Great job Chris you seemed more Biblically centered than Dr. Phil. He often said that I feel or I believe this or that which I felt very much diluted the impact of his points. Your presentation was your best ever and you didn’t talk to fast. I thought your points on the Biblical meaning of the word death was your strongest point and you were very kind and likable. I felt you were more prepared and expert on the topic.
I thought your view about missing out on eternal life as an example of evangelical strength was your weakest point. Remember the definition of irrational thought, the fear of nothing.
You did a great job, I’m happy you are doing such a godly and scholarly job of defending the truth.
Thanks, Donavan. I disagree with you concerning the fear of nothing, but I appreciate your kind words.
Would it be possible to post the audio file to this as well?
Yes, but I’m giving folks time to watch first.
Extremely eye-opening debate. As a pastor (who has embraced conditionalism for the past 2 years), I find that each time I visit any traditional website, their exegesis always exposes faulty hermeneutics. They refuse to allow a word to define itself! Rather, the position they expound relies on traditional presuppositions that ultimately forces upon a text, horrendous eisegesis: square peg, round hole. Through debates such as these, I believe more of the brethren will examine the scriptures, rethinking hell, and glorifying God all the while. Keep pressing on my brothers.
Very solid debate, Chris.
You used many of the same arguments I would also have used in a dialogue or debate with an advocate of the conventional view of final punishment.
Now for some personal observations and (hopefully) some constructive criticism:
1. I would have pressed Romans 2:7 much harder. Paul explicitly says that immortality (aphtharsia) must be sought after. Furthermore, the apostle indicates that only those seeking glory, honor and immortality by persevering in doing good will inherit age-lasting/permanent life (zoe aionios, “eternal life”). I have yet to encounter a serious response by advocates of unending torment addressing this passage.
2. Regarding Matthew 25 vv.41 (cf. 18:8) and 46 purportedly being verses where Jesus is said to teach the unending conscious torment of those on the left at the judgement of the nations, I do not believe that it can be stressed enough that the future and final punishment of the unrighteous is everywhere portrayed in terms of destruction (i.e., annihilation) . throughout Matthew’s gospel. In other words, when we are confronted with a potentially ambiguous passage (as I believe we are in Matthew 25:41,46), we must observe how the author treats the same subject elsewhere within his or her writing(s) (if and where possible).
Preceding Jesus the Messiah’s baptism and subsequent ministry, we read John the Baptist’s warning regarding the separation of the righteous and the unrighteous in terms of wheat that will be preserved and chaff that will be burned up (3:12). Jesus himself is also recorded in Matthew’s gospel as employing similar agricultural metaphors. Those whose “fruit” proves ultimately to be rotten are forewarned by Jesus that they, like unfruitful trees, will be cut down and thrown into the fire (7:19; cf. 3:10b). Not unlike John the Baptist, Jesus tells his disciples of a coming time when the sons of the kingdom will be separated from the sons of the evil one. Like wheat being separated from tares, the unrighteous will be burned up at the end of the age (13:30,40).
In short, we have every reason to be wary of any understanding of Matthew 25:41,46 that contradicts how the end of the unrighteous is conceived throughout the rest of the gospel.
3. Also, it cannot be emphasized enough that the consistent testimony of the scriptural authors, from the Hebrew Scriptures to the Greek New Testament, is that the end result of sin is death. Death must be understood in terms of nonlife or the reversal of life, not unending existence in a hopeless, fractured relationship with God or a place where the lost will endure some form of unending.torment (mental and/or physical). As students of the Word, we have every reason to question where and how this alleged “shift” takes place from the OT to the New, where the final penalty of sin is conceived of in terms of unending existence/life in torment. Advocates of the conventional view of “hell” must essentially gloss over the OT as irrelevant as far as it pertains to what the lost will endure on the day of judgement.
4. Observe how reliant Phil Fernandes was upon “the Great Tradition” (i.e., historical theology) throughout the debate. He pleads with the audience numerous times to not change their view because unending torment is considered “the” historic understanding of the church. Yet even if this were true (which, in actuality, it is not), Fernandes’ reasoning still fails as a Protestant. Methodologically, Fernandes appears to view the doctrine of final punishment as one that must be arrived via historical consensus. Yet I would question whether he does so with the majority of the doctrines he subscribes to. Is Fernandes a consistent “paleo-orthodox” Christian or merely selectively paleo-orthodox? The question must be posed: Is Fernandes advocating a view where Scripture and the Great Tradition are held in tandem as authoritative sources for truth? In other words, as far as theological methodology is concerned, does Fernandes understand tradition (in at least some instances) to play a co-equal role to Scripture? The reason I pose these questions is because I find that evangelicals often believe they are more Protestant in theory than they are in actuality (in practice). (I am not saying this is necessarily the case as far as Fernandes is concerned, but I believe these questions should be raised nevertheless.).