Episode 20: A Response to Matt Waymeyer’s Annihilation Lecture at Shepherd’s Conference 2012

In the 2012 Shepherd’s Conference, an annual event sponsored by John MacArthur’s Master’s Seminary, faculty member  Dr. Matt Waymeyer delivered a lecture critical of Annihilationism, entitled Hell Under Fire. This episode of Rethinking Hell is a response to Matt’s lecture, featuring new co-host Daniel Sinclair, along with our usual host, Chris Date.

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  • LCE

    I’m a conditionalist, but I have a question about the New heaven and New Earth. If there is no marriage in heaven and death is completely destroyed….what is this passage in Isaiah talking about?
    Isa 65:20 There shall be no more thence an infant of days, nor an old man that hath not filled his days: for the child shall die an hundred years old; but the sinner being an hundred years old shall be accursed.
    Isa 65:21 And they shall build houses, and inhabit them; and they shall plant vineyards, and eat the fruit of them.
    Isa 65:22 They shall not build, and another inhabit; they shall not plant, and another eat: for as the days of a tree are the days of my people, and mine elect shall long enjoy the work of their hands.
    Isa 65:23 They shall not labour in vain, nor bring forth for trouble; for they are the seed of the blessed of the LORD, and their offspring with them.

    • Chris Date

      Hi, LCE. I don’t think this passage has much bearing on the hell debate; its interpretation is probably more likely a dispute between those who hold to different millennial views. In any case, you’ll get different answers to your question. My view is that this is symbolic language, not to be taken literally. The point of verse 20 appears to be that God’s people will no longer live short lives (they will, in fact, be eternal). The point of verses 21 and 22 appear to be that they will no longer be conquered by their enemies (their enemies will, in fact, be destroyed). The point of verse 23 is a little more elusive, and I’m not sure I have the answer yet, but because my view is that it’s not intended to be taken literally, I don’t see a reason to think its meaning has anything to do with marrying and having babies in the eternal state :)

      • LCE

        I apologize, Chris. I’m just curious on things like this and having a hard time finding a place to get good answers anymore. I’ll keep digging on this myself and I appreciate your willingness to respond. Thank you. ( :

    • lambtestimony

      I think dispensationalists regard this as occuring during the 1000 year reign of Christ on earth immediately following His second coming. There is still sin in the world but the devil is bound. The world is essentially new since even animals won’t attack and eat each other (the child wll play by the viper’s hole for example). It is not the final new earth but it is a new earth in the sense that it is completely rejuvenated.

    • lambtestimony

      I think it may be worth mentioning as well that prophecies can be lumped together even when they end up being fufilled in different time periods. I think some prophesies of Christ’s first and second coming are like this (eg when Jesus was preacthing in the synagogue and declared that a prophecy was fulfilled “this day” He left off the words “the day of vengeance of God” from the OT verse). I don’t which “new earth” is in mind in Isaiah 65.

  • I am going to have to disagree with both gentlemen here that conditionalists have a weak argument to claim that traditionalism is an unfair and unjust doctrine. I think if eternal torment for all eternity is not morally reprehensible, then why bother being a conditionalist? Clearly many think the biblical evidence goes both ways as we see so many well educated traditionalists. I think other than clear biblical evidence, the moral repugnancy and unfair idea that God will torment His children for trillions of years; whom He died for and loves so much is a huge driving factor for many to abandon traditionalism and rightly so. Our God given consciences and morality abhors such a concept. Rejecting traditionalism should be rejected morally, biblically, judicially and philosophically as it fails on all counts. However, yes, emotion is not enough but it is an important indication that something isn’t right. Then we see the biblical evidence backs that up.

    • Chris Date

      ” if eternal torment for all eternity is not morally reprehensible, then why bother being a conditionalist?” Because the texts don’t go both ways. The existence of learned traditionalists doesn’t prove that their view is a sound exegetical option. The texts consistently support conditionalism.

      • I fully agree but if I’m on the outside looking in and seeing the best arguments and saying, “Well, most of the church has always agreed with this, and these PhD traditionalists who’ve studied the word all their life are saying these texts say it…I’m going to err on the side of the majority…at least from a biblical perspective.’ I think that when we allow the bible AND our consciences and morality as guides we see that it is much easier to abandon traditionalism. To say that traditionalism is no more unjust or unfair than annihilation is to remove much of the appeal and impact of why I believe conditionalism is right.

        • Chris Date

          Darrell, I appreciate where you’re coming from, but I can’t lie and pretend that my intuition tells me the same thing about the injustice of the traditional view as yours does. And the simple fact of the matter is, many traditionalists won’t abandon the their view if they get the impression that we’re treating our moral intuition as if it’s on part with the authority and reliability of the Scripture itself. I don’t think conditionalists are doing that, but if we really want to contribute to a change in mind, we simply have to focus primarily on Scripture, and only secondarily on morality/justice, if at all. Finally, forgive me, but I’m not interested in presenting conditionalism in a way that’s “appealing” apart from being appealing because it squares with the Bible.

          • Hey Chris,

            I fully agree that the Bible alone is enough to convince anyone about the validity of annihilation. However, we’d be fooling ourselves if we didn’t recognize that most people’s journey away from traditionalism to conditionalism and universalism stems from a moral confusion of the injustice and incompatibility of traditionalism with a God of love, justice and mercy. As was mentioned in your podcast many atheists have denied God from this perspective alone. Not that the idea of a supreme being punishing or even destroying or allowing His creation to die is unfair or cruel, but that trying to wrap your brain around trillions of years of suffering, pain and torture because one chose not to worship the Creator is so revolting on so many levels. The fact that the scriptures bear annihilation out shows that such a being DOESN’T exist. Thus we have every right to trust our God given consciences in this regard. One bears the other out and justifies it.

          • Chris Date

            Yes, but you see, those people who have that confusion are going to continue to have that confusion whether we tell them they should or not! We don’t have to argue against the injustice of the traditional view because those who suspect it does already do, and those who do not are not going to be persuaded by the argument. However, if we go to such people with the bibilcal case for annihilationism, those who already suspect the traditional view is unjust will immediately be able to tell, without us explaining, that our view is more just, and those who don’t suspect the traditional view is unjust will not think that we’re mamsy pamsies who can’t stomach the idea. We win in every imaginable scenario if we focus on exegesis.

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