Episode 52: The Fire That Reconciles, with Shawn Bawulski

Dr. Shawn Bawulski, Assistant Professor of Theology at LCC International University, joins Rethinking Hell contributor Chris Date to discuss a variation of traditionalism known as “reconciliationism,” and some of the challenges to conditionalism which he offers in his 2010 Philosophia Christi article, “Annihilationism, Traditionalism, and the Problem of Hell.”

Links

Shawn’s faculty page at LCC International University
http://www.lcc.lt/theology-faculty
Shawn’s personal website
http://www.shawnbawulski.com/
Shawn’s recent book, Christian Theology: The Classics (Amazon)
http://www.amazon.com/Christian-Theology-Classics-Stephen-Holmes/dp/0415501873/

Rethinking Hell Book and Conference Links

Rethinking Hell Book Announcement
http://rethinkinghell.com/2013/12/rethinking-hell-book-announcement
Rethinking Hell Conference Announcement
http://rethinkinghell.com/2013/12/rethinking-hell-2014-conference-announcement
Conference Website, with Details, Call for Papers, and Registration
http://www.rethinkinghellconference.com
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  • Megan

    I have a question. In this view of reconciliationism, what happens to the resurrected body in hell? He addresses very clearly what he believes happens in the mind and/or soul of the reprobate. It seems that many modern traditionalists reject the literal intepretation of fire and outer darkness and intepret them as metaphors for what the soul experiences apart from God-in this case guilt and shame. But what about the body? Thank you.

    • Chris Date

      Oh good question. I’ll ask Shawn to chime in.

  • Shawn Bawulski

    Hi Megan, thanks for the question. I can’t presume to speak for everyone who defends reconciliationism, but I’ll give you an answer I find attractive. It goes something like this: final punishment is a resurrected reality, and as such, the reprobate experience a resurrection to a non-glorified body, but yet one that is prepared for eternity. I’m inclined to say that suffering is experienced in the wholeness of human existence (both ‘mind/soul’ and body, united together), but that the focus of punishment is spiritual/psychological (although this would not exclude physical manifestations of that spiritual suffering). Thanks for your interest! -Shawn

  • Peter Grice

    I greatly appreciated Shawn’s ability to articulate his view. Listening to this podcast was time very well spent!

  • Ric Bell

    As a Universalist I clearly don’t find Scriptural merit to such a philosophical redefinition of “reconciliation”, but I do agree on Shawn’s concluding remarks that “it’s just not good for anyone to focus on this (hell) without also drinking deeply from the full riches of the Gospel message…its rightly been said that all theology ultimately goes back to theology proper, the doctrine of God…study God’s attributes…and then come back to eternal punishment always trying to put it into the bigger theological picture…”

    After listening to 57 podcasts “hell bent on destruction” I am burnt out on the same few proof text referenced (including the repeated misquoting of Matthew 10:28) to the point of redundancy without addressing the corresponding RESTORATIVE verses that would clearly vindicate Yahweh as the Faithful Maker of ALL and falsify both the Traditionalist and Conditionalist positions.

    I am appreciative that a few podcast included a broad overview of Universalism, but lacked
    a direct rebuttal to the Conditionalist proof text. I would like to see a broader presentation of other Scriptural themes such as Jubilee when the non redeemed debts are cancelled, first fruits, shadow and types of the Temple sacrificial ordinances, and a proper presentation of the RESTORATION of Sodom as witnessed in Ezekiel 16 (A glaring and obvious omission to the Conditionalist “hermeneutics of destruction”).

    “Moab will be destroyed from being a people…“Yet I will restore the fortunes of Moab
    In the latter days,” declares the Lord. Thus far the judgment on Moab. Jeremiah 48: 42,48

    Interesting!!! …and many such RESTORATIVE verses that must be explained in terms of the Conditionalist tunnel focus on “destruction”.

    • Peter Grice

      Once again (see other topic), it’s not a misquote of Matthew 10:28 if it’s not intended to be a quote, but rather an inference that is granted by most of our interlocutors.

      And once again, our primary audience is traditionalists. We don’t think our podcast is necessarily the place to have to deal with the arguments/texts that universalists think are important. Saying that restorative texts are “corresponding” does not make it so. Universalists consistently assume that traditionalists and conditionalists gloss over such things in our theology, but they are part of our doctrine of salvation. It’s not surprising then that you don’t find us camping on them whenever we intend to focus down on our doctrine of damnation, which this podcast typically does. Our engagement with your arguments and set of texts doesn’t have to occur in our podcast—I don’t think our format is terribly conducive to that anyway.

