Author Topic: Conditionalism: Does Hell Last Forever?  (Read 1735 times)

Norman Teigen

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Conditionalism: Does Hell Last Forever?
« on: October 11, 2014, 09:01:07 AM »
http://www.nytimes.com/2014/10/11/us/tormented-in-the-afterlife-but-not-forever-conditionalism-gains-ground.html?_r=0

When a soul goes to hell does it remain there forever?   Or does God administer a sort of capital punishment that sends the soul into oblivion?  God is holy and intolerant of evil.  But God is also good.  How do these ideas play out for the good readers of the ALPB Forum?
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Terry W Culler

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Re: Conditionalism: Does Hell Last Forever?
« Reply #1 on: October 11, 2014, 11:00:20 AM »
There is only one way to gauge this--what do the Scriptures say?  Admittedly, perfect clarity is not easy to come by on this question, but I believe there is sufficient evidence to show that hell (however that is conceived) is forever.  The eternal New Jerusalem is for the faithful only. 

If we say that God is good and full of grace, we are right.  But at the same time, the miracle of grace is that God has chosen to save some who do not deserve salvation.  That others are not saved, does not make God any less good or graceful.
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John Mundinger

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Re: Conditionalism: Does Hell Last Forever?
« Reply #2 on: October 11, 2014, 12:06:56 PM »
There is only one way to gauge this--what do the Scriptures say?  Admittedly, perfect clarity is not easy to come by on this question, but I believe there is sufficient evidence to show that hell (however that is conceived) is forever.  The eternal New Jerusalem is for the faithful only. 

I agree that clarity is not easy regarding eternity.  I agree that Scripture informs us that both heaven and hell are forever.  I think Scripture also informs us that "heaven" is life with God, while "hell is life without God".  I struggle with the idea of an "eternal" God because we are time bound.  It seems to me that, if God is eternal, God already is present in that place where we will be with God in eternity, just as God is still present in the place that corresponds with the void that preceded creation.  Although we are not yet in that time dimension, I believe that we are called to live today out of the post-escathon future that is promised to us.

If we say that God is good and full of grace, we are right.  But at the same time, the miracle of grace is that God has chosen to save some who do not deserve salvation.  That others are not saved, does not make God any less good or graceful.

I agree.  And, if we think of heaven as life with God and hell as life without God, those who are not saved are not saved as a consequence of God's wrath but as a consequence of the personal choice to live without God.


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Brian Stoffregen

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Re: Conditionalism: Does Hell Last Forever?
« Reply #3 on: October 11, 2014, 02:01:34 PM »
There is only one way to gauge this--what do the Scriptures say?  Admittedly, perfect clarity is not easy to come by on this question, but I believe there is sufficient evidence to show that hell (however that is conceived) is forever.  The eternal New Jerusalem is for the faithful only. 

I agree that clarity is not easy regarding eternity.  I agree that Scripture informs us that both heaven and hell are forever. 


There are also passages about a "new heaven". It would appear that the "old heaven" does not last forever.

"The church … had made us like ill-taught piano students; we play our songs, but we never really hear them, because our main concern is not to make music, but but to avoid some flub that will get us in dutch." [Robert Capon, _Between Noon and Three_, p. 148]

Weedon

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Re: Conditionalism: Does Hell Last Forever?
« Reply #4 on: October 11, 2014, 02:04:08 PM »
To be a Lutheran is to confess the Augsburg Confession. This Confession states clearly in Article XVII:

Our churches also teach that at the end of the world Christ will appear for judgment and will raise up all the dead [1 Thessalonians 4:13-5:2]. He will give the godly and elect eternal life and endless joy, but He will condemn the ungodly and devils to endless torment [Matthew 25:31-46].

Our churches condemn the Anabaptists, who think that there will be an end to the punishments of the condemned and devils.

Our churches also condemn others who are now spreading Jewish opinions, that before the resurrection of the dead the godly will take possession of the kingdom of the world, while the ungodly are suppressed everywhere.

