movements are Movements Towards Life therein. But I really have no idea. Revelations speaks of “no more tears” but, again, I don’t know if this means Man will become Immutable, Un-Fall-Able, Self-Existent, like God “in that respect” rather than in the aspect of “Nature/Image”. I guess here, but part of me thinks Man will always be in some way “dependent” on God for his actual existence, for his Life, and I think that Love is Voluntary, and so perhaps an Door-Into/Door-Out will always exist, as, for Man, for ANY Created-Other, to Voluntarily Choose “My and not Thy” is to make a move that can never yield the same sort of Life-Giving result that is reached when God Himself makes that Voluntary Choice of “My and not Thy” simply because all Created-Others are by default not [Life-Self-Sustaining] as God is. Perhaps the path to a world made of Love houses within it a [Necessary] Door-Into/Door-Out-Of simply because Love has within it by default God’s very Nature: Choice and Love and Personhood, and, when that Personhood is any Being other than Life-Himself, then by default all Created-Others will cleave themselves off of Life-Himself should they choose Self and not Him (My and not Thy), and, if they cleave themselves off of Life, then, Death is all that is left. Enter the Tree called Life, and Eden, and Man’s grasp for Self, and Lucifer’s grasp of “I, I, and only I” and all the rest. But I guess a little here. God is Immutably Good, but I do not know that any Created-Other can ever achieve such a Status that when it should choose “Self and not Him” or “My and not Thy” it would taste no death, but I do not know this and I only guess. But I think this is the case. And if it is then there appears to be, wherever Love is, a Freely Open Door both Into/Out-Of becomes [Necessary].


By [Necessary] I mean that the Door must exist, for choice must exist, and, I do not mean to say that it is necessary that Man take/use/choose that Door, only that it exists. For, with Love, there will be that innate Choice between Self and Other, as there is inside of God Himself, and so to with Man/God. I do not know that this Door-Out is [Necessary] but it seems likely to me b/c Love houses within it this very choice, and, I do NOT mean that it is necessary that Man choose that Door; only that the Door exists. And, if Love does not rape, then no one will be forced Into/Out-Of any Door whatsoever. If there is a Heaven, if there is a Hell, then, if God is Love (and we think that He is) then each Real-Self, each Created-Self will find Itself simply and solely having gone through a Door of Its own choosing. And, let us season this with Christ’s own words: To whom little is given, little is required.


Man, in Eden, could have chosen otherwise. God's Plan houses within it all possible choices, and, the choice of Man to delight in Him and not Self, to eat of the Tree of Life, was a real choice actually given to Man by God. That is unmistakable in scripture. And, so, that Option was real. There are not Infinite Options, as Man can ONLY have what options God makes available, but, let us be clear: God gave Man Choice in Eden, and, I think the Door-Out was almost [Necessary] if Love is/was to be Real Love. And this only applies to Created-Others, for when God within Himself Chooses Self (My and not Thy) there is in that Choice only Life and more Life for it is a Perfect Choice/Option for in Him there is no Darkness and All-Selves (Triune) are Perfect Selves. But this is not the casse with any Created-Other, and so with Created-Other the Move-Toward-Self, if absolute, must by default sever that Self from the only Fountain of Life there is: God. And so Man's Choice in Love MUST in some way avoid "My and not Thy" when it pertains to God, whereas, within God, "My and not Thy" is merely one Perfect Option honoring another Perfect Option within that Infinite Perfect Variety housed within the Triune.


In other words, Love houses innately within it a Door-Into and a Door-Out-Of simply because Love is that Voluntary Movement Among and Between Real Selves who move Freely by/within Real Choice and Real Personhood with Real Voice inside of Real Love, that Triune I-You-We.

Love has this Voluntary Delight among Self/Other, and it is clear that the Door-Into and Door-Out-Of [must] exist if Love is to exist.

When Christ comes, His work has nothing to do with Hell, but Christ comes to rescue Man from the Slavery of Sin, and Restores Him to Eden, where Adam stands again between Two Trees, that of Self and Other, that of the Pure-Self within Hell’s Isolated-I, or, that of Love’s I-You inside the Community of the Singular-We.


This Restoration Christ achieves In-Full, pays the price for In-Full. But what Christ does NOT do is “Choose For Man”. No. God does not make our choices for us, for Love’s Free Choices will be given, for Love does not rape, and thus has within it this [Necessary] Door-Into/Door-Out-Of Marriage.


And, lest we think this burden of Man to have to move forever Away-From-The-Self is only Man’s Burden, and lest we complain that God who can make no Fatal-Move because when HE moves towards Self He merely lands on top of the Perfect “My will and not Thy will” , which is Perfect (and found in scripture) or, if He chooses to move in another direction He merely lands on top of “Thy will and not My will”, this too is Perfect (and found in scripture) or, if He moves towards the will of His Us/We (Scripture’s ‘Let Us create…’) then that too is Perfect, and so we may grumble about His inability to feel our Pain of Total-Loss-Of-Self. No, we cannot make that complaint. For within Love Himself we find Love forever doing what Love does: the Self gives Itself away unto and for the Other. “You and not I”. “Other and not Self”. “Thy Will be done and not My Will” lives forever inside the Triune. All of these movements are also found/seen within God Himself. But even more shocking is this very movement of God-Away-From-Himself towards His chosen Other, His Beloved: You and Me (Man). This is the GOOD (and STARTLING) News. Look at Christ and see the God who opens His arms wide, by Choice, Freely, in Delight for His Beloved, and Gives Himself Away, not in gesture, but wholly, utterly, totally. This is Love Himself. In Christ we see God’s Eternally-Sacrificed-Self who from before forever and unto forever gives Away The-Self for His Beloved-Other. Only in Christ do we find the God who Is-Love within the Eternally-Sacrificed-Self who gives away The-Self for/unto The-Other.


Man does not invent this Loss-Of-Self: God “is” this Loss Of Self forever within Christ’s Eternally Sacrificed Self. This is Love. Or, as CS Lewis writes: "He Creates the universe already foreseeing---(or should we say seeing; there are no tenses in God) --- the buzzing cloud of flies about the cross, the flayed back pressed against the uneven stake, the nails driven through the nerves, the repeated torture of back and arms as it is time after time, for breath's sake, hitched up. God is a host who deliberately creates His own parasites; causes us to be that we may exploit and take advantage of him. Herein is love. This is the diagram of Love Himself, the inventor of all loves."


God is love.


Techmically speaking the punishment is not infinite as it has a beginning. I think most do not understand the nature of the punishment because we do not understand the nature of the crime.

Damian, the rightful punishment set by God is an infinite one. The punishment paid will always be finite because it has a beginning, which is why it will never finish being paid.

Interesting how a post mentioning a book that claims to show what the bible says about hell does nothing to even mention what the bible says about hell, and instead invokes nothing but (in the Anselm example, ancient) philosophy and then further commentary on that philosophy.


[B]ecause God is a Being of infinite worth, to whom we owe an infinite obligation, sin against God is an infinite evil requiring an infinite punishment.

E.g., the word "infinite" here has a very specific meaning rooted in the context of history and the philosophy of history.

The bible doesn't mention this philosophy, and the biblical authors did not subscribe to it (how could they, it didn't exist yet).

Of course, I haven't read the book, so perhaps the book actually does discuss the biblical text, and perhaps it does tease out the differences in historical philosophy between Paul, Jesus, and Anslem, for example.

But this post seems to imply that they're one and the same, which is an egregious error.

Its interesting that when apologists are talking about the cosmological argument, they're quick to point out that nothing actually infinite can exist. Then in the debate about whether the eternity and finality of hell is righteous and fair, they try to justify eternal torment with conjunctions like, infinite worth, infinite obligation, infinite evil and infinite punishment.

I guess we can put this down to a quibble of words, but apologists basically can't be using the word 'infinite' in the same way in the two arguments or even in the different sentences.

