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Purgatory: The Logic of Total Transformation by Jerry L. Walls (2011-12-01)
Purgatory: The Logic of Total Transformation by Jerry L. Walls (2011-12-01)
by Jerry L. Walls
Edition: Hardcover
4 used & new from $96.74

5.0 out of 5 stars DOES THE DOCTRINE OF PURGATORY ALLOW FOR “POSTMORTEM CONVERSION”?, August 24, 2016
Jerry Walls is a professor of Philosophy of Religion at Ashbury Theological Seminary. He has also written two companion volumes to this book: Hell: The Logic Of Damnation and Heaven: The Logic of Eternal Joy, as well as Why I Am Not a Calvinist, Heaven, Hell, and Purgatory: Rethinking the Things That Matter Most, and The Problem of Pluralism: Recovering United Methodist Identity.

He wrote in the Preface to this 2012 book, “This volume is the third in a series of books on the afterlife… The fact that purgatory is bringing up the rear suggests, truly, that I had no plans to do a trilogy when I wrote my book on hell… The first volume was a revised version of my PhD dissertation at Notre Dame… In the intervening period… hell is now a matter of intense debate, particularly in evangelical Christian circles… I did the second volume after realizing that heaven poses its own distinctive and interesting issues… One of the issues I discussed in that book was whether a viable doctrine of heaven needs a doctrine of purgatory. I argued that it did, and thought I was done with the matter. Subsequent reflection proved otherwise, and again, I saw that purgatory poses a distinctive and fascinating range of issues that deserve sustained consideration in their own right.”

He said in the Introduction, “we can say that heaven is essentially morally perfect. What this means is that it is impossible… that there could be any sort of sin in heaven… it must be the case that the creaturely occupants of heaven are also incapable of sin… those in heaven must have at the least acquired a nature, or had their nature so transformed that it is impossible for them to sin… The requirement that we must actually become holy and thoroughly upright in spirit and character is one of the foundation stones of the doctrine of purgatory… While regeneration begins this transformation, it does not entirely rectify our corruption or repair all our moral and spiritual deficiencies. So we are left with the question of how we acquire the actual holiness that is essential for those who want to see the Lord…” (Pg. 4)

He provides “Biblical Hints of Purgatory”: “The first of these is a passage from the … book of Malachi [3:2-3] that employs the image of a refining fire… The next important text comes from the Apocryphal Second Book of Maccabees [12:41-43], a book that is accepted as canonical by Roman Catholics and Eastern Orthodox, but Protestants. The text gives an account of a number of Jewish soldiers who have been killed, after which it is discovered that they have sinned by hiding tokens of idols under their tunics… Judas Maccabeus and his fellow Jews believed that sins could be forgiven after death, and that prayers by the living would help achieve this… The third text is from the New Testament, and … is composed of the words of Christ himself: ‘… people will be forgiven for every sin and blasphemy… whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come.’ [Mt 12:31-32] What gives credence to purgatory here is the suggestion that at least some sins can be forgiven in the age to come… The fifth crucial text [1 Cor 3:11-15]… was taken to describe persons who indeed love Christ more than anything … but whose loves may not always be properly ordered in a way that is consistent with this commitment… they needed to pass through pu rgatorial fire to cleanse them and reorder their loves in such a way that fits them for heaven.” (Pg. 11-13)

He points out, “Purgatory is a major theme in … Luther’s Ninety-Five Theses… Luther’s… main concern was not merely the fact that indulgences provided a flimsy cover for greed and oppression, but more importantly that they had come to obscure, if not obliterate, the true nature of grace and salvation. In view of this, it is most interesting that Luther’s numerous references to purgatory in the Ninety-Five Theses take its existence for granted. He never objects to the doctrine itself, but only distortions of it…” (Pg. 37)

He notes that “In the nineteenth century, Charles Hodge [in his Systematic Theology] insisted “that salvation is a natural process… Just as Christ can immediately cure a man of leprosy by supernatural means even though normally such a cure is an extended process, so he can instantly cleanse a man of his moral imperfections in a moment.” (Pg. 43)

He observes, “it is clear in the first place why [Martin Jugie’s] view of purgatory would be unacceptable to Protestants… they will hold that the gift of salvation through Christ pardons them of sin in such a way that they are no longer required to pay any sort of debt of punishment… the notion that perfected souls have an extensive debt of punishment to pay is morally dubious… It is clear that part of what motivates Jugie’s account of purgatory… is a desire to challenge moral and spiritual indifference and sloth.” (Pg. 69)

He summarizes, “the history of the doctrine in Roman Catholic theology is a highly complex matter … the doctrine has swung from one end to the other between the poles of satisfaction and sanctification… Sometime in the twentieth century, sanctification came again to the fore, and it is arguable that today… it is the primary if not the sole emphasis. If so, there are good prospects for an ecumenical version of the dialogue that can be affirmed not only by Catholics, but many Protestants as well.” (Pg. 90-91)

He suggests, “God takes our freedom most seriously, as well as our cooperation in the sanctification process. He chooses to let our free choices play out rather than determine our choices, or unilaterally perfect us, even at the cost of considerable evil… The evil that remains in the lives of believers and the often inconsistent moral progress they make… is striking evidence that God not only takes our freedom seriously, but also that it takes time to move through the layers of sin and illusion that must be removed before we can achieve the fullness of faith to claim the perfection he desires for us… the more we are inclined to think our free choices are necessary for genuine moral transformation and character development, the more we will be inclined to think that time is essential for these choices.” (Pg. 121-122)

He explains, “I shall argue for a significant modification of the traditional view of purgatory, namely, that it should allow for postmortem conversion… this modification is not only true to the original impetus of the doctrine, but also a consistent outworking of this impetus that resolves certain tensions that appear in classic accounts of purgatory.” (Pg. 125) He adds that for Dorothy Sayers, “So while purgatory might not represent a second chance in the sense of a postmortem opportunity to repent, it does offer a second chance for repentance to go deep, and to transform our character thoroughly, if that did not happen in life… ‘Eternal life’ is apparently understood to mean a fuller relationship with God, a relationship that is only possible if one has been more deeply transformed … Purgatory is the second chance to attain this sort of relationship for those persons who were tardy in repentance, or complacent, or who pursued this relationship only halfheartedly in life.” (Pg. 126)

He notes, “a number of theologians, both Protestant and Roman, have deployed the doctrine of purgatory to provide a theological grounding for the idea of postmortem conversion and a ‘second chance’ for salvation.” (Pg. 141)

He comments on Hebrews 9:27-28, “While the text clearly teaches that we die only once, and that there is a judgment after death, it does not specify exactly when after death the judgment occurs, nor whether the judgment is a preliminary one or a final one. Indeed, given that the final judgment is an event at the end of the world, it seems unlikely that the text teaches that the final judgment occurs immediately after death… Likewise, Jesus’ parable in Luke [13:23-30] does not rule out postmortem conversion. At best, it would rule out postmortem conversion for those who had opportunity to know Christ in this life, but did not truly … do so… Now if scripture does not rule out postmortem conversion… is there any good reason to believe that a God of perfect love would not welcome such repentance?” (Pg. 145-146)

He argues, “Moreover, if deathbed repentance is possible, it seems rather artificial to think that such late reversals do not trivialize this life, while repentance two minutes after death would… A second and more troublesome question is whether the possibility of postmortem repentance raises the specter that persons who have decided FOR God in this life might reverse their decision after death and turn away from him and be lost in the end… if we allow for people to turn to God after death, is there any good reason to think they cannot likewise turn away from him?... I am inclined to think it is possible but unlikely that persons who die in grace but need purgatory would turn completely away from God after death and be lost… Indeed, the radical asymmetries between the two choices are such that there is good reason to think the choice for God is not reversible in the same sense that the choice against him is.” (Pg. 147-148)

He concludes, “we have reason to accept a modified or expanded view of purgatory that grace if further extended not only to the converted who are partially transformed and imperfectly sanctified, but also to those persons who have not yet exercised any sort of saving faith. This latter group includes not only persons who have not had opportunity to respond to gospel because they live in parts of the world where it has not yet been clearly preached, but also infants and children who have died before responding to it… Given optimal grace… and God’s infinite mercy, we may hope that many persons will respond to God in a saving way in the afterlife… does this not lead to universalism? … Here, I demur. I have argued at length … that even with optimal grace, it is possible that some, perhaps many, persons will persist in choosing evil and remain forever separated from God…” (Pg. 150-151)

He adds in an appendix, “[C.S.] Lewis explicitly referred to purgatory in a positive way several times in a number of his writings, and alluded to it other times as well… his most direct and extensive statement on the doctrine occurs in the last book he wrote… Prayer: Letters to Malcolm… It is worth highlighting that Lewis’s belief in purgatory does not appear to have the level of a dogma, but only a judgment he considers ‘immensely’ probable.” (Pg. 154-156)

This is an excellent historical and theological study of purgatory from a Protestant standpoint, and it will be of great value not only to those studying this doctrine, but also to those studying doctrines such as Hell, Conditional Immortality, and Universalism.


