The Fire That Consumes, Third Edition

A Biblical and Historical Study of the Doctrine of Final Punishment

by Edward William Fudge

foreword by Richard Bauckman

Evangelical Christians affirm together that a dreadful destiny awaits those who reject God's grace throughout life. According to the traditional view, that destiny will involve unending conscious torment in hell. However, believers are increasingly questioning that understanding, as both unbiblical and inconsistent with the character of God revealed in the Scriptures and in the man Jesus Christ.

This internationally acclaimed book--now fully updated, revised, and expanded--carefully examines the complete teaching of Scripture on the subject of final punishment. It concludes that hell is a place of total annihilation, everlasting destruction, although the destructive process encompasses conscious torment of whatever sort, intensity, and duration God might require in each individual case.

1.

10 Well Reviewed Books

Her Gates Will Never Be Shut

Hope, Hell, and the New Jerusalem

by Bradley Jersak

afterword by Nik Ansell

Everlasting hell and divine judgment, a lake of fire and brimstone--these mainstays of evangelical tradition have come under fire once again in recent decades. Would the God of love revealed by Jesus really consign the vast majority of humankind to a destiny of eternal, conscious torment? Is divine mercy bound by the demands of justice? How can anyone presume to know who is saved from the flames and who is not?

Reacting to presumptions in like manner, others write off the fiery images of final judgment altogether. If there is a God who loves us, then surely all are welcome into the heavenly kingdom, regardless of their beliefs or behaviors in this life. Yet, given the sheer volume of threat rhetoric in the Scriptures and the wickedness manifest in human history, the pop-universalism of our day sounds more like denial than hope. Mercy triumphs over judgment; it does not skirt it.

Her Gates Will Never Be Shut endeavors to reconsider what the Bible and the Church have actually said about hell and hope, noting a breadth of real possibilities that undermines every presumption. The polyphony of perspectives on hell and hope offered by the prophets, apostles, and Jesus humble our obsessive need to harmonize every text into a neat theological system. But they open the door to the eternal hope found in Revelation 21-22: the City whose gates will never be shut; where the Spirit and Bride perpetually invite the thirsty who are outside the city to "Come, drink of the waters of life."

2.

A Larger Hope?, Volume 1

Universal Salvation from Christian Beginnings to Julian of Norwich

by Ilaria L. E. Ramelli

foreword by Richard Bauckham

In the minds of some, universal salvation is a heretical idea that was imported into Christianity from pagan philosophies by Origen (c.185–253/4). Ilaria Ramelli argues that this picture is completely mistaken. She maintains that Christian theologians were the first people to proclaim that all will be saved and that their reasons for doing so were rooted in their faith in Christ. She demonstrates that, in fact, the idea of the final restoration of all creation (apokatastasis) was grounded upon the teachings of the Bible and the church’s beliefs about Jesus’ total triumph over sin, death, and evil through his incarnation, crucifixion, resurrection, and ascension.

Ramelli traces the Christian roots of Origen’s teaching on apokatastasis. She argues that he was drawing on texts from Scripture and from various Christians who preceded him, theologians such as Bardaisan, Irenaeus, and Clement. She outlines Origen’s often-misunderstood theology in some detail and then follows the legacy of his Christian universalism through the centuries that followed. We are treated to explorations of Origenian universal salvation in a host of Christian disciples, including Athanasius, Didymus the Blind, the Cappadocian fathers, Evagrius, Maximus the Confessor, John Scotus Eriugena, and Julian of Norwich.

3.

The God Who Saves

A Dogmatic Sketch

by David W. Congdon

Christian universalism has been explored in its biblical, philosophical, and historical dimensions. For the first time, The God Who Saves explores it in systematic theological perspective. In doing so it also offers a fresh take on universal salvation, one that is postmetaphysical, existential, and hermeneutically critical. The result is a constructive account of soteriology that does justice to both the universal scope of divine grace and the historicity of human existence.

In The God Who Saves David W. Congdon orients theology systematically around the New Testament witness to the apocalyptic inbreaking of God's reign. The result is a consistently soteriocentric theology. Building on the insights of Rudolf Bultmann, Ernst Kasemann, Eberhard Jungel, and J. Louis Martyn, he interprets the saving act of God as the eschatological event that crucifies the old cosmos in Christ. Human beings participate in salvation through their unconscious, existential cocrucifixion, in which each person is interrupted by God and placed outside of himself or herself.

Both academically rigorous and pastorally sensitive, The God Who Saves opens up new possibilities for understanding not only what salvation is but also who the God who brings about our salvation is. Here is an interdisciplinary exercise in dogmatic theology for the twenty-first century.

4.