Hell doesn't make sense to me at all. Because the whole revenge motivation for punishment (getting what he deserves) doesn't seem to me like something that should belong to an infinitely good God. If God loves people deeper and more fully than anyone else, then why torment them forever? Why not reform and regenerate? Perhaps there would be room for letting them stuff their noses into their crimes, to let them understand the fundamental difference that makes what they're doing not truly good, and what he's offering good? Patiently, again and again offering them salvation and a way out? Until one day they (perhaps not all) by their own free choose him and not whatever they thought was good. I don't even see why him being holy should get in the way of this. It seems precisely because he's holy that he'd do exactly this. Does free will stop working after death? Does Christ's offer of salvation? If no to either then why could some people in Hell not possible be swayed and go to Christ. It seems really unreasonable... does God remove any sense from people as they go to Hell?

I'm not sure there's much of a rational discussion to be had about this. God is good, because God is good; Whatever God does is good; Whatever God has done is good. If you're a Christian and believe the evidence leans towards eternal torment, then if that is reality then it must good. We can have post-rationalizations about 'why its really good and not just merely God-is-good good' to try to make it mesh with our conflicting intuitions. Perhaps try to mitigating the results by postulating 'probably not too tormentily hells' and 'we'll enjoy being in heaven and even enjoy sinners being in hell, but not in the mean kind of way, but in the good kind of way'. However I think if I was became a Christian again I'd just swallow this pill, and admit that while the reality of the situation completely conflicts with what I think of as good, fair and proper, its just something I'd have to accept as part of God's nature.

Leonhard I struggle with whole notion of Hell too. Something seems amiss. Inside of Love it ought not be. Yet, too, inside of Love lives a voluntary and free movement among and between Self and Other, and, here, if God is to make Man in His Image, which is Love, or if God is to build a world of Love, then, it perhaps becomes [Necessary] that such a world will have an eternal Door-Into and an eternal Door Out-Of such an Embrace between all Created-Selves as well as between that One Uncreated-Self and all Created-Selves. Love brings no violence towards Its Beloved, and so refuses to Rape her. Love Himself will not Rape His Beloved, in other words, Love, or at least the Love that all of us intuit as the experience of love, is a very real and distinct I, and a very real and distinct You, and a very real and distinct Us/We, and, the movements therein are Free/Voluntary, and involve Real Choice, Real Self, Real Other, and Real Personhood.

Hell, if it exists, involves Love's innate Freedom of the I for the You, of any and all Self's for any and all Other's, and, if so, if Love, then too the abscence of Rape.

But odd things happen when inside of God, that Uncreated Self who is Love'sw innnate I/You/We within the Triune, when we find "My will and not Thy will" and "Thy will and not My will" and "Let Our/Us do/create" and even more odd things happen when all of that is juxtaposed in contrast to any Created-Self in its movement either towards or away from Self, and it seems there are differences. And, it seems, if Love Himself is Ultimate Reality, and Ultimate Reality will be Love, then, we may find an intrinsic and eternal Door-Into and by default an eternal Door-Out-Of Love's Embrace/Marriage, for Love will not rape. But, like you, I ask if Christ's Salvation stops after death, or if free will stops after death. For if Love is eternal, and if in fact all men live forever (debatable in my mind) then there need be an innate presence of Love's Open/Free Door In/Out for all eternity as well.

I struggle with Hell, as a Christian, but, I do not as you say find it against my own intuition, b/c my intuition tells me that Love [Must] have that Voluintary Door-Out lest it be guilty of Rape, and, also, my intuition tells me that such Doors In/Out may travel with Created-Selfs if they should live forever (but I guess at that).

Hell makes no sense to me; it is not the act of Love. But, an Open-Door Into/Out-Of DOES make sense when I consider Love, and my own Love's with my own wife/family. Love does not Rape. If Love, then too the Freedom of any Self to move out of Love's I-You and so exit the Community of the Singular-We, and where there is no We/Us, no Community, there is only that fierce imprisonment within the Pure-Self, the Isolated-I, as we find Lucifer crying I, I and only I Will. I-Will. This move towards the Self-Only is the Inverse of What-Love-Is.


When we make the arguement that "Love is the Ultimate Ethic" and then proceed to build our view on that, we find outselves in front of "Love Himself", and upon "Ultimate Reality Is Love" we must find a bedrock able to support such a claim ultimately/finally "God is Love" gets us there, but only when we realize what Love-Is, and see it's innately Triune I/You/We and when we find Love's Eternal Loss-Of-Self-For-Other as intrinsic to Love. But none of this makes sense outside of anything short of "ultimate reality is love". If that statement is not Truth, then none of this matters.

My own thoughts about Hell are in my post closer to the start of this particular topic up above here........


I received a couple challenges regarding my claim that those in Hell are fully atoned for.

The first is whether it is scriptural. The second is whether the view is coherent.

I'm going to answer them in two separate posts. In this post, I'll deal with the scriptural challenge.

I won't bother repeating the numerous and varied Scriptures, like the celebrated John 3:16, that say that Christ died for the world.

Those who endorse limited atonement are, of course, in the business of explaining these passages away. The claim is that the passages really say no more than that Christ died for the Church in the world (or some such).

There are no passages explicitly in support of limited atonement. That is, there are zero passages that explicitly say that there are some people for whom Christ did not die.

There is at least one passage that says that Christ died for the lost. So even if all the passages that say that Christ died for everyone really mean that Christ died for everyone who is of the elect (or something). This passage still says that He also died for the non-elect.*

The passage in question is 2 Peter 2:1:

But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will also be false teachers among you, who will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing swift destruction upon themselves.
The Master bought the false teachers and heretics. Such people end up in Hell...having been bought by Christ.

People don't go to Hell because they've got nowhere else to go. They go there because they choose to do so. The tragedy of Hell is that Heaven is the inheritance purchased by Christ for every human being in Hell.

==================================

*And BTW, none of those passages that say that Christ died for everyone really mean that Christ died for all the elect...They all mean that Christ died for everyone.

When I said this

Christ died for every single sin of every single soul in Hell. In an objective sense, every one of them is purchased and redeemed. Any one of them could repent and go to Heaven We are told by Scripture that none of them ever will.
Larry W. challenged me thus:
If Christ paid for every single sin, upon what basis could God judge charge a person with sin, if all the sins have been paid for? Sounds like double payment for the same sin(s).
Let me note one point of possible confusion about my initial claim. One of the things I was trying to do with that claim is to point out that we aren't told that no one ever could get out of Hell. We are told that no one ever will get out of Hell. So it may well be that every soul in Hell remains there not because of a shortage of options, but by their own free will....the same way they got in in the first place.

But let me also admit that, like Larry, I'm troubled by this issue. Christ died for the whole world taking on its guilt and punishment. That's pretty clearly what the Bible says. But pretty clearly also, some souls are going to be punished in Hell forever. And it's difficult to see how this could be possible.

So I agree. Something seems amiss according to my human reason. And I'm going to try to say something about it.

But let's note first, that we've entered the realm of speculation. On the one hand. Christ suffered the punishment for every human sin. On the other hand, some humans also suffer punishment for their sins. Is this a contradiction? No. Not straightforwardly. Is it even double-punishment? No, again, not straightforwardly. Everything depends on what punishment is.

The most likely cause of any puzzle here is that my human reason is fallen right along with everything else. It is especially fallen in the area of moral categories. So I may not really understand all the details of the moral transaction taking place in punishment. That may be beyond me. I might be too depraved to really get it. This is precisely the sort of subject where I am most likely to make all sorts of mistakes.

The problem may be couched as a consistency question. Is the sufficiency of Christ's atoning work consistent with the existence of Hell? As with all consistency problems. The goal does not need to be a satisfying and scripturally supported account explaining the consistency of the two claims. As I've already noted, that's probably beyond what my fallen reason can hope to find.

It is enough to come up with an account, however implausible, that shows us that the two claims could both be true.

If we have that, then the charge of inconsistency is answered.

OK.

What if we think of punishment as the pouring out of God's wrath on account of sin?

My reason tells me that if Christ had all that wrath poured out on Him in my stead, then there's none left for me. The idea here is that the cross acts like an infinitely absorbent wrath-sponge soaking up all of the wrath that God pours out on me. So if Christ really did die for all, then there'd be no wrath left to punish anyone with.

