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LuftWaffle

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  1. Esau hated by God (before birth)?

    Question: What's better than having 3 wives? Answer: ...not being hated by God from before you were born.
  2. Body invaders

    Not really, because even if they were a thousand, they'd still be distinct from people who aren't network engineers, like me. But if everybody is agnostic, then agnostic is just another word for human, making terms like agnostic atheist, or theist meaningless. Yeah, that's the tug-of-war, the coders want access and performance, IT want systems and security, and management want lower costs and higher turnover. This devolves into the circle of blame whenever something goes wrong, lol.
  3. Body invaders

    Which is the one that's been posting on this forum?
  4. Body invaders

    Doesn't that trivialise agnosticism, if everybody are agnostics? Yeah, I remembered you mentioning once that you were in IT. I'm also in IT, just a humble coder, which places me on the opposite side of the circle of blame, hehe.
  5. Body invaders

    Bonky, aren't you a bit old to have an avatar of a flask with DNA and particles in it. That's for guys who had just read Dawkins' book and just learnt to say "special pleading" at everything. The rookie new-atheists who think that rejecting God is all you need to claim science and 'reason' as your bag. Aren't you in IT or something? And yeah, in case you're wondering, I am also too old to have an airplane with a waffle on it, but seriously, don't be one of *those* atheists. Just kidding. You can have any avatar you want, who am I to impose? ...but seriously, dude!
  6. Body invaders

    Hi Bonky, How are you doing? That's an interesting question, you're asking, but I'm trying to understand what your underlying point is. It seems that you're saying that given how well the wasp is adapted to exploiting the caterpillar and the complexity of it all, it's unlikely that this mechanism could have come about by small changes (micro-evolution, if you will). As such, you argue, that this goes against the claims of those who say that there was no suffering prior to the fall, because the only way this could have come about, is if God pre-designed this ability to exploit caterpillars in this way. What I'm finding interesting about the question is that you're basically arguing for intelligent design here, right? You're essentially saying that the complexity of this mechanism cannot be explained in tiny adaptations therefore it must be designed. Now you might retort by saying that the timing is the issue because adding evolutionary timescales will make it possible but on the shorter young earth timescale it's not, but that claim seems to do you no good, either, because without a clear pathway to the mechanism , it seems to me just throwing time into the mix doesn't get you closer to the complex mechanism we're seeing here, right? I know this doesn't answer your question, but I thought the implications of your question is interesting. In terms of your direct question, while I'm not really a Young Creationist (I'm earth-age agnostic), aren't you anthropomorphising (how the heck do you spell this word) the caterpillar when you use language like suffering and starving to death etc.? I don't think the caterpillar suffers in the strict sense of the word. I think they're more like bio-chemical machines that run bio-chemical processes, based on environmental stimuli. They have a "feed" process that runs when they encounter food. They have "defend" process that drives to release certain pheromones, hurry away, and so on. But even saying "themselves" is giving them too much credit because I don't think they are "selves" at all. As such I don't think this is an example of suffering in the animal kingdom at all, anymore than it's an example of suffering when I fried my electric drill trying to mix too much cement with it. Sure, as human beings we "feel" empathy for things, and I felt sad for the sake of the drill, but I don't think the drill felt a thing to be honest. R.I.P my dear friend Ryobi.
  7. Annihilationism vs. Traditionalism.

    Shiloh, I'm going to have to cut the debate short, because of some work related issues that require my attention for the next couple of weeks till well into the new year and this debate is taking more of my time than I would be able to spare. So, I'd like to thank you for debating me, and to Steve for setting it up. Fortunately I think in only 3 rounds we covered a lot of ground and the main issues in this debate from a biblical perspective have been discussed, which I'm very satisfied with. Closing statement In closing I'd like to urge the readers to take a step back and look at the cases presented here: We see a sweeping theme of life vs death occurring throughout scripture from cover to cover. We see a perfect symmertry in the gospel, of sin entering into the world bringing with it death, and we see Christ dying for mankind (for the wages of sin is death), to free them from it, so that while it's appointed for every man to die once, the faithful will not perish in the second death but will receive everlasting life. The unsaved will be destroyed in both body and soul and this second death will be permanent, an eternal destruction. This is Annihilationism plainly stated. Conversely, the Traditionalist case is built on two pillars. The first being a handful of proof-texts, which as I demonstrated rely on bad inferences, but when read in light of the Bible, actually support the Annihilationist case. The second pillar is the notion that all souls are immortal and that death requires a special "spiritual" definition of some kind. Both the immortality of the soul and the notion that death means "separation" of some kind is explicitly found in the teachings of Plato, the Platonist influence on the early church is clearly documented in history, and most theologians are actually quite blazé about it (except when defending the traditional view of hell). If the proof-texts for Traditionalism cannot support the burden of proof placed on them, and the redefining of the word "death" is necessary to circumvent the consistent theme of life vs death found throughout the bible, what is left of the traditional case? Sure, I expect to be told that my view of death isn't "spiritual" enough, that it is too ordinary and mundane, to which I say, "that is the strength of my case not a weakness!" The Bible doesn't make any distinction between ordinary death and a special "theological death" because it doesn't need to in order to be the hope of life for the fisherman, the tax collector and the prostitute. The gospel will always be a stumbling block to the Jew and a foolishness to the Greek. The eternal conscious torment view isn't more 'spiritual' for having a concept of "theological death", because the fact is that it needs it to harmonise the word "death" with the notion of living forever in torment. We often tick our name next to the idea of "Sola Scriptura" and for Protestants to say it, has almost become trite. I have had to choose between tradition and what I read in the Bible and it has taken me almost two years of Bible study and prayer and research to finally commit to Annihilationism knowing full well that I will lose friends, that I will be called a liberal, a heretic, man-centred and that the Biblical case will for my view will be ignored and that my motives will be questioned. It's one thing believing in Sola Scriptura, but it's another thing having to say, "this is what the Bible says, this is what I've always been taught, I'm going to trust the Bible". I'm not saying this because I expect pity or praise, but because I do respect tradition and I do respect my opinions of my fellow Christians. One should never go against centuries of Christian teaching lightly, and one must not switch doctrines at a whim, but in the end I am convinced that Annihilationism is the correct view of what happens to the unsaved. Thanks for reading
  8. Annihilationism vs. Traditionalism.