      • Peter Grice

        To say that our disinterest in Ezekiel 16 is “a glaring and obvious omission” seems condescending. Surely you can’t be ignorant of the fact that we regard the relevant NT references to the cities as metonymical for their inhabitants? In 2 Peter 2:6 and Jude 7, we think that the salient point is that S&G’s inhabitants at the time underwent a judgment by eternal fire. We note from context that a related point is that righteous Lot escaped. A parallel example is given in the preservation/rescue of a righteous Noah and family, through the judgment of the antediluvian “world of the ungodly.” The pattern is that righteous individuals are rescued out of the corporate/wholesale judgment of unrighteous people. And what happened at S&G is stated to be “an example of what is going to happen to the ungodly” on “the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly.”

        By our lights, we are not required to act as if Ezekiel 16 must then be included. Lot and Noah aren’t relevant to Ezekiel 16 here, just as the future habitation of S&G isn’t relevant to the judgment against the people of Lot’s day. You have your own “pattern” of restored fortunes that you think is relevant here, but we think it bogus to force-fit this with the pattern already given in Jude and 2 Peter 2-3. Sound methodology is important, and our methodology settles for careful exegesis and biblical theology before we move on to constructive systematics and consider allowing its insights to feed back. We certainly don’t start with abstract patterns, as if the biblical text is a multifaceted puzzle to be figured out, rather than best understood primarily in the mode of direct communication. Not agreeing with universalist methodology does not make our view ill-informed or ill-considered…

        • Ric Bell

          Surely, I am obviously “ignorant” of the “metonymical” useage you referenced above as you have not explained it on any of your podcast! I have listened to 65 of the 83 podcast, and the descriptions of the remaining 18 does not appear to address Ezekiel 16.

          Is there an internal or external link to a teaching or article that you could point me too that would throughly explain such “metonymical” useage? I would greatly appreciate it as I would like to enlighten my “ignorance” and put the issue of the “restoration of Sodom” to rest!

          I addamately disagree that “By our lights, we are not required to act as if Ezekiel 16 must then be included”. As I stated in a previous comment the act of an obvious omission creates an atmosphere of “suspicion and mistrust”. The dismissive manner in which you sidestepped the issue by appealing to a “metonymical” useage without explanation only exasperates that suspicion. I would suggest dedicating at least one podcast to explain such metonymical useage. Of course, that’s only my suggestion. I understand that you are not “required” to do so. After all, “Rethinking Hell” owns its own platform and can present or suppress the Scriptures at will. If you insist, go ahead and foster that climate of suspicion and mistrust among your listening audience. Just my experience and observation after listening to 65 of 83 podcasts, that’s all.

          You set up a circular reasoning argument by appealing to the pattern of Jude and 2 Peter 2-3 based on your useage of aionios and reason that Sodom cannot possibly be restored since they are “undergoing the punishment of eternal fire” and opt for an “metonymical” useage regarding the RESTORATION of Sodom as witnessed in Ezekiel 16. This conflict could easily be resolved by understanding aionios as pertaining to an age which clearly presents “punishment” as temporal which reconciles to the RESTORATION of Sodom in Ezekiel 16! Several guest scholars on Rethinking Hell’s podcasts presented aionios as “pertaining to an age” so it’s not like it lacks credibility.

          “Rethinking Hell’s” tunnel focus on “destruction” without comprehending the PATTERN of RESTORATION following “destruction” misses the mark and slanders the CHARACTER of Yahweh. (I stated that as “charitably” as possible after several Conditionalist used that same language in addressing the Traditionalists view on several podcast)

          • Peter Grice

            Nobody’s excising Ezekiel 16 from the canon of Scripture—that is an absurd way of responding to what I said, which you are misrepresenting. What is bewildering is your insistence that we need to discuss Ezekiel 16 in our podcasts, as if what we discuss in our podcasts is the sumtotal of what we consider when “crafting your doctrines,” or the sumtotal of the engagements we have (we even dedicated our last conference to engaging with universalists).

            As I explained, conditionalists and traditionalists locate restorative texts (such as Ezekiel 16) in our doctrine of salvation, and the RH podcast primarily focuses on our doctrine of damnation. We don’t share universalist methodology, and traditionalists are our primary listening target audience in terms of persuasion [exactly as is the case when universalists aim to engage others]. So your demand that we afford Ezekiel 16 the same relevance as universalists seems unreasonable. It would be equally unreasonable of me to demand that a universalist podcast avoid treating Ezekiel 16 because I don’t grant that it bears relevance to final punishment.