But what if the cross doesn't act like a sponge, but like an umbrella?

All of God's wrath is poured out on Christ and He turns it aside. Not just a little bit. There are no leaks in the umbrella of the cross. And not just for some. No wrath falls that does not fall on the umbrella of the cross. And everyone is born under the umbrella of the cross. But everyone is also born with a human nature that desires to leave the umbrella's shade.

Some people get what they want. Outside the shade of the cross, the wrath that Christ has turned aside from all humanity falls on any who find themselves there. No one who leaves the shade of the cross is ever prevented from returning to that shade. But none ever do.

Now, it seems that Christ has taken all the wrath of God, and yet some, who have as much of a place under the shadow of the Cross as anyone else, are punished by that same wrath.

We have then:

  1. A single fully sufficient atonement.
  2. Souls punished forever in Hell.
  3. No double-punishment.

Damian, the rightful punishment set by God is an infinite one. The punishment paid will always be finite because it has a beginning, which is why it will never finish being paid.

Right, which means that God created a universe in which justice will never be satisfied (on the traditional view).

Thankfully, Scripture actually teaches that the unsaved will eventually die, perish, be destroyed, be no more, be consumed, etc., that justice will be fully satisfied, and that only the righteous will live forever.

WL,

You said "But in the end, people are in Hell because and for as long as they freely choose to be there."

Do you mean to say that those in Hell will have the ability to choose not to be there?

Also, "We are told by Scripture that none of them ever will."

Could you help me with what Scriptures teach this?

Thanks.

According to the book of Revelation, chapter 20, all those whose names are not found in the book of life are condemned to the second death. The book identifies the second death as the Lake of Fire. This place is described as a place of torment, day and night forever and ever. The false prophet, a human being, in particular is condemned forever and ever to the Lake of Fire.

Daniel 12 anticipates Revelation on this, saying that some of those who lie in the dust (those whose names are written in the book) will awake to everlasting life, and the rest to everlasting contempt.

In Matthew 25, the goats are sent to eternal punishment, but the sheep to eternal life.

John 5 describes two resurrections of the dead, one to life, the other to judgment. Acts 24 echoes this. That second resurrection of the dead, does not guarantee a permanent Hell (though it certainly is far from ruling such a Hell out). But it does count against an annihilationist viewpoint.

These passages suggest an eternal unescaped Hell. They do not imply an eternal inescapable Hell.

For all I know, Hell might be not only unescaped, but inescapable, but these passages do not say that (and no passage that I know of says that).

WL, quickly:

•The false prophet is certainly not a human being. He is the second beast of Revelation 13, and is typically interpreted as a symbol for false religion.

•Daniel 12 neither says nor implies that the objects of contempt will be alive forever. In fact, Isaiah 66:24 says that the contempt (Hebrew: deraone, usually translated there as "abhorrence") will be directed towards corpses.

•Annihilation is a type of eternal punishment.

•How, exactly, does a resurrection to judgment count against annihilationism?

Ronnie-

Taking your points in reverse.

Resurrection to judgement counts against annihilationism because you then seem to be saying that God raises the dead in order to...kill them. Not impossible, but it seems like there must be a better interpretation of the passages.

Annihilation is a type of eternal punishment, but it is not everlasting torment.

Daniel 12:2

Many of those who sleep in the dust of the ground will awake, these to everlasting life, but the others to disgrace and everlasting contempt.
This pretty clearly says of 'the others' that they will awaken to everlasting contempt. The fact that Isaiah speaks of contempt toward corpses is irrelevant. This passage is speaking of things that are awake...not corpses. Things that awaken to their everlasting punishment. I'm afraid that the passage doesn't just imply that the objects of contempt are awake..instead, it explicitly says that they are awake.

On the lake of fire, the passage is abundantly clear that people who are not found in the book are cast into the flames. The flames had already been described as a place of everlasting torment. for the devil, his angels and the false prophet. If you want to say that the flames snuff out ordinary people, you're really adding to the passage contrary to its clear intent.

Furthermore, the false prophet is ordinary people. You're right, of course, that the false prophet is a symbol for false religion. But false religions, unfortunately, are comprised of deluded human beings. Religions cannot be tormented apart from the torment of the human beings that adhere to those religions. If a religion is tormented for all eternity, then the adherents of that religion are tormented for all eternity.

God will raise all men and judge them according to their deeds. I fail to see how a general resurrection militates against annihilationism—your assertion that there must be a better interpretation notwithstanding.

You are correct when you say that annihilation is not everlasting torment. But Matthew 25:46 (which I was responding to) does not mention everlasting torment. I cover this in my article regarding the comments of Jim Wallace.

I'm not sure I understand your response to Daniel 12. Are you suggesting that because some are said to wake to everlasting contempt, that they must therefore be alive forever to consciously experience said contempt? That doesn't follow at all. The point of the Isaiah reference is to show that a person does not have to be alive in order to be the object of abhorrence/contempt.

Let's put it this way; the conditionalist fully acknowledges that the wicked will awake to contempt, and that the contempt will last forever. Check out Jeremiah 23:40 for another example of how this sort of language does not intend to communicate everlasting conscious existence.


It is not the case that A and B must suffer the exact same fate simply because A and B are said to go to the same place (e.g. the traditional view of Hades).

No traditionalist that I'm aware of insists that because the devil and humans are thrown into the same lake, that they must therefore suffer the same intensity of torment. But then they'll inconsistently demand that they must suffer the same duration of torment. That's just an ad hoc maneuver that's not warranted by the text. Will Death and Hades also be tormented forever?

I don't think you're handling the vision properly. When Daniel, for instance, has a vision of a beast (symbolizing a kingdom) being slain and burned with fire, we should not interpret that to mean that all the human members of the kingdom will be slain and burned with fire. That's not how visions about corporate entities work.

Moreover, religion is a system of thought and practice; it is not a group of people. You are right that religions can not be tormented, but that's precisely the point; John's vision is not intended to be understood literally, it must be interpreted. John actually gives us an inspired interpretation of the lake of fire symbol, twice: it is the second death. This follows the standard interpretation formula found in the apocalyptic genre:

Dan 8:21: the goat is the king of Greece
Zech 5:8: [the woman in the basket] is wickedness
Rev 5:8: [the] golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints.
Rev 19:8: the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints.

Corporate entities and empires cannot be tormented. Death and Hades cannot be tormented. But demons, empires, religious systems, death, the intermediate state and human beings can all come to an end. That what the lake of fire is, an end.

I do find it curious that traditionalists insist on taking two symbolic, apocalyptic visions as literally as possible, but then refuse to take at face value a multitude of simple, didactic statements which describe final punishment with words like die, perish, destroy and consume.

Ronnie, WL,

I'm torn between you two ;)

I can make a strong arguement in both directions (annilation, eternal consciousness). "Forever" and "Die" and "never ending" are found in both situations, and often deal with non-conscious entities (cities) and can sometimes refer to the end of An-Age, rather than "Time-less", but again, it's used both ways. Forever often means not Time, but till An-Age comes to ITS end, and again sometimes Forever does mean actual Time-lessness though.

I think we can take all of that and balance/color some of it with God's Nature, but Justice/Love can go in either direction, and so that too leaves me guessing.

Love innately has an Voluntary-Door-Into its Embrace, and Love innately has a Voluntary-Door-Out-Of its Embrace as well, lest Love be guilty of Rape in either direction and violate, ultimately, what God Himself is: that Uncreated Free and Voluntary Movement Among and Between Real Selves wherein Choice and Personhood and Voice and Love live and move Uncreated "forever".

I do not know that this Door-Out is [Necessary] but it seems likely to me b/c Love houses within it this very choice, and, I do NOT mean that it is necessary that Man choose that Door; only that the Door exists. And, if Love does not rape, then no one will be forced Into/Out-Of ANY Door whatsoever. If there is a Heaven, if there is a Hell, then, if God is Love (and we think that He is) then each Real-Self, each Created-Self will find Itself simply and solely having gone through a Door of Its own choosing. And, let us season this with Christ’s own words: To whom little is given, little is required.