    I am not aware of any “modern articulation of Annihilationism” as distinctly separate from the kind of Annihilationism one can read in Athanasius, Justin Martyr etc. I have also never heard of any Annihilationists distinguishing their view of the fate of the unsaved from that of the apostolic fathers, so as far as I can tell this distinction is made up. I have offered the Annihilationism of the apostolic fathers as a counter to the false history that you presented, that "Annihilationism goes back to the 1800s”. I did not built my case for Annihilationism on the view of the apostolic fathers, so to now respond as if I did, is rather disingenuous. Having said that though, the fact that the closest church fathers, some of whom were students of the original apostles, were mostly Annihilationists, and as time went on and more Hellenic views were adopted into mainstream Christianity the majority shifted toward the Eternal Conscious Torment view, certainly doesn't harm my case, does it? If Eternal Conscious Torment is true, it would mean the church started out in error, and gradually got their view of hell right with Augustine and Tertullian, who just happened to be students of Plato. So while I obviously don’t give the historical case as much credence as the scriptural case, I think the historical case is worth considering. Weren’t you the one who said that in order to understand a view we must investigate where it comes from? While you claimed that Annihilationism goes back to the 1800s you looked at a single 20th century proponent (Pinnock) who preceded his exegetical case for Annihilationism with a statement of moral outrage, and you have taken that as exemplifying all Annihilationists and what drives them. Forgive me for seeing this as purely an attempt at poisoning the well against Annihilationism. It’s tantamount to taking John Wesley’s outrage at predestination as a proof that Arminians are basically theological liberals, driven by emotion. I haven’t even read Pinnock before this discussion so to act as though Pinnock is representative of all Annihilationist is really unfortunate. Most of the Annihilationists that I’ve interacted with are very serious about what the Bible teaches, and it’s for Biblical reasons that most of us made the switch from Eternal Conscious Torment to Annihilationism knowing that we’ll be accused of liberalism, heresy and so on. I’m fine with it and as a rule I don’t complain, but one would not expect this sort of thing in a serious debate. There are a lot of unsubstantiated assertions above about the Bible supposedly teaches, which is easy to do. You cannot simply assume that “death” must have a broader meaning than the straightforward every-day use of the word, a case needs to be made. But you have ignored my extensive opening case where the Bible describes the fate of the unsaved as death, perishing and destruction and this is found everywhere in scripture. You think you can get around it, by redefining death to mean “separation” and then replacing the word wherever needed. This is why you *need* a theological definition of “death”: I’m surprised that you would call my definition of death philosophical and your definition of death theological when your idea of death was formulated by Augustine using the Greek philosopher Plato’s conceptualisation of death as a “separation”. Your statement, “Physical death—separation of the spirit from the body”, is practically a word-for-word quote from Plato. On the other hand the Annihilationist definition of death is vividly described in the Bible as returning to the ground, perishing, corruption, corpses consumed by worms and fire, exemplified by Sodom and Gomorrah, etc. So it seems the exact opposite of what you say is true. Again you cannot merely insist that it is so, a case needs to be made. Your use of this passage to establish a “theological definition of death” relies entirely on a false dilemma which states that if we encounter the word ‘death’ and its meaning isn’t literally true in the tense it was uttered, then the only possible interpretation is that this must be a new definition of death being introduced. This strategy completely bypasses any literal devices that must be in play in the text, which far from how one normally exegetes the Bible. One doesn’t bypass any literary context, leaping straight to the conclusion that this must be talking about a special kind of “theological death”, which is really just Plato's definition masquerading as theology. Both proof-texts that were offered to justify a special “theological” definition of death, refer to future events, namely the resurrection to life of the believer and a judgement for the unbeliever, but notice how Shiloh attempts to avoid the clear prolepsis: by claiming that the “being resurrected with Christ and seated in the heavenly places” must also be read “spiritually”. So his proof-text for the spiritualizing of the word “death”, relies on the spiritualizing of the other elements in the verse as well. But, even if we grant that Paul is using death in some figurative sense, that still doesn’t justify the leap to a whole new set of definitions for the word death, that just happens to be what Eternal Conscious Torment needs. From an Annihilationist perspective I think Paul’s message is very simple: death entered the world through Adam, Christ died and was raised so that human beings either belong to the Adam group which is still subject to death, or the Christ group which is subject to Christ’s bodily resurrection and the hope of living forever. No need to switch definitions of death here, and no need to enlist the help of Plato or Augustine. Jesus didn’t die spiritually in our place, He died in the ordinary sense. His resurrection wasn’t some Gnostic spiritual resurrection but a physical resurrection. We can share in that conquest of ordinary death if we belong to the risen one. It's that simple! While Shiloh may say this is an over-simplification, I can just as easily respond that his view is an over-complication. In the end, accusations and rhetoric is no substitute for a clear case which is what I made in my opening statement. Prolepsis, by definition is the present or past tense statement of a future event so merely pointing to the fact that the language uses the present tense doesn’t refute that this prolepsis is used by Jesus. Jesus’ use of “the hour is coming and is now”, is a figure of speech denoting a new dispensation that has begun. To use that as an argument that this must be present sense misses the literary device Jesus is using. For instance Jesus uses the exact same phrase in John 4:23 to describe the new Gospel. Jesus used the same expression to warn the disciples that they would flee from Him. Not once is that expression used to something that was busy happening at present. In each case the phrase was using to describe an outcome that was “at hand”. So nothing here really refutes the clear prolepsis at play in this passages. Resurrection and judgement is a future event and the life and death described in verse 25 is explained in subsequent verses. Shiloh claims that Jesus is only later speaking of the judgement and resurrection, but the verses are separated by the connecting statement “Marvel not at this, for the hour is coming” literally adjacent verses there is no indication that Jesus has changed topics here. You have answered you own question above, because as you say the unrighteous dead will be raised/resurrected prior to judgement. The interpreting Angel in revelation is interpreting the symbols that John sees, and the angel interprets the symbols as referring to the “second death”. If you remember what I said about carnivorous cows: Joseph when interpreting Pharao’s dream said, “the cows are seven years”, thus the cow is the symbol and what the symbol represents is seven years in real life. The angel says, “The lake of fire is the second death”, so following the same reading the lake of fire is the symbol and what it represents in real life is the second death. This of course is exactly what we see throughout scripture, because the bible consistently describes the fate of the unsaved as death throughout the Old and the New Testament. Virtually every proof-text for Eternal Conscious Torment when examined according to scripture also describe scenes of death and destruction and the angelic interpreter calls the interpretation of the symbols “the second death”. Traditionalists tend to do the reverse here, they see the lake of fire as a literal lake of fire and they see the “second death” as some figurative symbol. They then use that figurative reading as proof that this is a special meaning of death, which as I pointed out is question begging. If they both fundamentally mean the same thing then why do you insist on using “ceasing to exist” instead of “ceasing to live” which is a definition that I explicitly denied in my opening statement? If these definitions are synonymous as you claim, then you’d have no reason to prefer one definition over the other yet you do. Why? I have explicitly defined “death” as “ceasing to live” and I have explicitly denied that I define death as “ceasing to exist”. Tables and chairs exist but they are not alive, so the distinction between existing and being alive should be obvious. But let’s be honest about what's going on here, because I'm not new to this issue: it’s a fairly common strategy to caricaturise Annihilationists as defining “death” as “ceasing to exist” which is then used to make the view look absurd as is the case when Shiloh said, “Adam and Eve died but they didn’t cease to exist”, which if that’s what we argued, would be ridiculous. So this is basically just a common strawman. Again we see the attempt to make it look as though everything Shiloh says is “theological” whereas everything I say is “philosophy”, even though the nature of the atonement is a theological question, not a philosophical one. You will be hard pressed to find the atonement discussed much in Philosophy, but it is a prominent feature in systematic theology. Now, of course we can and should be logical when we approach scripture and the logic is straight forward: If one holds to an a substitutionary view of the atonement, which is that Jesus took the penalty we deserved in our stead, then the substitutionary atonement being death means the punishment taken by the substitute (which we deserved) would be death too. Once again you keep focusing on the word “payment” and missing the point I’m making. The Bible describes the penalty/payment/wage/consequence of sin as death. Penal Substitutionary Atonement teaches that Christ's death on the cross wasn't just some symbolic gesture, but it was the substitute taking the penalty/payment/wage/consequence of sin in our place. Since the penalty/payment/wage/consequence of sin Jesus took was death and not eternal conscious torment, it’s reasonable that the penalty/payment/wage/consequence of sin humans deserve is death too. Rom 3:23-25 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God's righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. Isa 53:5 But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed. Gal 1:4 who gave himself for our sins to deliver us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father 1Pe 2:24 He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. Joh 3:14-16 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life. "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. ....and again we see the repeated narrative that your view is theological and Annihilationism is based philosophy, in spite of the fact that your statement that physical death is a separation of the soul from the body is a direct quote from Plato and isn’t found anywhere in the Bible (unless it’s first read into the Bible). The idea that all souls are immortal is also an undisputed Hellenic notion, which is openly contradicted by the Bible. The mainstream systematic theology of eternal conscious torment, which is basically what you’re espousing here first appears on the scene in the 5th century in Augustine’s “City of God”, and I have mentioned already that both Augustine and Tertullian were students of Plato and their incorporation of Platonic concepts with mainstream Christianity isn't actually disputed. I have even come across someone who claims that in order to understand Christianity one must read Plato (https://blog.logos.com/2013/11/plato-christianity-church-fathers/), and I was once called an alarmist for emphasising the Platonic connection to Eternal Conscious Torment, "because" I was told, "this isn't news to anybody". So it seems we find ourselves in upside-down land. The Traditionalists trying to read Greek philosophy into the Bible are doing "theology" and those trying to get Greek Philosophy out of our theology are "attempting to make the discussion philosophical".
  9. Annihilationism vs. Traditionalism.

