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Two Views of Hell: A Biblical & Theological Dialogue (Spectrum) Paperback – May 10, 2000

3.7 out of 5 stars 18 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Two distinguished authors convincingly present their opposing views on hell. Introductory remarks on both traditionalism (the belief that the wicked suffer in hell for eternity) and conditionalism (the belief that the wicked are punished by God and then destroyed) set the stage for the authors' in-depth studies. Edward Fudge, a practicing lawyer and theologian (The Fire That Consumes: The Biblical Case for Conditional Immortality) argues on behalf of conditionalism, drawing from a study of Old Testament figures, Jesus' teachings on hell, the writings of Paul and other New Testament verses and explanations. Robert Peterson (professor of theology at Covenant Theological Seminary and editor of the Presbyterian) responds from the traditionalist perspective, as his previous book's title (Hell on Trial: The Case for Eternal Punishment) would suggest. Peterson provides readers with the positions of early Church Fathers and exegeted verses, and offers an overall theological look at why traditionalism is biblically sound. Each section ends with the other author debating the preceding arguments, contributing to the "dialogue" of the book. Throughout the text, both authors do their level best to dismantle the other's arguments. Professionals, seminary students and well-educated laity will find much to mull over here, though the average reader may consider the continual bantering somewhat tedious. (May)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.


"The book is much needed. The debate over the nature of hell shows no sign of going away, and this book gives a good and thorough presentation of both sides in just over two hundred pages. I hope it receives a wide and careful reading." (Faith & Mission)

"Fudge and Peterson . . . have produced a clear and readable account of the biblical grounds for their positions. Fudge's interpretations of the scriptural data is plausible as is Peterson's and neither can dismiss the other by claiming that Scripture clearly supports their view. This book serves well the purpose of laying out the exegetical grounds for both sides." (Philosophia Christi)

"A very worthwhile book, especially since it gives both sides of the argument. This gives the book a fairness that should be appreciated." (Reformed Review)

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Product Details

  • Series: Spectrum
  • Paperback: 228 pages
  • Publisher: IVP Academic; First Edition edition (May 10, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0830822550
  • ISBN-13: 978-0830822553
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.7 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #232,097 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Both agree that Hell is real and horrible, but they disagree on how long it lasts. If you are searching for the very best arguments this book might not be it. But it is a good starting place to get the core rationale of each side. I am glad I bought it and read it.

I have noticed strengths and weaknesses in both men's arguments. For anyone interested, here is what I thought:

Let's start with a look at Fudge.

Fudge's Conditionalist sections are very typical to others of his view. He gives a sort of a chronological walk through what seems to be a million scripture references, including developments that occurred between testaments, and post-apostolic developments. I'm not sure if the conditionalist/annihilationist positions have a flawless or logically consistent case to be made from the Bible, but their stance is far from anti-intellectual (as claimed by another reviewer).

Fudge's strategy seems to be to overwhelm the reader with a ton of scripture. Although he does thoughtfully arrive at many salient points, he is less effective at expressing the overall the big picture of his argument with consistent clarity. Fudge, as far as I remember, never quotes Peterson's published works on Hell in his arguments but usually just gives arguments against common traditionalist beliefs in general, which sort of feels like a straw man tactic.

A more significant error is his use of scriptures that speak of destruction of sinners but not necessarily in the context of "Final Judgment." These references are important for understanding the portrayal of Final Judgment in the text, but Fudge makes little effort to point out the difference or explain them in their proper context. He simply throws them in the same pile as the more relevant scripture.
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By A Customer on March 13, 2002
Format: Paperback
I have been a Traditionalist for a long time, and never gave much consideration to the Conditionalist view. But Fudge has opened me up to the possibility that he is correct.
In the first part of the book each author is given space to present his view. Fudge does a good job I think, while Peterson uses his space to beat up on Fudge. Peterson uses "classroom" humor to ridicule Fudge and his position. I find that unprofessional. I would of liked to see Peterson stick to a presentation of the Traditional view in his opening statement so I could better judge it on its own merit apart from other views.
I intend to read each author's dedicated volume on this subject: Fudge - "The Fire That Consumes," and Peterson - "Hell on Trial." I would like to see them rewrite the above book and stick strictly to the plan. That would be fairer to Peterson and Fudge both, and would serve to ther reader what he expected and paid for.
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Format: Paperback
I will preface this by saying that I am a conditionalist like Edward Fudge.

Overall, neither one gives a great in-depth argument. Now, when you only have less than 100 pages each, you can only write so much. Just don't think that you can read this book and be ready to make up your mind.

I think overall, Fudge makes a better argument, though I will admit, it is not so strong that if I were still a traditionalist when I read it, it would change my mind. Basically, to get a full picture of Fudge's argument, you need to bite the bullet and read The Fire That Consumes. Most of the arguments in The Fire That Consumes (TFTC) are in this book, which I think was actually a mistake. As many have pointed out, you feel bombarded when reading this book. More importantly, a lot of Fudge's arguments in TFTC are qualified. He never argues that the OT explicitly teaches eternal annihilation, only that the picture of punishment is always death, destruction, etc, so when seeing the same figures and images in the NT, we shouldn't assume eternal torment is what is being talked about. That isn't so clear here, which gives opponents an opportunity (one that Peterson uses) to say that Fudge misapplies scripture from the OT that don't directly speak of eternity. Fudge isn't able to go as in-depth as in TFTC, which leaves the reader with the idea that Fudge's arguments are at times superficial, but they really aren't.

Lastly, each author has a chance to respond to the other, and Fudge could have done a much better job of explaining how Peterson at times simply missed the point of what Fudge was saying.
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Format: Paperback
Hell has once again become a popular topic and I suspect that many will turn to books such as this one to find answers for the questions about hell. In this book, the reader is allowed to view both sides of the conditional view of hell (that unbelievers will be annihilated) and the traditional view (that unbelievers will experience eternal punishment). Edward Fudge writes for the conditional view and he does a good job of presenting his views. In fact, since Fudge goes first in the book, the reader may walk away from Fudge's viewpoint thinking that the case is pretty clear that unbelievers will be destroyed (2 Thessalonians 1:9) and that this destruction will be total (Luke 12:5) and eternal (Matthew 25:46).

However, up next is Robert Peterson writing for the traditional view. Peterson first critiques Fudge's viewpoint (and Fudge does so after Peterson's position is stated) and Proverbs 18:17 comes alive before your very eyes. Peterson shoots down Fudge's arguments for the conditional view one by one and he does so with grace.

Peterson then builds his case for the traditional view. He builds his case from many of the very same passages that Fudge argued from yet he shows the strength of the word "eternal punishment" and what that entails. He also does a good job of building a case against "soul sleep" and that humans are immortal in spirit. Fudge then critiques Peterson.

Overall this is a good read. It allows both sides to fairly state their cases and gives them ample amount of time to build, defend, and then critique the other position. Both Fudge and Peterson are good writes and know their stuff. I will allow the reader to decide who wins the debate. But I do want to make one point, both writers reject universalism so be mindful of this.
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