Customer Reviews: Fire That Consumes: Biblical Case for Conditional Immortality
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on July 16, 1998
This book is an excellent work that anyone will find challenging whatever their position. If you agree with Fudge's view, you will find this particularly enlightening. If you disagree with Fudge, you will find this book well thought out, provocative, and educative.
Fudge's respect for the authority of Scritpure as the Word of God is in the finest tradition of Evangelicalism.
I also highly recommend Dr. Samuele Bacchiocchi's recent book "Immortality or Resurrection?"
-- Jarrod
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on January 19, 1998
In his forward to The Fire That Consumes, noted scholar FF Bruce writes, "It gives me pleasure to commend Mr. Fudge's exposition of this subject. All that he has to say is worthy of careful consideration, but there is special value in those chapters where he examines the testimony of successive sections of the Holy Scriptures." If you're looking for a treatment of every Biblical passage relating to the destination of the unsaved, this is the volume for you. To my knowledge, no one has successfully refuted Fudge since TFTC's first publication in 1982. This is a "must-have" study.
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on October 26, 1999
What does the Bible really teach about God's righteous wrath. Is God's wrath a means to an end, or is God's wrath an end in itself?
What does the Bible mean by such words and phrases as "forever," "unquenchable fire," "eternal punishment," "eternal destruction," "death," etc.
Do you really wish to submit to the authority of God's infallible Word on the subject of hell. Then, dear reader, read this book!
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on March 9, 1997
In this book, Edward W. Fudge challenges the traditional concept of the doctine of eternal punishment. Examining the Biblical teachings of the Old and New Testaments, the influence of Greek thought, and through the use of word studies, Fudge concludes the while the punishment is forever, the punishing itself is not. This book will challenge anyone's view of hell. Highly recommended
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Edward William Fudge (born 1944) is a theologian and lawyer (and former Church of Christ minister), who has written/contributed to books such as Hell: A Final Word,Two Views of Hell: A Biblical & Theological Dialogue (Spectrum),The Divine Rescue: The Gripping Drama of a Lost World and of the Creator Who Will Not Let It Go., etc.; he has recently revised this book ], and Fudge is the subject of the 2012 independent film Hell & Mr. Fudge. Famed New Testament scholar F.F. Bruce wrote in the Foreword to this book, "It gives me pleasure to commend Mr. Fudge's exposition of the subject. All that he has to say is worthy of careful consideration..." (Pg. viii)

Fudge states in the Preface, "The term 'conditionalist' is used for the view that the wicked will suffer conscious punishment precisely measured by divine justice but that they finally will perish in hell so as to become totally extinct forever." (Pv. xvi) He summarizes the Old Testament teachings, "Sheol is the common fate of all mortals. It is not a place of punishment. The wicked have no reason to expect to leave Sheol in most of the Old Testament. The righteous, however, do, for they know and trust the living God!" (Pg. 85)

He interprets Mt 25:41 thusly: "In this parable Jesus teaches an end-time judgment which divides men into two categories and sentences them to corresponding but opposite dooms... the wicked are banished into the pre-existent, eschatological fire prepared for the satanic angels. There they will eventually be destroyed forever, both body and soul, as the divine penalty for sin." (Pg. 202) About the suggestion that after his death, even Jesus might have briefly perished, he says, "We naturally recoil from such a thought, that the Son of God would truly have perished---even for a moment. Yet is this not the same difficulty we face in accepting Jesus' TRUE kenosis and humiliation in becoming a man?" (Pg. 231)

About Rev 20:7-10, he says, "The language is symbolic, and a literal interpretation is impossible. Political power and apostate religious beguilement are not persons who can be tortured in fire... We can imagine Satan being kept in deathless torment, but how does one even picture that situation in the face of impersonal abstractions?... There is no easy solution. Yet to this point no human beings are involved in the lake of fire, nor does this passage say that any of Adam's race are tormented for ever and ever." (Pg. 304)

He strongly rejects Universalism, however: "If the wicked are to be consumed, they can never be reformed. If God kills and destroys the unrepentant in the lake of fire so that they die, corrupt and perish, any thought that they might eventually find their way to heaven must be dismissed as romantic imagination... it is inconceivable that anyone sentenced to its fate could ever be found alive again once the fire has accomplished its work. If, on the other hand, the wicked are made immortal... the footsteps of restorationism will always be heard just beyond the door." (Pg. 351-352) He rejects" the heretical, resurrection-denying doctrine now held by [7th Day Adventists and Jehovah's Witnesses]... Jehovah's Witnesses, as a matter of fact, are as opposed to the conditionalist view of hell as they are to universalism." (Pg. 399)

Regardless of what side (if any) of this controversial issue you are on, this book is definitely a "must" for anyone seriously examining the issue.
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on June 27, 2015
Learn about the fair and just, all-loving God in the Holy Bible instead of the Greek-Roman traditional Eternal Conscious Torment Hell-fire immortal-soul traditional myths taught by all main-stream denominations. Too bad Martin Luther and other Reformationists did not correct these doctrines after the falling-away/apostasy of the Dark Ages. Today it is about time have a true, complete reformation of the church. Better late than never.
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I have not studied Fudge in depth, but I used his work in a paper I wrote on hell. This book is one of the best refutations of the traditional doctrine of hell as eternal torment. It is a positive presentation of the biblical teaching that eternal life comes only through Christ and that the unrepentant shall be eternally deprived of life by God. We can thank Fudge for all the hard work he put into this volume and it is surely a joy to see an Evangelical who takes the Bible seriously to come to such a conclusion. May God use this detailed exposition of such a difficult subject to help more people see the beauty of Christianity even when it speaks of God's judgment.
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on August 9, 2000
After several years this is still the best defence of the conditional position. Any one who holds to a high view of scripture and is curious about hell must interact with this text. This view is, of course, a held by a minority whithin the evengelical spectum and as such should be held to the hightest level of critical examination. Fudge's integrity thoughout renders this possible. Also helpfull is "Four Views on Hell" in the counterpoints seires where the conditional view is contrasted with the two versions of the traditonal view.
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on October 29, 2008
I bought this book after seeing it quoted & recommended in three fascinatingly solid books I have finished in my latest biblical studies. It's odd how when the Lord guides your reading, some concepts keep coming up, that one never considered seriously beforehand. After this alternate view of the end of the unredeemed kept surfacing I decided to revisit this teaching.

