Tony Gray, who completed his doctoral studies at
Oxford, was formerly RTSF secretary.
This was his first article for
There is no doctrine I would more willingly
remove from Christianity than [hell], if it lay in my power ... I would pay any
price to be able to say truthfully: 'All will be saved."
C.S. Lewis states clearly what is probably true for most modern
Christians. Hell may well be unique amongst Christian doctrines, if not for the
lack of attention that it has received in the past decades, then for the
unwillingness with which many orthodox Christians believe in it.
Fundamentalists may preach vividly about the fires of hell, and liberals have
long heralded the downfall of eternal damnation, but what can we say about a
doctrine which leaves many people highly embarrassed? More recently, the
doctrine has received the renewed interest of a specific debate amongst
evangelicals concerning whether hell is eternal conscious torment or whether
the wicked are annihilated after judgment.
This article will attempt to outline the nature of these recent
debates. The main aim will be to present the various arguments and highlight
certain themes that need further attention. If the arguments for conditionalism
(which I shall define later) appear at times to be stronger than the others,
then this is not due to a hidden assumption that conditionalism is the correct
interpretation, but rather to a desire that the arguments should at least be
heard. It is my belief that traditionalists have often not listened to the
arguments themselves. I hope that in this article conditionalism is given a
fair hearing at least.
One note of caution. Theology is always close to home when we have
a vested interest in the subject, and this is even more the case when it comes
to the doctrine of hell. It concerns our future destiny, and more pointedly,
the future of those whom we love. Discussion of the matter often becomes
extremely emotional, and no excuse should have to be made for this. People
dissenting from more traditional views are accused of doing so for 'emotional'
reasons, whatever they may actually be. However, it seems right that we should
never be afraid of feeling the force of our emotions, as long as they are never
allowed to be the overriding force. Truth remains the same, whatever our
reactions to it or feelings about it may be. I may often feel that God is far
away, but the experience of my feeling does not alter the truth that God is
closer than I can ever imagine. It is when I make my decisions on those
feelings alone, and ignore the witness of Scripture, that danger comes. So, be
warned: hell is an emotional subject, but we must let the Scriptures be the
final arbiter on the truth of the matter.
Conditional immortality is the name given to the doctrine
that states that human beings are not inherently immortal, but rather have
immortality conferred upon them as part of the experience of salvation. In the
debates, immortality is usually taken to mean the inability of the person to
perish. Therefore, all the redeemed will be immortal, and life in heaven will
be everlasting and consist of a perfect and glorious existence. It is often
said that this heaven will be eternal both quantitatively and qualitatively,
the former referring to duration, the latter referring to the type of eternal
existence. Annihilationism, which is usually associated with conditional
immortality, states that the wicked will not suffer conscious torment for ever,
but that after death and judgment they will be destroyed, ceasing to exist.
Annihilationism is thus virtually a corollary of conditional immortality, for
if immortality were inherent, then it follows that annihilation would not be a
satisfactory explanation of hell.
However, several comments must be made at this point.
Annihilationism is to be distinguished from the humanist belief that there is
no life after death, and thus all persons cease to exist once life in this
world has stopped. Evangelicals believing in annihilation wish to distance
themselves from this belief, and generally accept that destruction occurs after
judgment and appropriate punishment. Secondly, although conditionalism makes an
important point concerning anthropology (which will be explored later), both
sides of the annihilation / traditional debate tend to agree that whether
immortality is inherent or not, God alone has the power to give and take away
life in all its forms. Thus a traditionalist will argue that inherent
immortality exists due to God's grace, and that God in principle does have the
ability to annihilate; yet, because of the way he has fashioned creation,
annihilation is not a possible interpretation of hell.
Conditional immortality and universalism are often viewed as the
two main challenges to traditional views about hell. However, universalism's
pedigree extends right back to the early church and Origen's theory of
apokatastasis, the idea that everything, perhaps even the devil, will
eventually be restored to God. Condemnation of universalism has been
widespread, and it is a doctrine which has never been accepted by evangelicals.