    First of all, I apologise for the length of these posts, but this is a debate about which view is best described by the Biblical data, and the good thing about the annihilationist case is that it is supported by multiple lines of evidence and sweeping themes throughout scripture, as opposed to a handful of proof texts as is the case for the Traditionalist view. The downside is obviously that there is a lot of ground to cover, and I like to be thorough. In support of the Biblical case for Annihilationism I have followed 3 lines of argumentation: I have shown that the Bible describes the fate of the unsaved in terms of death, destruction and perishing using numerous passages from the Bible. I have shown that the common arguments for the Eternal Conscious Torment view, actually support Annihilationism when read according to the Bible. I have argued that if Christ took the punishment that we deserved (penal substitutionary atonement) and that the nature of the punishment was death not eternal conscious torment, then the punishment that the unsaved will face is death not eternal conscious torment. Shiloh’s response contains 3 major points, the first of which appears to be aimed at casting doubt on the credibility of Annihilationism by arguing that it’s motivated by emotion and theological liberalism and originated in the 1800s. The second being that the definition of death as ceasing to live is incomplete and that we need additional definitions of death. The third argument seems to be a misunderstanding of the thrust of my third argument regarding penal substitutionary atonement. Will the real history of Annihilationism please stand up? Shiloh said as part of his first argument regarding Annihilationism, “It actually goes back to the 1800s. It has gained resurgence in the late 20th century among post-conservative and postmodern thinkers in the Church...”. While this debate is a debate about what the bible says and not the history of the two views, I am actually quite glad that we’re going slightly off-topic here, because just like the Biblical case, the historical case for Annihilationism is pretty compelling, and the history of the Eternal Conscious Torment view shows its Hellenistic, rather than Biblical roots. The claim that annihilation goes back to the 1800s is just plain wrong. Even critics of Annihilationism agree that the 4th century Church Father, Arnobius of Sicca, was an annihilationist, and since he was a Church father it means at the very least that there was a community Annihilationists who held that belief, unless one wishes to argue that Arnobius was a church father without a church. Looking further back to the writings of especially the apostolic fathers, these are Christians who lived at the time of or shortly after the apostles themselves, such as Clement of Rome, Irenaeus and Athanasius these were most certainly Annihilationists too. I won’t go into depth here but I will include some additional quotes, references and video links in the footnotes. We also see later church fathers such as Justin Martyr, with a particularly interesting conversion from being a Greek philosopher as a young man, to believing that the soul will die, after converting to Christianity. Now why would a person who believes in the immortality of the soul, deny it after conversion to Christianity if Christianity was compatible with it? Conversely, looking at the history of the Eternal Conscious Torment view we see Christianity gradually adopting the ideas of Plato such as the immortality of the soul and the defining of death as a separation. This culminated in Tertullian teaching eternal conscious torment and Augustine formulating the first systematic theology of eternal conscious torment. Most of the current doctrine of eternal conscious torment was developed by Augustine. Both Tertullian and Augustine were heavily influenced by Plato and quite open about it. Again see footnotes for more info. Who is really appealing to emotion? Shiloh says, “Pinnock’s argument is that the love of God is inconsistent with the doctrine of an eternity of suffering in Hell” and concludes that Annihilationism is largely based on emotion. The problem is that I haven’t once argued an emotional case or argument against hell based on the love of God. In fact my wife says my writing is too dry, so this is nothing but a sweeping generalization. But isn’t the sweeping generalization itself an emotional appeal? To paint Annihilationists as theological liberals, at odds with Biblical inerrancy, at odds with conservative Christianity, emotional, who sacrifice truth and a Biblical understanding of God’s Holiness for a wishy washy Christianity, isn’t an argument from scripture neither does it address the annihilationist case, instead it is purely meant to make Annihilationism appear unappealing. It says that if you’re one of the good guys then you should be a Traditionalist, because Annihilationists aren’t genuine Christians. Unfortunately this appeal works too well, because most people are ignorant of what the Bible really says on this issue and they’re ignorant of the pros and cons for both views being discussed here. They believe Eternal Conscious Torment is biblical because they’re told it’s Biblical and they’re told that conservative Christians shouldn’t question Eternal Conscious Torment. It’s marketing and good marketing at that, and like all marketing it is itself an appeal to emotion. The gospel according to Plato. Traditionalists often argue that “death” should not be read as ceasing to live, but instead it must be read as “separation”. This is problematic for a great number of reasons: Its origin isn’t Biblical. As I mentioned earlier Plato famously believed that death must not be seen as the ending of life, but as a separation of the body from the soul. When Traditionalists say “death is a separation” they think they’re stating biblical theology but they’re actually quoting Plato. Here’s an excerpt from Plato’s Phaedo: "And they are right, Simmias, in saying this, with the exception of the words “They have found them out”; for they have not found out what is the nature of this death which the true philosopher desires, or how he deserves or desires death. But let us leave them and have a word with ourselves: Do we believe that there is such a thing as death? To be sure, replied Simmias. And is this anything but the separation of soul and body? And being dead is the attainment of this separation when the soul exists in herself, and is parted from the body and the body is parted from the soul—that is death?" - Plato's Phaeo 61-64 (http://www.bartleby.com/2/1/31.html) Unlike Plato, the Bible never actually defines death as a separation although this hasn’t stopped Traditionalists from attempting to read it into the Bible. The verses that Shiloh offered is a fairly common approach, but none of these proof-texts lead to the desired conclusion unless one is already committed to looking for separation in the Bible. Eph 2:1 And you were dead in the trespasses and sins The logical inference here is: Paul is speaking to people who have not yet ceased to live. Paul referred to them as having been dead. Therefore being dead doesn’t mean ceasing to live. From here an extension of Plato’s definition of death is then read into the passage interpreting the formerly unsaved sinful state as “separated from God” and then the final conclusion is that death must mean separation from God, even though the text states nothing of the sort. The next step in the traditionalist approach is to switch to this newly formulated definition of death in quite an ad hoc way, to get around the fate of the unsaved described as death. Even if we grant that death in some context might mean separation from God, what is the exegetical justification for reading that particular definition into every instance that describes the fate of the unsaved as death? So, even if Shiloh’s claim that Ephesians 2 proves that death means separation goes through, he’s only half way to doing what is needed, but Ephesians 2 doesn’t even do that, because the phrase “being dead in trespasses and sins” is clearly prolepsis when looked at in context. Prolepsis occurs when you’re using present tense language to describe something that’ll happen in the future, for instance the term “dead man walking” is used in when a person to be executed is walking to the electric chair. He isn’t dead at the time, but the prolepsis is used to describe that he is “as good as dead”. Paul’s description of the unsaved being dead in trespasses and sins, is prolepsis, saying that the death of the unsaved was a certainty, until Christ redeemed them. The prolepsis obvious if we look at the entire passage: But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. (Eph 2:4-7) Paul describes the former state as being “dead in trespasses” and he describes the new state as “being raised up and seated with Him in heavenly places”. These people hadn’t been raised up and seated with God at the time Paul wrote that, but Paul is using prolepsis to indicate their future glorification in the same way that he used prolepsis to describe their former state. So, Paul isn’t introducing a special definition of death here. What about John 5:24? If we just read the very next verse, we see that Jesus follows His description of the unsaved passing from death to life with a description of the future resurrection, where the dead will be resurrected unto everlasting life. Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life. "Truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming, and is now here, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live. (Joh 5:24-25) This verse is actually a pretty good example of how the Traditionalist view switches between definitions of death, not based on exegesis, but based on theological necessity. Shiloh has claimed that the “death” in view in verse 24 is “spiritual death”, but what is the definition of “death” in verse 25? Clearly this can’t be ‘spiritual death’ because the spiritually dead aren’t going to hear the voice of God and live at the time of resurrection and judgement. This is referring to the physically dead. So either Jesus is mixing definitions mid-sentence or the idea that spiritual death is in view here is wrong. Not only is mixing definitions awkward, but there’s no reason to interpret it that way. Separation of body and soul The following 3 verses are offered as proof that the Bible defines physical death as the separation of body and soul. Mat 2:15 And was there until the death of Herod: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Out of Egypt have I called my son. Gen 35:18 And it came to pass, as her soul was in departing, (for she died) that she called his name Benoni: but his father called him Benjamin. Jas 2:26 For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also. To be honest I’m not sure how Matt 2:15 supports the “death = separation” at all. As for the other two texts, none of them actually define death as the separation of the body and soul. Sure, that could very well be what happens when a person physically dies, but to take that entailment and to define “death” according to that entailment, is quite a leap. It is no less strange than if someone were to argue that “death” means “to smell bad”, because when people die, they smell bad. None of these verses would convince anybody that a new special definition of death is at play here, unless they're approaching the text looking for some way to read separation into the "death". When just read plainly, these verses don’t offer a challenge to the Annihilationist perspective at all: If, as James 2:26 says, the body is dead when the soul, having not yet died, departs from it, what does this say about the state of a man when both the body and the soul has been destroyed? Mat 10:28 And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in Gehenna. If the soul is still conscious when the body dies, it doesn’t mean that the soul will be conscious when both it and the body dies. Death as separation is logically incoherent. If we’re supposed to read death as a separation then should both the separated things be considered dead or only one of them? If we say that it applies to both, then if death equates to separation of the body and soul, is the body dead because it’s separated from the soul, and is the soul also dead because it has separated from the body? That can’t be right? By extension if so-called spiritual death is the separation of the person from God, then is both God and the person dead as a result of the separation, or is only the person dead? If we say it applies only to one, then it favours the annihilationist view, because then death isn’t the separation of two things, but rather a description of a state of one of the separated things. So when the body dies the thing that’s dead is the body, it’s not the state of separation that is the “death”. Thus if Jesus says that both the body and the soul will be destroyed in Gehenna, both the body and the soul will in fact be dead, which is perfectly in line with the annihilationist perspective. It doesn’t account for the worms The bible doesn’t merely describe the fate of the unsaved as “death” leaving open the possibility to redefine death and be done with it. The Bible vividly describes the fate of the unsaved in terms of corpses being consumed by fire and maggots. Adam’s curse is described as returning to ground. Sodom and Gomorrah is offered as an example of the fate that awaits the unsaved, and their death was very much ordinary everyday