Purgatory: The Logic of Total Transformation
Purgatory: The Logic of Total Transformation
Price: $30.39

5.0 out of 5 stars DOES THE DOCTRINE OF PURGATORY ALLOW FOR “POSTMORTEM CONVERSION”?, August 24, 2016
Jerry Walls is a professor of Philosophy of Religion at Ashbury Theological Seminary. He has also written two companion volumes to this book: Hell: The Logic Of Damnation and Heaven: The Logic of Eternal Joy, as well as Why I Am Not a Calvinist, Heaven, Hell, and Purgatory: Rethinking the Things That Matter Most, and The Problem of Pluralism: Recovering United Methodist Identity.

He wrote in the Preface to this 2012 book, “This volume is the third in a series of books on the afterlife… The fact that purgatory is bringing up the rear suggests, truly, that I had no plans to do a trilogy when I wrote my book on hell… The first volume was a revised version of my PhD dissertation at Notre Dame… In the intervening period… hell is now a matter of intense debate, particularly in evangelical Christian circles… I did the second volume after realizing that heaven poses its own distinctive and interesting issues… One of the issues I discussed in that book was whether a viable doctrine of heaven needs a doctrine of purgatory. I argued that it did, and thought I was done with the matter. Subsequent reflection proved otherwise, and again, I saw that purgatory poses a distinctive and fascinating range of issues that deserve sustained consideration in their own right.”

He said in the Introduction, “we can say that heaven is essentially morally perfect. What this means is that it is impossible… that there could be any sort of sin in heaven… it must be the case that the creaturely occupants of heaven are also incapable of sin… those in heaven must have at the least acquired a nature, or had their nature so transformed that it is impossible for them to sin… The requirement that we must actually become holy and thoroughly upright in spirit and character is one of the foundation stones of the doctrine of purgatory… While regeneration begins this transformation, it does not entirely rectify our corruption or repair all our moral and spiritual deficiencies. So we are left with the question of how we acquire the actual holiness that is essential for those who want to see the Lord…” (Pg. 4)

He provides “Biblical Hints of Purgatory”: “The first of these is a passage from the … book of Malachi [3:2-3] that employs the image of a refining fire… The next important text comes from the Apocryphal Second Book of Maccabees [12:41-43], a book that is accepted as canonical by Roman Catholics and Eastern Orthodox, but Protestants. The text gives an account of a number of Jewish soldiers who have been killed, after which it is discovered that they have sinned by hiding tokens of idols under their tunics… Judas Maccabeus and his fellow Jews believed that sins could be forgiven after death, and that prayers by the living would help achieve this… The third text is from the New Testament, and … is composed of the words of Christ himself: ‘… people will be forgiven for every sin and blasphemy… whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come.’ [Mt 12:31-32] What gives credence to purgatory here is the suggestion that at least some sins can be forgiven in the age to come… The fifth crucial text [1 Cor 3:11-15]… was taken to describe persons who indeed love Christ more than anything … but whose loves may not always be properly ordered in a way that is consistent with this commitment… they needed to pass through pu rgatorial fire to cleanse them and reorder their loves in such a way that fits them for heaven.” (Pg. 11-13)

He points out, “Purgatory is a major theme in … Luther’s Ninety-Five Theses… Luther’s… main concern was not merely the fact that indulgences provided a flimsy cover for greed and oppression, but more importantly that they had come to obscure, if not obliterate, the true nature of grace and salvation. In view of this, it is most interesting that Luther’s numerous references to purgatory in the Ninety-Five Theses take its existence for granted. He never objects to the doctrine itself, but only distortions of it…” (Pg. 37)

He notes that “In the nineteenth century, Charles Hodge [in his Systematic Theology] insisted “that salvation is a natural process… Just as Christ can immediately cure a man of leprosy by supernatural means even though normally such a cure is an extended process, so he can instantly cleanse a man of his moral imperfections in a moment.” (Pg. 43)

He observes, “it is clear in the first place why [Martin Jugie’s] view of purgatory would be unacceptable to Protestants… they will hold that the gift of salvation through Christ pardons them of sin in such a way that they are no longer required to pay any sort of debt of punishment… the notion that perfected souls have an extensive debt of punishment to pay is morally dubious… It is clear that part of what motivates Jugie’s account of purgatory… is a desire to challenge moral and spiritual indifference and sloth.” (Pg. 69)

He summarizes, “the history of the doctrine in Roman Catholic theology is a highly complex matter … the doctrine has swung from one end to the other between the poles of satisfaction and sanctification… Sometime in the twentieth century, sanctification came again to the fore, and it is arguable that today… it is the primary if not the sole emphasis. If so, there are good prospects for an ecumenical version of the dialogue that can be affirmed not only by Catholics, but many Protestants as well.” (Pg. 90-91)

He suggests, “God takes our freedom most seriously, as well as our cooperation in the sanctification process. He chooses to let our free choices play out rather than determine our choices, or unilaterally perfect us, even at the cost of considerable evil… The evil that remains in the lives of believers and the often inconsistent moral progress they make… is striking evidence that God not only takes our freedom seriously, but also that it takes time to move through the layers of sin and illusion that must be removed before we can achieve the fullness of faith to claim the perfection he desires for us… the more we are inclined to think our free choices are necessary for genuine moral transformation and character development, the more we will be inclined to think that time is essential for these choices.” (Pg. 121-122)

He explains, “I shall argue for a significant modification of the traditional view of purgatory, namely, that it should allow for postmortem conversion… this modification is not only true to the original impetus of the doctrine, but also a consistent outworking of this impetus that resolves certain tensions that appear in classic accounts of purgatory.” (Pg. 125) He adds that for Dorothy Sayers, “So while purgatory might not represent a second chance in the sense of a postmortem opportunity to repent, it does offer a second chance for repentance to go deep, and to transform our character thoroughly, if that did not happen in life… ‘Eternal life’ is apparently understood to mean a fuller relationship with God, a relationship that is only possible if one has been more deeply transformed … Purgatory is the second chance to attain this sort of relationship for those persons who were tardy in repentance, or complacent, or who pursued this relationship only halfheartedly in life.” (Pg. 126)

He notes, “a number of theologians, both Protestant and Roman, have deployed the doctrine of purgatory to provide a theological grounding for the idea of postmortem conversion and a ‘second chance’ for salvation.” (Pg. 141)

He comments on Hebrews 9:27-28, “While the text clearly teaches that we die only once, and that there is a judgment after death, it does not specify exactly when after death the judgment occurs, nor whether the judgment is a preliminary one or a final one. Indeed, given that the final judgment is an event at the end of the world, it seems unlikely that the text teaches that the final judgment occurs immediately after death… Likewise, Jesus’ parable in Luke [13:23-30] does not rule out postmortem conversion. At best, it would rule out postmortem conversion for those who had opportunity to know Christ in this life, but did not truly … do so… Now if scripture does not rule out postmortem conversion… is there any good reason to believe that a God of perfect love would not welcome such repentance?” (Pg. 145-146)

He argues, “Moreover, if deathbed repentance is possible, it seems rather artificial to think that such late reversals do not trivialize this life, while repentance two minutes after death would… A second and more troublesome question is whether the possibility of postmortem repentance raises the specter that persons who have decided FOR God in this life might reverse their decision after death and turn away from him and be lost in the end… if we allow for people to turn to God after death, is there any good reason to think they cannot likewise turn away from him?... I am inclined to think it is possible but unlikely that persons who die in grace but need purgatory would turn completely away from God after death and be lost… Indeed, the radical asymmetries between the two choices are such that there is good reason to think the choice for God is not reversible in the same sense that the choice against him is.” (Pg. 147-148)

He concludes, “we have reason to accept a modified or expanded view of purgatory that grace if further extended not only to the converted who are partially transformed and imperfectly sanctified, but also to those persons who have not yet exercised any sort of saving faith. This latter group includes not only persons who have not had opportunity to respond to gospel because they live in parts of the world where it has not yet been clearly preached, but also infants and children who have died before responding to it… Given optimal grace… and God’s infinite mercy, we may hope that many persons will respond to God in a saving way in the afterlife… does this not lead to universalism? … Here, I demur. I have argued at length … that even with optimal grace, it is possible that some, perhaps many, persons will persist in choosing evil and remain forever separated from God…” (Pg. 150-151)

He adds in an appendix, “[C.S.] Lewis explicitly referred to purgatory in a positive way several times in a number of his writings, and alluded to it other times as well… his most direct and extensive statement on the doctrine occurs in the last book he wrote… Prayer: Letters to Malcolm… It is worth highlighting that Lewis’s belief in purgatory does not appear to have the level of a dogma, but only a judgment he considers ‘immensely’ probable.” (Pg. 154-156)

This is an excellent historical and theological study of purgatory from a Protestant standpoint, and it will be of great value not only to those studying this doctrine, but also to those studying doctrines such as Hell, Conditional Immortality, and Universalism.


