According to some Christian outlooks we were made for another world. Perhaps, rather, we were made for this world to recreate, reclaim, redeem, and renew unto God's future aspiration by the power of His Spirit. - R.E. Slater
Our eschatological ethos is to love. To stand with those who are oppressed. To stand against those who are oppressing. It is that simple. Love is our only calling and Christian Hope. - R.E. Slater
Secularization theory has been massively falsified. We don't live in an age of secularity. We live in an age of explosive, pervasive religiosity... an age of religious pluralism. - Peter L. Berger
Exploring the edge of life and faith in a post-everything world. - Todd Littleton
I don't need another reason to believe, your love is all around for me to see. – anon
Thou art our need; and in giving us more of thyself thou givest us all. - Khalil Gibran, Prayer XXIII
Be careful what you pretend to be. You become what you pretend to be. - Kurt Vonnegut
Religious beliefs, far from being primary, are often shaped and adjusted by our social goals. - Jim Forest
People, even more than things, need to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed; never throw out anyone. – anon
Certainly God's love has made fools of us all. - R.E. Slater
An apocalyptic Christian faith doesn't wait for Jesus to come, but for Jesus to become in our midst. - R.E. Slater
Christian belief in God begins with the cross and resurrection of Jesus, not with rational apologetics. - Eberhard Jüngel, Jürgen Moltmann
Our knowledge of God is through the 'I-Thou' encounter, not in finding God at the end of a syllogism or argument. There is a grave danger in any Christian treatment of God as an object. The God of Jesus Christ and Scripture is irreducibly subject and never made as an object, a force, a power, or a principle that can be manipulated. - Emil Brunner
Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh means "I will be that who I have yet to become." - God (Ex 3.14)
Our job is to love others without stopping to inquire whether or not they are worthy. - Thomas Merton
The church is God's world-changing social experiment of bringing unlikes and differents to the Eucharist/Communion table to share life with one another as a new kind of family. When this happens we show to the world what love, justice, peace, reconciliation, and life together is designed by God to be. The church is God's show-and-tell for the world to see how God wants us to live as a blended, global, polypluralistic family united with one will, by one Lord, and baptized by one Spirit. – anon
The cross that is planted at the heart of the history of the world cannot be uprooted. - Jacques Ellul
The Unity in whose loving presence the universe unfolds is inside each person as a call to welcome the stranger, protect animals and the earth, respect the dignity of each person, think new thoughts, and help bring about ecological civilizations. - John Cobb & Farhan A. Shah
If you board the wrong train it is of no use running along the corridors of the train in the other direction. - Dietrich Bonhoeffer
God's justice is restorative rather than punitive; His discipline is merciful rather than punishing; His power is made perfect in weakness; and His grace is sufficient for all. – anon
Our little [biblical] systems have their day; they have their day and cease to be. They are but broken lights of Thee, and Thou, O God art more than they. - Alfred Lord Tennyson
We can’t control God; God is uncontrollable. God can’t control us; God’s love is uncontrolling! - Thomas Jay Oord
Life in perspective but always in process... as we are relational beings in process to one another so life events are in process in relation to each event... as God is to Self, is to world, is to us... like Father, like sons and daughters, like events... life in process yet always in perspective. - R.E. Slater

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Rethinking Hell: Evangelical Conditionalism (Annihilationism), Part 2

Clark Pinnock

Clark Pinnock’s Outrageous Doctrine

by Scot McKnight
edits to article by R.E. Slater
Jul 9, 2014

"Eternal Torment" Began with Augustine

Well-known evangelical — originally conservative and then more progressive — Clark Pinnock came to view eternal conscious punishment (ECT - eternal conscious torment) as an “outrageous doctrine” (Rethinking Hell, 60).

He begins his famous essay with Augustine upon whom he lays responsibility for the traditionalist view:

Augustine believed God would torment sinners/the wicked mentally, psychologically and physically endlessly — and when Augustine was challenged how that could happen without their being destroyed, Augustine believed God would ongoingly perform miracles to keep them alive.

Puritan Reformer Jonathan Edwards Continued Augustine's View

Quoting John Gerstner, Jonathan Edwards believed the same.

Pinnock thinks this is like the person who delights in watching a cat being tortured in a microwave and taking delight in it.

Pinnock sees no reason to soften hell into blaming the person or talking about diminishment (which seems to have CS Lewis in view). Augustine was enough of a determinist/predestinationist that human responsibility wasn’t the escape on this doctrine; God chose and God didn’t choose [sic, Calvinistic doctrine of Election], and those whom God didn’t choose are those God has chosen to torment endlessly.

"My, I just don’t know people can believe this sort of thing."

Pinnock says Edwards would simply respond that we “think God as more loving and merciful than he actually is…” and “torturing the wicked presents no problem to God” but he observes that Edwards himself simply did not say things that his system affirmed, so Gerstner — an Edwards student — clarified what Edwards taught.

To accuse the critics of the traditional view of sentimentality won’t work

Pinnock asks right back: “What drives my opponent? Is it hard-heartedness and the desire for eternal retribution?” (60). “Surely,” he says, “a God who would do such a thing is more nearly like Satan than like God” (60).... Here he appeals to ordinary human standards, which if we reject we tend to reject rational thinking.

He asks again, “Does the one who told us to love our enemies intend to wreak vengeance on his own enemies for all eternity?” (60).

Not a Matter of Sentimentality or Liberalism

This is not a matter of sentimentality or liberalism, in spite of what folks like J.I. Packer have said.

Notice this view is held by folks who, on all other doctrines, are considered straight-laced: J.W. Wenham, J.R.W. Stott, P.E. Hughes, S. Travis and E. Fudge.

That kind of knife cuts both ways. Truth is not determined by those who believe something but by what the text says. Pinnock thinks things went wrong from Augustine onwards, and [since] the man was wrong on a number of [other doctrinal] fronts perhaps [he also was] on this one.

[Thus,] we are back to the standard conclusions: the Bible’s emphasis is the idea of destruction, not eternal, conscious torment:

“At the very least it should be obvious,” - Pinnock concludes after marshalling the basics
on destruction-perishing in the Bible - “to any impartial reader that the Bible may legitimately
be read to teach the final destruction of the wicked without difficulty” (65).

I’d like to see how folks respond to this claim: Does the language of destruction at least suggest the possibility of reading the Bible as teaching final destruction? What evidence counters his view?

Pinnock thinks conditional immortality is not the best way to frame [the discussion of hell], but the Platonic theory of the immortality-of-the-soul is at the core of ECT.

[Hence,] Pinnock's view is one of annihilationism.

In review

1 - ECT makes God “a bloodthirsty monster” (67).

2 - Softening hell won’t solve the theodicy: it makes a theodicy hopeless (theodicy = why a good God permits evil). (Hodge and Warfield sought to minimize the numbers; CS Lewis focused on human responsibility).

3 - Unending punishment is pointless in a theory of justice. It is crude retribution.

4 - Does ECT not suggest an eternal cosmological dualism?

continue to -

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