            // You set up a circular reasoning argument by appealing to the pattern of Jude and 2 Peter 2-3 based on your useage of aionios and reason that Sodom cannot possibly be restored since they are “undergoing the punishment of eternal fire” and opt for an “metonymical” useage denying the RESTORATION of Sodom as witnessed in Ezekiel 16. //

            Wow. I made no such argument. I said nothing of aionios and made no argument whatsoever about “eternal.” I made no claim that “Sodom cannot possibly be restored,” a statement I obviously affirm on the basis of Ezekiel 16. I did no such thing as “denying the RESTORATION of Sodom as witnessed in Ezekiel 16.” All this is strange to my ears.

            Finally, no we don’t “opt” for the metonymical usage of Sodom and Gomorrah to refer to the inhabitants thereof, as if this is an ambiguous matter that could go either way. I pointed to reasons from the passages (2 Peter 2-3 and Jude) to consider the intention to refer to what happened to the inhabitants of those cities as the example, not, as you would have it, what happened to the city itself as a habitation later in history. If the controlling questions is “what will happen to the godly?” yet you are of the conviction that these passages are inviting us to consider not the people who were punished by fire, but rather a restorative pattern for Sodom as a geographical site, then it’s up to you to argue it in your own forums.

            Personally, I think that’s a terrible hermeneutic. As a conditionalist, I simply don’t have to frame the issue in the same way you do as a universalist.

      • Ric Bell

        Maybe I am confused! Chris stated several times throughout Rethinking Hell’s podcast that Universalist are included/welcome in the ongoing dialogue of “Rethinking Hell”. Has there been a change to the scope of the podcasts?

        • William Tanksley Jr

          All are welcome; but we ask specifically for charitable dialogue. And to put things bluntly, your accusations against us seem more based on frustration than charity.

          For example, if you’d like to discuss how we interpret Ezekiel’s restoration of Sodom, please ask. But we won’t discuss why we cut it out of the canon or suppressed scripture; we didn’t. I have studied it extensively, and I find that it fits perfectly within any conditionalist view.

          Would you like to reboot this dialogue? I see from the beginning that you have put a LOT of effort into trying to understand us, and it seems that you feel the effort has been completely wasted.

          I respect your effort and do not want to be the cause of you having wasted effort. I’d therefore be delighted to participate in a rebooted conversation.

          Would you like to start by discussing how I interpret Ezekiel 16, and why I don’t accept that it has anything to do with the final punishment of the wicked even though I think it’s true?

          • Ric Bell

            I would appreciate your perspective very much and/or links to articles that may help me understand the Conditionalist doctrines regarding the restorative verses of Scripture including Ezekiel 16, Ezekiel 37, and Isaiah 19.

            I am not trained at formal debate, and that was not my intention. I would like to keep our dialogue as more of a question and answer format as my objective is to learn. I have learned much from others even though I disagreed with their overall theological framework. In this regard I try to maintain a humble posture least pride blinds me from progressing in understanding. That was my motativation to listen to all 83 podcast episodes…only 18 to go!

            Thank you for extending your assistance. Yes, I think I can “reboot” and approach the subject matter with a fresh mind. Speaking of which, I am about to turn in for the evening and will check in tomorrow afternoon or evening.

            Shalom, William – be blessed!

          • Ric Bell

            In the meantime, I’ve read your discussion on Jude 7/Matthew 11 and it is definitely food for thought. I’ve never considered Jude 7 as prophesy before and will keep it in meditation; however, I am still stumped until I understand Ezekiel 16.

            Written responses are time consuming and I don’t want to impose upon your time, but I would love to hear your take on Ezekiel 16 and/or links to articles and commentaries that may be beneficial. Thus far, there seems to be a dearth of information via Google search.

            I appreciate your discernment in looking past my display of “frustration” and extending an olive branch to “reboot”. I was just at my end in being stonewalled, ignored, and sidestepped the last 13 years when seeking understanding by those who alleged that I was in error without providing Scriptural instruction to reprove my error.

            As I was ostracized by church fellowship on the way out, I was warned that I was lapsing into “cultism”. Again, with no attempt to point out my error through Scripture.

            There are some traditional Universalist proof text that I am reconsidering; not because I feel that it will change my view of the “eventual salvation for all”, but to make sure that I am not taking them out of context. I am leaning toward a Preterist/Partial-Preterist view of eschatology, but have much to learn before I have a conviction of doctrine.

            I do have a strong conviction that whoever the “saved” prove to be, are saved through sanctification for the benefit of the unsaved – to draw them to the light of salvation, and thus, fulfilling Yahweh’s purpose that OT Israel failed to accomplish due to their idolatry.

            Thanks again for your assistance. After 13 years of asking, seeking, and knocking I would like closure to Ezekiel 16, and the other restorative verses of Scripture as applied to the very nations who were “destroyed” according to Conditionalist doctrine.

            And yes, after 13 years of being stonewalled, ignored, and sidestepped on these issues I have developed a deep sense of “suspicion and mistrust” of Orthodox Christianity. Therefore, my impression that the Christian Church “has something to hide” does not seem unreasonable to me. What other conclusion should I draw under these circumstances?

