A reading goal I set for myself in 2018 is to work through a list of books on the final fate of the wicked. Somewhat in jest, I noted this would involve a lot of time in hell. Well let’s just state that thus far, this has been an enlightening journey and I am beginning to see some of the smoke clearing as it pertains to the biblical approach to this important topic.
Partially to keep myself accountable and partially to provide what I hope to be some salient thoughts along the way, I wanted to provide a quick update on my reading progress. As you can see from the table below, I have completed one book on my list, namely Rethinking Hell: Readings in Evangelical Conditionalism edited by Chris Date, Gregory Stump, and Joshua Anderson. I have also begun reading Dr. Kim Papaioannou’s dissertation titled “Places of Punishment in the Synoptic Gospels”. Additionally, I have started reading a book I did not have on my original list but one that fits nicely into my reading plans, A Consuming Passion: Essays on Hell and Immortality in Honor of Edward Fudge, edited by Christ Date and Ron Highfield.
I was very impressed with Rethinking Hell: Readings in Evangelical Conditionalism. Each submission to this book was well written, well argued, and most importantly, rooted in sound biblical exegesis. The contributors tackle this issue ironically, cogently, and cover all the notable bases such as the theological, biblical, philosophical, and historical arguments for conditional immortality. The scholarship that was presented was impressive. Anyone who believes conditional immortality is some fringe movement not rooted in any way upon sound biblical arguments or devoid of historical support within Christendom will have that viewpoint challenged should they read this helpful book.
It is somewhat pricey given Amazon sells it for $42. With that said, I submit it is well worth the investment, especially if one intends to really dig deep into understanding the merits of the positive case for conditional immortality. I found Rethinking Hell to be a true eye-opener and a resource I will refer to as I continue to dig deeper into the final fate of the wicked. To be honest, the “traditional” view of hell, namely eternal conscious torment, has some definite holes in its argument and the biblical support for that view in my humble opinion is quite weak. I say that as one who for quite some time has been a proponent of the traditional view. As I noted in my previous posts on this topic, my viewpoint has shifted of late in support of conditional immortality mainly because I had admittedly not exposed myself to the totality of the available arguments for the final fate of the wicked. Additionally, my studies on the biblical doctrine of man has revealed how eternal conscious torment does not account well for the fact it is only the righteous that are granted eternal life with the wicked being punished for all eternity with the opposite of life which biblically is the eternal punishment of death.
I am thoroughly enjoying Dr. Papaionnou’s journey through Gehenna and Hades. His work is well written, very informative, and quite relevant to understanding the final fate of the wicked. A Consuming Passion has started off well, although admittedly I am still in the first chapter.
More to come as I continue this journey through what the bible has to say about hell. In the end, I realize I will likely land on the opposite of the popularized view on hell, but so be it. I can only go where Scripture leads in the spirit of the Reformers. After all, the call to sola Scriptura demands adherence to what Scripture says, even it comes into conflict with popular theological positions.
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