conditionalism vs annihilationism

I’m not sure this parsing is useful, anyhow. But, conditionalists affirm the annihilation of the wicked. The 1980’s saw a remarkable rise in profile for the doctrine that immortality is bestowed. Evangelical conditionalists believe that the saved in Christ will receive glory, honor and immortality, being raised with an incorruptible body to inherit eternal life (Romans 2:7). "...conditionalism emphasizes what awaits the redeemed, namely, eternal life and immortality...annihilationism is about what awaits the damned, namely, the eternal punishment of destruction in hell. But again, I am perfectly happy with the label annihilationism. . , PS, I usually describe my view as annihiationism, because that is what specifies my view on “hell.”. I recently subscribed to a new spam interceptor and I am still figuring out what it is doing. Its proponents offer six main arguments. Immortality, biblically speaking, means not dying, in the ordinary, physical sense of the word. "Conditionalism" according to readers properly names the view known as "conditional mortality," an idea often associated with annihilationism. Evangelical annihilationists believe that immortality is conditioned on saving faith. Pages upon pages of quotes can be produced—going back to the Fathers up to present day—of Christians affirming and arguing for the natural/unconditional/universal immortality of all men. the lost) will be tortured in Hell for a limited interval, and then totally destroyed. I would also ask that if, on learning that someone is a conditionalst, you then press further to find out whether or not they are a universalist. CARM's position is that conditional immortality is not biblical. The case for conditionalism is exegetically sound. That is a relief. Few vs. Historically, traditionalists and universalists have affirmed that human beings are immortal even before they are saved. In other words, there seems to be no meaningful relationship between ongoing life and faith in Christ on the universalist scheme. God“has made everything beautiful in its time. It’s simple and biblical. I would like to find a one-word equivalent of “everlasting conscious punishment”, but I haven’t found it yet. Answer: Conditional immortality or conditionalism, for short, is the idea that not everyone will be raised immortal—only the saved will live forever. But what distinguishes two of those positions is annihilation of the wicked and universal salvation, respectively. The pure that remains is indestructible in their view, thus a part of the soul must be inherently immortal. I’m pretty sure I’m not one of the people you’re worried about here, but if I am, let me know and I’ll rethink my approach. One of the key points of the doctrine of “conditional immortality” is that it is incongruous to assert that the wicked live forever (as traditionalists believe), because that would be a form of immortality, and Scripture only ascribes immortality to those who are given eternal life on account of Christ’s atoning death and through faith. Your email address will not be published. 1. Traditionalism and conditionalism / annihilationism hold in common that some are punished forever (whether that punishment is torment or death). Eternal conscious torment is not proportional to the finite sins committed by people. Their new claim that the wicked live forever but aren’t immortal is contrary to its simple semantics. Once again, I was reminded that a synergist (like Robin Parry) can only be a hopeful universalist; only a monergist (like Thomas Talbott) can be convinced that God will eventually achieve the salvation of all human beings, though many of God’s elect will only come to saving faith in hell, the final effect of which is thus purgatorial. The trick is getting it to imply perpetuity. Craig versus Annihilationism. It’s *additionally* that immortality will only be given to those who express faith in Christ, and that only some will do so. Finally, when pressed, most universalists believe in the inherent immortality of the soul just as much as traditionalists. No worries, stuff happens. The problem that I see with “traditionalism” is that it doesn’t define the content. Of course, church tradition must bear appropriate weight in any theological discussion. Again, on a broader level, annihilationists believe the bible teaches that humans who are ultimately unrepentant will suffer death / cessation of existence. Locating N. T. Wright’s eschatology on the spectrum of views concerning hell. It is pretty difficult to find a professional evangelical theologian these days who holds a Platonic view of souls as indestructible. What I am trying to do is to clarify for myself what I would mean if I concluded that (a form of) traditionalism is correct, and what I would mean if I concluded that (a form of) annihilationism is correct. I prefer conditionalism over annihilationism, if you couldn’t tell already from the domain name. Er go, there won’t be an indefinite amount of time to repent. 