            Shalom, William – be blessed!

          • Ric Bell

            In the meantime, I’ve read your discussion on Jude 7/Matthew 11 and it is definitely food for thought. I’ve never considered Jude 7 as prophesy before and will keep it in meditation; however, I am still stumped until I understand Ezekiel 16.

            Written responses are time consuming and I don’t want to impose upon your time, but I would love to hear your take on Ezekiel 16 and/or links to articles and commentaries that may be beneficial. Thus far, there seems to be a dearth of information via Google search.

            I appreciate your discernment in looking past my display of “frustration” and extending an olive branch to “reboot”. I was just at my end in being stonewalled, ignored, and sidestepped the last 13 years when seeking understanding by those who alleged that I was in error without providing Scriptural instruction to reprove my error.

            As I was ostracized by church fellowship on the way out, I was warned that I was lapsing into “cultism”. Again, with no attempt to point out my error through Scripture.

            There are some traditional Universalist proof text that I am reconsidering; not because I feel that it will change my view of the “eventual salvation of all”, but to make sure that I am not taking them out of context. I am leaning toward a Preterist/Partial-Preterist view of eschatology, but have much to learn before I have a conviction of doctrine.

            I do have a strong conviction that whoever the “saved” prove to be, are saved through sanctification for the benefit of the unsaved – to draw them to the light of salvation, and thus, fulfilling Yahweh’s purpose that OT Israel failed to accomplish due to their idolatry.

            Thanks again for your assistance. After 13 years of asking, seeking, and knocking I would like closure to Ezekiel 16, and the other restorative verses of Scripture as applied to the very nations who were “destroyed” according to Conditionalist doctrine.

            And yes, after 13 years of being stonewalled, ignored, and sidestepped on these issues I have developed a deep sense of “suspicion and mistrust” of Orthodox Christianity. Therefore, my impression that the Christian Church “has something to hide” does not seem unreasonable to me. What other conclusion should I draw under these circumstances?

            Shalom, William – be blessed!

            (I incorrectly replied to myself when attempting to reply to you. One day, maybe I’ll get the hang on how these discussions are “nested”…I’m new to Disqus)

          • William Tanksley Jr

            Thank you very much — and I apologize for the slowness. I had a product to deliver to customers in “real life” (I hope you know how that is!) and had to put my digital life on hold (at least the stuff that requires thinking!).
            I hear you in regards to the church ostracization. I suspect that they argued with you a while but didn’t really come up with any answers. I really hope we can show a better way to disagree, and the wisdom to know when to agree to disagree, versus always separating.
            I’m going to start a new reply as a new thread. This is too deeply nested for my tastes.

          • Ric Bell

            No problem. I took a few days away from online activities as well to catch-up on other obligations and to clear my mind. I suspended listening to the remaining 18 podcast until I could “reboot”. In retrospect, I may have been too ambitious in attempting to complete the podcast series listening to 3 to 5 podcast per day which resulted in burnout and frustration.

            Actually, my local fellowship made no attempt to reprove my “error” through Scripture. I began encountering many “Universalist sounding” verses of Scripture during my private prayer and devotion, and simply presented 1 Timothy 4: 9-11 in “Bible Study” so that we might actually study it. I read it word for word from the NASB drawing no conclusion at the time. The Associate Pastor ordained by the AOG became nervous, her lips quivered, became fidgety and dropped her Bible. Then, she accused me of “twisting Scripture” in front of the Bible Study group simply by reading 1 Timothy 4: 9-11! I was absolutely flabbergasted! Afterwards, even those I shared “sweet fellowship” with closed their “unfeeling hearts” towards me and it was abundantly clear that I was no longer welcome, so I left. I did send an email to the AOG headquarters only to be sidestepped with a restatement of the official AOG doctrine. I moved on only to encounter the same diversionary tactics the last 13 years. I was hungry and they feed me not, I was thirsty and received no drink…

            And yes, I’ve learned from my folly of jumping into a debate forum with scholars schooled on the formal rules of debate! Lol! I think my objectives to learn the Conditionalist doctrines would be better served through more of a question and answer format. I may present some “Universalist sounding” verses just to get your take on them, if you don’t mind; but, in the spirit of learning Conditionalist doctrine and not challenging them. I’ll leave the debating and the “heat” generated thereof to those skilled and practiced in the rules of formal argumentation. LESSON LEARNED! Lol!

            I respect your time and understand that you have real life obligations that may limit your “response time”, but I am just grateful that you graciously opened the door to answer my questions that remained unresolved for so many years. My online participation is sporadic depending on offline obligations, so my response time may be slow as well. In other words, responce time is a non issue with me and I don’t want you to feel obligated to churn out material for my sake. If it is weeks or even months between postings that is fine with me. A little hear, a little there goes a long way to increase knowledge.

