Saturday, October 20, 2012

Three Views on Hell: Introduction
I have the pleasure of hosting an extended debate on this most contentious topic. I selected several up and coming theologians, and requested from each an essay to describe their views of the nature of eternal punishment.

A few things first.


All three essays are written by professing Christians, and as such, I expect the utmost respect to be shown to one another. Disagreement is encouraged, but condescension and a lack of charity are discouraged.


The goal isn't to provide an exhaustive commentary on all bible passages or philosophical arguments. Instead, this is more an attempt to boil things down to bite-size chunks that are more easily expanded upon. 

Each writer has 700 words to make their case. Their responses may be as long as they would like, but since I am moderating this series, I have the right to delete a comment or request a rewrite.

Likely, since we are all good boys and girls, this shouldn't happen.


I may add a follow up post to this series, offering links to various responses by the contributors. I know the annihilationist contributor plans on offering a response or two.

Thanks to each author!




Eternal Conscious Torment


These responses are much longer than the actual essays. Which is nice. Enjoy.

Annihilationist response to Universalism.

Universalist response to Annihilationism.

Annihilationist response to Eternal Conscious Torment.

May this debate continue in far greater respect than has been conducted elsewhere. Please engage and enjoy. May He be glorified.



  1. Hi Nick,

    I’d like to address objection A as argued by Kurt. It seems obvious to me that this argument hardly challenges the Universalist position. Not all forms of Universalism negate the need for repentance nor demand that since all will be saved then the process must be meaningless. These are responses I would give as a Universalist.

    A) It’s an arrogant claim that if God’s wrath is not eternal then it’s only “painful”. It’s dubious that anyone would try to argue that God’s wrath is only frightening if it has no end. In the past when I’ve challenged friends and family, I offered to take them to a poolside, drench them in lighter, light them on fire for just 5 seconds and give hell a go. The point is, if exposure to fire for a short amount of time scares you, then what on earth makes you think a finite period of time of God’s wrath is something not to fear?

    B) To claim that it would be fine to live a life of sin now since in the long run we’ll be saved, only shows how irrational we are. Again, this presupposes that man has nothing to fear unless God’s wrath is eternal.

    C) As a Universalist, I hold to a restorative form of retribution. That is I believe God does pay back in order to restore. I don’t know Kurt’s view of justice, but retribution does not have to be retribution for some ambiguous reason. It could be that God punishes in order to restore a person.

  2. Regarding B) I think it's true that a person needs to see the error of their ways before they can become truly repentant and be restored. That can happen in lots of different ways, some more painful than others. This is part of why the "living a life of sin" argument is so flawed. "Do not be deceived, for God is not mocked; a man reaps what he sows..."
    We just needn't take that to the extreme that the reaping is endless.

  3. I'd like to turn now to Kurt's point B)
    I'm not sure Kurt's right about this. Technically, no one was God's people but he made them his own. While we were his enemies Christ died for us. Now after we repented Christ died for us. For me Rom 5:10 is one of the stronger Universalist passages because Paul states "If while we were his enemies we were reconciled by the death of his son, then how much more having been reconciled shall we be saved". Here I agree with the reformed, the reason we repent is because God teaches us humility. Once we see the error of our ways, we turn.

    Regarding human freedom, not too long ago I wrote about Peter's inconsitency to blame the Sanhedrin for putting Jesus on the Cross when Jesus said they know now what they do. Romans 1 for me is not about man's coherence, but about love and mans inability to follow the way of love. Whether we know it or now, we can still be punished for it- even if we're forgiven. I tend to believe God wants to transform us by renewing our mind in the way of Christ. Not because we've made some political or religious pledge to something that exceeds our understanding, but to something that is so totally beautiful that we can't comprehend it's beauty (love) - a God who dies for his creation. As for the Devil, who say's he'll continue? He's a created being like we are, and if he's irrational, which I would say he is, then he's hardly free himself - rather it seems he's totally enslaved. But my guess is once sin is removed and freedom is gained, we always choose God.

  4. Edit, sorry I meant "NOT after we repented" on the second line.