Church Fathers who were Conditionalists

Dr. Glenn Peoples demonstrates that some early Church Fathers were conditionalists.

Church History
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  • Givemhell

    I recently had a conversation with a man who had written his doctoral thesis on the early church fathers. I asked him about the church fathers and hell and he told me what I already knew, that the early church fathers were conditionalists. I was delighted to meet who I thought was another conditionalist and I told him so. His reply was something like this “I’m not a conditionalist, I believe in eternal torment. I’m a Roman Catholic.”

    There are always going to be people who will ignore what you say and hold to their position against all evidence but I bet that there are a lot of people out there who are really going to benefit from these videos.

    Besides, I really enjoy watching them. Thank you!

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  • Timmo

    Fascinating post. I was wondering though, how we can reconcile the statements in your post with those on the following sites:

    The quotes from Irenaeus and Ignatius are or particular note. I’m curious, if they were conditionalists, why did they say that the wicked would go into “eternal fire” and not “eternal death”? I know that “eternal fire” is a Biblical expression, but do you know if there are any more quotes from these early Christians that shed any further light on how they viewed “eternal fire”?

    It is interesting that although Arnobius is clearly an annihilationist, he still believes that the wicked are “shall be consumed in long-protracted torment with raging fire” before being destroyed. Do you think that it is plausible that Irenaeus and Ignatius possibly had similar views?

    I’m a conditionalist myself, but I was wondering what you thought.

    • Glenn Peoples

      Eternal fire is, as you say, a biblical idiom. Traditionalists and conditionalists don’t agree about what it implies. But just at the explicit level, it says nothing about the lost enduring forever. I don’t think those Church Fathers who were clearly conditionalists say anything to explicitly unpack what they think that phrase means.

      And sure, it’s quite possible that Ignatius and Antioch believed in a protracted period of destruction, but the safest thing to say is that we just don’t know.

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