Rethinking Hell: Readings in Evangelical Conditionalism
Rethinking Hell: Readings in Evangelical Conditionalism
by Christopher M. Date
Edition: Paperback
Price: $42.00
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5.0 out of 5 stars AN EXCELLENT COLLECTION OF WRITINGS SUGGESTING THE ULTIMATE ANNIHILATION OF THE WICKED, August 22, 2016
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Coeditor Chris Date explained in his Introduction to this 2014 book, “few such [conditionalist] scholars in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries have written book-length defenses of conditionalism… It is therefore not always easy to direct curious traditionalists … to these authors’ published support for conditionalism… [This book] is meant to serve as a resource to help solve that problem by compiling some of what these various conditionalist scholars have written into one convenient publication…” (Pg. xxvii) Writings are included by such authors as Edward Fudge, Stephen Travis, John Stott, Clark Pinnock, John Wenham, Basil Atkinson, Harold Guillebaud, Philip E. Hughes LeRoy Froom, Ben Witherington III, etc.

Glenn Peoples observes, “it becomes all the more egregious that so many proponents of the traditional view of hell take their view to represent anything like a ‘literal’ interpretation of what Scripture says on the subject. Of the scant few passages that might appear to give credence to a traditional view, the contexts in which they appear are not the places one would normally expect to find important, direct teaching on the nature of the world to come—and certainly not ‘literal’ teaching, as that term is typically used… in the name of a more compelling case we are offered a paltry list of vague references, parables of questionable interpretation, and figurative imagery… Indeed the only passages of Scripture that have even the APPEARANCE of prolonged suffering after death for the lost are firstly the tale of Lazarus and the Rich Man… and secondly some highly symbolic episodes in John’s visionary experience in the book of Revelation.” (Pg. 23)

Edward Fudge says of Revelation 20:7-10, “if the beast and false prophet are personifications of civil and religious powers opposing Christ, a literal interpretation of conscious unending torment would be impossible. If one’s prophetic schema sees these as actual persons yet to come, we only note that the text says nothing about human beings ‘tormented day and night forever and ever.’ … In view of the overwhelming mass of material otherwise found throughout Scripture, however, one ought to remember the general hermeneutical rule that calls for interpreting the uncommon in light of the common and the obscure in light of the more clearly revealed.” (Pg. 40)

Clark Pinnock famously comments, “I consider the concept of hell as endless torment in body and mind an outrageous doctrine, a theological and moral enormity, a bad doctrine of the tradition that needs to be changed. How can Christians possibly project a deity of such cruelty and vindictiveness whose ways include inflicting everlasting torture upon his creatures, however sinful they may have been? Surely a God who would do such a thing is more nearly like Satan than like God, at least by any ordinary moral standards, and by the gospel itself… torturing people without end is not what our God does. Does the one who told us to love our enemies intend to wreak vengeance on his own enemies for all eternity?” (Pg. 60)

He continues, “What I would ask my readers to do is to entertain the possibility that the Christian tradition has gone wrong in regard to hell as everlasting, conscious torment. It should not be too much to ask since many of them already hold that Augustine got certain other things wrong on the doctrine of the millennium, on the practice of infant baptism, and on God’s sovereign/arbitrary reprobation of the wicked.” (Pg. 63) He adds, “I am convinced that the Hellenistic belief in the immortality of the soul has done more than anything else … to give credibility to the doctrine of the everlasting conscious punishment of the wicked. This belief, not Holy Scripture, is what gives this doctrine the credibility it does not deserve.” (Pg. 66)

But he also acknowledges, “I admit that the interpretation of everlasting, conscious torment can be read out of [Mt. 25:46] if one wishes to do so. Such a meaning is not at all impossible from the wording, especially if one smuggles the term ‘conscious’ into it… Jesus does not define the nature of eternal life or eternal death in this text. He just says there will be two destinies and leaves it there… But did not the rich man suffer torment in flames in a famous parable of Jesus? [Lk 6:19-31]… Yes… But one should keep … in mind here: first, the mention of Abraham’s bosom (v. 22) should alert us to the fact that we are dealing with imagery, not literal description; and second… the story refers to the intermediate state between death and the resurrection and is not really relevant to our subject… it is likely that what is being described [in Rev 14:11] is the moment of their judgment, not their everlasting condition, with the smoke going up forever being the testimony to their final destruction. In … [20:10] it is the devil, the beast, and the false prophet… and they cannot be equated with ordinary human beings… Yet I would not say that either side wins the argument hands down largely because the Bible does not seem concerned to deal with this question as precisely as we want it to.” (Pg. 70-71)

John Wenham notes, “There are three passages that speak of unquenchable fire, two in the teaching of John the Baptist… and one from our Lord… (Mk 9:43). The chaff of course is burnt up by the irresistible fire---there is nothing to suggest that the fire goes on burning after it has destroyed the rubbish… There is nothing in any of these ten texts that even suggests (let alone requires) an interpretation contrary to the natural interpretation of the great mass of texts telling of death, destruction, perishing, and consumption by fire. Nor has the imagery of outer darkness and grinding of teeth any bearing on the question of endlessness.” (Pg. 84-85)

But he admits, “[Revelation 14:11] is the most difficult passage that the conditionalist has to deal with. I freely confess that I have come to no firm conclusions about the proper interpretation of the book of revelation… I am nonetheless chary about basing fundamental doctrine upon its symbolism… these fourteen passages whose natural meaning we are attempting to evade reduces to perhaps one, and that is far from insuperable, representing less than a half of one percent of the New Testament passages on the doom of the lost. So both Old and New Testaments taken in their natural sense seem to be almost entirely… on the conditionalist side.” (Pg. 86-87)

Basil Atkinson points out, “Though Scripture teaches… the extinction of the unrepentant sinners in eternal destruction, it does not lead us to think of an instantaneous snuffing out of their lives without exaction of full and complete retribution for wrong done to others by hateful and wicked lives … included in future punishment is a period of suffering that varies in degree and precedes the fulfillment of the punishment in everlasting destruction. The length of this period of suffering, light or heavy as it may be, is not stated or mentioned in Scripture.” (Pg. 102-103)

Ralph Bowles suggests about Revelation 14:11, “‘No rest day or night’ is another way of saying that God’s wrath is poured out in full strength when the judgment is operating; it is quenchless, unremitting and overwhelming. In modern warfare terms, it is the equivalent of intense, day and night, bombing; there is no break until it obliterates the enemy. The meaning of Rev 14:11 is in harmony with the passage in Isaiah 34 that lies behind it.” (Pg. 146) He adds, “It should concern all Bible students to note how few proof-texts can be cited in support of eternal torment, how much weight is placed on two texts from the Revelation to John (14:11; 20:10); and how other core texts come mainly from parables of Jesus. We are usually wary of interpreters who base their doctrines on … the Revelation, or from the parables of Jesus, without the control of didactic passages.” (Pg. 151)

Harold Guillebaud says of Mark 9:43-48, “we must observe that our Lord is drawing his imagery from Isa 66:24… The words ‘they shall be an abhorring to all flesh’ point to the effect of the judgment. The spectacle of corpses (which of course cannot suffer) in a perpetual process of corruption and burning would create horror and loathing in all who beheld… May not this be the key to the meaning of our Lord’s words in Mark 9?... The comparison with the text of Isaiah seems to show that our Lord is warning those who cling to evil that their fate will be not only to perish by fire, but to become thereafter an eternal memorial of God’s judgment… Our Lord’s words no more suggest the perpetual existence of human beings in conscious torment than the corpses in Isaiah’s picture suggest such a thing.” (Pg. 167-168)

