Episode 65: A Response to the Mohler-Date Debate, Part 1

In the January 3, 2015 episode of the Unbelievable? radio show with Justin Brierley, our very own Chris Date debated Dr. Albert Mohler on the topic of conditionalism. In this episode, Chris is joined by Rethinking Hell contributors Daniel Sinclair and Peter Grice for a debate debrief.


Chris Date’s Debate with Dr. Albert Mohler on Unbelievable?
SERIES: The Wesleyan Quadrangle (wholereason.com)

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Rethinking Hell Book Ordering Information
Rethinking Hell Conference Videos
Conference Website, for Unfolding 2015 Conference(s) Details
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  • Peter Grice

    Looks like the episode wasn’t available to some for a while, but this should now be fixed.

  • Kent Richardson

    Chris’s comment on blue sunglasses, referring to the assumption that eternal torment is the correct biblical interpretation, and thus colors how these verses have been interpreted for the last 2,000 years, is well evidenced in the NIV and NASB translations of 2 Thessalonians 1:9. This verse was referenced as support for eternal torment by Al Mohler. Chris notes the simple preposition of “from” is translated (or should I say interpreted?) by the NIV as “and shut out from” and the NASB as “away from”. Both define this as a spacial “from” (like I am 100 miles ‘from’ my home), but Strongs Greek and your Websters English dictionary both recognize this preposition as also being used as a “causal agent”, much like the preposition “by”. Can see this in verses like Math 11:19 where the same Greek preposition is used to describe how wisdom is proved right “by her deeds”. It’s the same preposition, yet NIV translators changed “from” to “by” to describe the causal nature of this preposition. Why did they not put “by” in 2 Thessalonians 1:9? They assume the eternal torment doctrine (blue sunglasses). Yet, the whole paragraph makes perfect sense if use “by”. Jesus is portrayed as coming in blazing fire (in conquest and judgement) leading into 1:9. The lost are eternally destroyed “by” the flaming presence of the Lord and his power. Very consistent with other biblical images of God’s coming judgement (like Jude describing the fate of the lost as the same as Sodom and Gomorrah being punished by “eternal fire”). The blue sunglasses of the last 2,000 years have kept a very simple verse describing the eternal destruction of the lost caused “by” the flaming fire of Jesus’s presence and power into a distorted defense of eternal torment by forcing the spacial interpretation of “from” as though there is a co-existing experience going on with the lost in hell. Thank God for the reformation and that the word of God is supreme in these issues! First time in 2,000 years we’ve really explored this doctrine letting the Bible naturally speak on the topic. Stay strong conditionalists, the doctrine of eternal torment will fall, since the Bible demands it.

    • HaakAway

      Thanks Kent … I think this is a great example of how we stay focused on Better Bible Study as the reason CI is more accurate to Scripture. I can use this work of yours.

      • Kent Richardson

        See 2 Thessalonians 2:8. Uses same concept of Jesus destroying by his presence. So in context it is a good interpretation too.

        • HaakAway

          Thanks for that additional point; same author, same book all points again to better Bible study.

          In reviewing 1:9 I also noticed that “shut out from the presence” [NIV] lacks the definite article. I understand that this puts the emphasis on the nature of the thing (“presence-kind-of-thing”) rather than a specific (“the presence”). It warrants more study but initially that again points to the instrumental nature of “presence” rather than a distance from a specific location of the Lord’s presence.

          These are the type of things my old Greek prof would be fun to talk to about but alas, as I have aged 37 years out of college, such resources as this are gone to me.

          • Kent Richardson

            This is a topic where searching for intent and meaning is essential. Jesus gives a clear picture of chaff thrown into flame. I’m waiting for a pastor to do that in a service. Speaks for itself. If an ET Christian wants to parse the preposition usage of Paul in this verse in order to lay at the feet of the good name of God eternal torment then I just warn them of potentially slandering god in an egregious manner. Oddly, it’s this ONE verse that has spawned the recent hell-lite doctrines of separation from God. Ironic that ET Christians engage in suspicious interpretation of this verse to soften hell (something they accuse CI Christians of doing). If they want to soften hell just go all the way and be true to the Word and support CI!

      • Kent Richardson

        Ran across some additional insight. 2 Thes. 1:9 mentions those who not know God will be destroyed “from the glory of his might”. In Romans 6:4 says “Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father”. Interesting juxtaposition where the glory of God raises and destroys in these two examples (both authored by Paul). Just in case someone tries to argue this isn’t natural or common language for Paul to use to describe how they are destroyed.

  • brett

    Mr. Monler’s main argument seemed to be we should just accept what the church has always taught. He had very little in the way of a convincing argument.

Featured audio: Dr. Al Mohler & Chris Date debate
"Should Christians rethink Hell?" on Unbelievable?