All Set Free

How God is Revealed in Jesus and Why That is Really Good News

by Matthew J. Distefano

foreword by Michael Machuga

What is the ending to the human drama? Will all be reconciled to God in the end? Does God demand an altar, a corpse, and blood? Or, rather, is the Christian God set apart from all the other gods throughout history?

All Set Free sets out to answer some of the more difficult questions Christians today are faced with. It will challenge the Augustinian understanding of hell and the Calvinist understanding of the atonement; replacing them with a more Christ-centered understanding of both doctrines. This book will also use the work of Rene Girard in order to reshape how many understand "what it means to be human." Then and only then should we ask: "Who is God?"

Come explore what has become Matthew's theological pilgrimage to this point. Come discover the God of peace.

5.

The Inescapable Love of God

by Thomas Talbott

Will the love of God save us all?

In this book, Thomas Talbott seeks to expose the extent to which the Western theological tradition has managed to twist the New Testament message of love, forgiveness, and hope into a message of fear and guilt. According to the New Testament proclamation, he argues, God's love is both unconditional in its nature and unlimited in its scope; hence, no one need fear, for example, that God's love might suddenly turn into loveless hatred at the moment of one's physical death. For God's love remains the same yesterday, today, and forever. But neither should one ignore the New Testament theme of divine judgment, which Talbott thinks the Western theological tradition has misunderstood entirely. He argues in particular that certain patterns of fallacious reasoning, which crop up repeatedly in the works of various theologians and Bible scholars, have prevented many from appreciating St. Paul's explicit teaching that God is merciful to all in the end.

This second edition of Talbott's classic work is fully revised, updated, and substantially expanded with new material.

6.

Rethinking Hell

Readings in Evangelical Conditionalism

edited by:

Christopher M. Date, Gregory G. Stump, and Joshua W. Anderson

Most evangelical Christians believe that those people who are not saved before they die will be punished in hell forever. But is this what the Bible truly teaches? Do Christians need to rethink their understanding of hell? In the late twentieth century, a growing number of evangelical theologians, biblical scholars, and philosophers began to reject the traditional doctrine of eternal conscious torment in hell in favor of a minority theological perspective called conditional immortality. This view contends that the unsaved are resurrected to face divine judgment, just as Christians have always believed, but due to the fact that immortality is only given to those who are in Christ, the unsaved do not exist forever in hell. Instead, they face the punishment of the "second death"--an end to their conscious existence. This volume brings together excerpts from a variety of well-respected evangelical thinkers, including John Stott, John Wenham, and E. Earle Ellis, as they articulate the biblical, theological, and philosophical arguments for conditionalism. These readings will give thoughtful Christians strong evidence that there are indeed compelling reasons for rethinking hell.

7.

The Evangelical Universalist

Second Edition

by Gregory MacDonald

foreword by Oliver Crisp

-Can an orthodox Christian, committed to the historic faith of the church and the authority of the Bible, be a universalist?

-Is it possible to believe that salvation is found only by grace, through faith in Christ, and yet to maintain that in the end, all people will be saved?

-Can one believe passionately in mission if one does not think that anyone will be lost forever?

-Could universalism be consistent with the teachings of the Bible?

Gregory MacDonald argues that the answer is yes to all of these questions. Weaving together philosophical, theological, and biblical considerations, MacDonald seeks to show that being a committed universalist is consistent with the central teachings of the biblical texts and of historic Christian theology.

This second edition contains a new preface providing the backstory of the book, two extensive new appendices, a study guide, and a Scripture index.

8.

Second Edition

The Annihilation of Hell

Universal Salvation and the Redemption of Time in the Eschatology of Jürgen Moltmann

by Nicholas Ansell

foreword by Jürgen Moltmann

For Jürgen Moltmann, Hell is the nemesis of Hope. The "annihilation of Hell" thus refers both to Hell's annihilative power in history and to the overcoming of that power as envisioned by Moltmann's distinctive theology of the cross in which God becomes "all in all" through Christ's descent into Godforsakenness. The negation of Hell and the fulfillment of history are inseparable. Attentive to the overall contours and dynamics of Moltmann's thinking--especially his zimzum doctrine of creation, his eschatologically oriented philosophy of time, and his expanded understanding of the nature-grace relationship--this study asks whether the universal salvation that he proposes can honor human freedom, promise vindication for those who suffer, and do justice to biblical revelation. As well as providing an in-depth exposition of Moltmann's ideas, The Annihilation of Hell also explores how a "covenantal universalism" might revitalize our web of beliefs in a way that is attuned to the authorizing of Scripture and the spirituality of existence. If divine and human freedom are to be reconciled, as Moltmann believes, the confrontation between Hell and Hope will entail rethinking issues that are not only at the center of theology but at the heart of life itself.

