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Saturday Afternoon Book Review: Aaron Fudge

posted by Scot McKnight

We have reserved Saturday afternoons, otherwise a slow time in the blog world, for book reviews. I ask reviewers to keep it under 3000 words, above 1500 words, and to summarize the book accurately and comprehensively. And, bring some critique. If you’d like to review a book, send it to me.


The Fire That Consumes: A Biblical and Historical Study of the Doctrine of Final Punishment
, IUniverse, 2000; originally published by Verdict Publications, 1982, 500 pages.

Written by Edward Fudge

Reviewed by Aaron Fudge

The issue of hell is divisive. It is a polarizing subject that often leads to strong emotions and strong accusations. During the recent Jesus Creed discussions concerning Gregory MacDonald’s (aka Robin Perry’s) The Evangelical Universalist, I was reminded of this fact. I was also reminded that many discussions regarding final punishment would leave an observer with the impression that Christianity offers only two positions on the final punishment of the lost. The debate often focuses on the viability of either the traditionalist or the universalist position, while ignoring the case for conditionalism. This recognition led to this review of Edward Fudge’s book, The Fire That Consumes: A Biblical and Historical Study of Final Punishment (IUniverse, 2000; originally published by Verdict Publications, 1982).

Approximately 27 years ago, Edward Fudge, my uncle, wrote a book entitled, The Fire that Consumes. In his book, Fudge argues forcefully that neither the traditionalist nor the universalist positions on the final punishment of the wicked take seriously enough the Biblical descriptions of punishment for those who finally reject Jesus Christ. Instead, Fudge shows that the Scripture unabashedly and repeatedly proclaims that the wicked will be raised to punishment by God and then when their active punishing is finished, the unrighteous will finally be annihilated; the wicked will be raised and will receive an eternal punishment, from which there is no return or end. 


While Fudge is unashamed of his conclusion and is thorough
in its defense, the reader is continually impressed by Fudge’s lack of
vitriolic polemics and his constant cry for critique and discussion (xvi).  Fudge begins his book with a call to
re-examine the Biblical writings on final punishment, to read them again with
renewed focus and vision, and to listen to the words of Scripture through
careful exegetical and historical research.  Early in the introduction, Fudge defines the traditionalist
position as that which asserts, “hell will involve the unending conscious
torment (whether spiritual or physical or both) of the wicked who have been
made deathless (immortal)” (xvi). He then offers that the conditionalist
position is “the view that the wicked will suffer conscious punishment
precisely measured by divine justice but that they finally will perish in hell
so as to become totally extinct forever” (xvi).  He notes further that the conditionalist position is
distinct from that held by Jehovah’s Witnesses and others, who deny any
resurrection of the wicked (399).

After two chapters of introductory matters, Fudge’s first
three substantive chapters concern the Greek word aionios, normally translated as “eternal” or “everlasting” and a
discussion of the immortality of the soul.  In chapter three, Fudge argues that aionios does not only refer to an “unending duration” of time but
to an “eternal” quality, as well (37). Here, Fudge demonstrates “that Scripture
frequently uses aion, aionios, and their Hebrew counterparts (olam in various forms) of things which
have come to an end” (40). He then draws out the implications of reading aionios with both the temporal and
qualitative sense by surveying five passages where aionios is used specifically in this dual sense (Mt. 25:46; Mk.
3:29; 2 Thes. 1:9; Heb. 6:2, 9:12). The first passage Fudge comments on is
Hebrews 6:2, where the author references the “eternal judgment.” Fudge argues
that this judgment is eternal in quality, that it is God’s final judgment. He
then focuses on how this judgment can also be everlasting; how can a judgment
be eternal in relation to time? Fudge writes, “The act of judging will
certainly not last forever… There will be an act or process of judging, and
then [the judging] will be over. But the judging results in a judgment — and
that will never end. The action itself is one thing; its outcome… is something
else. ‘Eternal’ here speaks of the result of the action, not the action itself”
(45).  Similarly, in Hebrews 9:12,
the author writes concerning an “eternal redemption.”  Fudge argues that the saved are not continually being
redeemed, like they are not perpetually being judged, but that the redemption,
the result of the redeeming, is everlasting (45). Fudge closes this chapter by
showing that this is also the natural way to understand both the “eternal
destruction” of 2 Thessalonians 1:9 and the “eternal punishment” in Matthew
25:46; neither the destroying nor the punishing are eternal. Instead, the
results of the destroying and punishing, the destruction and the punishment,
are everlasting (46-48).

