I’ve been rather busy lately, and not able to interact always. Last week, Ken posted on hell and it has been a great conversation to follow (Oh, and don’t forget my Friday Question). Personally, I think that this is a vital conversation to have at times, which should be free of charges of heresy.
I believe that there is a punishment for those who not accept Christ just as there is a reward for those who press onward in Christ. Yet, I do not reject someone who believes in annihilation or those who believe otherwise. I think it is a time to test and build our faith, much like the time of the Reformation. One of the mottoes which I admire from the Reformers and their descendants is the ‘Ever Reforming’ idea. We have to at times reform our doctrine to fit what we know in Scripture.
We must constantly test our doctrine and our theology against Scripture, assuming not that we are correct and that change is bad, but with an eager goal of working our our salvation with fear and trembling.
I have to join with Ken here,
If there is a judgment (a theme that runs throughout scripture, whether applied to the afterlife or not), I cannot honestly dismiss the possibility that some will fail that judgment–I cannot even dismiss the possibility that I might fail that judgment–and thus I cannot honestly embrace universalism, as much as I would like to. As for what happens after the judgment, I am agnostic. I cannot imagine that God would subject anyone to conscious eternal punishment, but I’m not convinced that even Jesus’ comments suggest that, in any case.
Scott McKnight, this past Saturday, hosted a book review which I believe is helpful in this discussion as well.
Edward Fudge, my uncle, wrote a book entitled, The Fire that Consumes. In his book, Fudge argues forcefully that neither the traditionalist nor the universalist positions on the final punishment of the wicked take seriously enough the Biblical descriptions of punishment for those who finally reject Jesus Christ.
While Fudge is unashamed of his conclusion and is thorough in its defense, the reader is continually impressed by Fudge’s lack of vitriolic polemics and his constant cry for critique and discussion (xvi).
From here, we are reminded that 1st Peter 3 is not the only area of Scripture which speaks of Christ descending to preach to the dead.
1st Peter 4.4-6:
|In all this, they are surprised that you do not run with them into the same excesses of dissipation, and they malign you; but they will give account to Him who is ready to judge the living and the dead. For the gospel has for this purpose been preached even to those who are dead, that though they are judged in the flesh as men, they may live in the spirit according to the will of God. (NASB)||Of course, your former friends are surprised when you no longer plunge into the flood of wild and destructive things they do. So they slander you. But remember that they will have to face God, who will judge everyone, both the living and the dead. That is why the Good News was preached to those who are now dead– so although they were destined to die like all people, they now live forever with God in the Spirit. (NLT)|
Please feel free to jump in at any time.
By the way, this subject will predominate my posting this week.