death. Then we have words like perishing, corruption (referring to decay) and desolation all offering additional evidence of what’s in view here and none of it is compatible with “separation”. A third kind of death? Furthermore Shiloh offered Revelation 20:14, 21:8 and 2 Thes 1:9 as proof-texts for a third definition of death which he calls “eternal or second death”, but that begs the question. These are only examples of a different kind of death if one assumes the Traditionalist view in the first place, but that’s what needs to be proven. The very fact that the second death is called the second death may very well be because it’s the second occurrence of death which the unsaved will experience. If the first death is ordinary death then the second time it happens, it’s only reasonable that it would also be ordinary death. Ceasing to exist vs ceasing to live. In my opening statement I have been careful to define death and annihilation as ceasing to live and I have also stated explicitly that I am not arguing cessation of existence. It is curious then why Shiloh states the following: “To make the definition of cessation of life or non-existence, hence annihilation the working definition of ‘death’ for duration of this conversation simply will not do.” “Did they go out of existence? No, they did not. They were dead, yet neither their physical body nor their soul became extinct at that point.” “This is not possible IF the dead are out of existence.” Since this isn’t what I argued I see no need to respond. Jesus died for our sins. It seems that Shiloh misunderstood my argument that Jesus’ death on the cross, is evidence that the fate of the unsaved is death. Both Shiloh and I agree that the punishment that Jesus bore on our behalf is death. He says, “Jesus' death on the cross fully satisfied the payment for our sins. Jesus was not paying for our sins during the 3 days nights he was in the grave. Jesus' death on the cross accomplished that, which is what Jesus meant when He said, "It is Finished" (Tetelestai - "Paid in full"). Jesus did not suffer in Hell, because the moment He died on the cross, sin was paid for.” Exactly! So if the thing that Jesus suffered in our stead is death and not torment in hell, then the punishment for sin cannot be torment in hell but death. This creates a dilemma for the traditionalist who holds to penal substitutionary atonement. Here’s why: 1. If the punishment for sin is eternal conscious torment 2. And if Jesus took our punishment on our behalf 3. Then Jesus would have been eternally consciously tormented on our behalf. 4. Jesus wasn't tormented eternally on our behalf. 5. Therefore the punishment isn't eternal conscious torment Conversely: 1. If the punishment is death 2. And if Jesus took our punishment on our behalf 3. Then Jesus would have died on our behalf. 4. Jesus did die on our behalf 5. Therefore the punishment is death Traditionalists have two options here: 1. Abandon the penal substitutionary atonement view of the cross, which teaches that Jesus took the penalty for our sins that we were meant to receive. 2. Find some way to make Jesus death on the cross equate to eternal conscious torment while still somehow being a valid substitution. The only real attempt I’ve seen at dealing with this problem is the pseudo-mathematical equation from Anselm, stating that finite sins against an infinite God require a punishment infinite in duration. While this is certainly clever, the Bible doesn’t mention this anywhere, and the first occurrence of this idea is more than a millennium after the gospel was given. It also equivocates infinity as a quantity of duration with God’s qualitative holiness. Conclusion It appears then that proponents of the Traditionalist view of hell attempt to force a kind of Platonist definition of death, which is separation, onto the Bible by looking for instances where death is used in reference to living people, and then making a logical leap that this must be a special theological kind of ‘death’. A further logical leaps are then made to conclude that this death must be separation because some verses can be interpreted that way even though none explicitly say so. Only then is the word death, able to be harmonized with the view that the unsaved will live forever in conscious torment. Footnotes Justin Martyr on the Hellenistic error of the immortality of the soul: DIALOGUE TO TRYPHO CHAPTER V -- THE SOUL IS NOT IN ITS OWN NATURE IMMORTAL. "'These philosophers [Referring to Greek philosophers who teach that the soul is immortal] know nothing, then, about these things; for they cannot tell what a soul is.' "'It does not appear so.' "'Nor ought it to be called immortal; for if it is immortal, it is plainly unbegotten.' "'It is both unbegotten and immortal, according to some who are styled Platonists.' Source: http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/text/justinmartyr-dialoguetrypho.html ON THE RESURRECTION CHAPTER 10 - ...why do we any longer endure those unbelieving and dangerous arguments, and fail to see that we are retrograding when we listen to such an argument as this: that the soul is immortal, but the body mortal, and incapable of being revived? For this we used to hear from Pythagoras and Plato Source: https://st-takla.org/books/en/ecf/001/0010666.html Church fathers who were Annihilationists Irenaeus - Against Heresies (Book II, Chapter 34) And therefore he who shall preserve the life bestowed upon him, and give thanks to Him who imparted it, shall receive also length of days for ever and ever. But he who shall reject it, and prove himself ungrateful to his Maker, inasmuch as he has been created, and has not recognised Him who bestowed [the gift upon him], deprives himself of [the privilege of] continuance for ever and ever. And, for this reason, the Lord declared to those who showed themselves ungrateful towards Him: “If you have not been faithful in that which is little, who will give you that which is great?” indicating that those who, in this brief temporal life, have shown themselves ungrateful to Him who bestowed it, shall justly not receive from Him length of days for ever and ever. Athanasius the Great - On the Incarnation of the Word, Chapter 6 The human race then was wasting, God’s image was being effaced, and His work ruined. Either, then, God must forego His spoken word by which man had incurred ruin; or that which had shared in the being of the Word must sink back again into destruction, in which case God’s design would be defeated. Athanasius the Great - Discourse 3 Against the Arians, Chapter 29 For it beseemed that the flesh, corruptible as it was, should no longer after its own nature remain mortal, but because of the Word who had put it on, should abide incorruptible. For as He, having come in our body, was conformed to our condition, so we, receiving Him, partake of the immortality that is from Him. Athanasius the Great - On the Incarnation of the Word, Chapter 4 "We have seen that to change the corruptible to incorruption was proper to none other than the Savior Himself, Who in the beginning made all things out of nothing; that only the Image of the Father could re-create the likeness of the Image in men, that none save our Lord Jesus Christ could give to mortals immortality, and that only the Word Who orders all things and is alone the Father's true and sole-begotten Son could teach men about Him and abolish the worship of idols. But beyond all this, there was a debt owing which must needs be paid; for, as I said before, all men were due to die. Here, then, is the second reason why the Word dwelt among us, namely that having proved His Godhead by His works, He might offer the sacrifice on behalf of all, surrendering His own temple to death in place of all, to settle man's account with death and free him from the primal transgression." Athanasius the Great - On the Incarnation of the Word, Chapter 4 For transgression of the commandment was turning them back to their natural state, so that just as they have had their being out of nothing, so also, as might be expected, they might look for corruption into nothing in the course of time. 5. For if, out of a former normal state of non-existence, they were called into being by the Presence and loving-kindness of the Word, it followed naturally that when men were bereft of the knowledge of God and were turned back to what was not (for what is evil is not, but what is good is), they should, since they derive their being from God who IS, be everlastingly bereft even of being; in other words, that they should be disintegrated and abide in death and corruption. Ignasius - The Epistle of Ignatius to the Ephesians, Chapter 18 For this end did the Lord allow the ointment to be poured upon His head, John 12:7 that He might breathe immortality into His Church. Be not anointed with the bad odour of the doctrine of the prince of this world; let him not lead you away captive from the life which is set before you. And why are we not all prudent, since we have received the knowledge of God, which is Jesus Christ? Why do we foolishly perish, not recognising the gift which the Lord has of a truth sent to us? Ignasius - The Epistle of Ignatius to the Magnesians Let us not, therefore, be insensible to His kindness. For were He to reward us according to our works, we should cease to be. Video link to Church Fathers who were Annhilationists: http://www.rethinkinghell.com/2013/07/church-fathers-who-were-conditionalists/ Immortality in the early church. A comprehensive study in e-Book form: http://bryangrayministries.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/Immortality-in-the-Early-Church.doc Platonist influences of Church Fathers like Augustine and Tertullian "Intellectually, Augustine represents the most influential adaptation of the ancient Platonic tradition with Christian ideas that ever occurred in the Latin Christian world. Augustine received the Platonic past in a far more limited and diluted way than did many of his Greek-speaking contemporaries, but his writings were so widely read and imitated throughout Latin Christendom that his particular synthesis of Christian, Roman, and Platonic traditions defined the terms for much later tradition and debate." - https://www.britannica.com/biography/Saint-Augustine “The utterance of Plato, the most pure and bright in all philosophy, scattering the clouds of error . . .” - Augustine of Hippo "Chap. III. - Some Truths Held Even by the Heathen, They Were, However, More Often Wrong Both in Religious Opinions and in Moral Practice. The Heathen Not to Be Followed in Their Ignorance of the Christian Mystery. The Heretics Perversely Prone to Follow Them. One may no doubt be wise in the things of God, even from one’s natural powers, but only in witness to the truth, not in maintenance of error; (only) when one acts in accordance with, not in opposition to, the divine dispensation. For some things are known even by nature: the immortality of the soul, for instance, is held by many; the knowledge of our God is possessed by all. I may use, therefore, the opinion of a Plato, when he declares, “Every soul is immortal.” I may use also the conscience of a nation, when it attests the God of gods. I may, in like manner, use all the other intelligences of our common nature, when they pronounce God to be a judge. “God sees,” (say they)(say they); and, “I commend you to God.” (compare the De Test. Anim. ii., and De Anim. xlii.) But when they say, What has undergone death is dead,” and, “Enjoy life whilst you live,” and, “After death all things come to an end, even death itself;” then I must remember both that “the heart of man is ashes,” (Isa_44:20) according to the estimate of God, and that the very “Wisdom of the world is foolishness,” (as the inspired word) pronounces it to be. (1Co_1:20, 1Co_3:19) Then, if even the heretic seek refuge in the depraved thoughts of the vulgar, or the imaginations of the world, I must say to him: Part company with the heathen, O heretic! for although you are all agreed in imagining a God, yet while you do so in the name of Christ, so long as you deem yourself a Christian, you are a different man from a heathen: give him back his own views of things, since he does not himself learn from yours. Why lean upon a blind guide, if you have eyes of your own? Why be clothed by one who is naked, if you have put on Christ? Why use the shield of another, when the apostle gives you armour of your own? It would be better for him to learn from you to acknowledge the resurrection of the flesh, than for you from him to deny it; because if Christians must needs deny it, it would be sufficient if they did so from their own knowledge, without any instruction from the ignorant multitude. He, therefore, will not be a Christian who shall deny this doctrine which is confessed by Christians; denying it, moreover, on grounds which are adopted by a man who is not a Christian. Take away, indeed, from the heretics the wisdom which they share with the heathen, and let them support their inquiries from the Scriptures alone: they will then be unable to keep their ground. For that which commends men’s common sense is its very simplicity, and its participation in the same feelings, and its community of opinions; and it is deemed to be all the more trustworthy, inasmuch as its definitive statements are naked and open, and known to all. Divine reason, on the contrary, lies in the very pith and marrow of things, not on the surface, and very often is at variance with appearances." - Tertullian
  10. Annihilationism vs. Traditionalism.