In contrast, conditional immortality has a much shorter history, and the
suspicion that this is a 'new' idea has caused evangelicals, whichever position
they take on the debate, to be hesitant when discussing the matter. The
assumption is that if this is a biblical doctrine, then why did it not appear
until recently? Some attempts have been made to trace the history of the
Conditionalism, in its various forms, received the most attention
it has ever had during the debates of the nineteenth century, and this is well
documented by various scholars. Geoffrey Rowell's work, Hell And The
Victorians, is the most comprehensive, and together with the essay by David
Powys on the nineteenth- and twentieth-century debates, it is well worth
More recently, conditionalism and annihilationism have been given
a wider public airing as a result of two important works. The first was by John
Wenham, in The Goodness Of God, where, in a
chapter dealing with the moral difficulties of
believing in hell, he presented conditionalism as a possible
option. Then, fourteen years later, John Stott advocated a well-argued, yet
tentative, case for the annihilationist position, when questioned by David
Edwards in Essentials: A Liberal-Evangelical Dialogue. The fact that one of the most respected leaders of modern
evangelicalism supported the doctrine made people listen, and hence brought the
debate to the attention of a wider Christian public. Since then, a range of books on both sides of the
Atlantic has been published, most of them attacking the conditionalist
position. In the States the attack has been focused on Clark Pinnock, who over
recent years has taught conditional immortality, along with other perhaps less
traditional doctrines with which some evangelicals do not agree. However, others (such as Stott) develop conditionalism
without going this extra step, and so conditionalism must never be seen as part
of a package of beliefs. It seems that many of its advocates can quite rightly
be labelled as pillars of conservative orthodoxy.
The debate between conditionalists and those believing in the
traditional model of hell has largely taken place on two levels. The first
concerns the biblical texts, and how these should be interpreted. The second
concerns more theological arguments, but necessarily feeds off (and informs)
the first. Without a doubt, one of the key issues thrown up by the whole debate
is that of hermeneutics. Caution must be exercised when using the biblical
texts, as in all debates. Only when we have considered context, setting and
other variables can we make a fully informed decision. There is not room here
to provide this whole structure, only to indicate the form of the debate.
Suffice it to say that any weighing of the cases must be done carefully and
The biblical case
For this section I depend largely on two of Stott's four main
arguments as they are presented in a helpful summary fashion (the other two,
concerning justice and universalism, come under our heading of 'the theological
case'). I will supplement some of this with material from other
conditionalists, and then consider the responses made by a number of
Stott's first argument is from language. He maintains that
much of the biblical wording points towards ultimate destruction. The use of
apollumi (to destroy), when employed in an active form, points towards
extinction (as when Herod plotted to kill Jesus: Mt. 2:13). The same meaning
has more particular reference when Jesus warns his disciples to 'fear him who
can destroy both soul and body in hell'. However, the verb can be in a middle
form, and then has the connotation of perishing (e.g. 2 Pet. 2:9).
Nevertheless, this does not discourage Stott, as he maintains that
it would seem strange ... if people who are said
to suffer destruction are in fact not destroyed; and ... it is 'difficult to
imagine a perpetually inconclusive process of perishing'.
Traditionalists may agree that the word can have different
meanings, yet assert that in the context of references to hell it denotes
something perishing or being ruined - the object remains in existence.
Stott's second argument concerns the biblical imagery of fire. He
argues that the main purpose of fire is not to inflict sensory pain, but
to destroy. Although we associate conscious torment with fire, annihilation
would be the outcome, and thus an appropriate interpretation of the texts.
Objections to this interpretation are numerous, and Stott himself
attempts to deal with some of them, albeit briefly. What about the undying worm
and unquenching fire of Mark 9:48? Stott points out that Jesus does not mention
everlasting pain when he uses the imagery of Isaiah 66:24 here, whereas Judith
16:17 does use such language. Conversely, Fernando replies that this use in
Judith shows that the natural interpretation of fire in the Jewish mind was
concerned with pain, not destruction. Stott
maintains that it is reasonable to assume that although both the worm and the
fire are everlasting, the consequence may still be destruction. Blanchard
emphasizes the use of 'their' worm, suggesting that the 'worm' refers to the
sinner's conscience. Fudge acknowledges this
position, but argues that this cannot be so, as the imagery from Isaiah refers
to a devouring worm that eats what is already dead.
Matthew 25:26 appears to parallel eternal life with fire. Or does
it? Stott's case is that our preconceptions force us to read it in this manner,
whereas the passage never actually defines the nature of those eternal states.
Thus, the parable contrasts life with punishment rather than equating their
duration. The punishment of this verse could then be destruction - punishment
all the same. Travis states that a better translation would be 'the punishment
of the age to come' and 'the life of the age to come'. The traditionalist response has been to wonder whether
the word 'eternal' could change meaning so quickly in such close proximity.
