Blogs Spread LTL Lecture (May 2012)

By Matt Dabbs

By Edward Fudge

Since we last reported, blogs from Boston, Belgium, and one about historical books have featured and embedded our September 24, 2011 presentation titled “The Fire That Consumes” in the Lanier Theological Library lecture series. Here are some details.

“FYI History Books” featured the Lanier Theological Library lecture in its blog for February 23. (To access article, insert “Fudge” in “search” at upper right, then click on title that appears.) The lecture was limited to 800 persons, this blogger noted, “and was closed off several weeks beforehand.” The report continues with the observation that the lecture “was attended by a broad spectrum of folks on this issue yet the lecture was warmly received by all. Around the world today, evangelical Bible scholars are giving hell a serious second look.” The fact is now duly noted in the annals of history–or at least in one of history’s blogs.

Speaking of history, there is plenty of that in New England, where we also find Don Bryant, a Westminster Seminary graduate who pastors a community church in Rhode Island and teaches in a Christian college in Massachusetts. His blog for February 25 says: “At the Lanier Theological Library site I came across Edward Fudge’s case for annihilationism as the best way to interpret biblical texts on Hell. It is a strong presentation–exegetical, historical, philosophical. All delivered in a strong Texas drawl that keeps it all rather folksy and plain talking. Interestingly enough, he asks no one to make up their mind based on this one lecture. The subject is too large and the issues too important to base all on an hour talk.”

No one knows that better than blogger Scott Lencke, pastor-elder of Cornerstone International Church in Brussels, Belgium, who studied theology at Covenant Seminary under Robert A. Peterson, today’s most prolific advocate/defender of traditionalism’s unending conscious torment. For starters, Lencke knows that “while most people think that eternal conscious torment is THE belief of the church throughout, it actually isn’t.” He notes that “many theologians have shifted more towards annihilationism . . . .” (Lencke’s blog article appeared on February 29, and you can read it here.)

More than one traditionalist author cites the opinion of Dr. Richard Bauckham of Cambridge, lately of the University of St. Andrews, Scotland, that “no traditional Christian doctrine has been so widely abandoned” as the belief in conscious unending torment. So far, none of these authors whom I have read mentions that Professor Bauckham himself rejects eternal torment as unbiblical. Indeed, some traditionalist authors clearly do not consider the traditional doctrine open to question, whereas Dr. Bauckham notes an increasing opinion that this as an issue “on which discussion and disagreement among Evangelical Christians is entirely legitimate” (from the Foreword of The Fire That Consumes, 3rd edition, 2011). The recovery of the biblical hell has begun. The first step in that biblical renewal is the rejection of the traditional hell and its conscious unending torment.

Make no mistake about why the traditional hell of unending torment “has been so widely abandoned,” and why that abandonment increases with every passing day. This abandonment is not due to lack of conviction; it is not based on lack of will. It is not a result of Enlightenment presuppositions or of postmodern principles. Rejection of unending torment does not represent the replacement of reason by elevated emotion or result from the substitution of pragmatism for theology. Such charges are straw men, red herrings, whistles in the graveyard. Last Things (eschatology), the unfinished business of the Reformation, is back on the agenda, and Holy Scripture is the highest standard and the operative rule.

Whatever the value of Tradition, whatever the respect due to Confessions and to Creeds, all of that combined is no fit trade-off for fresh, honest, prayerful, earnest Bible study–no holds barred, windows fully open, sunshine streaming in. When the authority, reputation, and glory of God are at stake, nothing less will suffice.

Copyright 2012 by Edward Fudge. You are urged to reproduce, reprint or forward this gracEmail, but only in its entirety, without change and without financial profit.

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This author published 1598 posts in this site.
Matt is the preaching minister at the Auburn Church of Christ in Auburn, Alabama. He and Missy have been married 12 years and are raising two wonderful boys, Jonah and Elijah. Matt is passionate about reaching and discipling young adults, small groups, and teaching. Matt is currently the editor and co-owner of


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