            I want to conclude by thanking you again for overlooking my “humanity” and graciously offering to “reboot” the conversation which defused my frustration. You could have easily been combative, but extended charity instead. That spoke to my heart and serves as an example of our higher calling as Christians.

          • William Tanksley Jr

            I’m SO disappointed to hear that the church is so unprepared for honest questions of its doctrines that it can’t even handle reading a pair of Bible verses. That’s disgusting and completely expected (sigh). I’m very sorry to hear about your painful experience in that matter.

            I’ve just posted at the top level about Ezekiel 16, together with some discussion of interpretive methods. I hope you’ll find some time to critique my points!

  • William Tanksley Jr

    In a deeply nested thread above, we began a discussion of Jude 7 and Ezekiel 16, especially with regard to universalism. I’d like to pull some threads out of that for a focused discussion.

    My primary claim will be that Sodom itself isn’t naturally or obviously a prophecy of final punishment. This means that there is simply no Biblical warrant to suppose that a prophecy (or historical event) about Sodom is therefore a description of the fate of the impenitent. However, just as many historical judgments were described by referring to Sodom as a comparison, so also the final judgment is sometimes described. But in such cases, the comparison must be taken as the comparer produces it, not by pulling in a complete history of Sodom and making it the subtext being compared.

    Jude is one case in point. There the comparison intended is to Sodom’s experience in undergoing the punishment of eternal fire — not any other event in their timeline. So to find out what this passage is talking about, we look through the Bible to see how they were punished (we can also examine some of the other points of comparison given in the passage, such as their sin).

    Matthew 10 (and Luke 10) give a different comparison; there Sodom is not an example in their judgment, but rather in their performance of evil without a righteous example. This is calibrated to the alleged tolerability of their judgment in the Day when both Sodom and Capernaum (et al.) are brought for judgment (note that this must be the Resurrection, since both Sodom and contemporary Jewish cities are experiencing something on a Day).

    Lamentations 4:6 gives another unusual example: there the comparison point is that Sodom’s experience of punishment was brief, while the Jerusalemites complain that their punishment is long. (Like Job, they wish they were dead.)

    Now, when we turn to Sodom’s mention in Ezekiel 16, we see that their sin was bad, and they were punished by removal. Where does the prophesied restoration fit in? Not as part of their punishment, but rather in order to make Jerusalem feel shame.

    Now, the normal universalist argument from Ezekiel 16 is that God must be restoring the people He burned up when punishing Sodom. The trouble with this claim is that it’s nowhere clearly predicted, and isn’t needed in order to make the prophecy come true.

    Here are 4 possible ways to fulfill the Ezekiel 16 prophecy:

    1. Resurrection of the wicked. All of the people who were alive in Sodom when it was burnt would be brought to life.

    2. Resurrection of the righteous. All of the righteous who had lived in Sodom would be brought to life.

    3. Remnant of repentance. The descendants of Sodom would eventually resettle it.

    4. Reputational resettlement. Unrelated people would resettle it because its fame was so positive. This historically often happens.

    Ezekiel never predicts a personal resurrection, although one of his visions (“dry bones”) refers to one as a metaphor for bringing back a remnant. So I would contend that #1 and #2 need some clear additional evidence, and the Bible provides nothing whatsoever.

    Although Ezekiel’s most common theme is the restoration of a remnant, the Bible is _very_ positively clear that there is no remnant for Sodom. We can probably agree, therefore, that #3 will not happen.

    This leaves #4 as my personal pick — and this speculation is immediately confirmed by the context, since the point of the resettlement is to force Judah to confront their shame. The point could be stated that in order to make restoring Jerusalem seem good, God has to make restoring Sodom seem good.

    This took me too long to find time to write out — I hope you can see what I’m offering for discussion. My apologies for vagueness, and please feel free to ask questions.

    • Ric Bell

      I am a conceptual thinker and relate to the general framework you presented, and don’t consider it vague whatsoever. In fact, your approach is much more effective than jumping in the midst of “proof-text”, and provides me a blueprint to consider the Scriptural references to Sodom in light of the general framework you set forth. I will keep it in meditation as I reflect upon and study the Scriptures.

      As I stated before, I don’t want to impose upon your time any more than necessary and will attempt to keep my questions as concise as possible. The fact is, it would probably take a commentary series to satisfy my search for understanding. I have read several of the “freebies” offered in e-sword, but they were inadequate and presented different views. I did not want to assume that they reflected the Conditionalist perspective. I hope to upgrade to a new laptop soon and install the Accordance Bible Study program and begin collecting modules. Theological commentaries are endless and expensive, and I planned to focus on the original language modules. If you know of a specific commentary series that may come close to representing the Conditionalist doctrines I would welcome your advice as a starter to my library.

