Tuesday, September 19, 2006


Very recently I received the sad news that my dear Uncle Noel passed away. He died this weekend at a ripe old age - almost 100. He was not a Christian, but his warmth and friendliness is always something I’ll remember. For many of us, the debate surrounding Universalism and such like are deeply involved in the hopes and pains of life. It’s not just theory. However, though I’d so like to conclude that ‘God saves all’, I’m just not sure that it can be sustained exegetically. And for me, that matters. One thing I suspect: most of those who dismiss Universalism without question – as I used to – don’t know what is involved, exegetically nor theologically. A few years ago certain scholars (e.g. Wenham) challenged the bastions of traditional Evangelicalism with the doctrine of annihilationism. While some (e.g. Carson in The Gagging of God) were to simply put it down to pluralism, I suspect that those who subscribe to annihilationism heave won the battle to have their belief acknowledged as Evangelical. And quite right so!


At 9/19/2006 3:54 AM, Anonymous byron smith said...

I suspect that those who subscribe to annihilationism have won the battle to have their belief acknowledged as Evangelical.

Not (yet?) in Sydney.

At 9/19/2006 5:14 AM, Anonymous T.B. Vick said...


I'm saddened to hear about your uncle.

At 9/19/2006 8:18 AM, Anonymous Anthony Martin said...

To me, the notion of annihilationism just diminishes the sinfulness of sin.

At 9/19/2006 9:29 AM, Anonymous Exiled Preacher said...

Sorry to hear about your uncle, Chris.

Although Carson discusses annihilationism in The Gagging of God, he does not simply dismiss the teaching as a fruit of misguided pluralism. He deals with the biblical and theological argumets proposed by the likes of Stott and Pinnock.

But he concludes the chapter On Banishing the Lake of Fire by suggesting that pluralism 'is making it harder and harder to be faithful to the "hard" lines of Scripture. And in this way, evangelicalism itself may contribute to the gagging of God by silencing the severity of his warnings...'

At 9/19/2006 11:43 AM, Anonymous Steven Harris said...

I have to say I find annihilationism closer to scripture than ideas to do with eternal conscious torment, largely because I think that immortality is conditional, not inherent.

At 9/19/2006 12:10 PM, Anonymous tigger said...

Hi Chris,

Sorry to hear your sad news.

I find my comfort and hope in a God who 'rewards each according to what he has done' and for whom deeds is a defining modality of 'Faith'.

Not the most popular theology in some evangelical circles, but then who said we all had to be evangelical....? ;-)

With sympathy,

Father Theophilus Collins

At 9/19/2006 6:53 PM, Anonymous James Mendelsohn said...

Hi Chris
Sorry to hear about your uncle.

At 9/19/2006 8:59 PM, Anonymous ntWrong said...

• Anthony:
To me, the notion of annihilationism just diminishes the sinfulness of sin.

No; it's the other way around. The misguided notion of eternal torment exaggerates the sinfulness of sin, to the point where finite sins are punished infinitely (and hence unjustly).

• Chris:
My condolences re your uncle.

I am not a universalist, but I find your concept of "hopevism" attractive. If God is going to surprise us in one direction or the other, he's going to surprise us by extending mercy more widely than we expected.

At 9/20/2006 7:06 PM, Anonymous Chris Tilling said...

Thank you all for your kind comments. Just a few more specific responses:

Thanks, Guy. Carson, however, think that the exegetical arguments of the like you mention ‘are a reflection of this age of pluralism’ (536). His own exegetical work is also rather selective, in my view, as e.g. his analysis of the Revelation texts. Had he just looked on in those passages a little further ...

Hi Steven,
I totally agree. Though maybe God, in his grace, gives life to all in the end.

Hi Tony, I’ll write a more lengthy response in my next post.


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