What of the rich man and Lazarus? Throughout the literature,
opinions abound as to how this text should be interpreted - is it a parable;
does it refer to the intermediate state; can we lift details from such a text,
etc? There are therefore numerous hermeneutical questions that must be
answered, and until we work through them, we should build our case on what is
undoubtedly contained in the teaching, not on what is disputable. Stott assumes
that this passage does refer to the interim state, but that an alternative
interpretation need not preclude the idea of annihilation subsequent to
punishment. The two main thrusts of the story are the reversal of fortunes and
the irreversibility of the two states.
Traditionalists emphasize the physical aspects to this story. For instance, the
rich man in the story refers to his physical body by begging Abraham to send
Lazarus to dip water onto his tongue. Traditionalists therefore believe that
the parable must be referring to the final state, when all are reunited with
physical bodies. A note of caution must be inserted here - some argue from the
physical pains to conclude that this must refer to the final state. Others,
convinced that this refers to the final state, then argue that physical pain
must be in mind! Here is a clear indication of the difficulty in knowing how
this text should be handled and where we should start from in its
interpretation. Perhaps Travis's advice concerning the interpretation of this
story is to be welcomed: 'Jesus is here making use of a popular Jewish tale,
and so we would be rash to press the details of the story.'
Revelation 14:10 is interpreted by Stott and others to refer to
the moment of judgment, rather than to everlasting conscious torment. The
smoke, not the torment, ascends for ever and ever. Pawson, however, wonders why
this should be so, once the fire has finished its job of destroying. Blanchard
emphasizes the personal pronoun - the smoke is of 'their' torment, and thus the
suffering must be everlasting. How can hell have an end, when there is
explicitly 'no rest day or night' (Rev. 14:11)?
The last objection that Stott tackles is the declaration in
Revelation 20:10 that the wicked 'will be tormented day and night for ever and
ever'. He notes that this refers to the devil, the beast, and the false prophet
- plausibly interpreted as powers of evil in the world, rather than as
individual persons, and thus offering the interpretation that all evil and
resistance to God will ultimately be destroyed. It follows, then, that these
personifications cannot suffer everlasting torment, as suffering cannot be
experienced by symbols. Michael Green follows a similar explanation,
maintaining that this isolated verse is not enough on which to build what he
refers to as the savage doctrine of eternal suffering. Traditionalists reply in two ways. Pawson, turning the
argument on its head, believes that the devil and his henchmen are persons -
otherwise, how could they be tormented?
Cotterell then adds that 'it really will not do to dismiss this statement on
the grounds that this is so stated only once'.
In conclusion to this study of the biblical material, and having
attempted to reply to the objections against his position, Stott concludes
the most natural way to understand the reality
behind the imagery is that ultimately all enmity and resistance to God will be
destroyed. So both the language of destruction and the imagery of fire seem to
point to annihilation.
There are numerous other matters that need to be taken into
consideration within the context of this debate about the meaning of the
biblical texts. One is the use and meaning of aionios, the word
generally translated as 'eternal'. It is now recognized that this word may have
both a qualitative and a quantitative aspect - thus 'the age to come' is a
possible phrase to describe the concept, and this would cohere with some
annihilationist apologetic. However, it is also possible that Jesus and his
contemporaries thought in terms of an 'age to come', yet this
age was, in their minds, totally without end, especially when
linked with the phrases 'for ever and ever' or 'to the ends of the ages'.
There are other uses of the term 'fire' that could be examined
(for example, God as a consuming fire, the use of fire in Jude 7, and the lake
of fire in Rev. 20:10). We could also investigate the use of 'darkness' (Jude
13); the use of separation (2 Thes. 1:9); the meaning of the second death (Rev.
20:14). Thus, any biblical investigation into this topic requires the
examination of a large amount of material. For the moment we will leave these
directly biblical considerations, and turn to the arguments that are generally
theological in nature.