I have only a few comments to make.

As Gregory A. Boyd mentions in his AMAZING work;Satan & the Problem of Evil: Constructing a Trinitarian Warfare Theodicy, Fudge nearly convinces Boyd but some nagging scriptures remain that indicate some continuing level of consciousness in both condemned angels and humans. Yes, per Boyd's idea, (and after Barth's "das Nichtige"), these poor damned ones are "annihilated" (per Fudge's definition) but by being essentially put into an anti-reality, another vast, nothingness of utter and infinite isolation, being trapped in a suffering non-existence of their own choosing, their life-long rebellion housing them in an endless self-made, collapsing cell of loneliness, becoming moreso what they were upon meeting their Creator as Judge, and then to finally become completely NO part of God's utter true reality of "all things new". His reign does not even acknowledge these non-worlds, (das Nichtige), full of the same great Lie that Satan birthed. Read Boyd's tome to get more of this theme and C.S. Lewis speaks similarly of these things.

One last thing, so far, very few tomes address the disturbing truth about Matthew's writing about "outer darkness", "weeping and gnashing of teeth", unfaithful stewards and unwise virgins. It is a very common error to see these familiar passages being assumed to be hell or the lake of fire. But when carefully studied, Fudge needs not even bother explain these sections. Why? It is because "outer darkness" is related NOT to the damned but to the unwise and unfaithful redeemed. See works by Watchman Nee, Stephen Kaung, Lance Lambert and most recently Missler's Kingdom, Power & Glory: The Overcomer's Handbook (Kingdom, Power and Glory) for more on this. When one discovers the reality of what "outer darkness" means and what being an overcomer entails, many weird passages that seem to teach losing one's salvation fall away as rubbish. What one may lose is something else . . . the Kingdom.
w w w . genericchristianmystic . c o m
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on December 7, 2007
Mr. Fudge's book is eye opening. I had believed the traditional view of hell for over 20 years. Now I can't believe how unscriptural it is. The conditionalist view fits perfectly. The technical name is called "Conditional Immortality" and Mr. Fudge does an excellent job stating the case. The forward is by the great evangelical scholar F.F. Bruce.

The wages of sin is death (Rom 6:23) (not eternal torment.) The eternal fire was made for the devil (Matt 25:41) so unbelievers die there, not live forever. The fire is eternal, not what is thrown into it. The punishment is death. Capital Punishment. Don't think death is a punishment, try telling that to someone on death row.

Fudge does an excellent job showing how this is the case. Eternal punishment is death forever. The loss of their life. Don't we view the death penalty as the greatest of all societies punishments? Why, because it removes the possibility of life anymore. The same is true of the lost on judgment day. This is when the death will occur, argues Fudge.

You see, only believers live forever (John 6:51, 8:51). Only believers get immortality (Romans 2:7). Immortality is part and parcel with the gospel (2 Tim 1:10). Unbelievers die the second death (Rev. 20:15). Jesus said they are "destroyed" (His words) in hell, not live forever (Matthew 10:28). Even if Matthew 10:28 were the only verse that proves the soul of the unsaved will be destroyed (and there are more), we would have to accept it based upon the authority of the Son of God. Thankfully, Fudge shows many more.

Another excellent point he makes, `Gnashing of teeth' in scripture is always an idiom for anger! (Psalm 37:12, Acts 7:54). The list goes on and on. Fudge does a much better job than I have here. He is also an attorney.

At the root of this all is the churches acceptance of the greek teaching of the immortality of all souls. This is completely unbiblical. If all are born with immortality, then why do people have to seek it (Romans 2:7 says clearly we are to "seek" it.) Only believers put on immortality at the resurrection (1 Cor 15:53-54). Immortality is only gotten through the gospel (2 Tim 1:10 clearly states this.) Jesus offer to live forever (John 6:51) would be meaningless if innate immortality were true. Only God is immortal (1 Tim 6:16) and immortality is his gift to those seek it, who seek His Son. (Rom 2:7)

Mr. Fudge also covers all the "what about these...." Scriptures. Too much for this space. Get this book for your pastor too!

Or for a similar powerful book on Amazon, purchase The Resurrection and Immortality by William West and look at the later chapters. Also, do a search for Samuele Bacchiocchi, (yes it is spelled correctly here) and get his book on the resurrection.

The traditional doctrine of hell besmirches the character of God. Jesus said the wicked will be destroyed (Matt 10:28) , so did Paul (Philippians 3:19) and James (James 4:12). As an evangelical, I am glad to now know the correct scriptural teaching on this. And while neither I nor Fudge is a Seventh Day Adventist, they also correctly hold to this. So do many other evangelicals who are adhering to the plain meaning of scripture.
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