    Hi All, Thanks, Shiloh for agreeing to this debate and thanks to everybody for setting it up for us. I'll be arguing that the bible teaches that the fate of the unsaved is annihilation rather than eternal conscious torment. Here goes: What is Annihilationism? Annihilationism, also called Conditional Immortality or Conditionalism is the view that immortality is a gift from God given only to those who have been saved through belief in the death of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior. Those who are not saved will therefore not receive everlasting life and will be punished by death. As such, we Annihilationists disagree with the Traditional view that says that everybody lives forever, the saved spending eternity in heaven and the unsaved experiencing eternal conscious torment. Annihilation defined This is where I see a lot of misrepresentation of the annihilationist view, where it is claimed that we believe the unsaved are “evaporated”, “zapped out of existence”, “ceasing to exist”, “disintegration” and such. While these definitions are understandable if one takes a narrow view of the word “annihilate”, in reality though, I simply believe that the unsaved will die, they will cease to live, they will no longer be alive. Death defined We define death in the plain everyday use of the term and as such synonymous with the definition of annihilation meaning “ceasing to live”, “no longer being alive” and so on. When I say my pet fish died, I am saying that it is no longer alive. When I’m saying that David killed Goliath and he is now dead, I’m saying that Goliath has ceased to live. How do we define being alive? Being alive, is a state in which a sometime is active, able to respond to its environment, aware, animated, capable of thought, capable of sensory perception, able to will, etc. As such this is the opposite of death. These are basic timeless, universally understood definitions of life and death that I’m assuming in my exploration of this doctrine. I agree that metaphorical uses for words, as in “Pete has died, but he’s living on in our memories”, can happen but those instances are determined by their immediate literary context. Let’s cover some rules of Bible interpretation that are relevant to this issue Predatory Cows? Gen 41:4 And the ugly, thin cows ate up the seven attractive, plump cows. And Pharaoh awoke. Literary Context/Genre is important in our interpretation of scripture. If we’re interpreting a dream or a vision wherein, say seven skinny cows happen to eat up seven fat cows, do we take it at face value or do we treat this part of the text as description of something seen in a dream which requires interpretation? So the literary context/genre will drive our interpretation of what we read. But what if we don’t agree with a specific word? Can we assign a spiritual meaning to it? Unless a case is made that the context of that word requires a special theological meaning, we should assume the face value meaning. Even if a word can have multiple meanings in different contexts we cannot just pick the meaning from the total range of meanings a word has and apply it to a particular instance of the word. There’s a technical term for this and it’s called, illegitimate totality transfer. So while there may be some verses that might refer to “spiritual death” as a theological term, one cannot simply change the meaning of every instance of “death” to “spiritual death”. A case needs to be made from the context. Interpret unclear passages according to clear passages not the other way around. Joh 10:34 Jesus answered them, "Is it not written in your Law, 'I said, you are gods'? This is a rather obscure verse, and it’s just not good Bible study to ignore/reinterpret all the clear passages saying there’s only one God, in favour of this one passage saying people are gods. Instead we should interpret this passage in light of the clear teaching, not the other way around. White coats on, it’s off to the lab to test the claims against the Bible. If it is true that the fate of the unsaved is punishment by death and destruction, we should expect to find verses in the Bible that support this. Since another implication of the doctrine is that only one group of people gets to live to forever, we should also see this borne out in scripture. Let’s explore the annihilationist case: Paradise Lost Gen 2:16-17 And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, "You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die." Gen 3:19 By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return." Gen 3:22-23 …lest he reach out his hand and take also of the tree of life and eat, and live forever—" therefore the LORD God sent him out from the garden of Eden to work the ground from which he was taken. In the above verses we have a rule and a consequence for breaking this rule. The consequence is called death, and the death is described as returning to the ground from which you were taken. Gen 3:22-23 is particularly relevant as well because we see God removing Adam and Eve’s access to the tree of life, and the reason given is, “lest they eat and live forever”. The inescapable conclusion is that as a result of the fall, human beings are mortal, not immortal. More verses that teach death/destruction for the unsaved. Joh 3:16 "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. Rom 6:23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Mat 7:13-14 "Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few. 1Jn 5:11-12 And this is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life. Jas 5:20 let him know that whoever brings back a sinner from his wandering will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins. 2Ti 1:10 and which now has been manifested through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel, Joh 10:27-28 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. Joh 6:47-51 Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes has eternal life. I am the bread of life. Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. This is the bread that comes down from heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh." Mat 10:28 And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. Now you might object saying “Wait a minute! You’re reading these verses as if they’re talking about ordinary life and death, aren’t they talking about spiritual death and everlasting life in the sense of union with God?” you may ask. If you believe these verses aren’t talking about ordinary life and death, then a case needs to be made for reading them differently. Nothing about them seems to suggest that they should be interpreted in any way other than their everyday meaning. I agree that we’ve been taught in Sunday school to think of “perishing” in John 3:16 as “going to hell” and “everlasting life” as “going to heaven”, but my point is that the verses don’t say that. Instead the verses say exactly what we would expect them to say if the fate of the unsaved was simply death. Did Jesus die in our place or was he eternally tormented in our place? If the punishment that we justly deserved was eternal conscious torment, then how is it that the Bible says Christ died in our place? Jesus didn’t spiritually die in our place, He was actually crucified, and confirmed dead by the thrust of a Roman spear. So too is His resurrection a bodily resurrection, the tomb was found empty, and Thomas saw the holes in His hands and the felt the wound in His side. The resurrection is our proof that Jesus has broken the curse. Paul vividly describes the beautiful symmetry of the Gospel: Rom 5:12-21 Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned—for sin indeed was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not counted where there is no law. Yet death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sinning was not like the transgression of Adam, who was a type of the one who was to come. But the free gift is not like the trespass. For if many died through one man's trespass, much more have the grace of God and the free gift by the grace of that one man Jesus Christ abounded for many. And the free gift is not like the result of that one man's sin. For the judgment following one trespass brought condemnation, but the free gift following many trespasses brought justification. For if, because of one man's trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ. Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men. For as by the one man's disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man's obedience the many will be made righteous. Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. Jesus’ death on the cross and resurrection weren’t mere earthly symbols of some greater spiritual reality. Jesus’ death and resurrection are the reality. The reality that ordinary everyday tragic death that plagues our existence, brought about by sin, has been conquered by the Lamb slain in our place, and by His resurrection from death we can trust in that resurrection that our enemy, death, has been defeated. 1Co 15:53-57 For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. We are mortal and we will see corruption, unless we partake in the gift of eternal life. This clearly contradicts the notion that everybody will life forever, either in heaven or in hell. The Gospel is a life and death matter, not a matter of where immortal being spent eternity. Backfiring proof-texts for Eternal Conscious Torment I believe most of classical proof-texts for Eternal Conscious Torment actually contradict the idea, when they are looked at carefully. The flaw with the interpretation of these proof-texts are that, instead of being looked at through the lens of scripture and how their intended audience might have understood them, they are used as premises in logical inferences that seem to suggest eternal conscious torment. Let’s look at them individually. Unquenchable fire Mat 3:12 Whose fan is in his hand, and he will thoroughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat into the garner; but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire. What traditionalists do here is make logical inferences that look as follows: 1: The fire is unquenchable. 2: To be unquenchable is to burn forever. 3: To burn forever requires fuel that’ll last forever 4: It is the unsaved that fuels the fire 5: Therefore the unsaved will burn forever. This is roughly the thought process that drives the belief that this is a proof-text for the traditionalist point of view. The problem is that premise 2 is a false premise, because this is not how “Unquenchable fire” is understood in Biblical language. Let’s see if we can interpret the phrase in light of a clear passage elsewhere in scripture that might help us understand what the bible means by “unquenchable fire”: Jer 17:27 But if ye will not hearken unto Me… then will I kindle a fire in the gates thereof, and it shall devour the palaces of Jerusalem, and it shall not be quenched. Eze 20:47-48 … Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I will kindle a fire in thee, and it shall devour every green tree in thee, and every dry tree: the flaming flame shall not be quenched, and all faces from the south to the north shall be burned therein. And all flesh shall see that I the LORD have kindled it: it shall not be quenched. Scripture then, seems to define an unquenchable fire as a fire that cannot be stopped from completely devouring that which it burns. This aligns even with our English language use of the word “quench”, which means to put out a fire. It’s not a description of how long a fire burns. So if we look at how the “unquenchable fire” is used in scripture, it seems to better support the Annihilationist view, which is of a fire that consumes and devours rather than merely tormenting that which it burns. Immortal worms Mar 9:48 Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched. We’ve already covered unquenchable fire, but what about these pesky immortal worms? Let’s look at the traditionalist inferences: 1: The worms don’t die 2: Worms that don’t die live forever 3: The worms are eating the unsaved 4: Therefore the unsaved are eaten forever Let’s see if we can get some clarity on what’s going on here, by looking at the passage in the Old Testament that Jesus is quoting here: Isa 66:24 And they shall go forth, and look upon the carcases of the men that have transgressed against me: for their worm shall not die, neither shall their fire be quenched; and they shall be an abhorring unto all flesh. The scene in Isaiah 66 depicts carcases being eaten by worms and being burnt up by fire. It’s not a picture of living souls being tormented by fires that burn forever and worms that never die. The significance of the worms is rather interesting, because in Jewish culture it was considered shameful for a dead body to see decay. Bodies needed to be properly buried, not left out in the open to be devoured by scavengers, maggots and fire. The picture that Isaiah is describing, and which Jesus referencing is a picture of unstoppable decay and corruption. We see a similar situation in Jeremiah: Jer 7:33 And the carcases of this people shall be meat for the fowls of the heaven, and for the beasts of the earth; and none shall fray them away. This time we have, not worms, but birds feeding on the dead bodies, and the description that there’ll be nobody to ‘shoo’ them away, and thus stopping the shameful consumption of these dead bodies. We see the emphasis on not seeing decay clearly in the following Psalm: Psa 16:9-11 Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices; my flesh also dwells secure. For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol, or let your holy one see corruption. You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore. This Psalm expresses David’s desire to be protected from his enemies, to not be dishonoured by having his body rotting on the battle field, but the psalm is also looking ahead to Christ whose body didn’t see decay and corruption but was risen on the third day, as we see here: Act 2:31 he foresaw and spoke about the resurrection of the Christ, that he was not abandoned to Hades, nor did his flesh see corruption. So when Jesus is talking about the unsaved being burnt with unquenchable fire and eaten by worms that won’t die, he is simply saying that nothing will prevent the shameful destruction of the unsaved. The consumption of the bodies won’t be prematurely stopped by the death of the maggots, and the burning up won’t be prematurely stopped by quenching the fires. Eternal Fire Mat 25:41 "Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. Again this appears to speak of a fire that burns eternally if we construct inferences at the face value reading of words, but what if the eternal fire isn’t speaking about how long the fire burns but rather refers to the source of the fire, namely God, who is eternal? If that were the case then we would expect to see an example of “eternal fire” referring to a situation where the fire doesn’t burn literally forever, wouldn’t we? Here’s such an example: Jud 1:7 just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding cities, which likewise indulged in sexual immorality and pursued unnatural desire, serve as an example by undergoing a punishment of eternal fire. So, if we ask what a punishment by eternal fire looks like, we see that the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah underwent punishment by eternal fire. Those fires aren’t still burning today, so they’re not eternal in the sense of burning eternally, instead they called eternal because God is eternal and He sent the fire. The biblical interpretation of eternal fire, seems to be like saying “divine fire”, or “heavenly fire”. So we see Jesus calling the punishment of the unsaved, eternal fire, and we see in Jude that Sodom and Gomorrah serve as an example of punishment by eternal fire. There’s an even more direct link between the fate of the ungodly and what took place at Sodom and Gomorrah and that is the following verse: 2Pe 2:6 if by turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to ashes he condemned them to extinction, making them an example of what is going to happen to the ungodly; So if we were to ask for an example in scripture on what will happen to the ungodly, this verse answers that question directly, and the answer is: extinction. Eternal punishment vs Eternal Life Apart from two verses in Revelation that I’ll discuss next, the following is probably the most quoted proof-text offered for the traditionalist view. Mat 25:46 And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life." Let’s look at two criteria that the verse sets for us: Criterion 1: The righteous gets to live forever, and therefore it is implied that the other group does not. Criterion 2: The punishment is eternal. If our doctrine is to conform to this verse, it needs to meet the two criteria, right? The traditionalist view fails to meet Criterion 1 because traditionalists believe that both the saved and the unsaved live forever, the only difference being where they spend eternity. Only the Annihilationist can nod in agreement to both criteria. We believe that the unsaved will die, and Criterion 1, implies that clearly. We also believe the punishment of death, unlike the first death, is permanent. The unsaved will remain dead forever, and thus we can nod in agreement to criterion 2 as well. Smoke Rising forever Rev 14:11 And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name. One can understand why this verse is popular among traditionalists, because at face value it seems cut and dried. Here you have a description of beast worshippers, being described as having the smoke of their torment ascending forever. The logical inference here is simple: 1: The smoke of their torment rises forever 2: Therefore the torment must be happing forever Except that once more when we look at how this phrase is used elsewhere in scripture, it does not describe a scene of people being eternally tormented, but a scene of massive and total destruction. Isa 34:9-12 And the streams thereof shall be turned into pitch, and the dust thereof into brimstone, and the land thereof shall become burning pitch. It shall not be quenched night nor day; the smoke thereof shall go up for ever: from generation to generation it shall lie waste; none shall pass through it for ever and ever. But the cormorant and the bittern shall possess it; the owl also and the raven shall dwell in it: and he shall stretch out upon it the line of confusion, and the stones of emptiness. They shall call the nobles thereof to the kingdom, but none shall be there, and all her princes shall be nothing. The images that John saw in his visions in Revelation consist entirely of images found the in Old Testament. It seems to me then that we cannot read these images in a vacuum without looking at their original use, and as with all the other images in the book of Revelation. When we do that though, we see Isaiah vividly describing the laying waste of a kingdom, where birds and reptiles roam former palaces, where owls nest, and carrion eaters like ravens dwell. It seems then that smoke rising forever, doesn’t mean what one might infer from a face-value reading, but a scenario where the destruction is total and final. Clearly this is not a scene of people being eternally, and consciously tormented. Revelation 18 describes the harlot also being tormented with fire and the smoke of this torment is also described as going up forever. When John’s angelic interpreter interprets the vision for John however, the interpretation has nothing to do with torment. The Harlot symbolises the city of Babylon and her torment symbolizes her destruction. Rev 18:21 And a mighty angel took up a stone like a great millstone, and cast it into the sea, saying, Thus with violence shall that great city Babylon be thrown down, and shall be found no more at all. So can we use this a key to decode the other things being tormented, in the Lake of fire? If something is tormented in the vision, then the interpretation is that it is being destroyed: Rev 20:10 and the devil who had deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur where the beast and the false prophet were, and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever. We see, death and hades thrown into the lake of fire, and both Traditionalists and Annihilationists agree that this symbolizes the end of the underworld and the end of death itself. We see the angelic interpreter himself interpret the symbol of torment in Revelation as the destruction of a city. We see, another symbol of the smoke of torment, also symbolizing destruction and the laying waste of a kingdom. So when we see another instance of torment, this time the beast, the false prophet and the devil being thrown into the lake of fire and tormented in Revelation 20:10, do we conclude that this time the torment must be literal eternal torment or do we trust the consistency of the rest of Revelation and assume that this must mean the end of them? How has God punished sin, thus far? If prolonged torment is really the only just way to punish sins against an infinite God, as the argument goes, then why isn’t this justice reflected in God’s dealings with mankind throughout history? God, has dealt consistently with sin, but the consistent consequence of sin has always been death, never once has it been torment of any length of time. There was corporal punishment in the Law of Moses but never sustained torture. In fact the number of stripes a man could receive were limited to forty (Deu. 25:3) The most heinous of crimes however were always punished by death. We see this consistency every time God’s patience with man’s wickedness grew thin. In the days of Noah, God dealt with sin by sending a flood which killed the wicked. And the LORD regretted that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart. So the LORD said, "I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land, man and animals and creeping things and birds of the heavens, for I am sorry that I have made them." (Gen 6:6-7) As we’ve seen, when sin abounded in Sodom and Gomorrah God sent an angel who destroyed the city with fire, laying it to waste, killing everyone except lot. When Egypt oppressed God’s people, God sent plagues culminating in death of the first born not covered by the Lamb’s blood and finally Pharaoh’s entire army was drowned. When the Israelites made the golden calf in the desert, grieving God, God’s desire was to rid the earth of them. Exo 32:10 Now therefore let me alone, that my wrath may burn hot against them and I may consume them, in order that I may make a great nation of you." Further, God ordered the Canaanites to be killed by Israel when the measure of their wickedness was full, and God sent famines, calamities and warring armies against Israel when their wickedness was on the land. And so on. There is no lack of consistency in God’s dealings with sin, but the consistent consequence of sin throughout the Old Testament was never torment. Paradise Regained How does the Bible describe the end game? For one we see mankind once again reunited with the tree of life, but not all of mankind only those who have the right to enter into the Holy city. Rev 22:14 Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they may have the right to the tree of life and that they may enter the city by the gates. What else do we see in God’s end game? We see the last enemy to be defeated is death and that all things are placed in subjection at Jesus’ feet. 1Co 15:24-28 Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death. For "God has put all things in subjection under his feet." But when it says, "all things are put in subjection," it is plain that he is excepted who put all things in subjection under him. When all things are subjected to him, then the Son himself will also be subjected to him who put all things in subjection under him, that God may be all in all. How is it possible that the last enemy to be destroyed is death when nobody can actually die and instead both the saved as well as the unsaved enemies of God, live forever? How can all things be subjected to Jesus if every evil that has ever existed will keep existing eternally? According to Annihilationism, God doesn’t merely quarantine evil, He gets rid of it. What remains are the real servants of God and they will be immortal having been given everlasting life. So, given this view, the end game results in literally everybody submitting to God, and literally everybody living forever, because evil doesn’t exist anymore, as such these passages take on a much fuller meaning. Conclusion Annihilationists are often said to be “changing the plain meaning of the text”. I think, those who say this demonstrate an ignorance of their own interpretive process. Any biblical doctrine will encounter some verses requiring harmonizing. Annihilationists read “forever tormented” in Revelation 20:10 and we interpret it as meaning “destruction” and we give reasons why. Likewise Traditionalists read “destruction” in Matthew 7:13 and they interpret it as meaning “forever tormented” and they, in turn, need to give reasons why. It is the quality of these reasons that should determine where one falls on this issue. I have no reasons to doubt a face value reading of the many passages in scripture that describe the fate of the unsaved as death, perishing, destruction, and that describe immortality as a gift for the saved alone.
  11. Objective morality

