Deeper Waters Podcast 11/29/2014: Raising Hell

What’s coming up on the next episode of the Deeper Waters Podcast? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out!

We’re going to be entering new territory on this week’s episode. I’m going to be trying my hands at moderating a debate. The debate will be a Christian debate on the nature of Hell. Is it eternal conscious torment of some kind or is it rather going to be annihiliation where the wicked simply cease to exist.

Arguing on the side of annihilation is Chris Date of Rethinking Hell and the Theopologetics Podcast.

Mr Chris Date

Chris Date is the host of the Theopologetics podcast, as well as a steward of and primary contributor to the Rethinking Hell project, and co-editor of the 2014 Cascade Books publication, Rethinking Hell: Readings in Evangelical Conditionalism. A software engineer by trade, he believes theology and apologetics are for every average Joe in the pews, and not just for pastors, philosophers, PhD’s and the erudite in ivory towers. Formerly a traditionalist, he was not seeking an alternative to the traditional view of hell but became convinced by sound exegesis and systematic theology that the Bible teaches conditional immortality and annihilationism. He has since defended the view in several moderated debates and on Justin Brierley’s Unbelievable? radio program on Premier Christian Radio UK.

Arguing on the other side will be J.P. Holding.

J.P. Holding

James Patrick Holding is President of Tekton Apologetics Ministries. He holds a Masters degree in Library Science and has written articles for the Christian Research Journal and the Creation Ex Nihilo Technical Journal.

Date’s writing on this can be found in his book Rethinking Hell whereas Holding’s can be found in his ebook What In Hell Is Going On?

I will be seeking to be a fair middleman in this debate asking questions of each of the participants. Each one has also sent me various talking points. Naturally, there’s no way that we can get to everything. Furthermore, each of the participants in this debate will be allowed to dialogue with one another and ask the hard questions of the other’s position that they want to.

I consider this an important debate as it affects not only our evangelism but also our salvation in that we need to know what we are saved from and what we are saved to. (I in no way consider believers in conditionalism to be heretical or outside of salvation simply because they are conditionalists and of course the same goes for the traditionalist view) That in turn affects our view of God. We’ll be dealing with the many classical questions I hope as well. What about those who have never heard? What about the babies?

We will get into the meaning of words and concepts in the Bible. What does it mean to say that the punishment of the wicked is eternal? What does it mean when we hear of destruction? What does it mean when the text says that the smoke of their torment will go up forever and ever?

This will be the first debate I have ever hosted so I hope that I will do a good job and I hope that any biases I have in the debate will be able to be suppressed. I also want to remind everyone that a debate is a starting spot. If any listener is driven to further study of this important issue by this debate, then the goal will be accomplished.

In Christ,
Nick Peters


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21 Responses to “Deeper Waters Podcast 11/29/2014: Raising Hell”

  1. vincent Says:

    Reblogged this on Talmidimblogging.

  2. Mark Says:

    Should be an interesting debate. I would give anything to disbelieve in either the existence or the duration of hell. I shudder with terror at the thought of such a place: eternal, conscious separation from God forever and ever, with no hope of escape, and all the torments that go along with it, getting worse and worse with every passing moment. But, Jesus came to save that which was lost (us), and the horror of His cross and atoning death only goes to show how dire our situation really is without God. I think all Christians need to be reminded occasionally of just how great a salvation has been procured for us. After all, if there is no hell, then Jesus died for nothing.

    • Ronnie Says:

      “I would give anything to disbelieve in either the existence or the duration of hell.”

      I’m assuming that by this you mean something like “I would give anything to disbelieve the doctrine that final punishment consists of endless torment/suffering.”

      The good news is that you don’t have to give anything; just read the Bible and let it speak for itself. After the judgment, the damned will die, perish, be killed, be destroyed, be consumed and abolished. Those words mean just what they say. The unrepentant will not be immortal and live forever in torment.

      • Mark Says:

        When the Bible uses the word everlasting to describe the punishment of hell, it is the same as the word used to describe our life in heaven: “Then they will go away into ETERNAL (aionios) punishment, but the righteous into ETERNAL (aionios) life.” (Matt. 25:46). If the punishment in hell is not eternal, how can our life in heaven be?

      • Ronnie Says:

        Conditionalists agree that the punishment is eternal. The punishment is *death* and it lasts forever. Matthew 25:46 supports conditionalism: only one group will live forever. Traditionalism teaches that *both* groups will live forever; one in bliss and one in misery. That’s not what scripture teaches. Our options are life and death, life and perishing, life and destruction.

  3. Christopher Date Says:

    Hi Mark. Our debate is not over the existence of hell, but over the nature of the punishment inflicted there. Annihilationism doesn’t diminish the glory of the cross, it elevates it. For what did Jesus bear in our place as our substitute? Death. In Annihilationism, Jesus truly took our place as our substitute and bore what was waiting for us, and what is awaiting the lost: death.

    • Mark Says:

      Does this mean that the punishment for Hitler and the punishment for, say, a very nice Hindu who ultimately rejects Christ is the same: death? Doesn’t sound like justice to me. And Jesus didn’t bear our DEATHS on the cross, He bore our SINS. When He had paid for them all (thank God!), He gave His spirit up. No one took His life from Him.

  4. apologianick Says:

    Not posting because I’m taking part in the debate. I’m not. However, I am posting because I figure you all want the link.

  5. Christopher Date Says:

    Incorrect. Hutler’s death may be more painful and violent, and he may be remembered forever in greater shame. And Christ died in our place, so those who reject him must likewise die, not live forever.

    • Mark Says:

      But everyone, good or evil, dies ANYWAY. And Hitler felt nothing when the bullet entered his skull. And what kind of deterrent is it to tell an evil brute like that that he’ll have a bad rap after he dies? Why would he care? Such a “punishment” makes a mockery of God’s justice. “Be sure your sins will find you out.”