      There seems to be a huge disconnect between known scholarship and what is disseminated by the local denominational churches – “every wind of doctrine”. Since I received no answers from them, I have become more of a “meditative” Christian. I wish I could load up my Accordance library on a MacBook Pro and retreat to a “Qumran” type cave or something. Lol!

      Anywho, thanks for your responce. I will wait and ask questions until I reflect on the framework you presented and develop concise questions in return.

      • William Tanksley Jr

        If you can run Windows programs, http://theword.net is generally better than eSword, even including more types of modules. I have a program that will reverse-index any document, making it into a “commentary” (thereby allowing you to click on any verse in the Bible and get hyperlinks showing you every mention of that verse in the commentary — this is really nice for Schaff’s Apostolic Fathers).

        I can’t speak to how good Accordance is; I use Logos, which is difficult but has a nice selection of available literature. I’m not sure it’s my first choice for original language studies, although it’s the only one I use; it’s really complex. Another option to consider in your search is BibleWorks, which is widely reputed for original language studies.

        The best free readable book on conditionalism is “The Duration and Nature of Future Punishment”, which being out of copyright is downloadable (and Ichthus Publications has a very nice reprint for a decent price, including Kindle; although probably you’ll want to just download a copy for free). Froom’s monster tomes “The Condiitionalist Faith of our Fathers” (volume 1 and 2) are downloadable as PDF or DJVU, but although it’s a considerable book, it’s also considerably overreaching (and HUGE). Perhaps to be considered a reference rather than light reading.

        Fudge’s “The Fire that Consumes” is actually reasonably priced in Kindle format, and sets the standard for exegetical study.

        Out of Rethinking Hell’s publications, I find “A Consuming Passion” probably the best advanced introduction (including a little bit of examinations of theological implications, even though that’s not its main purpose), while our first volume is more introductory, and collects writings that were not originally written to go together, therefore which tend to repeat one another’s arguments. So I consider “A Consuming Passion” highly recommended, while the first book is mainly either an introduction to the topic, or for scholars looking to cite the historically important documents accurately.

        • Ric Bell

          Thanks for the information. Window’s XP kept crashing on my Dell laptop so I removed it several years ago and installed Ubuntu which is now not supported. I bought an IPad 2 for online access until I could fit a MacBook Pro in my budget. Now, it is about worn out. Lol!
          I do have Olive Tree, Accordance, and E-Sword installed with basic resources; however, want to wait to invest in premium resources until I can get organized on a laptop. This IPad is simply too frustrating to perform serious work on. I do reference BibleHub.com on occasion as well, but I really need to organize my notes into a central Bible software program.

          In the meantime I may as well start with “The Fire that Consumes”, since it is regarded as the standard by Conditionalist. Actually, I almost downloaded the Kindle version several days ago, but that was when I was in a negative state of mind and backed out. Lol!

          Thanks again for the recommendations. I’ll check them out.

    • Ric Bell

      I’ve had a few days to reflect on the framework you presented. The good news is that it is causing me to reevaluate the Scriptures in light of my lack of concrete understanding of “timeline issues”; however, I’m prepared to rule out all options as presented as I feel that a 5th option must be considered that I will present later.

      #1 and #2: If you mean a “resurrection” before the general resurrection as an option to repopulate Sodom to restore them as an earthly nation before the “final” judgment, then yes, I agree. Clearly, there are no verses of Scripture that even hint that these options would be a possibility.

      #3: I read a commentary that attempted to explain the “restoration of Sodom” through Lot’s lineage, but, I agree, that this option does not fit the context; especially since the judgements and restorations of both Moab and Ammon are addressed in Scripture as separate nations, and not as a remnant of Sodom.

      #4: Just as options #1 and #2 lacks Scriptural support, there are absolutely no prophesies or verses of Scripture to support this option as well. By your own admission this option is speculation. I must reject such speculation as it exceeds what is written in the canon of Scripture.

      Additionally, your conclusion that a totally different population would force Judah to confront their shame does not make sense to me. I think that restoring those removed would be the stronger explanation; especially in light of Judah’s self-righteous attitude toward all surrounding nations including Sodom.

      Yahweh’s covenant people had the most revelation about The LIVING God; yet, rejected Him to embrace the idols of the surrounding nations, and acted more wickedly. Conversely, the surrounding nations had the least revelation of The LIVING God; yet, seemed more righteous than Yahweh’s covenant people. There are countless verses of Scripture that address the issue of judging without partiality and warn about false scales of justice. At this point, there are simply too many diverging “senerios” regarding the timing of the “final” judgment to discuss the detail required. For example, whether the judgment passages are viewed from a Preterist vs Futurist perspective.