As to the "duration" issue, I cannot come to a Hard, Concrete statement with which I cannot also argue myself against, as I find enough in both directions to leave it (in myself) un-settled. But, I do know Love and His Nature, and, whatever comes will be, I know, saturated throughout with Love's Footprints. I lean towards annilation ultimately, or, maybe instead, towards an Eternal-Door-In-Out, as WL states we are not told at all that it is "un" escapable. To leave Hell a Will must do what it Will-Not-Do, which is to Give It-Self-Away for The-Other, which is Love, and this Love-Less state it finds Itself in it must "Will" to Exit, and this Movemnent Out would require of It exactly the Movement It has always Refused, which is "You and not I" "Other and not Self". But, should it Will to, then perhaps......


No one who knocks, and seeks, from whatever humble starting point, will be cast away. To whom little is give, little is required.


Love's Footprints in Heaven/Hell: "the Word-Made-Flesh glorifies the Father, so also the Father glorifies the Son. From the highest to the lowest, the Self exists to be abdicated and, by that abdication, becomes the more truly Self, to be thereupon yet the more abdicated, and so forever. This is not a heavenly law which we can escape by remaining earthly, nor an earthly law which we can escape by being saved. What is outside the system of Self-Giving is not earth, nor nature, nor "ordinary life," but simply and solely Hell. Yet even Hell derives from this law such reality as it has. That fierce imprisonment in the self is but the inverse of the self-giving which is absolute reality; the negative shape which the outer darkness takes by surrounding and defining the shape of the real, or which the real imposes on the darkness by having a shape and positive nature of its own...... We know much more about heaven than hell, for heaven is the home of humanity and therefore contains all that is implied in a glorified human life: but hell was not made for men. It is in no sense "parallel" to heaven: it is "the darkness outside," the outer rim where being fades away into non-entity." CS Lewis.

Whatever comes, will, I know, have Love's Shape Upon It or Into It or Around It or Inverse To It, for, God, or Ultimate-Reality-Himself, is Love.

BTW:

For those who argue this: Love cannot have an innate Door-Out b/c God Himself has no such door within Himself. To that I say, yes, you are right, but, there is an Eternally Present Difference intrinsic to the One Uncreated Self (God's Triune I/You/We) versus all Created-Selves who can never be Self-Existent apart from that Eternal-Other (God), wherein there is a Real-Difference in the Movement Towards/Away from Self/Other between those two "Kinds of Selves" (Uncreated/Created). For that discussion, see my various posts earlier in this topic.......

In case I was unclear: I remain undecided here on the "duration" question in any hard, concrete way. Every time I think I've got it pinned down, along comes another scripture or nuance which puts a chip in my polished armor......


Man will not be permitted, probably forever, to ever "surpass" the level of "Trust Me". Lucifer will eternally whisper, "Hast God really said?" Man, who can never be self existent, may forever need to "lean in and trust" what he cannot touch outright. And, here, on this issue, I find in myself that ceiling, that wall, that call from Him, "You know Me, you taste Me, you drink of Me, and know that I am Good. Trust Me here too...."


In this Garden, this Now, called Eden, Man will not be permitted to surpass the status of "Having to just take God's word for it" for that tempter will forever whisper, "Hast God really said....?"


Trust in the Living God, whose very Name is Love, who opens His arms wide and within Christ's Cross shows us Love Himself's Eternally Sacrificed Self who gives Himself away for The-Other, and tells us that what we cannot See, what we cannot Touch, is, In-Him, safely and wonderfully and lovingly and beautifully settled. Trust in Him.

We will not get "past" or "beyond" the need to Lean-On, to Trust. In This-Now we're stuck with "that current status" of "Trust Me" echoing from Heaven....and we may be in this "status" perhaps forever...perhaps not forever....


Meditate on this thought:

According to Ronnie and other annihilationists, the elect will, for all eternity hold corpses in contempt. That's what all the claims of eternal torment boil down to.

Traditionalists can explain passages about death and destruction quite easily. They are, for the most part, about death and destruction...because those do exist in this fallen world.

Annihilationists have just about the silliest explanation for eternal torment that there is of any category in theology: eternal contempt by souls in bliss for the moldering corpses of the 'damned'.

According to Ronnie and other annihilationists, the elect will, for all eternity hold corpses in contempt.

Not at all. I already explained that Isaiah 66:24 merely shows that objects of contempt need not be alive. No conditionalist that I know of is committed to the proposition that the corpses of the unsaved will be around forever.

The simple fact is that phrases such as "everlasting shame" or "everlasting contempt" are Hebrew expressions that are not intended to imply the everlasting existence of the object of those things. Psalm 78:66 is another example. If you think that's "silly," then your beef is with scripture, not conditionalism.

That's what all the claims of eternal torment boil down to.

"All the claims"? There is exactly one claim of eternal torment: Revelation 20:10, but it is never predicated of humans, and is part of a symbolic vision. The second closest is Revelation 14:11.

Curious that no straightforward, didactic passage ever just says something like "if you don't repent you will be tormented forever." You'd think that for such a weighty issue, the biblical authors would go out of their way to mention it frequently and explicitly. Instead they overwhelmingly elect to use words like death and destruction and employ images of dry weeds and chaff being thrown into a fire. You don't find that strange?

Traditionalists can explain passages about death and destruction quite easily.

Great! I responded to your four passages, now you can respond to four. Using standard rules of exegesis, explain the following:

John 3:16: For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

Hebrews 10:26,27: For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries.

2 Peter 2:6: if by turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to ashes he condemned them to extinction, making them an example of what is going to happen to the ungodly

2 Peter 2:12: But these, like irrational animals, creatures of instinct, born to be caught and destroyed, blaspheming about matters of which they are ignorant, will also be destroyed in their destruction

Ronnie-

All the claims?

Yeah, all of them.

The only reason you don't count, for example, Daniel 12 or Matthew 25 as eternal torment passages is that you've already substantially twisted their message.

If you're wondering why Traditionalists are so fixated on Revelation, it's because it's one of the few passages that even the most contentious and disputatious innovater can't deal with.

Death and Destruction Passages

Many destruction passages are simply referring to physical destruction, not final fate of the damned. These need virtually no explanation.

But devouring, consuming, perishing and other destruction passages that are speaking about the ultimate destiny of the damned are quite explicable as well.

Someone thrown into a lake of fire is being devoured, consumed and destroyed. That's why it's a torment. 2 Thessalonians describes the fate of the lost as an eternal destruction.

I know what you're going to say...that means that the lost are destroyed for all eternity. Right?

Yeah, that's silly. If the lost are annihilated, there's no point to the qualification "eternal". Of course it's eternal, what else would it be? The reason Paul saw fit to qualify the destruction as eternal is that it is a process, not a completed act, that goes on forever.

Speaking of Daniel 12. Tell me what it is that suffers everlasting contempt? You seemed happy to say it was the corpses until I made fun of that. If it's not the corpses, then what is it?

BTW-The silliness of annihilationism doesn't stem from the thesis that corpses will be around forever. The silliness derives from the fact that the eternality of the eternal punishment, eternal torment, eternal contempt is cashed out as something that applies, not to the individual who the text says suffers eternally, but to some filmy residue of that individual, be it his corpse, his memory, his name or whatever. A residue that he will never care about, and that it's difficult to see that anyone else would care about either.

John 3:16
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

Perishing here refers to the second death. John himself tells us that the second death is the lake of fire...a place of everlasting torment.

Hebrews 10:26,27
For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries.

The reference here is to Isaiah 26:11. Another devouring and destruction passage. Refer to my comments on 2 Thessalonians. The damned are consumed and devoured by the flames of Hell. They are consumed eternally.

