Debate topic: “The final punishment of the risen wicked will be annihilation, the permanent end to the conscious existence of the entire person.” Chris Date, host of the Theopologetics podcast and contributor to the Rethinking Hell blog and podcast, affirms. Joshua Whipps, creator of the Razor’s Kiss blog and author at Choosing Hats, denies. Dee Dee Warren, friend to Chris and host of The Preterist Podcast, moderates. This episode is part 3 of the debate, including the second round of cross-examination, closing statements and listener Q&A. Listen to episode 88 for part 1’s opening statements and first rebuttals; listen to episode 89 for part 2’s first round of cross-examination and second rebuttals.
Debate topic: “The final punishment of the risen wicked will be annihilation, the permanent end to the conscious existence of the entire person.” Chris Date, host of the Theopologetics podcast and contributor to the Rethinking Hell blog and podcast, affirms. Joshua Whipps, creator of the Razor’s Kiss blog and author at Choosing Hats, denies. Dee Dee Warren, friend to Chris and host of The Preterist Podcast, moderates. This episode is part 2 of the debate, including the first round of cross-examination and second rebuttals. Listen to episode 88 for part 1’s opening statements and first rebuttals; listen to episode 90 for part 3’s second round of cross-examination, closing statements and listener Q&A.
Debate topic: “The final punishment of the risen wicked will be annihilation, the permanent end to the conscious existence of the entire person.” Chris Date, host of the Theopologetics podcast and contributor to the Rethinking Hell blog and podcast, affirms. Joshua Whipps, creator of the Razor’s Kiss blog and author at Choosing Hats, denies. Dee Dee Warren, friend to Chris and host of The Preterist Podcast, moderates. This episode is part 1 of the debate, including opening statements and first rebuttals. Listen to episode 89 for part 2’s first round of cross-examination and second rebuttals; listen to episode 90 for part 3’s second round of cross-examination, closing statements and listener Q&A.
It’s about two and a half weeks until my upcoming debate with Joshua Whipps of http://www.choosinghats.com/ on the topic of annihilationism. I’ve carefully followed the posts Joshua has authored and have listened to his recent podcast episode, and am looking forward to discussing the biblical texts and the theological issues Joshua intends to bring to bear in the debate. As of yet I remain convinced of the biblical case for annihilationism, and I find Joshua’s responses unconvincing, but I am thankful as he has caused me to study the topic in greater depth, further consider its place within systematic theology, better nuance my view and articulate it more precisely. What’s more, I appreciate the intensity and seriousness with which he is coming into the debate, for if my position is unbiblical (and therefore untrue), my prayer is that the Lord would use Joshua to make that clear to me and everyone who listens to the debate.
We do need your help, though. Our debate moderator, my friend Dee Dee Warren, will have some time to pose your questions to Joshua and me after our closing arguments. I’ve found that the Q&A portion of debates can be very useful, so long as the questions are relevant and of high quality. Dee Dee has received a number of questions for me, but as of a few days ago she had not yet received any questions for Joshua. If you have a question you’d like one of us to answer, please email her at email@example.com, letting her know to which of us she should pose the question (we will both have an opportunity to respond, but the one asked the question will have longer).
Also, in addition to your questions, please pray for us and for the debate. Pray that Joshua and I would be humble and gracious toward one another, while nevertheless treating our opponent’s position as the serious error—perhaps even heresy—we believe it to be. Pray that the truth God has revealed to us in the Bible—whether that’s what I’ll be arguing or what Joshua will be arguing—would be made evident to both of us and to everyone who listens. The Lord can and does soften hearts and open minds, and if any of us is stubbornly refusing to see the truth, may the Lord be merciful.
As my friend and fellow podcaster Dee Dee Warren explains in this episode of The Preterist Podcast, she will be participating in a live, in-person debate in Floriday early 2013, defending the preterist interpretation of the Olivet Discourse. Dee Dee and her opponent graciously accepted my offer to moderate, and so I began planning to fly my family from one end of the contiguous states to the other to participate in one debate as moderator.
As it turns out, it is very possible that I will be participating in a second debate as well, in which Dee Dee and I will switch roles, she serving as moderator, me defending the annihilationist understanding of final punishment. I’m turning to you readers and listeners for help finding a traditionalist opponent for that debate.