9.

Hell in a Nutshell

The Mystery of His Will

by Charles Watson, Sr.

Is a doctrine of everlasting punishment in hell consistent with God's perfect love and perfect justice? And what implications does this traditional doctrine carry for the nature of divine grace and mercy?

In Hell in a Nutshell Charles Watson Sr. argues that we should not allow a received doctrine, such as the doctrine of hell, to determine our understanding of God's justice, love, and mercy; instead, we should allow a biblically informed understanding of these divine attributes to shape our understanding of every received doctrine, including the doctrine of hell.

10.

HELL and UNIVERSAL SALVATION

UNIVERSAL SALVATION

and HELL

10 Well Reviewed Books

Everlasting hell and divine judgment, a lake of fire and brimstone--these mainstays of evangelical tradition have come under fire once again in recent decades. Would the God of love revealed by Jesus really consign the vast majority of humankind to a destiny of eternal, conscious torment? Is divine mercy bound by the demands of justice? How can anyone presume to know who is saved from the flames and who is not?

Reacting to presumptions in like manner, others write off the fiery images of final judgment altogether. If there is a God who loves us, then surely all are welcome into the heavenly kingdom, regardless of their beliefs or behaviors in this life. Yet, given the sheer volume of threat rhetoric in the Scriptures and the wickedness manifest in human history, the pop-universalism of our day sounds more like denial than hope. Mercy triumphs over judgment; it does not skirt it.

Her Gates Will Never Be Shut endeavors to reconsider what the Bible and the Church have actually said about hell and hope, noting a breadth of real possibilities that undermines every presumption. The polyphony of perspectives on hell and hope offered by the prophets, apostles, and Jesus humble our obsessive need to harmonize every text into a neat theological system. But they open the door to the eternal hope found in Revelation 21-22: the City whose gates will never be shut; where the Spirit and Bride perpetually invite the thirsty who are outside the city to "Come, drink of the waters of life."

Evangelical Christians affirm together that a dreadful destiny awaits those who reject God's grace throughout life. According to the traditional view, that destiny will involve unending conscious torment in hell. However, believers are increasingly questioning that understanding, as both unbiblical and inconsistent with the character of God revealed in the Scriptures and in the man Jesus Christ.

This internationally acclaimed book--now fully updated, revised, and expanded--carefully examines the complete teaching of Scripture on the subject of final punishment. It concludes that hell is a place of total annihilation, everlasting destruction, although the destructive process encompasses conscious torment of whatever sort, intensity, and duration God might require in each individual case.

In the minds of some, universal salvation is a heretical idea that was imported into Christianity from pagan philosophies by Origen (c.185–253/4). Ilaria Ramelli argues that this picture is completely mistaken. She maintains that Christian theologians were the first people to proclaim that all will be saved and that their reasons for doing so were rooted in their faith in Christ. She demonstrates that, in fact, the idea of the final restoration of all creation (apokatastasis) was grounded upon the teachings of the Bible and the church’s beliefs about Jesus’ total triumph over sin, death, and evil through his incarnation, crucifixion, resurrection, and ascension.

Ramelli traces the Christian roots of Origen’s teaching on apokatastasis. She argues that he was drawing on texts from Scripture and from various Christians who preceded him, theologians such as Bardaisan, Irenaeus, and Clement. She outlines Origen’s often-misunderstood theology in some detail and then follows the legacy of his Christian universalism through the centuries that followed. We are treated to explorations of Origenian universal salvation in a host of Christian disciples, including Athanasius, Didymus the Blind, the Cappadocian fathers, Evagrius, Maximus the Confessor, John Scotus Eriugena, and Julian of Norwich.

Christian universalism has been explored in its biblical, philosophical, and historical dimensions. For the first time, The God Who Saves explores it in systematic theological perspective. In doing so it also offers a fresh take on universal salvation, one that is postmetaphysical, existential, and hermeneutically critical. The result is a constructive account of soteriology that does justice to both the universal scope of divine grace and the historicity of human existence.

In The God Who Saves David W. Congdon orients theology systematically around the New Testament witness to the apocalyptic inbreaking of God's reign. The result is a consistently soteriocentric theology. Building on the insights of Rudolf Bultmann, Ernst Kasemann, Eberhard Jungel, and J. Louis Martyn, he interprets the saving act of God as the eschatological event that crucifies the old cosmos in Christ. Human beings participate in salvation through their unconscious, existential cocrucifixion, in which each person is interrupted by God and placed outside of himself or herself.

