Monday, April 4, 2011

Four Views on Hell (Part 4/4): The Conditional View

This is it readers....the last post of the series!  The 4th view. If you’re just joining us now....I’ve been summarizing in 300 words or less the four predominate views of hell: The Literal view, the Metaphorical view, the Purgatorial view, and the Conditional view. Now, you can read entire books on just one of these views...so go easy on me as I try to summarize the view, probably badly, in 300 words or less.

View #4 - The Conditional View

The Conditional View takes an approach altogether different from that of the traditional and purgatorial views and only slightly different from the metaphorical view. There appears to be four overarching principles. First, conditionalists support the notion that hell is a place where one is punished for sin for a period of time determined by God and ultimately annihilated. Body, soul, mind, spirit are extinguished in the fires of hell. They take, “For the wages of sin is death” (Rom 6:23) to be absolute death (annihilation). Second, regarding the New Testament usage of “eternal punishment”, the conditional view holds that “eternal punishment” (Matthew 25:46) is simply the notion that the punishment of death lasts forever. Therefore, eternal punishment does not equal "eternal torment".   So, not eternal torture but eternal punishment. Death is forever, and therefore, eternal. Third, in regard to the immortality of the soul, the conditional view of scripture holds this notion to be severely influenced by Hellenism finding its origin in Plato and Augustine, and not in the biblical witness (where in scripture do we learn that humans are made with a mortal body encasing an immortal soul, they ask?) Fourthly, regarding the question of justice, the conditional view suggests that eternal torment for mortals whose sin was time locked to a limited number of earthly years is unjust retribution and therefore out of God’s character.

Ok folks...that's it.  Their are other views and variations...but those are the 4 main ones.  I hope you've enjoyed our little 4 day theology tour.  Now....it's off to Starbucks for some morning coffee and a date with my daughter.  Peace!


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