The theological case
The main theological arguments can be broken down into four
categories: immortality, love and justice, victory, and the blessedness of the
We have described the position of conditionalism, which attacks
one of the premises of the traditional understanding of hell on the grounds
that the wicked will not be given immortality and hence shall not suffer in
torment for ever. The accusation is that most theologians interpret hell in the
traditional manner for two reasons: (a) because their tradition has always done
so, and their tradition precedes their interpretation of Scripture; (b) because
the force behind that tradition has been the false assumption that men and
women are created immortal, and so those who reject Christ endure for ever,
suffering the consequences of their rejection. Travis summarizes the
conditionalist argument thus:
However, the claim of the conditionalist is that
the 'traditional orthodoxy' of eternal torment arose in the early church
precisely because biblical teaching was (illegitimately) interpreted in the
light of Platonic philosophy, which involved belief in the immortality of the
soul and in everlasting punishment.
There are several difficulties with these arguments, applying both
to traditionalists and conditionalists. The first arises from the need to
construct a rigorous and proper biblical anthropology. Many evangelicals have
recoiled from notions of soul and body dualism, to speak of a 'holistic
identity', which can refer to a variety of concepts and ideas, but basically
means that soul and body are two inseparable aspects of the person, not two
distinct substances where the soul is identified with the real person. Some
work therefore needs to be done in reconstructing anthropological doctrine and
its history, in order to evaluate whether it actually has been developed and
interpreted in the light of Platonic philosophy.
On the other hand, many traditionalists are prepared to acknowledge the
influence that Platonism may have had, yet still maintain that the anthropology
which they have reached remains biblical - that is, an anthropology consisting
of an immortal soul. Thus, the conditionalist may challenge received notions of
anthropology, but if Scripture teaches eternal suffering to be the case, then
they have not got far in connection with the doctrine of hell.
Therefore, any consideration of this argument must look at the
biblical grounds for immortality. Conditionalists base their argument on 1
Timothy 1:17, 1 Timothy 6:16 and 2 Timothy 1:10. Thus, Stott states that:
'According to Scripture only God possesses immortality in himself (1 Tim. 1:17;
6:16); he reveals it and gives it to us through the gospel.' Helm admits 'that Scripture does not teach the
immortality of the soul in so many words'.
However, sufficient teaching on hell exists to make the case irrelevant. Pawson
and Fernando take a similar line, whereas Davies and Blanchard argue that
immortality is assumed throughout Scripture (as is the Trinity, of which there
are also no explicit statements). Hints exist in the creation account (man and
woman made in the image of God, made for life and not mortality, made for
communion with God, and so possessing something of God's immortality) and in
Ecclesiastes 3:11: 'He has put a sense of past and future into their minds.' It
is argued that not only does this passage indicate that humans are created with
a capacity to appreciate the eternal importance of the world, but also have a
'desire for eternal things which in turn implies a spiritual dimension and
nature in men'. The implication of this argument
is that, as human immortality is assumed in Scripture, those passages which
speak of God having immortality alone are referring to a quality of life that
God possesses and subsequently gives to the redeemed, rather than to an
expression of duration of existence.
On the annihilation side, Fudge believes that even if conditional
immortality were true according to Scripture, the existence of positive
teaching on eternal conscious torment would convince him otherwise - if it
existed. The motive behind Fudge's belief, which must be applauded, is that
whatever he finds in Scripture, he will follow. Unfortunately, if he is
convinced that immortality is a gift of salvation, then eternal punishment (the
punishment of something which would be immortal) could not follow from
conditional immortality thus stated.
Therefore, is the issue of immortality irrelevant in the face of
positive teaching about eternal torment, as Fudge implies? Not necessarily. The
argument does cause us to re-evaluate our reasons for believing in the specific
structure of certain doctrines. Conditionalism sits on a scale involving other
judgments that need to be made, and if not used as the decisive argument in the
debate, it may then tip the balance one way or the other. If conditionalism has
had a small hearing historically due to misplaced Platonic influence, then we
should not be so scared of discussing the idea today - there may then be a case
for going against 2,000 years of thought. However, in contrast to this, the
traditionalist may argue that conditionalism has had a small hearing due to
positive biblical teaching to the contrary. If this is the case, then the
arguments concerning conditional immortality become less crucial.
Love and justice
Whenever and wherever hell is discussed, it always raises
questions concerning God's love and justice which bring with them strong
emotional feelings. However, even if we are prepared to accept the reality of
an eschatological dualism, as all evangelicals are, what useful purpose does
eternal suffering provide?
This vindictiveness is incompatible with the
love of God in Christ.
Whatever anyone says, unending torment speaks to
me of sadism, not justice.
