William Lane Craig on Hell

Dr. Glenn Peoples responds to some recent comments from Prof. William Lane Craig.

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  • Anonymous
    • Chris Date

      Hi Anonymous. FYI, it’s the book of Revelation (singular, not plular), but that’s me nit-picking :) That passage certainly indicates that there will be a resurrection of all the dead, which we here at Rethinking Hell affirm. And in the apocalyptic imagery John is being shown, those whose names are not written in the Lamb’s book of life are thrown into the lake of fire. But there are a number of indications within the imagery itself that this imagery symbolizes the annihilation of the risen wicked, which is no wonder since John in these verses (and God Himself in the next chapter) interpret the imagery as symbolizing the second death of human beings. We believe those who’ve died a first time apart from Christ will rise and die a second time.

      We have addressed Rev. 20:10-15 in several places. I would recommend you listen to http://www.rethinkinghell.com/2012/10/episode-7-traditional-objections-answered-with-chris-date and/or read http://www.rethinkinghell.com/2012/12/unpersuasive-but-irenic-a-thankful-response-to-terrance-tiessen.

      • Anonymous

        If the essence of God is hell, than it makes perfectly sense that a place of torment and suffering exists.
        And why would we re-think hell? what’s the point? either way, it would be horrible.
        I think we should focus in evangelizing people of the beauty of the gospel. And, not sugar coating the facts.
        Also, out of curiosity, what would you say about testimonies of visions of hell by many different people?

        • Chris Date

          Forgive me, but I don’t follow your first sentence.
          Why rethink hell? What’s the point? I agree that more important is evangelizing the lost, but the best evangelism is done when the lost are told what the Bible actually says–the final destruction of the lost–rather than something it does not–the eternal torment of the lost.
          I subject experiences to the Bible, not the other way around, but if testimonies of people who’ve had NDE’s and seen “hell” are to any extent true, they’re seeing Hades, the so-called intermediate state, not hell. Hell is the place of final punishment, which no one will face until they first rise out of Hades unto judgment.

          • Anonymous

            How do you not follow? it’s clear as crystal.
            And, I completely disagree… The simplicity and the beauty of the gospel should be enough. Hell is horrible, it’s very clear in the Bible. And, i think, it’s rather stupid to expand on the subject or sugar coated.

          • Chris Date

            The essence of God is hell? That’s crystal clear?
            I’ll be honest, I can’t relate to thinking we shouldn’t care or repeat what the Bible says. The Bible doesn’t just say it’s horrible, it says it’s death and destruction.
            And you might want to reconsider whether accusing others of sugar coating hell (which we’re nowhere doing) and being stupid is really appropriate.

          • Anonymous

            “Hell is horrible” It’s a metaphor. Don’t over think it!
            Thanks for this posting. Interesting perspective!

          • Anonymous

            And I do apologize, I meant “absence” of God…

          • Chris Date

            Oh, well then it’s clearer :) We believe that if God is the source of life and existence for all created beings, the absence of Him would lead inevitably to death–which is just what the Bible teaches awaits the risen wicked.

          • Yes. This is one of the simple truths traditionalists seem to ignore. ‘He who has the Son has life. He who does not have the Son, does not have life’. ‘The wages of sin is death, the gift of God is eternal life’. Can it get any clearer or plainer?? It amazes me that conditionalists are accused of ‘twisting’ the scripture and ‘ignoring the clear text of the Bible’ when traditionalists make ‘not life’ and ‘death’ mean ‘eternal life in conscious misery’. Simply astounding.

          • James D. Gallé

            Not giving serious thought and study to the doctrine of final punishment is the problem evangelical annihilationists are seeking to address (hence this web-site and others like it).

          • Peter Grice

            The essence of God is Spirit, love, righteousness. Not Hell. Clear as crystal–dipped in squid ink. Unless you meant it exactly the way it sounds, which is heresy (insofar as nonsense can be that!)

            There is a lot of irony in saying we should just stick to all the positive bits of the gospel, which is precisely to “sugar coat” the message.

            If Jesus warned people about Hell, we should too. That’s the gold standard.

          • NathanAndersonJ

            Hi Peter and Chris,
            I’ve been following Rethinking Hell and love what you are doing. I was “converted” to conditionalism via Fudge as I was researching for a theology trilogy I just finished writing called “A Beautiful Hell.”