In chapters four and five, Fudge deals specifically with the
popular notion of the soul’s immortality. While I do not often hear preachers
or teachers speaking to the notion of the soul’s immortality, I do not assume
that this issue has been decisively dealt with since the publication of Fudge’s
work. These two chapters show clearly that Scripture does not teach the
doctrine of immortal soulism, that the souls of humans are inherently immortal.
Nothing in Scripture states that human souls have or gain immortality apart
from God’s gift of eternal life. This is important because the assumed position
of many pastors and teachers is precisely the opposite. Fudge highlights this
by quoting from traditionalist author’s, such as W. G. T. Shedd: “Scripture
speaks of but two aeons, which cover and include the whole existence of man… If,
therefore, he is an immortal being, one of these must be endless” (51). Fudge
argues that many theologians and clergy through the centuries have held
uncritically to a similar belief in the soul’s immortality. Thus, while Shedd
is notably a dated source for an assessment of contemporary Christian thought,
Fudge uses this quotation to illustrate how this belief might taint a person’s
understanding of Scripture. Though Fudge will speak in later chapters to why
Christians adopted a belief in the soul’s immortality, he uses this chapter to
help the reader understand that the doctrine is not found in Scripture.

Following these chapters, The Fire That Consumes proceeds chronologically through the
Scriptures, the Apocryphal and Pseudipigraphal texts, and then through the
centuries of Christian history. In Fudge’s exploration of the Old Testament, he
treats the subject of Sheol and the Biblical texts dealing with the wicked’s
end. Significantly, chapter seven, “The End of the Wicked in the Old Testament,”
is divided into three main sections: the first deals with those passages that
contain “moral principles of Divine judgment”; the second with descriptions of
God’s judgments in history; and the third with the passages that explicitly speak
of a “Messianic or eschatological judgment.” Fudge includes the first two
sections to acquaint the reader with the Scripture’s terminology concerning
God’s judgments.  Following his
treatment of Zephaniah 1:14-18, Fudge writes:

We may… be sure
that such passages are acquainting us with the terminology we will meet
repeatedly in the New Testament when Jesus and His men warn us of the great
‘day of the Lord’ that will bring history to its climax… As we become familiar
with the symbolism used by Old Testament prophets, we will also learn to look
to those earlier Scriptures for the same language’s meaning in the New
Testament. And to that same extent we will be freed from the temptation to
attach to biblical expressions literal meanings of modern derivation, meanings
which have no basis in Scripture and which sometimes contradict its ordinary
usage throughout (106-107).

Of significance
in the third section is Fudge’s commentary on Isaiah 66:24, which he suggests,
“may be the most ignored biblical passage concerning final punishment, although
it gives us the specific scriptural phrase which is probably quoted most often”
(110). It is here that the phrase, “their worm will not die, nor will their
fire be quenched,” is first introduced. Fudge notes that the probable
historical judgment behind this eschatological pronouncement is God’s defeat of
the 185,000 Assyrian soldiers during the reign of Hezekiah (2 Kings
18:17-19:36; Isa. 36, 37). “Isaiah had strengthened Hezekiah with the Lord’s
encouraging message… Now Isaiah declares that the same scene will be reproduced
on a vaster scale at the end of time. In the historical event of Isaiah’s day
(Isa. 37:36) and in his prophetic picture of the future (Isa. 66:24), the
righteous contemplate with satisfaction ‘the dead bodies’ of the wicked. They
look at corpses (Hebrew: pegerim),
not living people. They view their destruction, not their misery” (111).
Following this, Fudge argues that the worms that “will not die” are those that
help with the decomposition of corpses, not those that torture a living human.
Further, Fudge writes that a fire that is not quenched is a fire that consumes
completely. It is a fire that consumes the corpses of the wicked; nothing will
remain of the corpses because the fire is not extinguished. “Both worms and
fire speak of a total and final destruction” (112). Throughout, Fudge’s
overarching conclusion is that the Old Testament consistently speaks of the
wicked’s end with descriptions and metaphors that portray destruction and
death.

The next section of Fudge’s book offers a survey of the
Apocryphal and Pseudepigrapha texts. The chapter is intended to be a brief
survey of Jewish views on final punishment and states explicitly that it is
neither “exhaustive [nor] final” (124). Fudge will conclude that there was not
one definitive Jewish view of the wicked’s final end during these
intertestamental centuries. He argues that most writers continued to use the
language of the Old Testament, which describes the wicked’s end in terms of
destruction, while others introduced new ideas declaring the eternal torment of
the wicked. Fudge begins with the Apocrypha and works through the relevant
passages.  In his summary, he
concludes that the Apocryphal texts mainly reflect “the teaching of the Old
Testament; the wicked will perish in the end” (132). The only variation from
this is the book of Judith, which contains the “single explicit reference to
conscious everlasting pain” (132). In the next chapter, Fudge treats the
Pseudepigraphal texts, and reaches a similarly mixed conclusion.