      At this juncture I am not prepared to address Jude until I evaluate covenant eschatology as option #5. Oddly enough, Don K. Prestion is a major advocate of covenant eschatology, but supports an annihilationist view of the “fate of the wicked”. I just hope that he addresses the “restoration of the nations” including Sodom in his teachings!

      I do agree that only a remnant will be saved at the resurrection; however, I believe this remnant to have been sanctified to fulfill Israel’s purpose to draw the surrounding nations to the “light of salvation” which they failed to accomplish due to idolatry – the “lake of fire” serving as simply baptism which will sanctify the wicked/unbelievers just as the symbols of water and fire signified baptism for the elect.

      At this point, I need to retreat to my “Qumran cave” and continue my LEARNING to understand the timing of eschatology, but that won’t change the attributes of the Maker of Mankind as He changes not, and according to Scripture He is FAITHFUL!

      Thanks again for taking the time to present your framework for my consideration. It proved much more effective than a lengthy “proof texting” of Scripture. You were very clear and concise in your presentation. Your approach is exactly what I was hoping would be addressed in the podcast series. I would love to see you as a guest on one of “Rethinking Hell’s” podcast. (Not to put you on the spot…hint, hint!).

      • William Tanksley Jr

        I’m sorry for the delay — too many things going on right now. I’m concerned that I miscommunicated before.

        The big miscommunication is that my 4 options are intended to cover all of the possible ways of fulfilling Ezekiel 16 in a literal sense. Any metaphoric use will be understood based on the literal sense, so that we’d start by understanding the literal and then move to understanding how that sense mirrors something else.

        With that in mind, I need to point out that option #5, “covenant eschatology”, requires very careful handling. The main thing you need to understand about it is that its central organizing principal is that the Bible is only speaking about Israel, so all creation accounts and all eschatology is about Israel as it existed before 70AD. Any talk about _anything_ else is almost always non-literal — for example, both creation and the fiery judgment of the world are taken as metaphors for the beginning and end of the Jewish people. So you cannot actually turn to this as a fifth option until all four of the other meanings are clear. (One warning: this site’s statement of faith rules out hyperpreterism as heresy, and Don Preston is a hyperpreterist. I don’t mind discussing it impartially, but we won’t accept people promoting it.)

        Now, about #1 and #2 — no, I meant the actual day of resurrection, not an additional resurrection. (I’m not sure why you assumed an additional day was meant — I didn’t SAY that.) In particular, all universalists who cite Ezek 16 as support believe one of these two interpretations are correct — either that Sodom will be raised as _righteous_ along with the saved (NPUR), or that they’ll be raised as _unrighteous_ and be among those purified by the fire (PUR).

        #3 is intended to be discussed, but I agree that it’s very un-useful Biblically. Given that both S&G and Lot’s lineage have been lost, the option of restoring S&G from Lot’s lineage seems just as hopeless as restoring S&G by itself. It really reduces to one of the other 3 choices. Certainly there were no actual descendants of the people killed — Isa 1:9 rules that out.

        #4 I mentioned is my belief, so I’m surprised you ruled it out as impossible without asking any questions or interacting with my argument at all. I was offended at first, but of course it’s probably due to miscommunication.

        In fact, contrary to your claim the Bible DOES mention rebuilding a city merely for its reputation — the most famous city is Tyre, which God cursed so that nobody would ever rebuild it in spite of its reputation. But even if God never specifically mentioned it, the fact that it’s a possible way of fulfilling this prophecy, consistent with this context, and not inconsistent with any of God’s other rules means that it shouldn’t simply be discarded.

        //Additionally, your conclusion that a totally different population would force Judah to confront their shame does not make sense to me.//

        Please consider it more closely. I didn’t _merely_ say “a totally different population”; I said a rehabilitated reputation. In fact, the population would (in this model) be attracted to live there by the reputation. It would be much like a Northern-Kingdom Israelite moving to Jerusalem to be near the temple and with the more godly Israelites.

        The Jerusalemites consider their way of life better; people should want to leave Sodom and move to Jerusalem. My model says that eventually people will see things the way God does, and will decide that Jerusalem was so much more evil than Sodom that they’d rather rebuild Sodom and adopt its old name.

        //I think that restoring those removed would be the stronger explanation; especially in light of Judah’s self-righteous attitude toward all surrounding nations including Sodom.//

        _How_ exactly do you think this would be shameful? In the universalist model (which I called option #1 or #2), God is resurrecting people who originally lived there and resettling them where they used to live. How does that reflect poorly on Jerusalem at all?