The argument is forceful: where is the love and justice in eternal
(i.e. everlasting) conscious torment? Is there not a grave level of
disproportion between crimes committed in 70 years, and punishment administered
Traditionalists respond in a number of ways. First, such argument
inevitably leads to a diminishing of the seriousness of sin. However, most
conditionalists do still wish to emphasize this - judgment and punishment still
exist, yet justice for conditionalists seems to be administered fairly, as the
punishment appears not to be out of proportion with the sin. Secondly, most
traditionalists major on the glory of God. The punishment of the wicked serves
to glorify the righteousness and justice of the divine judge. Gerald Bray
provides the most explicit statement of this view:
... if the non-elect have no hope of salvation
and God does not want them to suffer unduly, why were they ever created in the
first place? Their existence must serve some purpose, and once that is admitted
the view that their eternal punishment glorifies the justice of God seems
God's justice is glorified in that sinners receive their due
punishment. Perhaps sin against God requires infinite punishment, because God
is an infinite being. Yet Christ's atonement was made by a finite event, his
death on the cross - thus an infinite punishment would, according to the
conditionalist argument, appear to be inappropriate.
Another popular response is to parallel annihilation with
euthanasia in modern-day medical science. The apparent illusion of justice in
the act of destroying the person hides the fact that annihilation takes away
any dignity the person may have. However, the conditionalist replies: what
dignity is there in eternal suffering - surely all dignity of those in hell has
already been destroyed?
Perhaps the strongest argument used by traditionalists is the idea
that those in hell are continually impenitent. Thus the wicked consistently
refuse God, repeatedly sin, and therefore deserve eternal punishment. Even if this is not the case, it is not
clear whether annihilation (eternal death) is any easier to
justify than conscious hell (eternal suffering).
This line of argument parallels discussions of universalism in
many ways. Again, Travis summarizes the point well: 'Eternal torment involves
an eternal cosmological dualism, which is impossible to reconcile with the
conviction that ultimately God will be "all in all".'
Many people may feel the strong attraction of universalism, even
if their theological convictions lead them to conclude otherwise.
Conditionalists acknowledge this, yet resist the doctrine in order to preserve
the biblical insistence on human freedom, judgment and division. However, does
not the doctrine of annihilation allow the full force of the supposedly
universalist verses (such as Rom. 5:18; 11:32; 1 Cor. 15:28) to come out? True,
we must interpret them in their correct context, but even so, the victory of
God becomes even more apparent when we believe that the wicked will eventually
cease to exist. God is victorious in that he has wiped out all evil and
resistance to his will for ever. No-one remains in some eternal prison, forever
spoiling God's creation.
Understandably, traditionalists view this as an easy way out.
Hell, in fact, is not incompatible with God's victory - hell glorifies God's
justice, and all in hell are subject to God, even if they are rebellious. The
existence of hell and heaven side by side presented no problem for the biblical
authors, and so it should not for us. We need to exercise caution in this whole
area, as it is all too easy to import contemporary ideas of victory and justice
into a situation of which we know very little.
Blessedness of the redeemed
This issue is connected with the third: how can the redeemed in
heaven be unaffected by the existence of the wicked in hell? For
conditionalists, memories of the lost remain, but perhaps heaven contains
healing and understanding. Some traditionalists argue that the redeemed will in
fact agree with God's judgment and glorify him for it, even over the loss of
our loved ones. Perhaps perfect joy and regret
can co-exist in the light of God's glory, or maybe the life of heaven entails
learning to live with the realization that not all wanted to embrace God's
Recent studies of the whole debate have raised a number of general
considerations. Kendall Harmon has been critical of conditionalists for
importing a timescale of events into biblical material which in itself provides
no warrant for such detail. Thus,
conditionalists envisage death for the sinner, then subsequently resurrection,
then punishment, and then destruction. Where in the biblical material do we
find such an explicit scheme? Harmon has also criticized Fudge's inadequate use
of the inter-testamental literature in interpreting the terms and words used in
the NT. The work of David Powys has attempted to
demonstrate that taking the inter-testamental material into consideration can
aid our understanding of the NT texts and thus lead to an annihilationist
position. Powys's material may in fact be the most able defence of one specific
form of annihilationism thus far. Nevertheless, even his extensive
investigation leaves questions unanswered concerning the interpretation of
specific texts (especially the use of Is. 66:24, and how best to understand
Rev. 14:11 and 20:10).