The next substantial section of the book deals with “final
punishment in the teaching of Jesus” (155). Here, Fudge follows the same basic
methodology he has used thus far, noting and commenting on each passage where
Jesus speaks of judgment. Though this section is too lengthy to treat fully in
a review, one of the major emphases that Fudge draws from Jesus’ words is
Jesus’ reliance on Old Testament imagery for His depictions and descriptions of
the judgment to come on the wicked. Another notable aspect is chapter 12, “Golgotha
and Gehenna (Jesus’ Death and the Punishment of the Lost).” This chapter, while
often heavy on quotations, offers a glimpse of the wicked’s final punishment
through the lens of Jesus’ own death for sinners. Fudge’s thesis is that in
Jesus’ death we are given a glimpse of God’s last judgment against the wicked,
for Christ willingly died for sinners and in His death bore the consequences of
sin to their fullest extent. How does the Scripture speak of the punishment
that Christ endured? Jesus “suffered death, so that by the grace of God He
might taste death for everyone” (Heb. 2:9). Jesus defeated death, the final
enemy, through His death and subsequent resurrection. Christ dealt with the
fullness of God’s wrath through death. It was Christ’s death that satisfied
God’s wrath against sinners, not Christ’s suffering in hell. Fudge illuminates
this further with a quote from Oscar Cullman, “Whoever wants to conquer death
must die; he must really cease to live – not simply live on as an immortal
soul, but die in body and soul, lose life itself, the most precious good which
God has given us…” (230).

Following this chapter, Fudge works his way through the rest
of the New Testament, beginning with Paul and ending with the remaining
epistles. Fudge’s conclusion can be stated briefly. He finds Paul to believe
and teach that the wages of sin is death, not suffering for eternity in
non-death. Fudge illustrates this in Galatians 6:8, where he comments that some
traditionalists have understood phthora,
which normally speaks of “ruin, destruction, dissolution, [and] deterioration,”
to necessarily mean material annihilation in this passage. This means phthora must have a non-literal meaning
here. “Having ruled out this supposed ‘literal’ sense of ‘destroy,’ ‘ruin’ and
‘perish,’ [the traditionalist's] argument goes on to point out that only
figurative or metaphorical meanings are left. The conclusion is then drawn that
‘destroy,’ ‘ruin’ and ‘perish,’ must mean eternal conscious torment, not
extinction. Words which on their face would seem to suggest ‘loss of life’ are
said to signify a ‘life of loss’ instead” (255). Concerning the rest of the New
Testament, which includes all the expected passages from Revelation, Fudge
likewise concludes that the Biblical authors continued to use the language,
metaphors and echoes of the Old Testament in their descriptions of the wicked’s
final judgment, which reveals that they did not believe or teach the eternal,
conscious torture of the wicked in hell.

The last substantial portion of the book takes the reader
from the New Testament period, through the centuries of church history, and
into the present. Fudge spends considerable space with the second-century
fathers, Origen, Augustine, and Calvin, highlighting the discussions and
contributions of each. Fudge demonstrates a progression from biblical
descriptions of final punishment by the first fathers to the introduction to
Christianity of immortal soulism by those fathers most influenced by Greek philosophy.
Among the voices that began advocating the immortality of the soul was
Tertullian. Fudge writes, “If the souls of even wicked men are immortal and
destined to live forever, and if earthly sin will be punished by what the Bible
calls ‘eternal fire,’ the only conclusion Tertullian could reach was that the
wicked would endure conscious unending torment. When the Bible speaks of
‘destruction,’ therefore, it does not mean what it sounds like” (338). Fudge
next writes concerning Origen who also believed in the soul’s immortality and
developed, at least tentatively, the belief that the eternal fire would “purify
and restore” (347). Fudge then leads his readers through Augustine, the Church
Councils, Calvin and the Reformation. 
His closing chapters call attention to dissenters from the traditional
view and traditionalism’s “problem of pain.” By way of conclusion, Fudge
reiterates that he was raised on the traditionalist position and believed it
because he was told the Bible taught it. He changed his mind because he is now
convinced that the Biblical writings do not teach the eternal, conscious
torment of the wicked. Fudge writes, “[w]e do not reject the traditionalist
doctrine… on moral, philosophical, intuitive, judicial or emotional grounds…
The only question that matters here is the teaching of Scripture. Does the
World of God teach the eternal conscious torment of the lost? Our modest study
fails to show that it does” (435).