2020 Thoughts Theological, on Another reason why “annihilationism” is a better name than “conditionalism:” evangelical universalism is a form of conditionalism, The gospel for people who identify themselves by their sexuality. As you and others in these comments have noted, there are various affirmations upon which two of the three major alternatives agree against the third. The unsaved will be raised in shame and dishonor, to face God and receive the just condemnation for their sins. Conditionalism Vs Eternal Torment Vs Universal Reconciliation Gary. I’m perfectly happy being called, and calling myself, an annihilationist. Where conditionalism defines human immortality as conditional upon a right relationship with God, annihilationism is defined as a direct punishment of death from God. We just don’t agree with you about what the words “destroy” and “death” mean when used in the Bible to describe the ultimate fate of the unrepentant.”, Even though, again, I can fill up pages with quotes of traditionalists—going back to the Fathers up to present day—claiming and arguing that the wicked will never die and that the wicked will be made indestructible and that the soul cannot be destroyed, etc. 2. Yes, it doesn’t describe bare, ongoing existence, but it does (IMO) describe ongoing physical life and insusceptibility to physical death. For my part, I've used, perhaps improperly, the word "conditionalism" to describe C.S. More recently, thedoctrine … In Christianity, annihilationism is the belief that those who are wicked will perish or be no more. Many Stripes. A good descriptive name for the affirmation of endless conscious punishment would be very welcome. As for the second point; if people can live for millions of years without putting their faith in Christ, then ongoing life doesn’t seem to be predicated on faith in Christ. , David, if only English were more agglutinative! In both 1 Cor 15 and 2 Tim 1:10, this is the “immortality” which God gives conditionally, and for which the condition is incorporation into Christ by grace through faith. Immortalist? In private conversations, I’ve had evangelical universalists affirm that God will keep a person alive until he puts his faith in Christ, even if it takes millions of years. In this video we will explore two alternative views of Hell. God alone possesses immortality and the Bible only ascribes immortality to the redeemed. Then sometime in the future, the person is resurrected, reunited with his physical body, and is then judged. Not all traditionalists have been as careful as I have tried to be, in distinguishing between uses of the term “immortality,” and in identifying the ways in which Scripture uses the term, as distinct from a traditionally philosophical use. Mark’s Resources on Hell (Conditional Immortality aka Annihilationism vs. Eternal Conscious Torment vs. Universalism) ... I’m an evangelical conditionalist and I’m a member of a ministry which promotes evangelical conditionalism. Of course, we also believe that Christ and the apostles taught it too, but that is always up for debate. Yet, universalists could hold that God will utterly destroy, in body and soul, those who are not saved, because they believe everyone will be saved! So it was you I was talking to when I suggested that Peterson was unwise in his choice of terms. “Annihilationism” would, technically speaking, be that doctrine which holds that God will utterly destroy, in body and soul, those who are not saved. So my previous two comments can be ignored. Required fields are marked *, 141,963 Spambots Blocked by Simple Comments, © My statement had in mind the contemporary scene. I am Professor Emeritus of Systematic Theology and Ethics at Providence Theological Seminary, Canada. The two names are simply two sides of the same equation for us; neither one is obviously better or worse to describe us, except situationally. Conditionalism and Universalism agree that all evil will one day be gone. Terry, I think you have rightly argued that using the term “annihilationism” helpfully denotes the fact that it is the only perspective that affirms the ultimate cessation of existence of some persons. Upon our physical death, according to the majority of conditionalists, we enter a state of soul sleep where we are unconscious. Traditionalism is the belief that the lost will be tortured in Hell -- not just for a year, or century, or millennium, but for all eternity. As I jogged today, I was listening to a fine interview by Chris Date with Robin Parry, the author of Evangelical Universalist (under the pen name of Gregory MacDonald). Eternal conscious torment benefits neither God nor the one being punished. ... Conditionalism, on the other hand, looks at the whole of God’s revelation in scripture and sees a constant and consistent message. The effort, to urge adoption of the more novel label “annihilationism,” seems to me to be somewhat