    Hi Bonky, I wasn't talking about our discussion on ethics but was referring to you statement about getting a clue that you're not delusional. Being deluded is a psychological state, isn't it? My point wasn't to liken you to a psychopath or even to refer to you as damaged in some way. It was simply an comment on the sorts of evidence that someone like that has at their disposal. As psychopath is aware of the existence of empathy even though they don't directly perceive it, because of the testimony of others and because of philosophical reasons. I'm saying that those lines of evidence are basically the same kinds of evidence that you have at your disposal to come to an awareness of a reality that you don't directly perceive either. See, when you're delusional some strong "Road to Damascus" type revelation won't convince you that you're not delusional. In fact I think for you personally it may have just the opposite effect. Most atheists want some special miraculous invitation from God, but I'm saying those kinds of evidence will not be sufficient to convince a person like you that you're not deluded. You're right, that was a cheap shot and I apologise for it. There was a point in there though, which is that when atheists call themselves "sceptical" I have found that this refers singularly to a reserved scepticism for God. When it comes to all other topics they are not more sceptical, or less sceptical than any other people. This is my point, atheists identify themselves as "being sceptics" as though scepticism is part of their make-up, which would really more accurately be description not as "I am sceptical", but "I am sceptical of things about God". The problem though is that such an admission would fly in the face of something else that atheists claim all the time, which is that they have no special bias against God, they merely lack belief. I think many times Christians tend to be a but triumphalist and I would agree with many atheists that a great number of miracle claims don't seem convincing. I don't think though that one needs an impressive case to be rationally justified in believing something. Atheists tend to buy into the "extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence" mantra, which I don't think is a good epistemic criteria. I think one can be rationally justified in believing in the existence of God from pretty mundane pieces of evidence, like the moral argument, the cosmoligical argument, etc. I know you don't directly espouse these view, but atheism by definition requires a belief that something can come from nothing, that life can come from non-life, that moral values can emerge from amoral matter and so on. The things I listed were merely the best theories. My point was just that while atheism claims to have science on it's side, this is merely superficial. In order to explain these kinds of origin questions, atheism must part ways with science. Sure, and I didn't mean to diss' your friend, but I do have a problem with the approach of not trying to give answers to honest questions. I loved Hitchens too. I felt He was just "keeping it real", whereas I find Dawkins to be utterly disingenuous. Krauss is part of a new line of scientists, who are actually philosophically incompetent and who make really stupid claims like saying "phjilosophy is dead" all the while doing poor philosophy. This includes Neil DeGrasse Tyson, Steven Hawking and Bill Nye. Will Bill Nye I'm using the loosest possible definition of scientist. I agree with you though, I think science is their thing, but I think provocative statements helps book sales. I am not impressed with Sam Harris. In his debate with William Lane Craig, he was arrogant and I found his arguments to be the classic rattling of "biblical problems" while ignoring the foundational problem with his own "moral landscape" view. Sadly WLC is dry as can be and while I think Harris lost the debate, WLC isn't the most cuddly and likeable person out there. I agree but it's one thing saying that God might punish with barenness and it's a whole nother thing saying, "You are barren, therefore you are being punished". God knows whether or not He is punishing or testing someone, but I don't think Christians have the right to assume that someone's misfortune is a punishment. Most of the time misfortune is just that. Perhaps I'm misunderstanding you, but I do believe many of us here have taken time to show "our work", and while I think the issue may not be purely intellectual for many atheists, I do think we try not to paint every atheist as some kind of villain. You have to keep in mind though that we are often on the defense here and perhaps we ought to be more charitable and not take things so personally. Politically and culturally though Christianity is fighting many battles on many fronts. Ok, fair enough. All I ask is that you take into account that countering any view, is much easier than making a case for the view. I guess what impressed me the most is how phisopically robust Christianity is. This is an old religion dating back to the bronze age, and in a modern scientific world of satellites and cellphones, it can still hold its own in the marketplace of ideas. Whether or not you're convinced by it is obviously a different story, but you must admit, that if the Judeo-Christian worldview was a mere human, invention, it is a pretty time-tested and robust invention. ...And our head-honcho Jesus, if He was just some dude looking to make a name for himself, He sure pulled it off and then some. Even the atheist version of Jesus' story is impressive, I mean, this guy comes out of nowhere, a carpenter's kid from the crappy part of Israel. He has no formal education no real marketable skill. He makes a name for himself as a miracle worker (let's assume He figured out some David Blaine sleight of hand tricks which convinced some people that He could heal people). He starts making political enemies and enemies in the religious establishment because He exposes their corruption and hypocrisy. He gets caught and executed, and his little group of twelve frightened followers deny him to save their backsides and flee. Suddenly some event happens that makes these same cowardly disciples believe that He has risen from the grave and they start proclaiming this everywhere, this time even being martyred for Him whereas before they denied Him. The story of the risen man spreads across the whole world and now 2000 years later the smartest philosophers and the smartest scientists in the world are still taking about this guy. If that was just a con-artist doing the greatest con the world had ever seen, as an avid Poker player, I would still pick Him as my hero. Either way, I'm glad you're here, and I hope that you don't decide one day that you've had enough of us and leave. Perhaps some day the penny will drop for you, and perhaps it won't, but you have many friends here and they are praying for you.
  12. Objective morality