My review so far has not included much negative critique of
Fudge’s methodology or conclusions. His exegesis and historical research of the
relevant passages of Scripture has followed standard hermeneutical processes
and his conclusions appear to be valid. 
His identification of key words or phrases that have been misunderstood
was perceptive, and his identification of the doctrine of the immortality of
the soul as one of the major underpinnings of the traditionalist belief seems
to be logical and justifiable.

While Fudge’s work and bibliography were current when The Fire That Consumes was written,
today’s readers will long for interaction with the  research and writing of the last 27 years. It seems that
much of the current research and the concern to read the New Testament in its
historical context would bolster many of Fudge’s claims. Specifically, one
wonders how Fudge might respond to Perry’s The
Evangelical Universalist
, though his brief section entitled,
“Universalism’s New Face,” may offer some insight (350ff.).

One complaint I do have relates to Fudge’s use of quotations
and citations. There are a few sections where his commentary on specific
passages could use the additional credibility and support that additional
quotations or citations might offer. There are other chapters, notably his
chapter on Jesus’ death and the punishment of the lost, that feel almost like a
compendium of quotations. One can follow Fudge’s argument, but the chapter
feels disjointed and choppy. Similarly, there are portions of Fudge’s
commentary that leave the reader wishing for more explanation (Mt. 13:30),
though, more often than not, his commentary is ample.

Overall, I heartily recommend Fudge’s book and find myself
convinced by his interpretations of the Biblical and historic texts. After
Fudge’s careful work, it seems that the onus is on the traditionalist or
universalist to demonstrate why the Scriptural witnesses of the Old and New
Testament should be understood in ways that contradict the “plain” reading of
the text. If Scripture consistently uses terms conveying destruction and death
when speaking of the wicked’s final punishment, why should the interpreter
understand these terms to mean non-destruction and non-death?

Additionally, if one is interested in reading an excerpt
from the book, hearing or viewing Fudge lecture on final punishment, or reading
additional reviews of his book, one can visit his website at: www.edwardfudge.com/written/fire.html

‘[The traditional view of hell]
must be loyally proclaimed or else denounced. If believed, it should be
preached from the house-tops; if not believed, it should be opposed to the very
end. If this dogma be false, it is a calumny against God and a stumbling-block
in the way of humanity’ (Fudge, 434-435, quotation from Emmanuel Petavel, The Problem of Immortality, 267).



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Comments read comments(29)
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dopderbeck

posted February 27, 2010 at 4:44 pm


Fascinating that you’re his nephew! I’m curious — how did coming out with these arguments impact him personally?



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Edward Fudge

posted February 27, 2010 at 5:19 pm


Discovering the biblical and historical material sent me through a spectrum of emotions — surprise and doubt, confidence and fear, determination and caution, etc. Because this study was done originally as a paid researcher with no thought of a book, at one point I thought to deliver the materials I found and be done with it. But because traditionalist writers to that point had not confronted most of the material I had found (and seemingly were not even aware of it), I was motivated to write a book with which hopefully someone would actually interact, advancing the conversation even if my arguments were answered in the process.
As it happens (and I say this with all due respect), 28 years have since gone by, scores of articles and books have been published in response to the conditionalist case (which has gained the spotlight with the writings of better-known scholars such as Clark Pinnock, John Stott, E. Earle Ellis, Philip E. Hughes, John W. Wenham and others), and the conditionalist arguments still remain largely unaddressed, with traditionalists mostly repeating the same arguments that I found when starting my research in the late 1970s.
This issue has not affected my livelihood since I do not make a living as an academician or pastor. There have been some denunciations, warnings of going to hell myself, etc., but the most common reaction has been curiosity and honest inquiry. What more could one ask?



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Aaron

posted February 27, 2010 at 5:27 pm


Isn’t this view called the Annihilationist view? And Didn’t John Stott believe this (or at least argue for its possibility) as well?



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Fudg

posted February 27, 2010 at 7:34 pm


Some might call this the Annihilationist position, which is probably fair, so long as it is understood to be distinct from position held by the Jehovah’s Witnesses. The conditionalist position believes that the wicked will be raised to judgment and conscious punishing for a time, before they are finally annihilated. The JW’s believe that when the wicked die, they cease to exist and will not be raised for judgment. And, yes, John Stott held this position.