        • Ric Bell

          Thanks for the clarification. I thought that your framework stood separate from resurrection to judgment, but I can see that I inferred too much from a previous statement.

          Yes, I affirm #1 – that the wicked of Sodom who were destroyed will be resurrected to judgment, and that the “lake of fire” signifies baptism just as water & fire signified baptism for the elect who were once wicked themselves before being converted and made righteous.

          #2 – I reject any notion that the wicked will be simply resurrected “as righteous” thereby skipping the process of sanctification.

          #3 – I agree that this option does not fit the context, but, at some point, I would like to understand how you treat other restorative verses like Jeremiah 48: 42-47 that state that Moab will be restored.

          #4 – Thanks for the clarification. I now understand the concept of “rehabilitated reputation”, but, I still don’t see it in the text. If you could cite applicable verses to support this position I would like to evaluate this option further.

          I am not comfortable inferring from Scripture. If option #4 relies solely on inference I would think that option #1 has much stronger Scriptural support. If so, this is a point where we will have to respectfully “agree to disagree”.

          #5 – I have learned from many competing perspectives of Scripture. Covenant Eschatology
          is just another perspective I seek to evaluate. Chris Date stated that he is a “Partial Preterist”, and I simply seek to understand the proper balance and nature of “fulfillment”. At present, I am far from committing to a firm doctrine….simply asking, seeking, and knocking.

          With that stated I am not prepared to discuss Jude 7 until I evaluate the implications of Covenant Eschatology on the “judgment passages” and read “The Fire that Consumes” which may take a while.

          …”How does that reflect poorly on Jerusalem at all?”
          When Jerusalem sees those whom they lorded over with their “holier than thou” self-righteous attitude restored it will definitely make her feel her shame when Yahweh exposes her own sin and forgives her, especially since Jerusalem’s sins exceeded those of Sodom.
          However, I do see some merit in your position that could provoke a similar responce. I just think my position fits the context better, especially since the end result is that Sodom will be given to Jerusalem as a daughter, and therefore, will live in close association with Jerusalem.

          Thanks again for taking the time to clarify your framework and expound upon the concept of “rehabilitated reputation” for my consideration. I finally finished all 85 podcast episodes and downloaded the Kindle version of “The Fire that Consumes” which is in “queue” behind several other books. I also subscribed to “Biblical Archaeology Review”. Figured I may as well stay productive while waiting to equip a new laptop with the Bible study modules I want.

          Take care and God bless!

          • William Tanksley Jr

            God bless your studies! We have more to discuss, and we can do that now, or later as you continue reading. If you’d like to chat more now, let me know; otherwise, drop by our Facebook chat room and look me up there.
            https://www.facebook.com/groups/rethinkinghell/
            (Feel free to send me a friend request.)

            My next direction of argument will be to point out that option #1-2 (resurrection) is not actually used, mentioned, or referred to in Ezekiel, and doesn’t seem to be part of his message; whereas the idea of resettling a nation with other people (#4) is well-established as a routine event, even though Ezekiel considers being resettled with the descendants of one’s own people (#3) to be superior.

            (In fact, #3, being reassembled from one’s own people’s descendants, is considered a miracle beyond imagination by Ezekiel’s people — they can barely hope for it.)

          • Ric Bell

            Yes…I would definitely be interested in your complete presentation. I just didn’t want to respond to the NT judgment passages until I read “The Fire that Consumes”. Out of respect for your time I did not want to ask “redundant” questions that could be answered during my due diligence of study of material readily available.

            However, there seems to be a dearth of information on the restorative verses as applied to the nations in the OT narrative such as Sodom. If you have time to present, I’ll allocate time to read. Your approach is so “alien” to my current frame of reference that it may take time to “soak in” (if you know what I mean?). The sad reality is that it simply should not be so if the denominational churches would teach the full council of Scripture instead of just their “pet doctrines”.

            I have been dormant on Facebook for some time. It has proven to be too high maintenance and I still have privacy concerns in using Facebook’s platform.

            Have you considered writing a book on this subject? (At least an e-book or even a series of articles posted online…hint, hint). Would be most helpful for many others, I’m sure. Organizing thoughts to reduce to concise written expression is time consuming to say the least. That’s why I am most appreciative in your willingness to do so to answer my questions.

            I look forward to your next installment!

          • William Tanksley Jr

            Cool! I definitely have more to say, but I want you to dig deeply on your own as well. (Also, I got hit by the flu followed by a work deadline, so no more writing entire books for a while. I’m almost recovered.)

          • Ric Bell

            Hope you get over the flu soon…that’s no fun, for sure. No hurry. I’m keeping myself occupied with a reading binge…5 books down and a growing list to go!

            Rest up!

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