Episode 53: God’s Justice, God’s Mercy, with Harold Eberle

Harold Eberle, founder of Worldcast Ministries & Publishing, joins Rethinking Hell contributor Chris Date to discuss his evangelism, conditionalism, and his book, Hell: God’s Justice, God’s Mercy.

Links

Worldcast Ministries & Publishing
http://worldcastministries.com/
Harold’s book, Hell: God’s Justice, God’s Mercy
http://worldcastministries.com/books/hell-gods-justice-gods-mercy/

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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  • Ric Bell

    Well Chris, I lied! (All liars part will be in the “lake of fire”…Lol!) I tweeted that I would withhold comment until I finished all 80 podcast (now 83), but can’t help but to point out that you continue to mis-reference Matthew 10:28 throughout your podcasts by stating that God “will kill” when the passage only states that He has the “power to destroy” both soul and body in Gehenna. Just a friendly reminder.

    • Peter Grice

      This is only a mis-reference if the intention is to quote verbatim. But the inference from “can” to “will” is something typically granted by traditionalists, our majority audience, and thus can be an offhand way of characterizing the upshot of the text.

      The validity of doing so has been deliberated upon by us, as has the fact that some people don’t grant this. Typically, those are universalists. But their impetus to make an issue out of it seems to us to stem from a characteristic hermeneutic approach that we don’t share (something I personally think of as a “loophole” approach). That makes communication with universalists harder, but we do reserve the right to speak with prejudice on occasion, if there’s no need for technical precision. Otherwise, our communication might die the death of a thousand qualifications…

      • Ric Bell

        There is no “loophole” in not exceeding “what is written”, but thanks for your reply. At least I know that the contributors representing “Rethinking Hell” are keenly aware of the issue.

        I am not a “theological” Christian and did not realize that the “rules of argumentation” allowed for such latitude. It seems to me such techniques violates the basic rules of exegesis. Exceeding “what is written” is what opens our communication to “die the death of a thousand qualifications…” while keeping the focus on Scripture narrows the “thousand qualifications” to what is actually written.

        Conditionalist challenge Traditionalists when they infer 2 Co 5:8 to mean “to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord”. Same fallacy of jumping to conclusion.

        I just think that “Rethinking Hell” is actually doing themselves a disservice by presenting their views by “inferences” to Scripture as you described. It raises a “red flag” to those who approach the Scriptures with a Berean spirit, and creates an environment of suspicion and mistrust. That is just my observation offered as constructive feedback after listening to 57 podcast as one who earnestly seeks to understand the Conditionalist perspective.

        • William Tanksley Jr

          All communication is done in context, Ric. The context here is between two groups that _agree_ that this passage is a positive threat, not a vacuous one. There would be no point in debating an issue on which both sides agree; you would quite reasonably reject any conclusion of such a mock debate.
          I hope you can come to accept that we are, like yourself, performing scriptural study on a sensitive subject, and that you’d lay aside your exclusionary and inflammatory rhetoric so that we can perform this urgently needed debate. Unfortunately, although I am personally prepared to debate this, I am not going to discuss it with someone who has decided against me as a non-Berean without ever hearing my testimony.
          Please let me know when you’re willing to engage with our arguments.

        • Peter Grice

          // Conditionalist challenge Traditionalists when they infer 2 Co 5:8 to mean “to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord”. Same fallacy of jumping to conclusion. //

          Just incidentally, 2 Co 5:8 interests physicalists who deny intermediate consciousness, not conditionalists in general (who need not be physicalists).

          Your point is understood, but there’s no fallacious jumping to a conclusion here: it is a very reasonable and natural inference to grant. Jesus had just prophesied a very real chance of their being killed. The premise for Matt 10:28 is not that it should not be feared because it won’t happen, but that it probably will in some cases, yet should not be feared. The [partial] destruction that should not be feared (though it will likely happen to some being addressed) is then contrasted with the [holistic] destruction that really should be feared. By normal conventions of communication, and by the nature of a warning, regarding this as something that will happen to some is quite justified.