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Fudge

posted February 27, 2010 at 7:36 pm


Sorry, that last one was me, Aaron Fudge… with my misspelled last name :)



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Your Name

posted February 27, 2010 at 10:02 pm


I think dopderbeck’s question may have had more to do how the Uncle took to the criticism given him by his Nephew. (Although Edward’s response to this question helps to fill in some of the impact of his study and the response that ensued. I will try to address this question as I understand it.)
Edward relates to criticism in an uncharacteristically positive manor.
Here is in his own words how he related to the review of his Nephew:
“I appreciate very much Dr. McKnight opening his blog to Aaron for this review, and I equally appreciate Aaron’s incisive summary and critique, including his criticisms and suggestions for improvement.”
I hope this helps.



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Warren Christianson

posted February 27, 2010 at 10:03 pm


Aaron , Thank you for this review. I have read the book several times now and this isthe best short overview taht I have found.
I had not cought the word conditioalism until lately.cac



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tom pratt

posted February 28, 2010 at 1:23 am


What better way to underscore the upcoming Easter season than arguing about bronze age texts that vividly describe the torture and eventual destruction of people that disagree with us.
We’ve made tons of progress in most other areas of life but too many of our moral and spiritual leaders are intentionally lost in the vindictive and self serving tribal past. Oh yeah, I forgot, a lot of that tribal past is also somehow the ‘word of God’ and even the most wicked and violent parts of that mostly dark diary are supposed to guide our thinking and acting now.
Jesus was a man of his times. He was a human being living in a tribal culture 2000 years ago. It’s called the incarnation.
I’m sure he supported the idea of hell at the time, but maybe if he was incarnated today we’d have a different gospel message.
I’m just saying.
I fully expect this comment will be deleted forever.
But probably not tortured. See, we’re making progress :^)



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Fraiser

posted February 28, 2010 at 1:50 am


Fact is, world conquest is what their whole Jehovah’s Witnesses creed is based on:
They don’t use heaven and hell like other religions do, but rather the promise of a “new system” on earth in which God rules and people live forever.
Sounds great, huh? How do we get there? Why, Armageddon of course. Everybody dies. Except for them, practitioners of the one true religion. And they really expect to see this happen in their lifetime – it’s not some far-off abstraction.
When that smiley man or woman knocks on your door proffering a magazine, you don’t realize they are saying “join our religion OR DIE.” But that’s the deal. That’s why they are so smug about it – it’s no skin off their back when you decline. Their whole belief system is a giant revenge fantasy – you had your chance, and soon you’re gonna pay.
http://www.jwfiles.com



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Darren King

posted February 28, 2010 at 2:12 am


Tom Pratt,
While I wouldn’t go quite as far as you, you nevertheless raise some valid points. And I’d add that, if you expect your comment to be deleted, you must not be very familiar with Jesus Creed and Scot’s philosophy towards this blog. As long as you’re not mean-spirited, totally off-topic, or rude, your comment will stick – even if its goes against the grain. Intellectual dissent is very much allowed here.
Now, speaking of this kind of topic, I’d like to suggest a new thread for Scot. How about exploring where context ends and revelation begins? Or, put differently, to what extent were the texts of scripture limited by the biases of the people involved in its writing?
I think most all of us here would agree that this happens – to one extent or another. But it seems like it would be really fruitful to pursue this in more detail. And to back up our positions with more than just mere hunches; if we can.
What do you think, Scot? Has this kind of thread been pursued already? And, if not, how about in the near future?



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angusj

posted February 28, 2010 at 2:27 am


tom (#8):
I detect a tone of frustration and perhaps some anger directed at conservative and mainstream evangelical traditions. If this is the case then like you I too feel frustration and a little anger at what evangelicals say and do – as an evangelical insider! There is much to be ashamed of, including a lot of blinkered thinking, but nevertheless I believe that God in his mercy still breathes his Spirit through us as part of his church.
I doubt that your comment will be deleted because not only have you been civil, you ask a very reasonable and topical question – would Jesus, if he was incarnated today, preach about judgment and punishment for those who reject him? While I reject the doctrine of endless conscious torment for the lost, I believe Jesus’ message would be the same today as it was 2000 years ago – God is still calling us to turn from self-centered lives to lives filled with his Spirit and love (not just in words but in actions). He is calling us out of darkness into the light. But God’s patience with those who reject him won’t last forever.
ps: I did appreciate your humor too :).