Turning to a broader theological position, many philosophers of
religion have recently been considering the doctrine of hell. Amongst those who
have examined annihilationism, Jonathan Kvanvig has questioned whether this
doctrine in fact masks the major problem of hell (see the discussion above
under 'Love and justice'). The problem consists in being able to justify an
eternal sentence for crimes committed in a finite amount of time. Although
justifications may be provided for this apparent problem, it seems that they
must be independent of the annihilationist debate. Kvanvig maintains that even
if the fate of those in hell is extinction, hell remains morally problematic
because the sentence of being eternally separated from God is still inflicted
for a finite amount of sin. In effect, annihilationism masks the larger
problems of hell. It may be unfair to criticize
annihilationists for believing such a doctrine because it appears to be the
easier 'option'. On the other hand, some may have chosen this option because of
uncertainty concerning the biblical data and the assumption that
annihilationism does solve the moral problems associated with hell. If this is
the case, and if this misplaced assumption has become the determining
presupposition, then such annihilationists will need to reconsider the case and
return to the biblical material.
Once again, there are other issues that could have been discussed.
The questions of hell as a moral deterrent and hell as an impetus for
evangelism are important ones for anyone concerned with preaching the gospel,
and it may be thought that such issues should be considered under the main
areas of debate. However, it seems that these topics can all too easily
distract from the biblical and theological discussion in hand. If hell is
eternal torment, then we must preach it so. However, if annihilation is true, a
gospel still remains to be taught, and it is a gospel that is just as
desperately needed. If one wishes to use hell as a departure point for
preaching the gospel (and that is a heavily disputed point), then the prospect
of annihilation still engenders fear. Although some writers argue that this is
not the case, others argue just as cogently that fear of a conscious judgment
followed by 'nothingness' is just as real as fear of eternal pain. As for hell as a moral deterrent, such a case arguably
misses the Christian understanding of ethical action, and may lead to confusion
in the doctrine of justification by faith. Do we perform good deeds to avoid
hell? Even more so, do we turn to Christ to avoid hell? Is the true nature of
repentance, and the true basis for good works, fear, or love? These are issues
which we can only highlight here, but are important topics in
As indicated in the introduction, this survey of the issues may
seem biased. If so, the main reason is that the torrent of books and articles
against annihilationism may have left some of its arguments ignored or in the
background. Although the conclusion of this
survey is that annihilation is at the very least an option which ought to be
considered fairly and honestly, there remain major problems which proponents of
the doctrine must tackle. Much work needs to be done (especially on
hermeneutics, concepts of justice, and assumptions concerning immortality) and
much is left for future discussion and debate. With John Stott we 'plead for
frank dialogue among evangelicals on the basis of Scripture'. In all this speculative debate, it is perhaps best to
end with the wise words of John Wenham:
And let it be quite clear that these realities
are awful indeed. Jesus and his disciples taught again and again in terrible
terms that there is an irreversible judgment and punishment of the unrepentant.
Warnings and loving invitations intermingle to encourage us to flee the wrath
 C.S. Lewis, The
Problem of Pain (London: Geoffrey Bles, 1940), p. 94.
 The varying uses of
terminology are helpfully explored by Kendall S. Harmon in 'The Case Against
Conditionalism: A Response to Edward William Fudge', in Nigel M. de S. Cameron
(ed.), Universalism and the Doctrine of Hell (Carlisle: Paternoster,
1992), pp. 198-9.
 See especially L.