Both academically rigorous and pastorally sensitive, The God Who Saves opens up new possibilities for understanding not only what salvation is but also who the God who brings about our salvation is. Here is an interdisciplinary exercise in dogmatic theology for the twenty-first century.

What is the ending to the human drama? Will all be reconciled to God in the end? Does God demand an altar, a corpse, and blood? Or, rather, is the Christian God set apart from all the other gods throughout history?

All Set Free sets out to answer some of the more difficult questions Christians today are faced with. It will challenge the Augustinian understanding of hell and the Calvinist understanding of the atonement; replacing them with a more Christ-centered understanding of both doctrines. This book will also use the work of Rene Girard in order to reshape how many understand "what it means to be human." Then and only then should we ask: "Who is God?"

Come explore what has become Matthew's theological pilgrimage to this point. Come discover the God of peace.

Will the love of God save us all?

In this book, Thomas Talbott seeks to expose the extent to which the Western theological tradition has managed to twist the New Testament message of love, forgiveness, and hope into a message of fear and guilt. According to the New Testament proclamation, he argues, God's love is both unconditional in its nature and unlimited in its scope; hence, no one need fear, for example, that God's love might suddenly turn into loveless hatred at the moment of one's physical death. For God's love remains the same yesterday, today, and forever. But neither should one ignore the New Testament theme of divine judgment, which Talbott thinks the Western theological tradition has misunderstood entirely. He argues in particular that certain patterns of fallacious reasoning, which crop up repeatedly in the works of various theologians and Bible scholars, have prevented many from appreciating St. Paul's explicit teaching that God is merciful to all in the end.

This second edition of Talbott's classic work is fully revised, updated, and substantially expanded with new material.

Most evangelical Christians believe that those people who are not saved before they die will be punished in hell forever. But is this what the Bible truly teaches? Do Christians need to rethink their understanding of hell? In the late twentieth century, a growing number of evangelical theologians, biblical scholars, and philosophers began to reject the traditional doctrine of eternal conscious torment in hell in favor of a minority theological perspective called conditional immortality. This view contends that the unsaved are resurrected to face divine judgment, just as Christians have always believed, but due to the fact that immortality is only given to those who are in Christ, the unsaved do not exist forever in hell. Instead, they face the punishment of the "second death"--an end to their conscious existence. This volume brings together excerpts from a variety of well-respected evangelical thinkers, including John Stott, John Wenham, and E. Earle Ellis, as they articulate the biblical, theological, and philosophical arguments for conditionalism. These readings will give thoughtful Christians strong evidence that there are indeed compelling reasons for rethinking hell.

-Can an orthodox Christian, committed to the historic faith of the church and the authority of the Bible, be a universalist?

-Is it possible to believe that salvation is found only by grace, through faith in Christ, and yet to maintain that in the end, all people will be saved?

-Can one believe passionately in mission if one does not think that anyone will be lost forever?

-Could universalism be consistent with the teachings of the Bible?

Gregory MacDonald argues that the answer is yes to all of these questions. Weaving together philosophical, theological, and biblical considerations, MacDonald seeks to show that being a committed universalist is consistent with the central teachings of the biblical texts and of historic Christian theology.

This second edition contains a new preface providing the backstory of the book, two extensive new appendices, a study guide, and a Scripture index.

For Jürgen Moltmann, Hell is the nemesis of Hope. The "annihilation of Hell" thus refers both to Hell's annihilative power in history and to the overcoming of that power as envisioned by Moltmann's distinctive theology of the cross in which God becomes "all in all" through Christ's descent into Godforsakenness. The negation of Hell and the fulfillment of history are inseparable. Attentive to the overall contours and dynamics of Moltmann's thinking--especially his zimzum doctrine of creation, his eschatologically oriented philosophy of time, and his expanded understanding of the nature-grace relationship--this study asks whether the universal salvation that he proposes can honor human freedom, promise vindication for those who suffer, and do justice to biblical revelation. As well as providing an in-depth exposition of Moltmann's ideas, The Annihilation of Hell also explores how a "covenantal universalism" might revitalize our web of beliefs in a way that is attuned to the authorizing of Scripture and the spirituality of existence. If divine and human freedom are to be reconciled, as Moltmann believes, the confrontation between Hell and Hope will entail rethinking issues that are not only at the center of theology but at the heart of life itself.

Is a doctrine of everlasting punishment in hell consistent with God's perfect love and perfect justice? And what implications does this traditional doctrine carry for the nature of divine grace and mercy?

In Hell in a Nutshell Charles Watson Sr. argues that we should not allow a received doctrine, such as the doctrine of hell, to determine our understanding of God's justice, love, and mercy; instead, we should allow a biblically informed understanding of these divine attributes to shape our understanding of every received doctrine, including the doctrine of hell.