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Darren King

posted February 28, 2010 at 2:30 am


To add a little fuel to Tom’s point, while we have discussed here at Jesus Creed the contextual bias (and I don’t mean that in a negative sense, after all, bias just “is”) of someone like the Apostle Paul, we haven’t much discussed it (if at all?) in reference to Jesus.
So how does incarnation come into play here?
Here are a few additional ways of looking at some of the sayings of Jesus:
1.) He spoke the truth as if drawn from some vacuum reservoir of contextless, messianic knowledge.
2.) He spoke the truth in such a way that would make sense to the people of his time – even though he knew better, or, knew it in a more transcendent way.
3.) He spoke the truth as a fully contextualized human being; meaning that, while he spoke from and with messianic authority, he still filtered his “Godheadness” through the worldview of a person of his particular time and place.
Answering the question in each of these three ways would obviously lead to some very different conclusions about how we should read the gospels, and scripture in general.



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Peter

posted February 28, 2010 at 5:36 am


Just want to add that there is nothing that compares to the topic/questions described by Darren & others in my life right now; I would love to see a discussion of this issue. TY



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Scot McKnight

posted February 28, 2010 at 6:25 am


Tom Pratt, I don’t mind dissent at this blog but I don’t like insult and your Bronze age comments are attempts at insult, as if Bronze Age people can’t compete with modern enlightened folks — like us — who have managed to kill more people in one century than all of history before us. (I think I got the numbers right.)
Darren, isn’t that what my Blue Parakeet book was doing? On the “when does context run out into revelation?” question, I’m persuaded that the revelation is contextually shaped.



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JoanieD

posted February 28, 2010 at 7:35 am


“‘Eternal’ here speaks of the result of the action, not the action itself.” I think that is a very important point.
I wish I could firmly settle myself on an opinion about eternity/hell/punishment, etc. I tend to go back and forth on some issues. I think I believe that there is not the forever-conscious-torment thing going on after death. Annihilation works for me, particularly in regard to Satan and his crew. Or, in the end everything and everyone chooses God, perhaps after some serious torment, perhaps of one’s own making.
I could use a better understanding of what the “soul” actually is. Can you elaborate, Edward?



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JoanieD

posted February 28, 2010 at 8:00 am


I went to Edward’s website and read the pages he included there from a link. He gives us quite a few pages to read and I think it is worthwhile to read them. Thanks, Edward.



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Edward Fudge

posted February 28, 2010 at 8:20 am


JoanieD — The Bible is not crystal clear about this topic although the dogmatism of some teachers might suggest otherwise. For that reason, I like to begin with the scene described in Genesis 2:7, which says: “Then the LORD God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living being.?
If we close our eyes and visualize this little story of 26 words, we get the picture. We watch as God scoops up clay from the ground like a potter. Next he shapes it into the form we recognize as a man?s body. Then, bending over the face of that lifeless clay form (?body?), the Creator infuses his breath (a synonym for the word usually translated ?spirit?) into the clay man’s face and the clay form becomes a living being (?soul?).
This language is not philosophical or scientific but poetic. It does not explain as much as it impresses. It addresses our hearts more than our minds. It reminds us of our relationship to the rest of creation and of our total dependence on God. This story portrays a human as a clay body animated by breath of life. A person is (not has) a living ?soul.?
The Bible sometimes describes a person’s death as a “soul” dying (Num. 23:10; Ezek. 18:4, 20). We would not know it by reading most English translations, but to the author of Genesis a ?living soul? can be either a human being (2:7) or an animal (2:19). As ?living souls? we are part of this creation, with bodies made from elements of the earth, enjoying life second-by-second through the Creator?s gift of living breath.



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Mike

posted February 28, 2010 at 9:58 am


I like this kind of dialoge here that is substantive and on point. I do not know why my first comment had Your Name I had wriiten Mike M



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Travis Greene

posted February 28, 2010 at 10:50 am


Thanks for this review. This is basically the position I have come to. God’s kingdom is an opt-out reality, with those who opt out ultimately choosing death, which is the absence of life, not it’s opposite. It also dovetails with what the Bible really teaches about eschatology: resurrection into a new heavens and new earth, not evacuation to a bodiless realm.



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Darren King

posted February 28, 2010 at 12:41 pm


Scot, you write: “On the ‘when does context run out into revelation?’ question, I’m persuaded that the revelation is contextually shaped.”
I agree. That’s my position as well. But that alone is a statement broad enough to drive the Ark through. My interest is in the details of how this might effect the way we should read revelation in scripture; and in terms of establishing the degree to which we should not only allow for contextually-shaped bias, but actually be on the look-out for it.
If this topic has been specifically, rather than generally, addressed before – perhaps in your Blue Parakeet series – can you point me to a link? Thanks.