2 Peter 2:6, 12
if by turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to ashes he condemned them to extinction, making them an example of what is going to happen to the ungodly....But these, like irrational animals, creatures of instinct, born to be caught and destroyed, blaspheming about matters of which they are ignorant, will also be destroyed in their destruction

Nice selective quotation here. In addition to comparing the fate of unbelievers to that of Sodom and Gomorrah, Peter also compares their fate to that of the fallen angels, asking, essentially, if God didn't spare the angels, what makes you think he'll spare you who reject Him?*

Also, the destruction of S&G is contrasted to the salvation of Lot. Not to the salvation of His eternal soul, but to his salvation from physical death. So in this comparison neither the redemptive, nor the judgmental acts of God have eternal consequences.

Now, returning to the fallen angels...they do suffer eternally (something that the bleeding hearts morally outraged by Hell never seem to worry about). What makes you think God will spare you?

Go to Where?

A question that it seems annihilationists can have no satisfactory answer for is this: What is all this talk of casting out, casting in, banishing to outer darkness, being sent to the pit about?

If souls are annihilated, how can they be cast anywhere? Or do they need to be cast into fire in order to be annihilated. Is it like taking the ring to Mount Doom? Like Frodo's inability to destroy the ring by any craft know to men, God can't just annihilate the souls without all the flames?

The fact that the fate of the lost is described as being sent to a place seems to show that annihilation is not the final result, rather, the final result is a change of address.

Dawkins is Right After All

It seems that Atheists are right, at least about themselves, after all. All atheists are already annihilationists. They think that when they die, their souls come to an end. So how is it again that they're being punished for their unbelief?

================================
*There's also a bright side to the 2 Peter passage. Peter points out that through all the destruction, He did spare those who follow Him. So He will spare His saints as well.

[The only reason you don't count, for example, Daniel 12 or Matthew 25 as eternal torment passages is that you've already substantially twisted their message.]

No, I don't count either because neither actually mentions eternal torment. I'm sorry that upsets you, but again your beef is with Scripture, not me. Feel free to actually demonstrate that I've "twisted" Daniel 12:2 or Matthew 25:46. I fully affirm what both passages actually say. You want to add something (viz. torment) that's not there.

[If the lost are annihilated, there's no point to the qualification "eternal". Of course it's eternal, what else would it be?]

Temporary. The residents of Sodom and Gomorrah, for example were destroyed, but their destruction is not eternal, because it will be reversed at the resurrection. Final punishment, on the other hand, will not be reversed. Jim Wallace made the same bad argument in his podcast. You should read the article I mentioned before; you might learn something.

[Speaking of Daniel 12. Tell me what it is that suffers everlasting contempt? You seemed happy to say it was the corpses until I made fun of that.]

I never said that corpses "suffer" contempt, and neither does Daniel 12. The wicked are the objects of contempt, and objects of contempt can be either dead or alive. I've conclusively demonstrated this. You can, of course, continue to ignore what I wrote. You seem to want to say that because the contempt is said to last forever, that the objects of contempt must suffer torment forever. I'm sorry, but that's just a bizarre non sequitur.

[Perishing here refers to the second death. John himself tells us that the second death is the lake of fire...a place of everlasting torment.]

This is not exegesis. Nothing in the context of John 3 even remotely suggests anything about torment. Jesus makes a simple point, using basic and easy to understand words: those who believe in him will live forever, those who don't will die. It's not like "perish" is code-language for "endless life in misery" and readers of John need Revelation to crack the code.

Further, I already demonstrated that the lake of fire is not an actual place, but a symbol. It's a symbol that John explicitly interprets as death. Reading symbolic visions literally is a shockingly poor hermeneutic.

[They are consumed eternally.]

Again, the passage says nothing of the sort. For fire to consume something means for the fire to eat it up. The burning bush for instance, was not consumed; in other words, it was on fire, but it was not eaten up. The traditional view of hell is that people will not be consumed by fire, but rather they will be tormented by it. It is literal nonsense to say that fire will consume people forever—unless we posit something silly and contrived like the fire will consume the person, then the person will be re-created, only to be consumed again (which actually has been suggested by desperate traditionalists).

The only reason anybody would ever interpret Hebrews 10:27 as referring to "eternal consumption" is if he came to the text with that already in mind. That's just blatant, inexcusable eisegesis.

[Nice selective quotation here.]

Yes, I selected verses that I believe speak strongly in support of my view. That's a problem all of a sudden?

[So in this comparison neither the redemptive, nor the judgmental acts of God have eternal consequences.]

Peter's entire point is to illustrate future judgement by comparing it to past judgement. He says that being burned to ashes and condemned to extinction is a picture of what will happen to the ungodly in the future. Even Robert Peterson, the modern day hero of traditionalism admits he has no good exegetical response to this verse. Are you seriously suggesting that this section is not about final punishment? That's just ad hoc and you know it.

And no, fallen angels will not suffer eternally. Where did you get that from?

[A question that it seems annihilationists can have no satisfactory answer for is this: What is all this talk of casting out, casting in, banishing to outer darkness, being sent to the pit about?]

I'm not sure why you think this is some sort of unanswerable objection. The biblical picture of final destruction (and it's probably not proper to take this absolutely literally) is that the wicked (not just their "souls") will be cast into Gehenna where they will be slain and consumed by fire. If you have questions about particular passages, those can be looked at on a case-by-case basis.

[God can't just annihilate the souls without all the flames?]

God can't just torment souls without all the flames? God can do what he pleases. For the last time, if you don't like the fact that people will be destroyed and consumed by fire, then your beef is with Scripture, not me.

[Is it like taking the ring to Mount Doom? Like Frodo's inability to destroy the ring by any craft know to men]

That's a cute thing to say, "wisdom lover." Speaking of The Lord of the Rings, at the end of Book V, the Mouth of Sauron, while trying to bargain with Frodo, says of him, "and now he shall endure the slow torment of years, as long and as slow as our arts in the Great Tower can contrive, and never be released..." Wow, that sounds like what you believe God will do to the unsaved!

Zing! :)

[It seems that Atheists are right, at least about themselves, after all. All atheists are already annihilationists. They think that when they die, their souls come to an end. So how is it again that they're being punished for their unbelief?]

They are incorrect about death being the ultimate end, because Scripture teaches a resurrection of all men. Scripture also describes final destruction as a violent, fearful thing (akin to being burned alive). I'm sorry that you don't think a violent execution is punishment enough, and that people need to suffer endlessly in order for them to be properly punished.

I'm not sure what your point here is here, other than to commit the guilt by association fallacy. What atheists are right or wrong about is utterly irrelevant to this debate.

I recently interviewed Edward Fudge on this topic on my podcast, and while I'm not as certain as Ronnie, I have found traditionalist arguments--including those made here--rather weak. I'd love to moderate a debate on my show (http://theopologetics.podbean.com). One between WL and Ronnie would be interesting :) In the meantime, I'm trying to get in touch with Robert Peterson requesting he let me interview him as a response to Fudge.

Chris, you'd probably have better luck with Christopher Morgan. Also, his defense of traditionalism is better than Peterson's.

I'll give that a shot.

This article shows 2 things: 1) evangelicals do not believe that God can simply forgive sin; instead, someone has to pay the price & 2) evangelicals believe that Jesus did not suffer at the hands of the devil as a ransom but rather was punished by the Father unjustly.

If Jesus paid the price for all & for all eternity, then no one has to do anything to be saved; the price was paid: sin & law, morality & obedience all become meaningless concepts. What Jesus taught about the unforgiving slave in Matthew 18: 21 - 35 becomes absurd for how could God reinstate our debt if our debt had been simply paid.

How is it just to punish the righteous & to reward the unrighteous? It cannot be. The Early Church understood that Jesus volunteered to be our ransom, & as a result was temporarily tormented by the devil who devised such cruelties against Him. God did not need a ritualistic sacrifice of appeasement; He wanted a heroic sacrifice made out of love & voluntary obedience.

The later & simpler medeval Roman Catholic satisfaction view of the atonement was carried over by the Protestant Reformers, but it is almost completely different from the classic view of the atonement held by the Early (pre-Nicene) Church.

Have any of you ever heard of the related topic of recapitulation?