    To a psychopath the concept of empathy may seem like a delusion. Or to a colour-blind person, being told that something is green or red may seem like others are deluded. What evidence are such people given beyond the mundane tools of logic, reason and experience? Wouldn't you say that given your life experience and the arguments presented in this thread that believing there is such a thing as right or wrong is a mere delusion? It is delusional to think that cause and effect applies to the cosmos, such that everything that begins to exist must have a cause? I don't want to rehash all the arguments, but given what you've learnt here over the years, that it's possible to be a Christian and still be rational, thoughtful and of relatively sound. But I still can't help but think that your problem isn't with evidence. You accepted compatibilism because it's convenient to do so without even really investigating it. You admitted that the subject is new to you and yet you accepted it, just because you thought it would help you avoid the consequences of determinism. Isn't believing something just because it's convenient far worse than a Christian who at least knows why he believes what he believes? As an atheist you must believe some pretty fanciful things yourself such as: that there is no objective right or wrong, that we are responsible for our actions even though our actions are determined by forces outside our control, that universes can come into being from nothing, that there is a multiverse that happens to spew out universes that are sufficiently random in nature to make a universe like ours a matter of statistical inevitability. that science and observation are the only ways to find truth. As such I think philosopher Alvin Plantinga has a point when he says that theism appears superficially to contradict reality but at it's core is compatible with reality, whereas naturalism appears superficially compatible with reality, but at its core, contradicts it. I mean, the problem you claim to have is that you can't see God, but the bigger problem with your view is that it can't see right, wrong, meaning, purpose, responsibility, and it needs to violate the laws of science to explain, the cosmos, why the world is the way it is, human origins etc. You could claim that you just don't know what the answers are because they haven't been discovered yet, but that's a tacit admission that when it comes to observable evidence, Plantinga is correct. If you know anything about me is that I'm very much opposed to the anti-intellectualism that you find in Christianity. If your friend had done his Christian duty to address the questions of the human intellect as well as to deal with the issues of the human heart, then perhaps you would not have become so disillusioned. It makes me very angry when people honest questions get dismissed with this kind of pious-sounding mysticism. Fortunately many churches are abandoning this romanticism and realising that Christianity needn't be sheltered from scrutiny but that it can stand its ground in the marketplace of ideas. I think a lot of atheists are brilliant, indeed. Sadly I find the popular atheists like Dawkins, Lauwrence Krauss and Hitchens aren't anywhere near as smart as some thoughtful atheist bloggers. There is biblical support for blaming a person's misfortune on sin? Heck, no. Abraham's wife Sarah must have been a great sinner indeed. We all have horror stories about church, because church is made of people and people are messed up, unfortunately. I don't think there is anything wrong with scepticism per sé. As long as it's applied consistently. I find many atheists aren't though. They're hyper-sceptical when it comes to claims that might favour Christianity and they believe any nonsense they find on the internet that is against Christianity. Christians are by no means immune to this confirmation bias, either, but Christians do not pride themselves on their scepticism and rationalism as atheists do. Are you talking about positive arguments for secularism, or just arguments attempting to undercut or refuse theistic arguments? I have seen very few argument in favour of atheism other than the Euthyphro dilemma and the problem of evil, and neither of those are considered compelling nowadays even among thoughtful atheists.
  13. Hell