Philip Hughes suggests, “cities are said to ‘serve as an example by undergoing a punishment of eternal fire’ [Jude 7]. Even though this was not the final judgment, the obliterating fire is described as ‘eternal’ fire. The reason for this, no doubt, is that it was DIVINE fire, the fire of judgment sent by the Lord… Is this what is meant by ‘everlasting punishment’ (Matt 25:46) and by the assertion regarding those who suffer it that ‘the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever (Rev 14:11)?” (Pg. 191)

Henry Constable notes, “Nothing is really gained by rejecting the literal view or changing the BODILLY pains … into suffering and anguish of the mind… if they are not to be understood literally they must yet be understood as giving us the truest and best ideas possible of the real anguish and misery of hell… The real question is, not whether they are literal or figurative, but whether the pains they point to are pains to be endured forever, or which sooner or later produce a destruction of the sentient being, from which there is no recovery.” (Pg. 203) He adds, “Is a life of endless agony, ever increasing, what Jesus meant by a ‘few stripes’? [Lk 11:48] God forbid that we should dare to tamper with his words.” (Pg. 206)

Christopher Marshall states, “Is it even possible for a finite creature to cause infinite harm to God or to God’s creation? One common reply is to argue that … sin against God is infinitely serious and merits infinite punishment… Arguably it is morally more repugnant to harm a weaker party than a stronger one. That the situation is different with an ontologically superior being---namely, God---must simply be asserted as self-evident; it cannot be logically proven.” (Pg. 215)

This is a genuinely EXCELLENT collection of conditionalist writings, and indeed gathers into one place a number of writings that otherwise were scattered in obscure theological journals, chapters of books, etc. It will be absolutely “MUST READING” for anyone seriously studying Annihilation/Conditional Immortality and the doctrine of Hell---whether one favors, or rejects, Conditionalism.


The Divine Rescue: The Gripping Drama of a Lost World and of the Creator Who Will Not Let It Go. Paperback - June 1, 2010
The Divine Rescue: The Gripping Drama of a Lost World and of the Creator Who Will Not Let It Go. Paperback - June 1, 2010
by Edward Fudge
Edition: Paperback
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4.0 out of 5 stars AN OVERVIEW OF THE ENTIRE BIBLE’S STORY, August 21, 2016
Edward William Fudge (born 1944) is a theologian and lawyer (and former Church of Christ minister), who has written/contributed to The Fire That Consumes: A Biblical and Historical Study of the Doctrine of Final Punishment, Two Views of Hell: A Biblical & Theological Dialogue, and Hell A Final Word: The Surprising Truths I Found in the Bible. Fudge is also the subject of the 2012 independent film Hell & Mr. Fudge.

This 2010 book is basically an overview of the Bible, told in a summary/literary form. For example, he summarizes the first chapters, “The human creatures introduced sin into paradise and paradise was lost. More precisely, paradise was closed for human occupancy until remedial measures could be taken. Sin inside the Garden is followed by sin outside, as Cain kills Abel and then feigns innocence when confronted by the Creator. Meanwhile, even human beings who are dead toward the Creator remain very much alive to earthly dealings and activities, including major advances in civilization. Genesis summarizes a view of human progress over ten generations, including discoveries, inventions, and advancements in engineering, technology, and the arts. From the Creator’s viewpoint, however, this provides no cause for celebration, for even as knowledge and sophistication move steadily up the scale, basic human character and conduct become increasingly worse.” (Pg. 37)

He continues, “The Genesis story-teller wants us to see the Flood as involving more than divine punishment, something besides the near-annihilation of the human beings involved… the author of Genesis is saying, creation itself is first reversed and then renewed.” (Pg. 40)

He states, “The Old Testament story is simple but it is very important… On the surface this is the story of Israel as the Creator’s chosen people. Because the Israelites are the Creator’s people, their story includes all the problems, temptations, struggles, and failures common to humankind… But although this is Israel’s story, it is crisscrossed with DIVINE footprints---footprints that move inevitably through the centuries, though sometimes twisting and turning, to the execution of the divine rescue. Of course, there were no road signs to explain these footprints at the time. Their destination and deeper meaning would become clear only in the light of later events.” (Pg. 51)

He suggests, “the Creator God is very gracious to the Israelites. He provides them a sacrificial system as a remedial measure for unintentional wrongs. And, though it will cost the lives of millions of animals, it will never be able to give the Creator the very thing he has always wanted first.” (Pg. 73)

He acknowledges, “The Old Testament also anticipates many specific details concerning the birth, ministry, death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus Christ---as well as the universal peace and blessing that he will establish at his still-future return. Some prophecies had an immediate limited meaning in their original context, with deeper and richer fulfillment in Christ. Others did not appear to be predictive until Jesus fulfilled them.” (Pg. 105) He adds, “The Creator DECLARED all these things before the Rescue took place, not merely predicting the future, but DECLARING what he the Sovereign Creator intended to do. And after he did them, he PROCLAIMED what he had done and stated what he expected human beings to do in response. Joining declaration to proclamation and giving content to both are the Creator’s mighty DEEDS. And the greatest deed of all is the reunion … that we know as the divine Rescue.” (Pg. 107)

He observes, “By dying, the wholly innocent Jesus received in himself the judgment due to others. The Creator accepted Jesus’ holy life and the death that cut it short… Through one man, Adam, humankind had fallen and became lost. Through one man, Jesus Christ, crucified and raised from the dead, humankind was rescued and restored. For Jesus Christ the divine Rescuer was also the Last Adam.” (Pg. 126)

He notes, “Jesus’ resurrection is God’s guarantee that his sacrifice as sufficient… The rescue occurred on earth in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. But although Jesus fully executed the Rescue Plan, its full benefits are not immediately apparent to humankind. The Rescue Plan was formulated in heaven and the Rescuer has returned there for an unrevealed period of time. When that time is finished he will appear again in person and in power to usher in the Consummation.” (Pg. 144)

He says, “The divine Rescue involves OUR past, present, and future but it involves very much more. It began in the mind of the Creator before time itself and it will extend into the everlasting ages. The divine Rescue links eternity and eternity. Viewed against this perspective, earthly history is an almost-indiscernible blip.” (Pg. 197)

He outlines, “we see the Creator at work in the five great scenes: Scene 1: the Creator foreknows… These chosen people will all choose the Creator during the course of their lives, but… the Creator chose them first… Scene Two: the Creator predestines… the angelic draftsman… [says], ‘Predestination is sketching future horizons… It is not a fatalism that determines everything you do…. The Creator has predestined that the Rescued will be transformed in character until they precisely resemble the Son. Scene 3: the Creator calls… ‘You are rescued!’ … Their hearts grow warm and they feel a stirring, a strong and curious desire to respond. It is like no desire they have ever experienced, a deep and insatiable craving for something so beautiful and sweet and pure they cannot imagine ever wanting to resist. Scene 4: the Creator justifies… we see the Creator sitting as judge in his heavenly courtroom… ‘I find you not guilty… You are a believer and I pronounce you fully in the right.’ Scene 5: the Creator glorifies… the Creator.. is perfecting the Rescued for eternity, making them exactly like Jesus.” (Pg. 200-202)

He continues, “The Creator’s saving work is equally the result of divine grace that moved him to foreknow or choose his people in Christ before the world began… The Creator did not look into the future to see who deserved to be chosen, just as he will not look into the past at the End to see who deserves to be glorified.” (Pg. 204) He adds, “Everyone is commanded to repent and believe the gospel. People make responsible choices and they are accountable for the choices them make… those who are finally lost will find themselves in that condition because they rejected the Creator and his grace. For that they are totally and solely to blame. Election is not about the lost. It is about the saved.” (Pg. 206)

He concludes, “The divine Rescue accomplished, the story ends as it began. The curse that once fell on earth and its inhabitants is nowhere to be seem. The Tree of Life, once placed off-limits to human beings at the point of a flaming sword, again in blooming and bearing monthly fruit, planted within easy reach of all. The River of the Water of Life flows from the Creator’s throne. Its stream both adorns and waters this new creation. Abundant life springs up wherever it flows.” (Pg. 227)

Those readers looking for an extension of Fudge’s views on Hell and Conditional Immortality will be disappointed by this book (as I was). But as an imaginary literary overview of the Bible, it will interest a number of readers.