Rev Mathew Andersen

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Re: Conditionalism: Does Hell Last Forever?
« Reply #5 on: October 11, 2014, 02:09:22 PM »
There is only one way to gauge this--what do the Scriptures say?  Admittedly, perfect clarity is not easy to come by on this question, but I believe there is sufficient evidence to show that hell (however that is conceived) is forever.  The eternal New Jerusalem is for the faithful only. 

I agree that clarity is not easy regarding eternity.  I agree that Scripture informs us that both heaven and hell are forever. 


There are also passages about a "new heaven". It would appear that the "old heaven" does not last forever.

You are using "heaven" in a different meaning than John.  John is using it to indicate eternal life with God.  Revelation, at that point, is indicating "the sky and what is physically above it" as is common when it is paired with "earth" to include the entirety of creation.

readselerttoo

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Re: Conditionalism: Does Hell Last Forever?
« Reply #6 on: October 11, 2014, 02:33:40 PM »
http://www.nytimes.com/2014/10/11/us/tormented-in-the-afterlife-but-not-forever-conditionalism-gains-ground.html?_r=0

When a soul goes to hell does it remain there forever?   Or does God administer a sort of capital punishment that sends the soul into oblivion?  God is holy and intolerant of evil.  But God is also good.  How do these ideas play out for the good readers of the ALPB Forum?


Dominant culture's hubris is to believe that it can read God's mind...ie. the hidden God's mind.  Luther said we should not meditate on this hidden God (Deus Absconditus).  That is God's business and not ours.  Only a scared and frightened and guilty culture wants to take over God's unique role as judge and ascribe it's own judgments as the last word.  Even though Scripture is clear that after the fall of humanity God's judgment of death stands as the last word for unrepentant sinners.

JMK

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Re: Conditionalism: Does Hell Last Forever?
« Reply #7 on: October 11, 2014, 02:53:15 PM »
Quote
To be a Lutheran is to confess the Augsburg Confession. This Confession states clearly in Article XVII:

Our churches also teach that at the end of the world Christ will appear for judgment and will raise up all the dead [1 Thessalonians 4:13-5:2]. He will give the godly and elect eternal life and endless joy, but He will condemn the ungodly and devils to endless torment [Matthew 25:31-46]…Our churches condemn the Anabaptists, who think that there will be an end to the punishments of the condemned and devils… - Fr. Weedon


I believe the context of this reference in the Confessions is to the Schwenckfeldians and Anabaptists where I understand the interrogators were to ask an Anabaptist suspect, “if he holds that the devil and all the damned will also be saved.” So, I would argue that the reference here is strictly to the category of what could be called the Anabaptistae demonisalvi - i.e. a belief that the demons would be eventually be saved. See Gary K. Waite’s book, “Eradicating the Devil's Minions: Anabaptists and Witches in Reformation.”

As for the “torturing” of unbelievers mentioned in Matthew 25, I don’t see that in the original Greek. It is possible that the Confessors conflated Matthew 25 with Revelation 20:10. If so, the original meaning of the word torment “βασανιζο” is likely a reference to a type of eternal destruction – e.g. like flotsam and jetsam being agitated in a black hole of sin, death and separation from God.

C.S. Lewis has some good thoughts on the issue of hell that is good to ponder. The "Great Divorce" is a good allegory to start with. I don’t think there is a need for confessional Lutherans to paint a description of God as being a type of sadistic being that delights in watching evil doers forever squirm in pain –e.g. like a cat being placed in a microwave oven and never being able to die. I don't think it is necessary for Lutherans to hold to a type of  schadenfreude theology. For a good video on the meaning of schadenfreude (you'll have to ignore the bad language) see this video clip: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5isHw02S0Cg

« Last Edit: October 11, 2014, 03:02:05 PM by Johannes Andreas Quenstedt »