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Brian in NZ

posted February 28, 2010 at 1:07 pm


“hell will involve the unending conscious torment (whether spiritual or physical or both) of the wicked”
My big problem with this is that it implies that God is quite happy to inflict physical and presumably emotional pain on people. So if it is ok for God, then who are we to act otherwise.
I actually believe that God loves us so much that he won’t force us to be in a place for eternity that is contrary to our choices on Earth. Therefore if we chose not to follow Him here, His loving response is to allow us to live in an eternity that is separate from Him. Hell is a place of separation from God, but it just might be the kindest place that a non-Christian can spend eternity.



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Peggy

posted February 28, 2010 at 1:57 pm


Scot,
Thanks for posting this review. Very thought provoking!
Some might find his quiz on hell interesting. I was only surprised once ;^)
http://www.edwardfudge.com/hellquiz.html



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Trav

posted February 28, 2010 at 5:39 pm


Like so many other books, this one is definitely on my to-read list.
However, I have read plenty of internet sites and looked into some of the scriptures on this issue of eternal hell vs temporary punishment and ceasation of life. And I must say, based purely on the question of the Bible itself I do believe the answer is that the second position is the stronger one. At very least strong enough to make one an agnostic on the issue.
My question is more philosophical: Why does church tradition favour the traditional position? I’m not asking for a historical answer, I’m thinking more philosophically here. Why, if the annihiliationist position is so strong has God guided the church in another direction on this key teaching? And lets not kid ourselves, it IS a key teaching…



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Mike

posted February 28, 2010 at 6:57 pm


I am not sure this will answer your question but Tradition has a way of being comfortable. Many very great christian teachers have taught the traditional view. A few of the same have opted for the view Edward Fudge has come to in this book. I think the biblical view seems not to be proven without a shadow of doubt. But the weight of evidence seems to easily support the view Fudge reders.
BTW Aaron great review
after refresh you have to reenter your name



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Dana USA

posted March 1, 2010 at 1:56 pm


Regarding those cast into Gehenna, Jesus said that ?their maggot does not die and the fire is not put out.? (Mark 9:47,?48) Influenced by the words in the apocryphal book of Judith (?He will send fire and worms in their flesh and they shall weep with pain for evermore.??Judith 16:17, The Jerusalem Bible), some Bible commentaries contend that Jesus? words imply eternal torment. Yet, the apocryphal book of Judith, not being inspired by God, is hardly a criterion for determining the meaning of Mark?s writings. Isaiah 66:24, the scripture that Jesus evidently alluded to, says that the fire and the maggot are destroying the dead bodies (?the carcasses,? says Isaiah) of God?s enemies. There is no hint of everlasting conscious torment in either Isaiah?s words or those of Jesus. The imagery of fire symbolizes complete destruction.
Revelation 14:9-11 speaks of some who are ?tormented with fire and sulphur .?.?. And the smoke of their torment ascends forever and ever.? Does this prove eternal conscious torment in hellfire? Actually, all this passage says is that the wicked are tormented, not that they are tormented forever. The text states that it is the smoke?the evidence that the fire has done its work of destruction?that continues forever, not the fiery torment.
Revelation 20:10-15 says that in ?the lake of fire and sulphur, .?.?. they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.? At first reading, this might sound like proof of eternal conscious torment by fire, but it definitely is not. Why? Among other reasons, ?the wild beast and the false prophet? and ?death and Hades? will end up in what is here called ?the lake of fire.? As you may easily conclude, the beast, the false prophet, death, and Hades are not literal persons; therefore, they cannot experience conscious torment. Instead, writes G.?B.?Caird in A Commentary on the Revelation of St. John the Divine, ?the lake of fire? means ?extinction and total oblivion.? This realization should be easily reached, for the Bible itself states about this lake of fire: ?This means the second death, the lake of fire.??Revelation 20:14.



