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The Seeking Disciple

Excellent thoughts Peter. God bless.

R.L Adler

Great arguement Peter.

And thats only if Bell holds to a view of universalism. Although, after watching the promo video a couple times, I don't see how anyone from TGC could say that he conclusively does. If anything (looking at the video and his other teachings) I can see how Bell opens the door for some form of Inclusivism.

And if they're gathering wood over Inclusivism they need to bring more for (again) Stott, Billy Graham, C.S. Lewis, John Wesley and more.

J. K. Jones


I follow the Westminster Standards. I have great respect for the Baptist Faith and Message. I call both Bell and Stott wrong.

Bell tends to question penal substitutionary atonement more than Stott. He even does so in the infamous video. (Of course, he is vague as usual!)

TGC can be wrong and have been wrong before, but I understand a greater sense of urgency with Rob Bell.




You surely are on solid ground so far as I am concerned about rejecting both. We agree. My contention is, whatever reservations we hold about others, we should base such on just as fair evidences as we ourselves would want concerning the way others evaluate our own views.

Thanks, brother.

With that, I am...


Thanks R.L and TSD!

With that, I am...

D.R. Randle


I think you have failed to consider the difference between heterodoxy and heresy. On this issue Church History has been quite plain. Since the time of Origin, Universalism has been "universally" condemned as a heresy, but annihilationism has not. They purport two distinct things. Universalism promotes the idea that all will eventually be saved (explictly called anathema by the 2nd Council of Constantinople in 553 A.D.). Annihiliationism agrees with those who believe the traditional view that all will not be saved, but do not agree that the torment is forever. It was not universally condemned as heresy, but has been consistently viewed as a serious error (hence the term "heterodoxy").

Throughout history conservative, Evangelical Christians have treated annihilationists differently than universalists. So the Reformed folks are in pace with historic Christianity to view the two views distinctively with universalism being the greater error.



Thanks. Perhaps. Know though my focus concerned not the full history of the Christian Church. Hence, Origen's view is interesting but irrelevant. I specifically kept the period in post-reformation evangelical orthodoxy.

Hence, my quotation of Schaff suggesting "Everlasting Punishment of the wicked always was, and always will be the orthodox theory" as well as Spurgeon, "No honest man can be a member of the church meeting at the Tabernacle, and hold annihilationist views, for now and in all time past we have borne testimony to the generally-received doctrine."
Tell me, D.R. how do those statements square with your, "Throughout history conservative, Evangelical Christians have treated annihilationists differently than universalists"? Spurgeon surely disagrees. Am I now the one defending Spurgeon against a Calvinist? (wink, wink).

Nor did you consider Hodge's view, and neither W.G.T. Shedd, both eminently Reformed reps. Do they think annihilationists are merely heterodoxical? Further, what major Reformed teacher embraced Stott's view? I frankly don't know. But since, according to you, throughout history, conservative evangelicals accepted annihilationism as less than heresy they obviously exist.

With that, I am...

peter lumpkins

O.K. I'll answer my own question. Perhaps Scottish Reformed theologian, James Orr, embraced a view similar to Stott.

With that, I am...

D.R. Randle


Do you recognize that none of the men mentioned - Spurgeon, Schaff, Shedd, or Hodge - use the term "heresy" regarding annihilationism? The opposite of orthodoxy isn't necessarily heresy - hence the term "heterodoxy". As for Church Discipline - it was invoked at Metropolitan any time a member was in disagreement with the Church's confession of faith - thus, it doesn't necessarily follow that Spurgeon considered annihilationism equally erroneous to universalism.

Also, 1 point I should've brought up before is that your questions are somewhat loaded in trying to establish similarity in the two positions; and, in some cases, you answered them incorrectly. Most annihilationists believe in an eternal hell, but that only Satan & demons will dwell there forever. Hell eventually destroys man. And most differ on how long that destruction takes. Stott's view, from what I understand, is not one of instant annihilation, but rather conscious torment UNTO annihilation. Stott's point isn't that people won't suffer consciously for sin, but that emotionally it seems unfair for people to suffer eternally for sin committed temporally. That criticism of the traditional position was legitimate enough in Jonathan Edwards' day that he took some effort in logically dealing with it. And it's still far from believing all will be saved.

Now, having said that, a couple of questions you didn't ask are:

1) Do universalists & annihilationists both agree that the atoning work of Christ will eventually save all people? NO
2) Do universalists & annihilationists both agree that the fate of believers and unbelievers is the same? NO

So there is a big distinction between the 2 views which fleshes itself out in notable areas such as the atoning work of Christ (and the purpose of that work), the necessity of Evangelism, & the ultimate fate of all people. That's why the historic Church agreed both were wrong, but treated universalism as heresy and annihilationism as heterodoxy. Thus, it is legitimate for us to do the same.

By the way, Stott hasn't had a free pass from the Reformed community. He's been universally condemned for his views. Much ink has been spilled over Stott and I would dare say that many Reformed folks do treat him differently because of his views.

Finally, 1 other thing that you ought to consider is the place of inclusivism in this discussion. I would claim that it is less erroneous than universalism, but worse than annihilationism, yet the SBC has had many inclusivist professors in its seminaries and preachers in its pulpits. Tony Evans in many circles gets a pass on this one.

peter lumpkins


First, they don't have to use the word "heresy" for the error to rise to the level of heresy.

Second, The quote from Spurgeon is not just about "church discipline". Instead, Spurgeon insists the Tabernacle then and always had "borne testimony to the generally-received doctrine”. That would be orthodoxy.

Third, of course the questions establish similarity, but not just any similarity but ultimate similarity, so much so that there is no ultimate difference between the two--only one ultimate future community of conscious souls--the redeemed, the restored, the reconciled.