          Moreover, the parallel passage in Luke 12:5 does not detail that [holistic] destruction at the hands of God is to be feared, but that being thrown into Gehenna is the thing to fear. Are we to reasonably prevent ourselves from saying that God will actually cast some into Gehenna, assuming that there is no obvious need to be so technical?

          As far as I know, the vast majority of evangelical universalists do think that some people actually experience this Gehenna, and do, for that matter, experience “destruction” while there. So I’m not even sure if I’ve ever personally interacted with anyone who insists that the warnings of Matt 10:28 and Luke 12:5 are hypothetical in that it actually applies to nobody in reality. If it’s something that pretty much everybody grants, why can’t we?

          • Ric Bell

            Well, because you don’t apply this passage to the judgments of Gehenna, or, more accurately, you misuse Gehenna as your methophor of some future final judgment resulting in the annihilation of the wicked when the context of Jesus’ useage of Gehenna referenced the historical judgments of Gehenna which resulted in the destruction of Soloman’s Temple while warning and prophesying the coming judgments of 70AD that resulted in the destruction of the Second Temple.

            Moreover, Ezekiel 37 clearly proclaims RESTORATION for Israel who were judged in Gehenna (Valley of the Son of Hinnom/valley of Slaughter/Topheth); therefore, Gehenna can, in no case, be construed as the methophor for annihilation nor eternal torment/seperation.

            The dry bones of Ezekiel 37 can be traced back to the valley of dead bodies and ashes (Jeremiah 31:40) and the valley of the son of Hinnom/valley of Slaughter/Topheth (Jeremiah 7:31-33). Preserving the integrity of the NARRATIVE of Scripture clearly reveals the true heart of Yahweh to RESTORE after judgment which is a recurring theme throughout Scripture as applied to both His covenantal people as well as the surrounding nations.

            Whether one adopts a Futureist or Preterist view of Ezekiel 37 is immaterial – Ezekiel 37 stands as witness to the FAITHFULNESS of Yahweh despite Israel’s unfaithfulness toward Him.

            Finally, as an “ignorant” layman I was unaware that “granting” such useage was an acceptable practice in formal debate, but, I now understand your point. Nevertheless, you can’t assume that your wider audience is trained in formal debate.

            I do appreciate you taking your time to throughly explain the logic behind such inferences, but, I still maintain that the Conditionalist view “jumps to conclusion” as they misapply the methophor of Gehenna to annihilation when it applies to RESTORATION!

          • Peter Grice

            // Finally, as an “ignorant” layman I was unaware that “granting” such useage was an acceptable practice in formal debate, but, I now understand your point. Nevertheless, you can’t assume that your wider audience is trained in formal debate. //

            Formal debate is precisely the occasion for more technical precision, and for verbatim quotes. Our podcasts are not that, but mostly just people talking, in the mode of everyday conversation. Behind this is a debate, or dialogue, or discussion, sure. But the point is that technical/formal precision is too high a standard for everyday discussion—especially in this case if everybody we think is listening would agree that some do go into Gehenna, so that we may treat Matt 10:28 and Luke 12:5 as non-hypothetical. I doubt a conditionalist would meet someone in formal debate who claimed that it was hypothetical, but I suppose it’s possible.

            // I do appreciate you taking your time to throughly explain the logic behind such inferences, but, I still maintain that the Conditionalist view “jumps to conclusion” as they misapply the methophor of Gehenna to annihilation when, in fact, the judgments of Gehenna reaches its ultimate climax in Ezekiel 37 – ressurrection from “hell”! //

            Gehenna is not metaphor, but prophetic motif, the biblical threads of which comprise a substantial study. By hastening to Ezekiel 37 as if all that is just subordinate to a narrative arc about God’s faithfulness, you’re the one seeming to jump to a conclusion. Really? Ezekiel 37 is about “resurrection from ‘hell’”? Many scholars don’t even think it’s about resurrection at all. You say that this chapter “clearly proclaims” restoration from Gehenna, and therefore Gehenna can “in no case be construed” as either annihilation or eternal torment. This is a risible claim: such were standard rabbinic notions of Gehenna at the time of Christ.

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