      • Christopher Date Says:

        Hitler will be raised unto judgment, though. It doesn’t matter how peacefully and ignorant of his sin a person dies in the here and now. The Bible teaches–and that’s what matters, right? Not your personal opinion about what’s just and what’s not?–that the lost will be resurrected and judged, at which point they will die, perish, be destroyed, remembered in shame forever.

  6. Mark Says:

    P.S. Anybody reading this old enough to remember the old beer commercial from the 70s? “You only go around ONCE in life, so grab all the gusto you can!” If I know that I can live any old way I like and in the end the worst thing that will happen to me is annihilation, why SHOULDN’T I live it up? If we only live once, then why deny ourselves anything? Just do like Hitler did and kill yourself. You won’t go to jail, and God won’t punish you after death either. Self-denial is for suckers, and heaven sounds boring anyway, right? Live it up.

    • Christopher Date Says:

      Silly me, I thought it mattered what the Bible teaches…

    • Ronnie Says:

      Are you saying that the only thing that’s stopping you from living like Hitler is the threat of endless torment?

      I really don’t think that’s a commendable model Mark.

      • Mark Says:

        No. What I am saying is it would be unjust for God to mete out the exact same punishment (annihilation) for all who die unbelievers, regardless of whether they were a Hitler or say, an Albert Schweitzer, who was a good man who rejected Christianity. Abraham said it best: “Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?”
        And as for what the Bible says, Jesus talked more about hell than He did about heaven; more so than anyone in the entire Bible. So much so that He has been called “the preacher of Hell.”
        I’m also still waiting on a response to Matt. 25:46, where it describes the punishment of hell and our life in heaven with the same word: eternal (aionios). This is what the Bible says.

      • Christopher Date Says:

        It’s not the exact same punishment. You’re willfully ignoring what’s been said. And annihilation makes far better sense of Matt 25:46. The punishment will be everlasting: Everlasting death. After all, Jesus days only the saved will live forever.

      • Ronnie Says:

        “No. What I am saying is…”

        Wait, that’s exactly what you said Mark:

        “If we only live once, then why deny ourselves anything? Just do like Hitler did and kill yourself. You won’t go to jail, and God won’t punish you after death either. Self-denial is for suckers, and heaven sounds boring anyway, right? Live it up.”

        And you believe that both Hitler and Albert Schweitzer will experience unimaginable torment forever. I don’t think that appealing to what seems unjust is a tactic you want to employ here.

        And I already responded to Matthew 25 above.

  7. Mark Says:

    You can’t eternally punish someone who doesn’t exist. And if Hitler has been annihilated, he certainly suffered a lot less than his millions of victims.
    Sorry, guys. Not buying it. Annihilation is not punishment. It is literally NOTHING. It isn’t just, and God is just. Paul said, “Knowing the TERROR of the Lord, we persuade men.” Nothing terrible about mere nonexistence. It was like that for me before I was born, anyway. From nothing, into nothing? No. Jesus was not annihilated on the cross for me. He was forsaken and separated from His Father for the first time ever. Either I let Jesus pay for my sins (and I have), or I pay for them myself. Annihilation is not payment. It is a get out of payment free card. Especially if guys like Hitler and my nice but unbelieving brother in law meet the same fate. If their fate is somehow different under annihilationism, I don’t see how.

    • Ronnie Says:

      Scripture saying nothing of eternal punishing, it speaks of an eternal punishment. If the punishment is death (and it certainly is), and that death lasts forever, then the punishment is everlasting. You’ve given no substantive response to this. Whether or nor you believe Hitler needs to suffer more is wholly immaterial. Capital punishment is nothing? Being deprived of life is nothing? Missing out on everlasting life in God’s presence is nothing? You may want to reevaluate things Mark.

      Jesus DIED on the cross for us. The wages of sin is death, not being “forsaken and separated.” If you pay for your own sins, you will die: “If you live according to the flesh, you will die.” It’s a fairly simple concept; the biblical authors are not speaking in riddles here. So again, what ultimately matters is what Scripture clearly teaches, not what Mark thinks is just enough, or fair enough, or scary enough. And as for your other comments, why are you so concerned with what “pagans” supposedly believe? Why does that matter so much to you? And since when do pagans care about being separated from God?

      “A strange form of evangelism, to be sure.”

      Show me one example from Scripture where pagans are evangelized by threatening them with endless torment of endless “separation from God.”

      How about you answer a challenge from Scripture:

      1 John 2:17: The world is passing away with all its desires, but the person who does the will of God remains forever.

      You believe that everyone will remain forever. How does that not contradict this passage?

  8. Mark Says:

    Responding to Ronnie’s latest above: I was speaking from a pagan’s point of view. If there won’t be a final accounting for my sins, why should I repent of them and be saved? Why not live it up, knowing that God will merely annihilate me, rather than make me suffer as I have made others suffer? From nothing into nothing? Most pagans believe that already. Are we to tell them that they’re right, that all that religious talk about hellfire and eternal damnation is just rot, and that an eternity without God and Christ is no big deal? Are we not comforting them in their sins? A strange form of evangelism, to be sure.
    And yes, I do believe in degrees of punishment in hell, just as I believe in degrees of reward in heaven (Rev. 20:11-25). The greatest torment will lie in being separated from the presence of God by one’s own choice, forever.

  9. George Alvarado Says:

    Just so people are informed. Chris Date will not have a public discussion with me. I’ve challenged and refuted conditionalism and he will not converse with me in a public forum. In any case, here is one of many articles I have written this far that reveal why those within Rethinkinghell are dangerous.

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