Ronnie, I emailed Dr. Morgan as per your suggestion. His contact information was considerably more accessible than Robert Peterson's :)

Also, just in case the idea of a moderated debate piqued either your interest or that of WisdomLover, I have moderated a formatl debate on my show between a Trinitarian and a Oneness Pentecostal, and I have emails from them testifying to my fairness and professionalism. Let me know if either of you are interested.

Daniel 12:2

So your contention on this passages is that it's neither the damned individuals, nor their corpses that suffer contempt for all eternity, but essentially, their memories.

So if I'm, say, Richard Dawkins, and you are trying to put the fear of Hell into me, you'll point out that if I don't turn to Christ, what's going to happen to me is what I've always thought is going to happen to me: I'm going to take an eternal dirt nap. There will be one minor difference, I'll get woken up for a little bit, maybe tortured some, and then resume my dirt nap forever. But Christians will spend eternity spitting on my memory. (I won't feel it of course...napping).

You know what I say if I'm Dawkins?

Who's in Hell?

Ronnie-

John 3:16

The 'normal' reading of "perish" is physical death. Is it, then, your contention that Jesus is promising Nicodemus that those who believe in Christ will never suffer physical death?

Because unless that's what you are saying, Jesus means something special and out-of-the-ordinary by "perish".

I, of course, don't think that Jesus is promising Nicodemus that His followers will not suffer physical death. I think He's making an unusual and out-of-the-ordinary promise. He's promising that his followers won't perish after being raised and subjected to final judgment. There is a phrase, not original to John, that John uses to describe those who perish again after being raised and judged. He calls it the second death. So Jesus is promising Nicodemus that His followers will not suffer the second death.

You are quite right to say that John does not explain in chapter 3 what perishing is or what the second death is. What are we, then, to do?

Just interpret the passage in the way that seems 'natural' to us? If so, then we're led back to "perishing" referring to physical death. And I'll let the undertaker have the last word on that.

Do we interpret it as we please? I'm sorry to say that that seems to be your tack.

But it seems to me that we need to let Scripture interpret Scripture. It just so happens that John does define the term "second death" in Revelation as the Lake of Fire.

And Just to be clear, it's always the second death that is defined as the Lake of Fire, not the other way round. That is, you don't find John saying "What I mean by 'Lake of Fire' is the second death" and assuming that we all know what the second death is. Instead, we find John saying "What I mean by 'second death' is the Lake of Fire".

This is what you describe as a bizarre code-cracking exercise: letting Scripture interpret Scripture.

In any case, recognizing that Jesus is not promising Nicodemus that His followers would never suffer physical death, and letting Scripture interpret Scripture, Jesus is promising Nicodemus that His followers will not suffer the Lake of Fire.

Whether you view torment in the Lake of Fire as permanent or temporary is, then, the issue.

Yeah.....definite Ya on punishment/justice....but the "duration" question still leaves me divided....but that's a good description of that nuance WL thank you.

Ronnie-

The Lake of Fire

Revelation is a book filled with imagery, symbolism and metaphor. Surely this is just an example of that right? Just because John had a vision of a Lake of Fire and some individuals being tortured in it forever and ever doesn't mean that there really is a Lake of Fire that individuals are cast into to suffer forever and ever. Right? That's just a symbol. Right?

Yes. Probably.

There might not be actual flames, for example. Indeed, I suspect that if God were simply to withdraw His restraining hand from the lost and let them live forever in their sin, they'd soon be pining for the flames. Some Eastern Orthodox thinkers have suggested that Heaven and Hell are both the same: being in the unrestrained presence of the Holy God for all eternity. His righteous fire is all the flame that a sinner not covered in the blood of Christ would ever need. Frankly, I think that's too harsh. It is God's love that keeps Him from letting unredeemed sinners into His unrestrained Holiness.

But even though there is some interpretive room here. We don't get to interpret the symbolism however we'd like. In particular, the answer cannot be that eternal torment in the Lake of Fire symbolizes an eternal dirt nap. Whatever it is that the Lake of Fire symbolizes is something that can only be compared to etrnal torment in flames.

Why Eternal Torment?

Don't the flames devour the sinners? Things devoured are gone. Right?

No. Sorry.

Everlasting consumption is common enough imagery in ancient literature. Like Prometheus having his entrails consumed every day.

And in Revelation 20:9, after Satan is released and deceives the nations, God sends fire down on them and devours them (Both Satan and the nations). OK. They're gone right. But wait...How do they get cast into the Lake of Fire just a few verses later? Well, being consumed, devoured or destroyed is apparrently not enough to bring souls to an end.

But Death is an End. Isn't It Obvious that the Second Death is the End of the Soul Who Suffers It?

No. An end is precisely what death is not. Scripture screams that.

If death were an end, there would be nothing to raise. There is connected existence of the soul through death. Otherwise, it is not I, but some other person similar to me in many respects, created anew to be punished at the final judgment or rescued from it.

The second death would be utterly unique if it were an end. I'd expect Scripture to explain that. Otherwise, the default position is that the second death, like the first is not an end.

WL,

I'm curious if, as I hinted at a couple of times above, you would be interested in a moderated debate with Ronnie on my show? Let me know.


In the meantime, I must respond to this:

"And in Revelation 20:9, after Satan is released and deceives the nations, God sends fire down on them and devours them (Both Satan and the nations). OK. They're gone right. But wait...How do they get cast into the Lake of Fire just a few verses later? Well, being consumed, devoured or destroyed is apparrently not enough to bring souls to an end."

Now I'm not a conditionalist... yet. But in my humble opinion I think your statement is demonstrably incorrect. Verse 8 says Satan gathers the nations together for war, and it is those nations, not Satan himself, who surround the camp of the saints and are devoured by the fire out of heaven. The end of verse 9 says the fire devours "them," and the very next verse reads, "And the devil who deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire." So quite clearly, the "them" who were devoured is the "them" who were deceived.

So no, Revelation 20:7-10 simply cannot be appealed to in order to support the idea of a fire which consumes eternally.

Chris,

Even if you are right about the Devil not being among those consumed by fire in the final battle, (and I by no means agree that you are) that's just a side show. The main point was that the devoured nations, some of them resurrected already (for those who are not resurrected in the first resurrection, are raised when the devil is released from the abyss), are later among the dead whose names are not found in the Lamb's Book of Life and are cast into the Lake of Fire even after having been devoured by flames from Heaven.

Revelation also says elsewhere that wicked men in Hell will be tormented forever (Rev. 14: 9-11)

Then 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, he 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. "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."

I might add. What exactly is Jesus' point when He says of Gehenna that the worm dies not and the fire is not quenched? Isn't it that souls thrown into Gehenna are continually gnawed on by worms and burned by fire? If it's not that, what't the rub? If I'm lost, I get thrown into Gehenna and I should be put out by the fact that the fire keeps burning after I'm not there? That the worms survive me?

I mean, I'd be put out even to be burned and eaten by worms for a little bit (let's say for a year maximum, as some of the Rabbis in Jesus time believed). But I don't get the added horror of saying that the flames and the worms, like the Energizer Bunny, just keep going and going and going after I'm gone. If it's not that those flames are going to keep on burning me, and those worms are going to keep on eating me, I kinda don't see the point of Jesus telling me all about the longevity of worms in Hell.

As I said before, continuous eternal consumption is a common punishment theme in ancient literature. Jesus (quoting Isaiah) and John both seem to use it.

Indeed, if it's not that the lost are consumed forever, it looks like God plans on keeping Hell and its eternal worms and fires around forever...long after there's no one left to be punished.

Synthesizing some points, maybe we Christians will sit on the edge of the Lake of Fire and revile the memories of the lost forever.

Yuck!

And people think that playing harps on billowy golden clouds doesn't sound like much fun!

Ronnie-

2 Peter 2:4-10a

This passage is one great big If then statement with a three-part if-clause, two of the three parts of which themselves have two parts. There is no possibility of getting the 'entire point' of this passage by selectively quoting verse six, which expresses only one sub-part of one part of the if clause. So the selective quotation of that verse out of context is 'all of a sudden' a problem.

Here is a link to the entire passage. Open it in a new window or tab for easy reference.