pedantic. For instance Chris had quoted Robert Peterson but I can’t find that comment now, so it was obviously not the same as one for which I took it to be a duplicate. One more (!). We totally respect you and your openness and willingness to research and dialogue. It is a message about a God who loves the universe he created too much to allow evil to exist in it forever. We are told that fire consumes what is … I don’t believe that anything I wrote hinges on whether or not Christians have or had a Platonic view of indestructible souls. I think if we’re going to truly be consistent with focusing on the mode of punishment then we should call the three branches: tormentalism, annihilationism, and purificationism. I agree with Ronnie and would add that blurring the lines between the three is quite a stretch. Annihilationism is the condition of nonexistence that awaits the damned. “Traditionalists also believe in ‘conditional immortality,’ that is, in the doctrine that God only gives immortality to believers, through Christ, but they deny that the endless existence which the wicked experience is what the Bible calls ‘immortality,\'”. Thanks for the response Dr. Tiessen. that God gives “life” only to those in Christ. Matt Slick is the President and Founder of the Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry. This is not simply the assurance that God will keep them forever alive, it is that they will inherit the kingdom of God (15:50) and will therefore have bodies appropriate to their participation in Christ’s victory (15:57). Poetic idioms in the Psalms are said to accuratel… When the penalty is carried out, they will be permanently excluded from eternal life by means of a final death (loss of being; destruction of the whole person; Matthew 10:28)."1. For the ancients it wasn’t even true. In this video I briefly explain why I believe in annihilationism (aka conditional immortality) rather than eternal conscious torment. "Conditionalism is the view that life or existence is the Creator’s provisional gift to all, which will ultimately either be granted forever on the basis of righteousness (by grace, through faith), or revoked forever on the basis of unrighteousness. The final authority for all matters of faith and practice is the Bible, and it is in the pages of the Bible that the final annihilation of the wicked is most clearly seen. Well, not in my case, anyway. But where traditionalists and universalists agree against conditionalists is where they affirm immortality for everyone. Traditionalism and universalism are alike in the sense of placing different qualities upon immortality (immortality in hell vs immortality in heaven), yet conditional immortality denies these premises altogether asserting that the human soul only becomes immortal in Christ and will perish if thrown into the lake of fire. The God-given fight-for-survival instinct makes us fight for our lives. Yes, Paul says other things are included in the package that is salvation and glorification, but it’s a leap to say that immortality consists in that entire package. Evangelical universalists believe that hell serves the purpose of both retribution and restoration. Generally, the arguments fall under these main categories: Each of these arguments have their strengths and weaknesses and are addressed here on CARM. Additionally, before I am called a “heretic” by those who hold to Traditionalism, Conditionalism is not a heretical position. By my lights, this is a de facto form of unconditional and universal immortality. Moreover, I could argue that the term “traditionalism” refers to a certain stream of traditional doctrine when in fact annihilationism has been traditionally present in every age of Christianity as well as Rabbinic traditions from before the time of Christ. Eternal life is associated only with the redeemed. . . This too is endless punishment, but it is not endless life. Is there a difference between annihilationism and conditionalism? It’s only in recent history as they’ve been confronted by conditionalists that they’ve shifted in their use of the word. Should the day come when annihilationism is dominant in the Christian church, “traditionalism” would become increasingly less useful as a descriptor of ECP. ". Otherwise we can all play that game: Traditionalists are – in some new sense – universalists. Those two positions have very useful descriptors. For you and for universalists, though, neither name is descriptive. God bless you. Traditionalists and universalists can agree on this clear New Testament teaching, but they disagree at the critical point of whether or not that condition is met universally. This is not something that either Chris Date or Robin Parry asserted, but it appears to me to be true. Conditionalists begin with the premise that only God is inherently immortal. If you have any issues, please call the office at 385-246-1048 or email us at This is a claim rejected by traditionalism and universalism. I