Froom, The Conditionalist Faith of our Fathers (Washington: Review &
Heal Publishing Association, 2 vols, 1965, 1966), and E. Fudge, The Fire
That Consumes (Texas: Providential Press, 1982) (revised and compressed
edition - Carlisle: Paternoster, 1994, in which Fudge responds to his
 G. Rowell, Hell
and the Victorians (Oxford: Clarendon, 1974), pp. 181ff.; David Powys, 'The
Nineteenth and Twentieth Century Debates About Hell and Universalism', in Nigel
M. de S. Cameron (ed.), Universalism and the Doctrine of Hell, pp.
 J. Wenham, The
Goodness of God (Leicester: IVP, 1974); the work also provides helpful
warnings concerning decisions on the issue, and a brief history of how Wenham
learnt of the doctrine; the chapter dealing with hell has been revised and
stated less cautiously in The Enigma of Evil (Guildford: Eagle,
 J. Stott and D.
Edwards, Essentials: A Liberal-Evangelical Dialogue (London: Hodder
& Stoughton, 1988); Eryl Davies, An Angry God? (Bridgend:
Evangelical Press of Wales, 1991), p. 14, notes that at least ten years earlier
Stott expressed his agnosticism concerning the precise nature of
 An explanatory note
must be made with reference to Stott's position. His explanation and use of
definitions is likely to confuse, as he distances himself from the label of
conditional immortality. He implicitly accuses conditionalists of believing
that no-one survives death except the redeemed - thus the wicked are destroyed
at death. However, most evangelical conditionalists do believe in the
resurrection of both the righteous and the wicked to judgment, and distance
themselves from the materialist connotations of the term 'annihilation'. See
Stott, Essentials, p. 316, for the confusion of terms.
 See especially Clark
Pinnock, A Wideness in God's Mercy: The Finality of Jesus Christ in a World
of Religions (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1992), and 'The Destruction of the
Finally Impenitent', Criswell Theological Review 4/2 (1990),
Essentials, p. 316.
 See A. Fernando,
Crucial Questions About Hell (Eastbourne: Kingsway, 1991), p.
 Ibid., p.
 J. Blanchard,
Whatever Happened to Hell? (Darlington: Evangelical Press, 1993), pp.
 Fudge, The Fire
That Consumes, p. 185.
 S. Travis, I
Believe in the Second Coming of Jesus (London: Hodder & Stoughton,
1988), p. 199.
 Note that David
Powys has proposed a new interpretation of this material, which he believes was
used to attack the Pharisees' understanding of the post-mortem state. The case
is presented in his doctrinal thesis, 'The Hermeneutics of "Hell": The Fate of
the Unrighteous in New Testament Thought', Australian College of
Theology, 1993, forthcoming from Paternoster Press.
 Travis, I
Believe in the Second Coming of Jesus, p. 197; see also Stott,
Essentials, p. 316f.
 M. Green,
Evangelism in the Local Church (London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1990),
 D. Pawson, The
Road to Hell (London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1992), pp. 42,
 P. Cotterell,
Mission and Meaninglessness (London: SPCK, 1990), p. 73.
Essentials, p. 318.
 Stephen H. Travis,
Christian Hope and the Future of Man (Leicester: IVP, 1980), p.
 On this whole area,
see the work of J. Cooper, Body, Soul and the Life Everlasting (Grand
Rapids: Eerdmans, 1989); see also Powys, 'The Hermeneutics of
Essentials, p. 316.
 P. Helm, The
Last Things Now (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, 1989), p.118.
 Davies, An Angry
God?, p. 129.
Christian Hope and the Future of Man, p. 135.
 Wenham, 'The Case
for Conditional Immortality', in Nigel M. de S. Cameron (ed.), Universalism
and the Doctrine of Hell, p. 187.
 G. Bray, 'Hell:
Eternal Punishment Or Total Annihilation', Evangel 10.2 (Summer 1992),
 Although this
argument may not take into account the infinite nature of the one making the
 See D.A. Carson,
How Long O Lord?: Reflections on Suffering and Evil (Leicester: IVP,
1990), p. 103; see also L. Dixon, The Other Side of the Good News
(Wheaton: Victor Books, 1992), p. 127.
Christian Hope and the Future of Man, p. 135.
 See Fernando,
Crucial Questions About Hell, p. 69.
 Kendall Harmon,
'The Case Against Conditionalism', in Nigel M. de S. Cameron (ed.),
Universalism and the Doctrine of Hell, pp. 191-222.
 See n. 15
 Jonathan Kvanvig,
The Problem of Hell (Oxford: OUP, 1993), pp. 68-71. "See on one side,
Pawson, The Road to Hell, p. 40; on the other, Wenham, The Goodness
of God, p. 37, and Travis, Christian Hope and the Future of Man, p.
 Jonathan Kvanvig,
The Problem of Hell (Oxford: OUP, 1993), pp. 68-71. "See on one side,
Pawson, The Road to Hell, p. 40; on the other, Wenham, The Goodness
of God, p. 37, and Travis, Christian Hope and the Future of Man, p.
 It is a shame that
Jim Packer, who usually writes at great depth and with much wisdom, gives
conditionalism such a brief and summary treatment - see 'The Problem of Eternal
Punishment', Evangel 10 (1992), 13-19.
Essentials, p. 320.
 Wenham, The
Goodness of God, p. 41.