LCMS87

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Re: Conditionalism: Does Hell Last Forever?
« Reply #8 on: October 11, 2014, 09:16:36 PM »
Quote
To be a Lutheran is to confess the Augsburg Confession. This Confession states clearly in Article XVII:

Our churches also teach that at the end of the world Christ will appear for judgment and will raise up all the dead [1 Thessalonians 4:13-5:2]. He will give the godly and elect eternal life and endless joy, but He will condemn the ungodly and devils to endless torment [Matthew 25:31-46]…Our churches condemn the Anabaptists, who think that there will be an end to the punishments of the condemned and devils… - Fr. Weedon


I believe the context of this reference in the Confessions is to the Schwenckfeldians and Anabaptists where I understand the interrogators were to ask an Anabaptist suspect, “if he holds that the devil and all the damned will also be saved.” So, I would argue that the reference here is strictly to the category of what could be called the Anabaptistae demonisalvi - i.e. a belief that the demons would be eventually be saved. See Gary K. Waite’s book, “Eradicating the Devil's Minions: Anabaptists and Witches in Reformation.”

As for the “torturing” of unbelievers mentioned in Matthew 25, I don’t see that in the original Greek. It is possible that the Confessors conflated Matthew 25 with Revelation 20:10. If so, the original meaning of the word torment “βασανιζο” is likely a reference to a type of eternal destruction – e.g. like flotsam and jetsam being agitated in a black hole of sin, death and separation from God.

C.S. Lewis has some good thoughts on the issue of hell that is good to ponder. The "Great Divorce" is a good allegory to start with. I don’t think there is a need for confessional Lutherans to paint a description of God as being a type of sadistic being that delights in watching evil doers forever squirm in pain –e.g. like a cat being placed in a microwave oven and never being able to die. I don't think it is necessary for Lutherans to hold to a type of  schadenfreude theology. For a good video on the meaning of schadenfreude (you'll have to ignore the bad language) see this video clip: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5isHw02S0Cg

Just a note - The bracketed references in the quotation of the Augustana above are the addition of an editor.  Melanchthon and the Confessors did not cite them here.

David Garner

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Re: Conditionalism: Does Hell Last Forever?
« Reply #9 on: October 11, 2014, 11:07:00 PM »
One of the things that is perhaps more manifest in my experience in the Orthodox Church versus the Lutheran Church, at least to the laity (I cannot speak for you pastors out there), is the distinction between Χρόνος and καιρός.  Since hell would presumably fall in the realm of καιρός, and heaven certainly does, I think "forever" is probably a concept that doesn't really apply.

It strikes me as being like people who ask "well, what was here before the Big Bang."  The question doesn't make sense, because time, matter, space and energy began with the Big Bang.  My favorite response, borrowed from someone whose name I should remember but I don't, is "here wasn't here then, and then wasn't then then.
Orthodox Reader and former Lutheran (LCMS and WELS).

Matt Hummel

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Re: Conditionalism: Does Hell Last Forever?
« Reply #10 on: October 12, 2014, 01:59:35 PM »
It is interesting how Lewis has come up.  He is perhaps the best theologian of Hell in the past 100 years or so.

In one of his less accessible works, The Pilgrim's Regress, I seem to recall a discussion of damnation that speaks of it, in some ways, as God's last act of mercy before someone completely disintegrates as a person.

 
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LutherMan

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Re: Conditionalism: Does Hell Last Forever?
« Reply #11 on: October 12, 2014, 02:16:56 PM »
http://www.nytimes.com/2014/10/11/us/tormented-in-the-afterlife-but-not-forever-conditionalism-gains-ground.html?_r=0

When a soul goes to hell does it remain there forever?   Or does God administer a sort of capital punishment that sends the soul into oblivion?  God is holy and intolerant of evil.  But God is also good.  How do these ideas play out for the good readers of the ALPB Forum?
Mr. Teigen,  I left a question for you in the abortion thread...