Nothing is set in stone yet, but it’s looking like both our debates would take place in Jacksonville, Florida, on a weekend in late February or early March, 2013. They will likely be part of a weekend-long convention focused on biblical theology in general, being presently organized. The organizers of the event are hoping to get one or more renowned speakers to speak on a variety of topics. (I know I’m being somewhat vague; I’ll post more details if and when they become available.)
If you know anybody who might be interested in appearing at such a conference, to represent the traditional view of final punishment in a live, in-person debate opposite an annihilationist, please contact whomever you have in mind, including a link to this post and my contact information.
What does the Bible teach is the nature of eternal punishment? To answer that question, Chris Date, host of the Theopologetics podcast, goes toe to toe with Joshua Whipps, creator of the Razor’s Kiss blog and author at Choosing Hats. Dee Dee Warren, friend to Chris and host of The Preterist Podcast, moderates. Tentatively scheduled for the June, 2012 timeframe, finalized details are below.
Be sure to email Dee Dee at firstname.lastname@example.org if you want to pose a question to either participant. The debate will be pre-recorded, so Dee Dee will be asking questions on behalf of those who send them to her in advance. Make sure to specify which participant you would like asked your question; he will have 2.5 minutes to answer, and his opponent will have 60 seconds to follow up.
Having had every desire not to accept annihilationism/conditionalism, I believe that over the course of the past year or so during which I “converted,” I’ve honestly sought out the best arguments I could find in support of the traditional view of hell (and found them lacking). At this point, I don’t often encounter a challenge I haven’t heard in some form before. Occasionally I’ve heard it claimed that annihilation means there’s another sacrifice for sins besides Christ’s, which hasn’t particularly surprised me.
Recently, however, I encountered an argument I hadn’t seen before, but which is somewhat related to the idea of Christ’s sacrifice. I wrote about it here, clearly refuting the argument that the Levitical animal sacrifices, repeated ad infinitum until Christ’s sacrifice ended them, means the death of an annihilated sinner can’t satisfy the punitive demands of the Law. The author of that argument and I discussed it in the comments thread of that post, and while at one point it seemed to me that he believes annihilation would, in fact, mean there’s another sacrifice for sin, having gone over that conversation multiple times I’m no longer certain.
Just in case, and because I’m not sure I’ve clearly addressed the occasional traditionalist claim that annihilation is another sacrifice for sins besides that of Christ, I think it’s worth my time to explain why it most definitely is not. Following that, I’ll again explain why the repeated Levitical sacrifices do not prove that a sinner’s annihilation cannot satisfy the punitive demands of the Law. And it all begins with understanding the concept of propitiation.
Hiram Diaz, with whom I debated the nature of eternal punishment back in December, recently posted a question on his Facebook page. He later indicated in the comments thread that his question leads to a refutation of annihilationism, based on the insufficiency of repeated Levitical sacrifices to satisfy the punitive demands of the Law, as described in Hebrews 7. Once it is formulated clearly in the form of a syllogism, however, the insufficiency of his argument to challenge annihilationism becomes clear.
After my recent appearance on the Unbelievable? radio program with Justin Brierley, a listener of Justin’s, named Paul, wrote a blog post entitled “Clutching at Straws,” arguing against the case I made. I responded to his blog post in one of my recent episodes, as well as via email. He wrote me back, to which I am presently working on a response. But in a more recent post, I think this blogger demonstrates that it is he (and fellow traditionalists) who are the ones clutching at straws.
I was recently contacted by a Dr. Ean Theron who, having somewhere learned of my newfound belief in annihilationism, asked if I had read Dr. Robert Morey’s Death and the Afterlife. This began a still ongoing email exchange, the direction of which is not yet clear. But I did a search for his name online and came across his recently-published book, According to Jesus: The Theology of Christ, which is claimed to refute annihilationism. Sincerely hoping (but not expecting) to find something new, I purchased the Kindle version for $3 with some of my very first ministry donation (Thanks! You know who you are!), and took note of those passages which allege to challenge my view. What follows is my response to Dr. Theron’s arguments.