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Dana USA

posted March 1, 2010 at 1:58 pm


Regarding those cast into Gehenna, Jesus said that ?their maggot does not die and the fire is not put out.? (Mark 9:47,?48) Influenced by the words in the apocryphal book of Judith (?He will send fire and worms in their flesh and they shall weep with pain for evermore.??Judith 16:17, The Jerusalem Bible), some Bible commentaries contend that Jesus? words imply eternal torment. Yet, the apocryphal book of Judith, not being inspired by God, is hardly a criterion for determining the meaning of Mark?s writings. Isaiah 66:24, the scripture that Jesus evidently alluded to, says that the fire and the maggot are destroying the dead bodies (?the carcasses,? says Isaiah) of God?s enemies. There is no hint of everlasting conscious torment in either Isaiah?s words or those of Jesus. The imagery of fire symbolizes complete destruction.
Revelation 14:9-11 speaks of some who are ?tormented with fire and sulphur .?.?. And the smoke of their torment ascends forever and ever.? Does this prove eternal conscious torment in hellfire? Actually, all this passage says is that the wicked are tormented, not that they are tormented forever. The text states that it is the smoke?the evidence that the fire has done its work of destruction?that continues forever, not the fiery torment.
Revelation 20:10-15 says that in ?the lake of fire and sulphur, .?.?. they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.? At first reading, this might sound like proof of eternal conscious torment by fire, but it definitely is not. Why? Among other reasons, ?the wild beast and the false prophet? and ?death and Hades? will end up in what is here called ?the lake of fire.? As you may easily conclude, the beast, the false prophet, death, and Hades are not literal persons; therefore, they cannot experience conscious torment. Instead, writes G.?B.?Caird in A Commentary on the Revelation of St. John the Divine, ?the lake of fire? means ?extinction and total oblivion.? This realization should be easily reached, for the Bible itself states about this lake of fire: ?This means the second death, the lake of fire.??Revelation 20:14.



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Fudge

posted March 1, 2010 at 2:46 pm


Thanks for the comments and discussions everyone. And Dana (26) my uncle’s conclusions are right in line with yours.



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Jeff Cook

posted March 1, 2010 at 10:01 pm


Well done Aaron. Your uncle’s book has meant a lot to many of us. May all good things be yours!



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Jerome Smith

posted September 30, 2010 at 1:15 pm


I enjoyed reading this thread, though I am a late-comer to the discussion.
I arrived at the Edward Fudge website while searching for information about Robert Shank. I was surprised to learn Mr. Shank, at the recommendation of his former Baptist friends, followed their recommendation to fellowship instead with the Church of Christ.
I arrived at this site via a link from the Edward Fudge website.
I understand that Mr. E. Fudge is associated with the group known as the Church of Christ, and that the Church of Christ as well as the Seventh Day Adventists share similar views on this matter.
One of Mr. E. Fudge’s central arguments seems to be the notion that newer studies invalidate the studies of past scholars on some of the points at issue in the doctrine of eternal, conscious punishment in a literal hell. Mr. E. Fudge kindly and properly references, for example, the evidence presented by Dr. Alfred Edersheim, and concludes that materials available now invalidate Edersheim’s claims or conclusions, though Edersheim was honest with the evidence available in his day. This might possibly be a valid basis for rejecting Edersheim’s evidence on this matter.
But Mr. E. Fudge dismisses, for the same reason, the able discussion of these issues by William Shedd, as in his work, The Doctrine of Endless Punishment. From the perspective of proper Biblical interpretation, I must disagree with Mr. E. Fudge’s judgment of Shedd on this point. I believe the Biblical evidence fully justifies one major assertion Shedd makes on pages 77-88 of his work, namely, that when such terms as “eternal” and “forever” are used regarding matters pertaining to “this age,” the meaning is in a limited sense, with the idea of permanent, like Philemon’s slave Onisimus in Philemon 1:15. But when these terms are used regarding matters of the next age, the age to come (Matthew 12:32), they possess a full and unlimited significance, with the meaning of eternal in its infinite sense. Since eternal punishment pertains to the age to come, it signifies eternal in the infinite sense.
See my documentation given in The New Treasury of Scripture Knowledge, on John 6:54, on page 1198.
One must remember that an old argument is not diminished in its strength merely because of its age. Irwin Linton makes this proper claim in his work, A Lawyer Examines the Bible, and argues forcefully that older scholarly works on apologetics are just as powerful today as they were when they were written. I fully agree, having studied them carefully for 50 years. See my notes at 1 Peter 1:16 on pages 1481 through 1483 of The New Treasury of Scripture Knowledge for an unanswerable argument for the historicity of the Bible based upon Leslies’ work, A Short and Simple Method with the Deists, as an example.
On the issue pertaining to this thread, I have found an older resource by F. W. Grant, Facts and Theories as to a Future State, which in 638 pages, covers the issues quite well. It takes good reading comprehension to wade through the nineteenth century English, but the results are worth it. Grant makes an admirable defense of what posters here have referred to as the “traditional view.”
The problem everyone faces with studying the Bible is that it is very difficult to engage in what I call “real Bible study.” I have developed a little “blog” at which I discuss this most critical matter. Visit http://www.realbiblestudy.com, post a comment with a genuine email address, and I will be happy to address in full any Bible questions anyone may have on line or by personal email correspondence.



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