Here is the structure of the passage in relief:

  • IF
    • 1. God cast the fallen angels into the pit to await judgment
  • AND IF
    • 2a. God destroyed the antediluvian world with the flood, BUT
    • 2b. Rescued Noah
  • AND IF
    • 3a. God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah with fire, BUT
    • 3b. Rescued Lot
  • THEN
    • 4a. God can keep the ungodly under punishment until the judgment, BUT
    • 4b. Rescue the godly.
Now, notice that each part of the if clause refers to a time prior to the final judgment. Part 1, about the angels, is explicit, Parts 2a and 2b speak of physical destruction and physical rescue. Likewise for parts 3a and 3b. These, thus, are about God's treatment of Noah, Lot et al. prior to judgment. It is only reasonable to assume that the then clause will also deal with the fate of men prior to the final judgment. And, indeed, clause 4a is quite explicit about that.

Since no part of this passage is talking about events after the final judgment, it can have nothing to say one way or the other about the duration of the punishment following that judgment. The only thing that it is probably reasonable to suppose is that those who are rescued probably do better after the final judgment than the ungodly who are destroyed, and punished while awaiting that judgment.

Again, this can only be seen when we attend to the entire passage. Selective quotation of the text that expresses point 3a will never get you there.

Apart from the novel tactic of reading the passage, I can think of no satisfactory exegetical answer that a traditionalist can make here.

WL,

Just in case it got lost in the interchange, I'd still like to know if you'd be interested in debating Ronnie on my show. I happen to know that Ronnie is game.

In any case, the only possible way to maintain that Satan is consumed by that fire which comes down from heaven and destroys the nations is if one eisegetes it into the text. It specifically says it will consume the "them" whom Satan deceives. I'm not inclined to eisegete Satan into a text which says nothing about him.

As for devouring the nations, I believe you are wrong. You stated that it devoured already-resurrected nations, but no, that's not the case. There is no indication that the second resurrection occurs when Satan is released. The formerly dead don't stand before the thrones until verse 12, which is after Satan is thrown into the lake of fire. So the chronology is this, regardless of one's position on conditionalism:

1) Satan is released and gathers the nations to make war
2) Fire comes down from heaven and consumes the nations
3) Satan is thrown into the lake of fire
4) The dead--including both those who died by the aforementioned consuming fire, as well as those who were already dead at that time--are resurrected

So no, nobody is consumed by this fire from heaven only to remain and be consumed by the lake of fire.

As for Revelation 14 and the worm not dying, fire not being quenched, etc., I have my feelings on all of those, but my goal here is not to debate conditionalism. Rather, I'd prefer to have two more knowledgeable guests on my show to debate it--hint, hint :)

I'm looking again at Revelation 20 to see if maybe I'm misreading who the "them" is, but I don't think I am. I'm no Greek expert so I could be wrong.

Verse 8 uses "them" (houtos) early on to refer to the ones gathered for war, not counting Satan himself, and goes on to say "the number of which [or whom, hos] is as the sand of the seashore." So the subject at this point--the "whom" or "which" just referred to--is this multitude of nations that Satan had gathered, and when verse 9 begins by saying "and they went up," "they" isn't actually in the text; it's a form of a verb applying to the subject just mentioned--the group of gathered nations. And at the end of verse 9 is where "them" (houtos) is next used, which, it seems, must continue to refer to the subject in view, and besides, the last time "them" was used it specifically referred to the ones gathered, not including Satan himself. And sure enough, when "them" is next used at the beginning of verse 10, it's again the ones gathered, not including Satan himself.

So there really is no warrant for believing Satan himself is devoured by this fire from heaven.

And I'll admit that I have never heard someone say they believed that the nations gathered by Satan referred to resurrected people. That seems very novel. And I am struggling to find any commentaries which suggest this.

Again, rather than consulting commentaries, we might try the expedient of reading the text.

Revelation 20:4-8

And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony of Jesus and because of the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received the mark on their forehead and on their hand; and they came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were completed. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is the one who has a part in the first resurrection; over these the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with Him for a thousand years.

When the thousand years are completed, Satan will be released from his prison, and will come out to deceive the nations which are in the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together for the war...

In the first bolded section, we see that the rest of the dead are raised after the thousand years are completed. "The rest of the dead" in this context refers to those who had not died in Christ, who did receive the mark of the Beast on their forhead, who did worship the image of the Beast. In short, "the rest of the dead" refers to the ungodly.

In the second bolded section, we see the other thing that happens at the end of the thousand years: Satan is released to deceive the nations. Now, is it your contention that those who worshipped the image of the Beast and received his mark, in a word, those he has already deceived, will not be among that army he gathers? Will the scales fall from their eyes so that they see? Will they sit on the sidelines?

As for Satan, as I said, it's a sideshow, but let me try an analogy:

When the pre-season was completed, Tom Brady was released from the injured reserve list, and he came out to lead the Patriots which are in New England to gather them together for the season; the number of them was 53. And they came up to the broad Gillette Stadium in Foxburough and defeated the team of the Saints, and the crowds came down from the stands and cheered them.
What do you think? Was Tom Brady cheered by the crowds, or was it just the other 52 members of the team?

P.S. I'm still mulling over the debate thing. I've got a pretty full schedule.

[So your contention on this passages is that it's neither the damned individuals, nor their corpses that suffer contempt for all eternity, but essentially, their memories.]

I already explained that neither I nor the text says that anybody will "suffer" everlasting contempt, so I'm not sure why you insist on putting it that way. Memories, of course, can not suffer anything.

But yes, the objects of the contempt will be the unsaved, who will at one point be nothing but memories. By way of example, I'm sure countless Khmer people hold Pol Pot in contempt, even though he's been gone for years.

To ancient people, how they were remembered was extremely important to them. This is what puts the sting in God's promise in Jeremiah 23:40 And I will bring upon you everlasting reproach and perpetual shame, which shall not be forgotten.

That is a good example of using Scripture to interpret Scripture; seeing how expressions like "everlasting shame" are used elsewhere in the OT. Curiously, you ignored my OT citations that made this point.

And what, exactly, is your argument here, other than you don't think the prospect of everlasting contempt would scare Richard Dawkins?

[He's promising that his followers won't perish after being raised and subjected to final judgment.]

Yes, I agree with this. The fact that "perish" is contrasted with "everlasting life" shows that this is in reference to something well into the future, and Nicodemus would have understood this. So far I'm with you; we are doing normal exegesis using normal methods.

[It just so happens that John does define the term "second death" in Revelation as the Lake of Fire.]

No! This is a horrendous hermeneutic. You can't jump to a symbolic vision in a completely different genre to establish Jesus' meaning of "perish." "To perish" simply does not mean "to live forever in agony." Are you suggesting that instead of just saying "be tormented forever", Jesus used a simple word like "perish" and hoped that Nicodemus would eventually read Revelation 20:10 in order to decode his statement?

[And Just to be clear, it's always the second death that is defined as the Lake of Fire, not the other way round. That is, you don't find John saying "What I mean by 'Lake of Fire' is the second death" and assuming that we all know what the second death is. Instead, we find John saying "What I mean by 'second death' is the Lake of Fire".]

No, this is demonstrably false. As I already explained, "second death" is the interpretation of the lake of fire symbol. John uses what is a standard interpretation formula that is found throughout Revelation and other apocalyptic literature. The formula is "[symbol] IS [reality]":

Dan 8:21: the goat IS the king of Greece
Zech 5:8: [the woman in the basket] IS wickedness
Rev 5:8: [the] golden bowls full of incense, which ARE the prayers of the saints.
Rev 19:8: the fine linen IS the righteous deeds of the saints.

Rev 20:14: Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This IS the second death, the lake of fire

Rev 21:8: their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which IS the second death.

[But even though there is some interpretive room here. We don't get to interpret the symbolism however we'd like.]

I'm not, I'm letting John interpret the symbol for me. "Death" (thanatos) simply does not mean torment. Take it up with John.

[Whatever it is that the Lake of Fire symbolizes is something that can only be compared to eternal torment in flames.]