The Divine Rescue: The Gripping Drama of a Lost World and of the Creator Who Will Not Let It Go.
The Divine Rescue: The Gripping Drama of a Lost World and of the Creator Who Will Not Let It Go.
by Edward Fudge
Edition: Paperback
Price: $11.39
43 used & new from $0.54

4.0 out of 5 stars AN OVERVIEW OF THE ENTIRE BIBLE’S STORY, August 21, 2016
Edward William Fudge (born 1944) is a theologian and lawyer (and former Church of Christ minister), who has written/contributed to The Fire That Consumes: A Biblical and Historical Study of the Doctrine of Final Punishment, Two Views of Hell: A Biblical & Theological Dialogue, and Hell A Final Word: The Surprising Truths I Found in the Bible. Fudge is also the subject of the 2012 independent film Hell & Mr. Fudge.

This 2010 book is basically an overview of the Bible, told in a summary/literary form. For example, he summarizes the first chapters, “The human creatures introduced sin into paradise and paradise was lost. More precisely, paradise was closed for human occupancy until remedial measures could be taken. Sin inside the Garden is followed by sin outside, as Cain kills Abel and then feigns innocence when confronted by the Creator. Meanwhile, even human beings who are dead toward the Creator remain very much alive to earthly dealings and activities, including major advances in civilization. Genesis summarizes a view of human progress over ten generations, including discoveries, inventions, and advancements in engineering, technology, and the arts. From the Creator’s viewpoint, however, this provides no cause for celebration, for even as knowledge and sophistication move steadily up the scale, basic human character and conduct become increasingly worse.” (Pg. 37)

He continues, “The Genesis story-teller wants us to see the Flood as involving more than divine punishment, something besides the near-annihilation of the human beings involved… the author of Genesis is saying, creation itself is first reversed and then renewed.” (Pg. 40)

He states, “The Old Testament story is simple but it is very important… On the surface this is the story of Israel as the Creator’s chosen people. Because the Israelites are the Creator’s people, their story includes all the problems, temptations, struggles, and failures common to humankind… But although this is Israel’s story, it is crisscrossed with DIVINE footprints---footprints that move inevitably through the centuries, though sometimes twisting and turning, to the execution of the divine rescue. Of course, there were no road signs to explain these footprints at the time. Their destination and deeper meaning would become clear only in the light of later events.” (Pg. 51)

He suggests, “the Creator God is very gracious to the Israelites. He provides them a sacrificial system as a remedial measure for unintentional wrongs. And, though it will cost the lives of millions of animals, it will never be able to give the Creator the very thing he has always wanted first.” (Pg. 73)

He acknowledges, “The Old Testament also anticipates many specific details concerning the birth, ministry, death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus Christ---as well as the universal peace and blessing that he will establish at his still-future return. Some prophecies had an immediate limited meaning in their original context, with deeper and richer fulfillment in Christ. Others did not appear to be predictive until Jesus fulfilled them.” (Pg. 105) He adds, “The Creator DECLARED all these things before the Rescue took place, not merely predicting the future, but DECLARING what he the Sovereign Creator intended to do. And after he did them, he PROCLAIMED what he had done and stated what he expected human beings to do in response. Joining declaration to proclamation and giving content to both are the Creator’s mighty DEEDS. And the greatest deed of all is the reunion … that we know as the divine Rescue.” (Pg. 107)

He observes, “By dying, the wholly innocent Jesus received in himself the judgment due to others. The Creator accepted Jesus’ holy life and the death that cut it short… Through one man, Adam, humankind had fallen and became lost. Through one man, Jesus Christ, crucified and raised from the dead, humankind was rescued and restored. For Jesus Christ the divine Rescuer was also the Last Adam.” (Pg. 126)

He notes, “Jesus’ resurrection is God’s guarantee that his sacrifice as sufficient… The rescue occurred on earth in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. But although Jesus fully executed the Rescue Plan, its full benefits are not immediately apparent to humankind. The Rescue Plan was formulated in heaven and the Rescuer has returned there for an unrevealed period of time. When that time is finished he will appear again in person and in power to usher in the Consummation.” (Pg. 144)

He says, “The divine Rescue involves OUR past, present, and future but it involves very much more. It began in the mind of the Creator before time itself and it will extend into the everlasting ages. The divine Rescue links eternity and eternity. Viewed against this perspective, earthly history is an almost-indiscernible blip.” (Pg. 197)

He outlines, “we see the Creator at work in the five great scenes: Scene 1: the Creator foreknows… These chosen people will all choose the Creator during the course of their lives, but… the Creator chose them first… Scene Two: the Creator predestines… the angelic draftsman… [says], ‘Predestination is sketching future horizons… It is not a fatalism that determines everything you do…. The Creator has predestined that the Rescued will be transformed in character until they precisely resemble the Son. Scene 3: the Creator calls… ‘You are rescued!’ … Their hearts grow warm and they feel a stirring, a strong and curious desire to respond. It is like no desire they have ever experienced, a deep and insatiable craving for something so beautiful and sweet and pure they cannot imagine ever wanting to resist. Scene 4: the Creator justifies… we see the Creator sitting as judge in his heavenly courtroom… ‘I find you not guilty… You are a believer and I pronounce you fully in the right.’ Scene 5: the Creator glorifies… the Creator.. is perfecting the Rescued for eternity, making them exactly like Jesus.” (Pg. 200-202)

He continues, “The Creator’s saving work is equally the result of divine grace that moved him to foreknow or choose his people in Christ before the world began… The Creator did not look into the future to see who deserved to be chosen, just as he will not look into the past at the End to see who deserves to be glorified.” (Pg. 204) He adds, “Everyone is commanded to repent and believe the gospel. People make responsible choices and they are accountable for the choices them make… those who are finally lost will find themselves in that condition because they rejected the Creator and his grace. For that they are totally and solely to blame. Election is not about the lost. It is about the saved.” (Pg. 206)

He concludes, “The divine Rescue accomplished, the story ends as it began. The curse that once fell on earth and its inhabitants is nowhere to be seem. The Tree of Life, once placed off-limits to human beings at the point of a flaming sword, again in blooming and bearing monthly fruit, planted within easy reach of all. The River of the Water of Life flows from the Creator’s throne. Its stream both adorns and waters this new creation. Abundant life springs up wherever it flows.” (Pg. 227)

Those readers looking for an extension of Fudge’s views on Hell and Conditional Immortality will be disappointed by this book (as I was). But as an imaginary literary overview of the Bible, it will interest a number of readers.


Hell A Final Word: The Surprising Truths I Found in the Bible by Fudge, Edward William (2012) Paperback
Hell A Final Word: The Surprising Truths I Found in the Bible by Fudge, Edward William (2012) Paperback
15 used & new from $42.11

5.0 out of 5 stars FUDGE’S “LAST BOOK” ON THE SUBJECT OF HELL, August 19, 2016
Edward William Fudge (born 1944) is a theologian and lawyer (and former Church of Christ minister), who has written/contributed The Fire That Consumes: A Biblical and Historical Study of the Doctrine of Final Punishment, Two Views of Hell: A Biblical & Theological Dialogue, and The Divine Rescue: The Gripping Drama of a Lost World and of the Creator Who Will Not Let It Go. Fudge is also the subject of the 2012 independent film Hell & Mr. Fudge.