            I noticed the comment from Anonymous about God’s presence being hell and thought I should respond because I have come to the same conclusion. The basis for this is drawn systematically from Scripture. In a nutshell,
            – God’s glory is great and was originally present on the earth.
            – Sin transformed humans into creatures who could no longer endure the glory of God, so God withdrew his full glory from the earth for now.
            – Jesus came for the purpose of taking our sin upon himself, allowing humans to be changed into creatures who could once again endure the glory of God.
            – Someday God will return in glory. For those who have been changed through the blood of Christ, his glory will be paradise. For those who refuse to be changed, his glory will be a consuming fire (hell).
            – God’s consuming fire will punish the unrepentant according to their sin, and then they will cease to exist. (Although a traditionalist could say God’s consuming fire will just keep consuming…but I think Scripture more clearly points to conditionalism.)

            I am planning on publishing the first book (The Myths of Hell) in the “A Beautiful Hell” series this summer. Would you like to read a pre-release copy? You can contact me at nathan@bighungryplanet.com.

          • Chris Date

            Hi Nathan, I’ll be contacting you via email shortly. In the meantime, thank you so much for following us! One minor (or not so minor, depending on whom you talk to) suggestion.
            You said, “God’s consuming fire will punish the unrepentant according to their sin, and then they will cease to exist.” I would be careful with language like this, because it suggests to traditionalists that you’re saying the punishment they’re due will be exhausted in the time leading up to their ultimate extinction, and they naturally go on to ask, (a) how, then, can their punishment be called “eternal,” and (b) if their punishment is exhausted in their suffering, why do they then die, rather than be restored to God?
            We at Rethinking Hell believe their punishment IS their extinction, which will last forever. But at the very least, you might consider instead saying something like, “God’s consuming fire will punish the unrepentant according to their sin, and then they will be punished with annihilation.” That way, at least you make it clear that their ultimate punishment will be their annihilation.

            Just a thought!

        • lambtestimony

          Speaking of sugar-coating the facts – I think traditionalists are far more guily of this than us conditionalists and a good example of this is Craig above. Craig seems to try to say his view is not really eternal torture as much as it is separation from God (a common claim coming from today’s Christian’s embarrased by their doctrine and what it actually amounts to). However, traditionalists can’t have it both ways – they can’t use verses describing “torment” or “unquenchable fire” like Revelation 20:10 or Mark 9:48 as proof of eternal existence in hell for humans and then turn around and say its not really torment but “separation from God” instead (I am not saying Craig is personally using these verses but I know they are used in general as “proof” of eternal existence in hell; without these verses the traditional view has even less Biblical basis than traditionalists think it has). The way that conditionalists approach these texts is not only exegetically more correct but fundamentally more honest as a whole as it relates to the doctrine of hell. We don’t need to “sugar-coat” our doctrine because it does not come across as so horribly unjust to the average person as the traditional view does.

  • nice job glenn, though some criticisms. 1. The separation view of hell would say that part of jesus’ atoning suffering and death included momentary separation from god’s presence (‘why have you forsaken me’). Wish you would have addressed this response. 2. You need a teleprompter, it is distracting to see you look just off camera at your notes. 3. Would appreciate higher quality vid, u look grainy on my ipad.

    • Peter Grice

      Hi! The idea that Jesus was separated from God on the cross (often framed as “God turned His face away because He cannot look upon sin”) is something we often assume, and repeat, but which is not necessarily backed up by Scripture. It is based, in part, on Habakkuk 1:13, which simply doesn’t mean that God cannot look at sin. If you have time, do a web search for commentary on this whole question. In uttering that phrase, Jesus quotes the first verse of Psalm 22, a common practice for invoking the whole Psalm, much as we might refer to a song by its opening lyrics. The Psalm is messianic, and was in full effect in that moment. Consider just some of its phrases: “All who see me mock me; they hurl insults, shaking their heads. “He trusts in the Lord,” they say, “let the Lord rescue him.” … “they pierce my hands and my feet. They divide my clothes among them and cast lots for my garment.”

      v24 is especially relevant to the question of whether God turned away. For such a clear prophecy you might expect it to say something like that if it were the case. But it says, “he has not hidden his face from him but has listened to his cry for help.”

      Perhaps a better theology regarding Jesus’ quote from this Psalm, then, is that he cried out in his humanness, his brokenness, knowing full well that what might seem to be the case from a merely human perspective, was not really the case at all. Had God actually “forsaken” Jesus? Let that question sink in a bit theologically. Well, according to the context, He hadn’t.

      Could this be another example of what Glenn was talking about in the video, where we inject our theology of Hell into our interpretation and recollection of Scripture, even though it might not be there upon closer inspection?

  • I think you meant 2 Thessalonians 1:9 in lieu of 1 Thessalonians 1:5.

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