Then kingdoms, religious systems, death and Hades will all be tormented by flame, because that makes any sense.

My interpretation, on the other hand, makes perfect sense of the entire vision, it is consonant with John's inspired interpretation, and is consonant with the rest of Scripture, that repeatedly and emphatically states that the wages of sin is death.

And you are incorrect that the reality must somehow resemble the symbol. Beasts don't resemble kingdoms. Goats don't resemble kingdoms. Now the question of why God chose an image of a dragon and hybrid beasts being tormented in a "lake" of fire is an interesting one, but it's not my burden to speculate about that.

[Everlasting consumption is common enough imagery in ancient literature.]

First of all, I doubt this is true. Secondly, I'm interested in how Scripture uses the expression "consumed by fire." I thought we were supposed to let Scripture interpret Scripture? Just do a search and see how Scripture normally uses the expression.

[Like Prometheus having his entrails consumed every day.]

Prometheus' liver was regenerated every day. I already anticipated this when I mentioned that some traditionalists posit a perpetual regeneration of the wicked. Seems like a desperate move to me, and nothing in Hebrews 10 indicates this. The author just says "consumed" he does not say "perpetually consumed forever."

[OK. They're gone right. But wait...How do they get cast into the Lake of Fire just a few verses later?]

Again, this just strikes me as desperate. When people start coming up with contrived arguments such as these, I start to lose interest, because seeking truth has obviously taken the back seat to winning an argument. "Them" clearly refers to what "they" refers to in verse nine, which is "the nations". I have never heard anyone seriously suggest that Satan is consumed here along with the armies and, quite frankly, think you're being disingenuous now.

[An end is precisely what death is not. Scripture screams that.]

Death is precisely an end. The only reason it's not the ultimate end is because of the resurrection. In Scripture, death is a "sleep" where the entire person returns to the dust. This is stated emphatically throughout the Bible.

[There is connected existence of the soul through death.]

Are you suggesting that it is impossible for God to raise a person unless there is some immaterial "soul" that persists through time? You now have the unenviable task of actually demonstrating that.

When the pre-season was completed, Tom Brady was released from the injured reserve list, and he came out to lead the Patriots which are in New England to gather them together for the season; the number of them was 53. And they came up to the broad Gillette Stadium in Foxburough and defeated the team of the Saints, and the crowds came down from the stands and cheered them.

This analogy is not parallel. Tom Brady is part of the team, and so we would naturally include him in the numbering of 53.

Satan, on the other hand, in not part of "the nations", and in fact the text explicitly says that he will deceive the nations, demonstrating beyond doubt that he is not a member of that group.

Oh, I just noticed there is another response to me (re: 2 Peter) sandwiched between some other posts. I'll take a look at that later today.

WL,

Please do consider the debate offer. A full schedule shouldn't be a problem, as we can wait until it clears up.

The first bolded section does not say how soon after the thousand years are completed that the rest of the dead are rasied. It just says that doesn't happen until the thousand years have been completed. Nor are we told how much time it takes for Satan, upon being released, to gather the nations and make war.

What we are told is that Satan is released when the thousand years are completed, gathers the nations to make war, at which point fire comes down from heaven and devours the nations. Then Satan is thrown into the lake of fire, and we're told it's at that point that the dead are given up by death and Sheol and stand before the throne of judgment. There's no indication that the gathering of the nations and their attempt at war happens after the second resurrection, nor that the nations gathered for war are resurrected unbelievers.

What I'm saying is, the rest of the dead are... Still dead. Still dead when then-living people are gathered for war by Satan.

Now, you suggest not considering commentaries, but I think it unlikely that you've stumbled upon something that no Christian writer in 2,000 years of Church history has seen. Can you find me one commentator who has said that the nations gathered for war by Satan are resurrected people?

As for Satan, your analogy fails on multiple levels. First, before Satan was thrown into the pit--or will be thrown into the pit, if you're a premillennialist--was Satan physically roaming the earth? Were angels or demons physically manifest amongst people they were influencing? When the apostle said Satan is roaming around like a lion was he walking around in a body? Of course not. Second, the text never says Satan "leads" the armies in their war. He deceives them and gathers them, and the text says they--the gathered ones--make war.

This scenario you're proposing seems incredible: Satan, upon being loosed, is walking around the planet in a physical body speaking human languages convincing resurrected unbelievers to join him for battle, and then he physically and literally leads their charge. Really?!?

Ronnie,

"Are you suggesting that it is impossible for God to raise a person unless there is some immaterial "soul" that persists through time? You now have the unenviable task of actually demonstrating that."

This is why when I interviewed Glenn the first time around I told him I just didn't find the continuity objection to physicalism very persuasive. It is merely asserted that God could not raise the same person from the dead unless an immaterial soul persists and provides continuity. Asserted, never demonstrated.

Chris, Ronnie-

Just a couple points that aren't rehash. I'm going to skip the headings, so be ready for quick changes of subject.

It is particularly funny, Chris, to hear you appeal to tradition on the issue of whether the ungodly dead raised at the end of the millennium threw in with Satan, freed at the end of the millennium (BTW, it is not my contention that the nations consist solely of the ungodly dead, now raised. It is that the ungodly dead were raised, and they didn't sit on the sidelines when Satan was raising his army). It is funny because you do so in the name of defending the innovation of annihilationism.

With that said, I'm not sure how far out I'd want to go on this. Since you can get this connection just by reading the text for about five minutes, I'm sure that I did not discover this point. But I don't think it is all that important. The important point, once again, is that the nations are devoured by flame, but somehow they manage still to get cast into flame a little later.

Ronnie. The second death is not John's invention it predates Christ in Jewish writing and it almost always refers to being cast into the fires of Gehenna. So actually, John's definition of the second death as the Lake of Fire wasn't novel or obscure. And Nicodemus knew, more or less, what Jesus was talking about with "perish". without having to read Revelation.

The order of terms and punctuation in both the Lake of Fire passages is a translational choice. Nothing in the Greek requires that it go one way or the other. Rev 20:14, for example literally says "This the death the second is the Lake of Fire." It might be translated "This is the second death, the Lake of Fire" or "This, the second death, is the Lake of Fire" But again, the common usage was that "second death" referred to going to Gehenna. And that preferences the reading that treats John's remarks as standard definitions of the second death.

Now the Jews, for the most part, agreed more with you than with me about the duration of the second death. Many believed that you could not spend more than a year in Gehenna. We see that reversed in John 14 and John 20.

Symbols work by convention or metaphor. Green is the symbol for Go, and Red for Stop because of a convention. But the Eagle was the symbol of Rome because it was thought that Rome had some common features or similar features with Eagles (mostly, I think, both were fierce and scary). The final fate of the damned is not called the Lake of Fire because of some prior arbitrary convention. It is because the final fate of the damned is somehow like being cast into a Lake of Fire.

Please explain to me the difference between God 'raising' an unconnected person who is you and His creating a distinct new person who has all of your memories?

WL,

Annihilation is no "innovation." Edward Fudge demonstrates that in his book. But even if that weren't the case, at least there are a multitude today who hold to the alleged novelty that is annihilationism. In other words, this is not an appeal to tradition. Who besides yourself has spoken or written defending the notion that the nations gathered by Satan are comprised of resurrected people? Can you point me to anybody? I'm open to their existence, but I haven't seen them. This is not an appeal to tradition; this is an appeal to the common sense that surely somebody ought to have seen what you suggest is so clear.

But now you've shifted gears and are not arguing that their having been first resurrected presents a problem for Ronnie's view. Instead, now you're saying that their being devoured by flames and moments later cast into the lake of fire is the problem. But no, it's not, for those who are devoured by the flame from heaven are resurrected alongside the rest of the dead after Satan is thrown into the lake of fire. They die by the fire from heaven, and are raised as part of the second resurrection. No problem there.

In any case, like I said, please do consider the debate offer. As someone who is on the fence between traditionalism and annihilationism, and having interviewed a proponent of the latter, and having invited proponents of the former (Robert Peterson and Christopher Morgan; hopefully one will agree), what I'd really like is to moderate a debate.

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