He explains in this 2012 book that when he first became a Christian in 1954, “I could not possibly have known that a quarter-century later I would be head-over-heels into a year-long research project on the final fate of the wicked… Part of my assignment for that year-long project was to discover the origin of the doctrine of everlasting conscious torment… I found that origin to be in Greek philosophy and not in Holy Scripture… .no one before or after could have been more ASTOUNDED at the things I found throughout the Bible during the course of my study. I knew instinctively that I had to write a book… I had to share what I had found with my Christian brothers and sisters… The book you are now reading is titled ‘Hell: A Final Word’… The book in your hand… will be my last book on that subject.” (Pg. 14-17)

He notes, “did you notice that no text we have read about hell ever remotely suggests that hell’s punishment is a means of instruction, or that it is intended to rehabilitate or restore?... you will not find a single hint that those who are banished to hell will ever come out again. Nor is there any Scripture that suggests that bad conduct in hell prolongs the punishment which already is said to be eternal.” (Pg. 24)

He asserts, “Scripture nowhere suggests that God is an eternal tormented. It never says the damned will writhe in ceaseless pains, or that the glories of heaven will forever be blighted by the screams of hell. The Bible does not teach the traditional doctrine of everlasting conscious torment. Don’t blame God for something he never really said… Does the Bible REALLY TEACH that God finally will keep people alive forever in hell just to suffer torment that never ends? Does Scripture REQUIRE us to believe that will be the destiny of MOST men and women whom God loved and sent his Son to redeem? If that is not what Scripture teaches, is it not a SLANDER against the heavenly FATHER almost too heinous to describe?” (Pg. 34)

He states, “Those who go to hell respond to God’s grace in a way directly opposite the way believers respond, and the opposite of belief is not unbelief but disbelief… They intentionally REFUSE to believe. They decide NOT to believe. And they live by the spirit of disbelief all of their life on earth. In the end, God gives them what they had always wanted---never to see, to hear, or to be reminded of God again.” (Pg. 42)

He admits that “For several years as a teenager, I studied religious/spiritual correspondence courses from … the order of the Rose (Rosicrucians), the Knights of Columbus (Roman Catholic), Back to the Bible (evangelical mainstream), Worldwide Church of God (Herbert W. Armstrong), the Voice of Prophecy (Seventh-Day Adventist), and Churches of Christ (our own fellowship)… In due course the Voice of Prophecy materials came to the subject of final punishment… The choice is simple and straightforward… It is LIFE or DEATH; LIFE or PERISH. What could possibly be easier to understand? Yet I did not then understand… Perhaps … I was unwilling to … be associated in anyone’s mind with the Seventh-Day Adventists who produced the Voice of Prophecy course? In theory, that should be totally irrelevant… The only question that counts… should be, ‘What does the Bible say?’ This has nothing to do with Roman Catholics or Seventh-Day Adventism or Herbert W. Armstrong.” (Pg. 54-55)

He became a Church of Christ minister, but was dismissed after four years: “some church members had concluded from my sermons that I thought people in other denominations might also go to heaven… [Also] I had recently invited a Black brother preacher to lead prayer when he visited our revival, which infuriated an influential man in our congregation. When I learned that he was stirring up trouble over the matter, I confronted him publicly and rebuked his attitude… Now that I had no preaching responsibilities, [he and a group of friends] decided to begin meeting as a nondenominational church… For six years, I was the little church’s unofficial and unpaid pastor… I was in a place of absolute liberty under the Word…” (Pg. 61)

After quoting Matthew 10:28 [“fear Him who is able to destroy both body and soul in hell”], he comments, “It seems straightforward enough doesn’t it?... we need not fear man, Jesus explains, for his reach is limited by comparison with God’s. Men can only kill the body but they cannot kill the soul. God, on the other hand, is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. And in case someone is tempted to give ‘destroy’ some novel meaning in that sentence, Jesus makes it plain that he is using ‘destroy’ here to mean what ‘kill’ means in the earlier part of the sentence. And ‘kill’ means the same thing here when used of body or of soul… ‘Destroy’ clearly is intended to include all that the previous clause meant to include in ‘kill.’ While it might mean more than ‘kill’… it certainly means no less!” (Pg. 89)

Noting that “the unending-torment defenders” argue that “Jesus did not mean that God will really ‘destroy’ the soul… He does not mean that rejecters really ‘perish’… If THAT is what Jesus is thinking, he needs only to say that believers ‘will not live forever in torment but have eternal life.’” (Pg. 91) He cites eleven NT passages using terms such as ‘destroy,’ ‘perish,’ etc., and concludes, “It’s quite obvious that the authors of these eleven sentences expect us to read these verbs of destruction with their basic, face-value meaning, isn’t it? Why should we not understand ‘perish’ and ‘destroy’ equally literally in John 3:16 and Matthew 10:28?” (Pg. 93-94)

He says, “In 2 Thessalonians 1, Paul tells what eternal punishment will involve… [Jesus] will PUNISH the wicked with ETERNAL DESTRUCTION (v. 9). Eternal punishment consists of eternal destruction. Once punished---in this case, once destroyed---the result is everlasting. The wicked will never be seen again. This is eternal capital punishment… The second death.” (Pg. 105) He adds, “the punishment of the wicked… [includes] also the LOSS of every good blessing, every godly companion, and of every moment that might otherwise have been enjoyed…” (Pg. 106)

He argues about the rich man and Lazarus story in Luke 16:19-31, “Some object that this story cannot be a parable because it begins with the words ‘there was a certain rich man’ and ‘there was a certain beggar.’ In fact, it is just as likely that the quoted words mark the story AS a parable. Two chapters later, Lue introduces another story with the words: ‘Now he told them a parable’… Jesus then continues with the same kind of specific identification he uses in our story: ‘In a certain city there was a judge… and there was a widow in that city.’ (Lk 18:1-3)” (Pg. 113)

He also points out, “In fact, the ‘hell’ in this story… is not the hell of final punishment at all. It is simply HADES, SHEOL, gravedom, the unseen realm of the dead. If the parable proved anything about post-mortem circumstances, it would still say nothing about final punishment in hell or GEHENNA.” (Pg. 115)

He says of Revelation 19:11-21, “This is the only text in the whole Bible that speaks of anything being tormented forever. The statement applies to the devil, Beast, and False Prophet, neither of which is a human being. Scripture nowhere says that any human being will be tormented forever. Jesus does say the wicked will suffer eternal punishment’ (Matt 25:46), which Paul explains to be ‘eternal destruction.’” (2 Thess 1:9) (Pg. 140)

He explains, “John twice mentions human beings being thrown into the Lake of Fire. Both times, he adds the explanatory words: ‘which is the second death.’ John begins by naming the symbol to be defined---‘the Lake of Fire.’ He then defines that symbol by equating it with a different reality easy to be understood---‘the second death’… The Lake of Fire IS the second death. The first death is the death we experience now in the present age. It is temporary---the redeemed will be raised from it to immortality and resurrection glory. The second death is … the death that is the wages of sin. It is the destruction and perishing promised to the unfaithful. It is the death from which there is no resurrection or return. It is the death of the whole person forever. The second death is the reality, easily understood. It is REPRESENTED by the more difficult symbol---the Lake of Fire… Because John defined the Lake of Fire as the second death, we are not free … to explain the second death as the Lake of Fire, which would be moving from the simpler to the more difficult.” (Pg. 143-144)

He summarizes, “Is one supposed to conclude that dozens, even scores and more of simple, declaratory statements throughout all of Scripture must finally be ignored because of fewer than five symbolic statements in Revelation? It makes far better sense to read these few apocalyptic statements written in symbolic language in light of the clear, repeated, consistent teaching from throughout all the rest of Scripture.” (Pg. 145)

He concludes, “For the moment, I remove the mantle of theology and assume the cloak of a lawyer, my other chosen profession… Now that you have read this book, it is time to ask which view of hell is supported by the greater weight and preponderance of the evidence… Which explanation makes the most sense? Does one seem more like God? Is it the view of hell as a place of unending conscious torment? Is it hell as a fire that purifies and reforms? Is it the understanding of hell as the fire that consumes? God has revealed what we need to know. Not necessarily enough to satisfy our curiosity or to answer all our questions.” (Pg. 173)

Fudge has of course updated his original 500-page book; this much briefer, more “personal,” but also more clearly written will interest not just those looking for a “simplified” presentation of his ideas and interpretations, but for those wanting a simpler and more direct explanation of a number of his interpretations.


Hell A Final Word: The Surprising Truths I Found in the Bible by Edward William Fudge (12-Jun-2012) Paperback
Hell A Final Word: The Surprising Truths I Found in the Bible by Edward William Fudge (12-Jun-2012) Paperback
by Edward William Fudge
Edition: Paperback
15 used & new from $42.07

5.0 out of 5 stars FUDGE’S “LAST BOOK” ON THE SUBJECT OF HELL, August 19, 2016
Edward William Fudge (born 1944) is a theologian and lawyer (and former Church of Christ minister), who has written/contributed The Fire That Consumes: A Biblical and Historical Study of the Doctrine of Final Punishment, Two Views of Hell: A Biblical & Theological Dialogue, and The Divine Rescue: The Gripping Drama of a Lost World and of the Creator Who Will Not Let It Go. Fudge is also the subject of the 2012 independent film Hell & Mr. Fudge.