prefer conditionalism over annihilationism, if you couldn’t tell … Continue reading → I am intrigued by your suggestion that the length of time God may need to bring some humans to salvation, in a universalist framework, makes doubtful my proposal that they affirm conditional immortality. Again, the phrase “Conditional Immortality” is a specific reference to that view which entails that immortality in the sense of ongoing physical life and insusceptibility to physical death is a gift given only to those who express saving faith in Jesus Christ, and that not all human beings will express that kind of faith. In essence, the nomenclature has become what it has despite its imperfect, and arguable nuances. Also, he has put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end” (Eccl 3:11). Immortality has always carried the senses of being “perpetual, lasting, constant, not moral, undying, etc.” This is what the wicked are according to traditionalists. Except the risen lost won’t be made immortal. “Conditional immortality” is not *merely* the doctrine that immortality is conditional upon God giving it. As a consequence, I have said that “traditionalists affirm . Jn 3:16). Of course, traditionalists have always affirmed (quite frankly and explicitly) that all human beings are immortal in the *normal* sense of the word. “ when what I really mean, I guess, is that “traditionalists should affirm . Were I to conclude tomorrow that annihilationism is the biblical position, that is the term I would use to describe my position, for the reasons I have enunciated. Annihilationists believe that the second death is analogous to the first but more thorough; whereas the first death entails only decay of the body, the second death entails destruction of both body and soul: the wicked are destroyed. Someone is playing fast and loose with the terminology and it’s not the conditionalists. “Conditionalism” and “Conditional Immortality” have historically described the view; you can go back to at least the 19th century to see that this is the case. ↑ Regarding the matter of reading scripture at face value, see “Traditionalism and Annihilationism … Annihilationism is the view that lost people in hell will be exterminated after they have paid the penalty for their sins. I think, however, that my point still holds, the key difference between traditionalism and universalism, on this point, being the terminal date for acceptable repentance and faith. We are finite creatures, but by nature, we desire to live on…and on. According to Scripture, unbelievers are said to be destroyed; therefore, they will not exist anymore. ", "Then He will also say to those on His left, ‘Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels;", "These will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life. But, among many who hold to conditionalism, there is a distinction. But what that means is that a person will keep living even if he doesn’t put his faith in Christ. Traditionalism and conditionalism / annihilationism hold in common that some are punished forever (whether that punishment is torment or death). Ronnie, however, is correct. Similarly, conditional immortality has always maintained that not everyone *will* receive immortality. God has put eternity in our hearts or given us thoughts of immortality. Who wrote/writes the script for the drama, ”The History of the World”? They constantly refer to human souls as infinitely precious believing that the lake of fire will burn away the dross and leave the pure. If we all accept the idea that “immortality” is in Scripture a qualitative term, not just a descriptor of unending existence, then “conditional immortality” does not clearly distinguish among the options. Annihilationism is the condition of nonexistence that awaits the damned. It depends on the definitions. Thus, both positions are forms of “conditional immortality.”. Thanks, Ronnie. Your email address will not be published. ... One variation on this theme is what is known as conditionalism. The case for conditionalism is exegetically sound. But the point stands, that if one does affirm indestructible free will and infinite time synergism is compatible with a confident universalism. Something fishy is clearly going on here. You can be a universalist and maintain that the lost will be tormented forever, or that they will be annihilated (but that in fact everyone will be saved). ", Christian Apologetics & Research Ministry, CARM, PO BOX 1353, Nampa ID 83653 | 385-246-1048. INTRODUCTION. Eternal suffering or destruction of the wicked? That was my earlier reason for rejecting “conditional immortality” in favour of “annihilationism” as the name for the belief that God finally destroys the wicked. Oh I forgot to mention something. Does it not seem important to you that traditionalists and universalists can only be said to affirm that “immortality is universal” if we give to the term “immortality” two different senses? You wrote: “This is one reason why ‘annihilationism’ is the best name for the belief that the wicked are ultimately punished by God with destruction, the death of body and soul.”, “That was my earlier reason for rejecting ‘conditional immortality’ in favour of ‘annihilationism’ as the name for the belief that God finally destroys the wicked.”, “Annihilationists believe that the second death is analogous to the first but more thorough; whereas the first death entails only decay of the body, the second death entails destruction of both body and soul: the wicked are destroyed.”, Notice, the same traditionalists who now say “we agree that immortality is conditional!” Will also say, “We agree that the wicked are ultimately punished by God with destruction, the death of body and soul!” and “We agree that God finally destroys the wicked!” and “We agree that the second death entails destruction of both body and soul! For humans, immortality is God's conditional gift, bestowed at the resurrection but only to the redeemed. You say a synergist (a believer in libertarian free will) can only be a hopeful universalist. A new thought dawned on me today, however, and that is that evangelical universalism is a form of conditionalism. It is only the modern, novel formulations of traditionalism and universalism that claim to hold that immortality is only given at the point of glorification. [p.14] C.S. Its a very persuasive interpretation of scripture I think and I can understand why annhilationists are so confident of their stance. In what has become somewhat of a slogan for defenders of traditionalism, he writes, “I believe in the immortality of human beings because the Bible clearly teaches everlasting damnation for the wicked and everlasting life for the righteous.”. And I’m really not trying to be facetious when I say that. However much traditionalists might want to call hell a place of “death,” it’s in resurrected, living bodies that live for eternity–the very thing meant by “immortal.”. Perhaps, tormentforeverists? If not, then it would appear that the term is helpful after all. While annihilationism places emphasis on the active destruction of a person, conditionalism places emphasis on a person's dependence upon God for life; the extinction of the person is thus a passive consequence of separation from God, much like natural death is a consequence of prolonged separation from food, water, and air. In the process of thinking these thoughts out loud, however, I may have been guilty of speaking too undifferiatingly about what “traditionalists believe,” when what I mean is: “I, wearing my traditionalist hat, believe . I acknowledge that “conditional immortality” has been used for over a century by annihilationists to describe their understanding, but I still think that the choice of term is not a helpful descriptor of the distinctive conviction of that position. Those … If, over a given time period, the chances of a soul repenting are greater than 0% then, given infinite time, the chance rises to 100%. We’d like to think that we know the ending, but it’s not humanly possible to know the end of … Indeed, Constable argued that the doctrine of unconditional immortality is the spring from which the errors of both endless torment and universal reconciliation flow. This is a difficult issue, and we’ve also been thinking about it. Now if you can come up with some re-tooled sense of the term conditionalism so that it includes universalists, great, but it’s hardly legitimate to ask that everyone else take part in that ahistorical convention. The wicked are annihilated (either right away or later after a duration of punishment) and only those who have put their faith and trust in the sacrifice of Jesus will be granted physical immortality and will then live forever. Well yes, if annihilationism is true. For the record, I don’t really prefer one term over the other. But even if one were to grant (which I don’t) that these modern, novel formulations do believe immortality is not received until glorification, “conditional immortality” would still be a helpful term, because (a) it’s what the position has historically gone by, and (b) it’s the position that immortality *in the sense of ongoing physical life* is given only to the saved, and that not all will be saved. I would like to have a better technical term for you than “traditionalist”, though. In conditionalism, there is a logical problem with the soul ceasing to exist then being resurrected Problems with anthropological physicalism/materialism Different conditionalists/annihilationists have different views concerning the soul Conditionalism and the anthropological monism, physicalism problem So long as it is true that one cannot be saved without repentance and faith, these are conditions for immortality/eternal life, regardless of how many or few people meet the conditions. . Traditionalists believe that the wicked, who experience the “second death,” are forever conscious of God’s