    This sort of thing occurs when one bases what's "biblical" on popular doctrine instead of what the bible actually says. The idea that souls cannot be destroyed has made it's way into Christianity through church fathers like Tertullian and Augustine incorporating the teachings of Plato into their theology. Plato taught the immortality of souls, and that souls therefore cannot be destroyed and these Platonistic ideas became part of mainstream Christianity. Most people believe the Bible teaches it because theologians repeat these ideas, but the bible, teaches the exact opposite: Mat 10:28 And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. Mat_7:13 "Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. Php 3:19 Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things. Th 5:2-3 For you yourselves are fully aware that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. While people are saying, "There is peace and security," then sudden destruction will come upon them as labor pains come upon a pregnant woman, and they will not escape. 2Th_1:9 They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might. Psa_55:23 But you, O God, will cast them down into the pit of destruction; men of blood and treachery shall not live out half their days. But I will trust in you.
  14. Objective morality

    Yeah, this idea is prevalent in many so-called megachurches, where God supposedly wants everybody to have nice houses and loads of money and all that is needed is that one tithe 10% of one's salary. Of course those who do not get the promised riches are told that there is something wrong with their faith or something to that effect. It's basically a giant scam and it isn't taught in scripture at all. Well put. The reason I asked about the prosperity stuff was only because you mentioned once or twice, and I thought that maybe you or someone you knew had a bad experience with this. What do you mean by tangible personal reasons? Are you talking about the personal experience, like a road to Damascus scenario where God reveals Himself to you in a clear and undeniable way? I think this is really the most difficult issue to deal with, the hiddenness of God. I think this is where a lot of people lose their faith: they're in an existential crisis, or a crisis of faith and they really just need some kind of signal from God, and what they get is....silence. This is something that we all struggle with at times. C.S Lewis talked about a law of undulation, where sometimes one can feel close to God and other times one can feel like a fool, clinging to a fairy tale. It seems part an parcel of life. Do you miss Christianity at all? I guess what I'm asking is whether atheism is fulfilling? Sure, if it's true then whether it fulfills or not is irrelevant, but is does seem rather dreary and bleak...almost conspicuously dreary and bleak. Many atheists now join "churches", in England for instance there's a "Sunday assembly", where they go to meditate and sing Elton John songs. Is there a part of human nature that longs for meaning and transcendence? I think that tiny blip of the desire for meaning is sometimes the only signal we get, like CS Lewis said, "where there is a hunger, there must be something to fulfill that hunger". I can't help but think that our very need to meaning and transcendence is at least a small piece of evidence that there is something out there to satisfy that need.
  15. What is free will?

    ...except of course for the opinion that having no opinions is the way to truth.
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