He explains in this 2012 book that when he first became a Christian in 1954, “I could not possibly have known that a quarter-century later I would be head-over-heels into a year-long research project on the final fate of the wicked… Part of my assignment for that year-long project was to discover the origin of the doctrine of everlasting conscious torment… I found that origin to be in Greek philosophy and not in Holy Scripture… .no one before or after could have been more ASTOUNDED at the things I found throughout the Bible during the course of my study. I knew instinctively that I had to write a book… I had to share what I had found with my Christian brothers and sisters… The book you are now reading is titled ‘Hell: A Final Word’… The book in your hand… will be my last book on that subject.” (Pg. 14-17)

He notes, “did you notice that no text we have read about hell ever remotely suggests that hell’s punishment is a means of instruction, or that it is intended to rehabilitate or restore?... you will not find a single hint that those who are banished to hell will ever come out again. Nor is there any Scripture that suggests that bad conduct in hell prolongs the punishment which already is said to be eternal.” (Pg. 24)

He asserts, “Scripture nowhere suggests that God is an eternal tormented. It never says the damned will writhe in ceaseless pains, or that the glories of heaven will forever be blighted by the screams of hell. The Bible does not teach the traditional doctrine of everlasting conscious torment. Don’t blame God for something he never really said… Does the Bible REALLY TEACH that God finally will keep people alive forever in hell just to suffer torment that never ends? Does Scripture REQUIRE us to believe that will be the destiny of MOST men and women whom God loved and sent his Son to redeem? If that is not what Scripture teaches, is it not a SLANDER against the heavenly FATHER almost too heinous to describe?” (Pg. 34)

He states, “Those who go to hell respond to God’s grace in a way directly opposite the way believers respond, and the opposite of belief is not unbelief but disbelief… They intentionally REFUSE to believe. They decide NOT to believe. And they live by the spirit of disbelief all of their life on earth. In the end, God gives them what they had always wanted---never to see, to hear, or to be reminded of God again.” (Pg. 42)

He admits that “For several years as a teenager, I studied religious/spiritual correspondence courses from … the order of the Rose (Rosicrucians), the Knights of Columbus (Roman Catholic), Back to the Bible (evangelical mainstream), Worldwide Church of God (Herbert W. Armstrong), the Voice of Prophecy (Seventh-Day Adventist), and Churches of Christ (our own fellowship)… In due course the Voice of Prophecy materials came to the subject of final punishment… The choice is simple and straightforward… It is LIFE or DEATH; LIFE or PERISH. What could possibly be easier to understand? Yet I did not then understand… Perhaps … I was unwilling to … be associated in anyone’s mind with the Seventh-Day Adventists who produced the Voice of Prophecy course? In theory, that should be totally irrelevant… The only question that counts… should be, ‘What does the Bible say?’ This has nothing to do with Roman Catholics or Seventh-Day Adventism or Herbert W. Armstrong.” (Pg. 54-55)

He became a Church of Christ minister, but was dismissed after four years: “some church members had concluded from my sermons that I thought people in other denominations might also go to heaven… [Also] I had recently invited a Black brother preacher to lead prayer when he visited our revival, which infuriated an influential man in our congregation. When I learned that he was stirring up trouble over the matter, I confronted him publicly and rebuked his attitude… Now that I had no preaching responsibilities, [he and a group of friends] decided to begin meeting as a nondenominational church… For six years, I was the little church’s unofficial and unpaid pastor… I was in a place of absolute liberty under the Word…” (Pg. 61)

After quoting Matthew 10:28 [“fear Him who is able to destroy both body and soul in hell”], he comments, “It seems straightforward enough doesn’t it?... we need not fear man, Jesus explains, for his reach is limited by comparison with God’s. Men can only kill the body but they cannot kill the soul. God, on the other hand, is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. And in case someone is tempted to give ‘destroy’ some novel meaning in that sentence, Jesus makes it plain that he is using ‘destroy’ here to mean what ‘kill’ means in the earlier part of the sentence. And ‘kill’ means the same thing here when used of body or of soul… ‘Destroy’ clearly is intended to include all that the previous clause meant to include in ‘kill.’ While it might mean more than ‘kill’… it certainly means no less!” (Pg. 89)

Noting that “the unending-torment defenders” argue that “Jesus did not mean that God will really ‘destroy’ the soul… He does not mean that rejecters really ‘perish’… If THAT is what Jesus is thinking, he needs only to say that believers ‘will not live forever in torment but have eternal life.’” (Pg. 91) He cites eleven NT passages using terms such as ‘destroy,’ ‘perish,’ etc., and concludes, “It’s quite obvious that the authors of these eleven sentences expect us to read these verbs of destruction with their basic, face-value meaning, isn’t it? Why should we not understand ‘perish’ and ‘destroy’ equally literally in John 3:16 and Matthew 10:28?” (Pg. 93-94)

He says, “In 2 Thessalonians 1, Paul tells what eternal punishment will involve… [Jesus] will PUNISH the wicked with ETERNAL DESTRUCTION (v. 9). Eternal punishment consists of eternal destruction. Once punished---in this case, once destroyed---the result is everlasting. The wicked will never be seen again. This is eternal capital punishment… The second death.” (Pg. 105) He adds, “the punishment of the wicked… [includes] also the LOSS of every good blessing, every godly companion, and of every moment that might otherwise have been enjoyed…” (Pg. 106)

He argues about the rich man and Lazarus story in Luke 16:19-31, “Some object that this story cannot be a parable because it begins with the words ‘there was a certain rich man’ and ‘there was a certain beggar.’ In fact, it is just as likely that the quoted words mark the story AS a parable. Two chapters later, Lue introduces another story with the words: ‘Now he told them a parable’… Jesus then continues with the same kind of specific identification he uses in our story: ‘In a certain city there was a judge… and there was a widow in that city.’ (Lk 18:1-3)” (Pg. 113)

He also points out, “In fact, the ‘hell’ in this story… is not the hell of final punishment at all. It is simply HADES, SHEOL, gravedom, the unseen realm of the dead. If the parable proved anything about post-mortem circumstances, it would still say nothing about final punishment in hell or GEHENNA.” (Pg. 115)

He says of Revelation 19:11-21, “This is the only text in the whole Bible that speaks of anything being tormented forever. The statement applies to the devil, Beast, and False Prophet, neither of which is a human being. Scripture nowhere says that any human being will be tormented forever. Jesus does say the wicked will suffer eternal punishment’ (Matt 25:46), which Paul explains to be ‘eternal destruction.’” (2 Thess 1:9) (Pg. 140)

He explains, “John twice mentions human beings being thrown into the Lake of Fire. Both times, he adds the explanatory words: ‘which is the second death.’ John begins by naming the symbol to be defined---‘the Lake of Fire.’ He then defines that symbol by equating it with a different reality easy to be understood---‘the second death’… The Lake of Fire IS the second death. The first death is the death we experience now in the present age. It is temporary---the redeemed will be raised from it to immortality and resurrection glory. The second death is … the death that is the wages of sin. It is the destruction and perishing promised to the unfaithful. It is the death from which there is no resurrection or return. It is the death of the whole person forever. The second death is the reality, easily understood. It is REPRESENTED by the more difficult symbol---the Lake of Fire… Because John defined the Lake of Fire as the second death, we are not free … to explain the second death as the Lake of Fire, which would be moving from the simpler to the more difficult.” (Pg. 143-144)

He summarizes, “Is one supposed to conclude that dozens, even scores and more of simple, declaratory statements throughout all of Scripture must finally be ignored because of fewer than five symbolic statements in Revelation? It makes far better sense to read these few apocalyptic statements written in symbolic language in light of the clear, repeated, consistent teaching from throughout all the rest of Scripture.” (Pg. 145)

He concludes, “For the moment, I remove the mantle of theology and assume the cloak of a lawyer, my other chosen profession… Now that you have read this book, it is time to ask which view of hell is supported by the greater weight and preponderance of the evidence… Which explanation makes the most sense? Does one seem more like God? Is it the view of hell as a place of unending conscious torment? Is it hell as a fire that purifies and reforms? Is it the understanding of hell as the fire that consumes? God has revealed what we need to know. Not necessarily enough to satisfy our curiosity or to answer all our questions.” (Pg. 173)

Fudge has of course updated his original 500-page book; this much briefer, more “personal,” but also more clearly written will interest not just those looking for a “simplified” presentation of his ideas and interpretations, but for those wanting a simpler and more direct explanation of a number of his interpretations.