punishment, which never comes to an end. To clarify; I was the one who quoted Peterson, and the quote is still there, third comment down . This was, for the former, a major reason for the eternal torment of the lost: if they live forever, they must live forever somewhere. In March, I gave some reasons why “ultimate annihilationism” is a better name for that position than “conditional immortality,” although the latter is widely used by proponents of this position. ANNIHILATIONISM PROPER. Conditionalism is the state that awaits the redeemed; they are to receive immortality on the condition of their faith in Christ. There is no compelling challenge to evangelical conditionalism here. Even Robert Peterson, for instance, still affirms universal and unconditional immortality. From Eternity magazine to Christianity Today, conditionalism has Lewis' and Bell's view that heaven is available if you open the door.] “If we all accept the idea that ‘immortality’ is in Scripture a qualitative term, not just a descriptor of unending existence, then ‘conditional immortality’ does not clearly distinguish among the options.”, For one, we don’t all agree. Therefore, universalists could be annihilationists, too! Traditionalists also believe in “conditional immortality,” that is, in the doctrine that God only gives immortality to believers, through Christ, but they deny that the endless existence which the wicked experience is what the Bible calls “immortality,” which is the life of God and with God, “eternal life” (cf. For various reasons we find your conclusion difficult to follow. At issue is simply the meaning of the word “immortality” as used by Christian theologians, preachers, and pastors up to the present day. Conditional immortality is appropriate nomenclature for this view. It states that after the final judgment, all unsaved human beings, all fallen angels and Satan himself will be totally destroyed so as to not exist, or that their consciousness will be extinguished rather than suffer everlasting torment in hell. One quick thought about the term “annihilationism” in general: If that is to considered an appropriate term for our viewpoint, then “tormentalism” should be just as appropriate for traditionalism since the underlying focus is on the mode of punishment. “Endless conscious punishmentism” or “ECPism” does the job more clearly than “traditionalism,” but it lacks the simplicity and punch of “annihilationism” and “universalism,” which is why “traditionalism” persists. God is too good and loving to punish someone forever in eternal conscious torment. It is punishment with sanctifying effect in the end. It helped me a lot to understand the terms. Gotta love technology! July 3, 2018 by Shawn Lazar in Blog - annihilationism, conditionalism, ECT, eternal conscious torment, Hell, immortality of the soul In my discussions with annihilationists, one of the conceptual roadblocks I’ve encountered is an inability to distinguish between eternal existence and having eternal life. The advocates of Annihilationism are usually known as Annihilationists or Conditionalists. Because they are evangelicals, they too are conversionists. Perhaps traditionalism is just a form of universalism, since immortality is universal. Qualitatively, there is no distinction between 'death' and 'annihilation'; the latter word is used solely to clarify just what it is that 'death' consists of. Traditionalism has never affirmed conditional immortality historically as they have quite consistently referred to the wicked as being immortal in hell. Upon reading the post again, I see that your conclusion hinges upon the premise that all 3 positions believe “immortality” is conditioned upon God giving it to a person through saving faith expressed in Jesus Christ. What I came to see, while listening to Parry and Date, though this was not in either of their minds, is that all 3 of these alternative evangelical understandings of the nature of hell believe in conditional immortality, i.e. “Tormentalism” doesn’t denote the unending nature of the punishment, so I don’t find it useful. Here are a … There is a particular form of conditionalism requiring special mention which seeks to avoid the difficulties of annihilationism, by teaching, not the total extinction of the souls of the wicked, but rather, as it is commonly phrased, their "transformation" into impersonal beings incapable of moral action, or indeed of any feeling. reasons why “ultimate annihilationism” is a better name, Hypothetical Universalism in Paul’s Epistles, Incoherence in the Belgic Confession (1561), between its Christology and its Eschatology, Nicholas Ridley, the Oxford martyr, is part of my family story, In memory of J. I. Packer: A personal tribute, Relating to people who identify as LGBT+, with grace and truth, First and second death: similarities and differences, Melchizedek, Abraham, Muslims and worship of the One True God.

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