Fourth, well your questions ambiguously lead to ambiguous answers. For example, yes redemption (in your question) will save ALL people in the sense that no person will endlessly suffer. As for your second question, again, of course not. But it won't matter. Only one community ultimately exists--God's community.

Fifth, there are distinctions between the two views, D.R. No one suggests otherwise. Our disagreement is on the degree of distinction. You are obviously minimizing the distinctions whereas I have a more pronounced one, one I think is embedded within post-reformation evangelical orthodoxy. I've given at least a few examples while you've given none. You're apparently content to just deny mine.

I know nothing of Tony Evans to make any judgment at all.

With that, I am...

J. K. Jones


Have you seen Tim C.'s review yet?


Edward Fudge

The revised, enlarged, 3rd edition of The Fire That Consumes (which Christianity Today calls "the standard reference on annihilationism) is due to be released by June 15, with a new foreword by the highly-respected Richard Bauckham of Cambridge. Throughout this edition, I also interact with 17 traditionalist authors who wrote books since my first edition in 1982. For more,see www.EdwardFudge.com/written/fire.html .


Let's look at some of the answers to Peter's questions above. There are two questions that need to have different answers.

Do either annihilationists or universalists believe in an ultimate afterlife for unbelievers? Yes, Annihilationists do, it simply isn't eternal. This is not nuanced in any way.

Do either annihilationists or universalists believe in two future groups of conscious peoples after death? Yes. As with the first question above, it simply is not eternal for the unbeliever.

Do either annihilationists or universalists believe all people deserve everlasting bliss? NO. - The question here is does any Christian believe that we *deserve* everlasting bliss. Traditionally Christians have said no, and only in Christ do we attain to eternal life those things that we can't imagine that God has for those who love him. Even with Faith, we don't deserve it. WE get it only In Christ.

There have been a number of Historical Christian figures that held Annihilationism. Martin Luther, Adam Clarke, and several others. Currently, Dr. David Reagan has stated on his website that he believes the annihilationists have the better of the argument. He bases this on 2 Tim 6:14-16. He glosses over the fact that we can be made immortal at the resurrection and so suffer eternally in the lake of fire.

Frankly, if teaching that a person will eventually perish in the lake of fire is the only aberrant teaching they have, then I will accept them as a Christian.

peter lumpkins


Thanks. I'm afraid the two questions you chose to give alternate answers hardly make sense.

Do either annihilationists or universalists believe in an ultimate afterlife for unbelievers? Yes, Annihilationists do, it simply isn't eternal. This is not nuanced in any way

If you'll notice in the question, I purposely placed emphasis on *ultimate* afterlife (it is italicized in my list). So, the answer is obviously *no*--neither annihilationists nor universalists hold unbelievers will *ultimately* experience afterlife. The only *ultimate* group of sentient human beings will be believers. Hence, the two views *ultimately* have the same outcome.

As for the second question you chose, since you didn't dispute the answer I gave, I'm not sure why you chose it to challenge.

Thanks again,

With that, I am...


I’m going to comment on your “consider” points. It seems you’re begging the question with these (you’re phrasing, or attempting to phrase, the question in such a way as that your answer is the only possible answer.

“Do either annihilationists or universalists believe in an ultimate afterlife for unbelievers? NO “

Actually universalists do. They have an ultimate afterlife in that they are saved. Unless you’ve redefined ultimate to mean something other than it really means. I can see how you could say that annihilationists do not if you take the common meaning of “afterlife” to mean a conscious life after death that continues. Of course if you can redefine ultimate, I suppose I can redefine afterlife to mean the state of being after life then I could say both do.

Do either annihilationists or universalists believe in endless suffering? NO

This one does not beg the question and your answer is true. Of course that doesn’t speak to the veracity of your or the opposing side’s argument. Only that you believe one thing and they believe another.

Do either annihilationists or universalists believe in eternal hell? NO

This answer is not necessarily correct. A universalist does not believe in an eternal hell, that is true. However since the words that are translated most often (always in the Old Testament and usually in the New Testament) hell mean simply the grave you can argue that hell (the state of death) is eternal for unbelievers in an annihilationist view. You might disagree with what hell is, but you can’t say that a annihilationist does not have an eternal view of hell.

Do either annihilationists or universalists believe in two future groups of conscious peoples after death? NO - Do either annihilationists or universalists believe in the traditional view of hell? NO

I’ve lumped these two together since they both have the same issue. They don’t answer the question of their validity. They essentially say do these two nontraditional views have traditional views which is a way of trying to seem like you’re making a point when you’re really only restating the premise.

Do either annihilationists or universalists believe all people deserve everlasting bliss? NO

Do people who hold to the traditional view of hell believe all people deserve everlasting bliss? The answer is of course no. I’m not sure what your point is with this one other than to write no again in bold font. It doesn’t contribute to your point at all.

Do either annihilationists or universalists believe all people deserve to be endlessly punished for their sin? NO

Again, you’re restating the premise as a point here. You’ve already done it multiple times. The point of this question is to get to say “NO” again, not to advance your argument.

Here are some more questions you could have asked.

Do both annihilationists and traditionalists believe that the wicked will be judged? YES

Do both annihilationists and traditionalists and universalists believe that only the saved will live with God for eternity? Yes

If you see the point of those questions it is to point out that the phrasing of the question can make the answer point to any conclusion you want.

Also when you appeal to Calvin that is the fallacy called appealing to authority. I could easily point to Martin Luther as one who held the annihilationist view. Does that make the view right? Not necessarily. He is a man, no matter how revered he is or was it doesn’t make him right.

Anyway, more than anything, logical fallacies in arguments bother me. I don’t mind someone disagreeing with someone else (or even me) but at least have a well formed argument.

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