By Edward William Fudge Edward William Fudge, Hell a Final Word
By Edward William Fudge Edward William Fudge, Hell a Final Word
15 used & new from $42.09

5.0 out of 5 stars FUDGE’S “LAST BOOK” ON THE SUBJECT OF HELL, August 19, 2016
Edward William Fudge (born 1944) is a theologian and lawyer (and former Church of Christ minister), who has written/contributed to The Fire That Consumes: A Biblical and Historical Study of the Doctrine of Final Punishment, Two Views of Hell: A Biblical & Theological Dialogue, and The Divine Rescue: The Gripping Drama of a Lost World and of the Creator Who Will Not Let It Go. Fudge is also the subject of the 2012 independent film Hell & Mr. Fudge.

He explains in this 2012 book that when he first became a Christian in 1954, “I could not possibly have known that a quarter-century later I would be head-over-heels into a year-long research project on the final fate of the wicked… Part of my assignment for that year-long project was to discover the origin of the doctrine of everlasting conscious torment… I found that origin to be in Greek philosophy and not in Holy Scripture… .no one before or after could have been more ASTOUNDED at the things I found throughout the Bible during the course of my study. I knew instinctively that I had to write a book… I had to share what I had found with my Christian brothers and sisters… The book you are now reading is titled ‘Hell: A Final Word’… The book in your hand… will be my last book on that subject.” (Pg. 14-17)

He notes, “did you notice that no text we have read about hell ever remotely suggests that hell’s punishment is a means of instruction, or that it is intended to rehabilitate or restore?... you will not find a single hint that those who are banished to hell will ever come out again. Nor is there any Scripture that suggests that bad conduct in hell prolongs the punishment which already is said to be eternal.” (Pg. 24)

He asserts, “Scripture nowhere suggests that God is an eternal tormented. It never says the damned will writhe in ceaseless pains, or that the glories of heaven will forever be blighted by the screams of hell. The Bible does not teach the traditional doctrine of everlasting conscious torment. Don’t blame God for something he never really said… Does the Bible REALLY TEACH that God finally will keep people alive forever in hell just to suffer torment that never ends? Does Scripture REQUIRE us to believe that will be the destiny of MOST men and women whom God loved and sent his Son to redeem? If that is not what Scripture teaches, is it not a SLANDER against the heavenly FATHER almost too heinous to describe?” (Pg. 34)

He states, “Those who go to hell respond to God’s grace in a way directly opposite the way believers respond, and the opposite of belief is not unbelief but disbelief… They intentionally REFUSE to believe. They decide NOT to believe. And they live by the spirit of disbelief all of their life on earth. In the end, God gives them what they had always wanted---never to see, to hear, or to be reminded of God again.” (Pg. 42)

He admits that “For several years as a teenager, I studied religious/spiritual correspondence courses from … the order of the Rose (Rosicrucians), the Knights of Columbus (Roman Catholic), Back to the Bible (evangelical mainstream), Worldwide Church of God (Herbert W. Armstrong), the Voice of Prophecy (Seventh-Day Adventist), and Churches of Christ (our own fellowship)… In due course the Voice of Prophecy materials came to the subject of final punishment… The choice is simple and straightforward… It is LIFE or DEATH; LIFE or PERISH. What could possibly be easier to understand? Yet I did not then understand… Perhaps … I was unwilling to … be associated in anyone’s mind with the Seventh-Day Adventists who produced the Voice of Prophecy course? In theory, that should be totally irrelevant… The only question that counts… should be, ‘What does the Bible say?’ This has nothing to do with Roman Catholics or Seventh-Day Adventism or Herbert W. Armstrong.” (Pg. 54-55)

He became a Church of Christ minister, but was dismissed after four years: “some church members had concluded from my sermons that I thought people in other denominations might also go to heaven… [Also] I had recently invited a Black brother preacher to lead prayer when he visited our revival, which infuriated an influential man in our congregation. When I learned that he was stirring up trouble over the matter, I confronted him publicly and rebuked his attitude… Now that I had no preaching responsibilities, [he and a group of friends] decided to begin meeting as a nondenominational church… For six years, I was the little church’s unofficial and unpaid pastor… I was in a place of absolute liberty under the Word…” (Pg. 61)

After quoting Matthew 10:28 [“fear Him who is able to destroy both body and soul in hell”], he comments, “It seems straightforward enough doesn’t it?... we need not fear man, Jesus explains, for his reach is limited by comparison with God’s. Men can only kill the body but they cannot kill the soul. God, on the other hand, is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. And in case someone is tempted to give ‘destroy’ some novel meaning in that sentence, Jesus makes it plain that he is using ‘destroy’ here to mean what ‘kill’ means in the earlier part of the sentence. And ‘kill’ means the same thing here when used of body or of soul… ‘Destroy’ clearly is intended to include all that the previous clause meant to include in ‘kill.’ While it might mean more than ‘kill’… it certainly means no less!” (Pg. 89)

Noting that “the unending-torment defenders” argue that “Jesus did not mean that God will really ‘destroy’ the soul… He does not mean that rejecters really ‘perish’… If THAT is what Jesus is thinking, he needs only to say that believers ‘will not live forever in torment but have eternal life.’” (Pg. 91) He cites eleven NT passages using terms such as ‘destroy,’ ‘perish,’ etc., and concludes, “It’s quite obvious that the authors of these eleven sentences expect us to read these verbs of destruction with their basic, face-value meaning, isn’t it? Why should we not understand ‘perish’ and ‘destroy’ equally literally in John 3:16 and Matthew 10:28?” (Pg. 93-94)

He says, “In 2 Thessalonians 1, Paul tells what eternal punishment will involve… [Jesus] will PUNISH the wicked with ETERNAL DESTRUCTION (v. 9). Eternal punishment consists of eternal destruction. Once punished---in this case, once destroyed---the result is everlasting. The wicked will never be seen again. This is eternal capital punishment… The second death.” (Pg. 105) He adds, “the punishment of the wicked… [includes] also the LOSS of every good blessing, every godly companion, and of every moment that might otherwise have been enjoyed…” (Pg. 106)

He argues about the rich man and Lazarus story in Luke 16:19-31, “Some object that this story cannot be a parable because it begins with the words ‘there was a certain rich man’ and ‘there was a certain beggar.’ In fact, it is just as likely that the quoted words mark the story AS a parable. Two chapters later, Lue introduces another story with the words: ‘Now he told them a parable’… Jesus then continues with the same kind of specific identification he uses in our story: ‘In a certain city there was a judge… and there was a widow in that city.’ (Lk 18:1-3)” (Pg. 113)

He also points out, “In fact, the ‘hell’ in this story… is not the hell of final punishment at all. It is simply HADES, SHEOL, gravedom, the unseen realm of the dead. If the parable proved anything about post-mortem circumstances, it would still say nothing about final punishment in hell or GEHENNA.” (Pg. 115)

He says of Revelation 19:11-21, “This is the only text in the whole Bible that speaks of anything being tormented forever. The statement applies to the devil, Beast, and False Prophet, neither of which is a human being. Scripture nowhere says that any human being will be tormented forever. Jesus does say the wicked will suffer eternal punishment’ (Matt 25:46), which Paul explains to be ‘eternal destruction.’” (2 Thess 1:9) (Pg. 140)

He explains, “John twice mentions human beings being thrown into the Lake of Fire. Both times, he adds the explanatory words: ‘which is the second death.’ John begins by naming the symbol to be defined---‘the Lake of Fire.’ He then defines that symbol by equating it with a different reality easy to be understood---‘the second death’… The Lake of Fire IS the second death. The first death is the death we experience now in the present age. It is temporary---the redeemed will be raised from it to immortality and resurrection glory. The second death is … the death that is the wages of sin. It is the destruction and perishing promised to the unfaithful. It is the death from which there is no resurrection or return. It is the death of the whole person forever. The second death is the reality, easily understood. It is REPRESENTED by the more difficult symbol---the Lake of Fire… Because John defined the Lake of Fire as the second death, we are not free … to explain the second death as the Lake of Fire, which would be moving from the simpler to the more difficult.” (Pg. 143-144)

He summarizes, “Is one supposed to conclude that dozens, even scores and more of simple, declaratory statements throughout all of Scripture must finally be ignored because of fewer than five symbolic statements in Revelation? It makes far better sense to read these few apocalyptic statements written in symbolic language in light of the clear, repeated, consistent teaching from throughout all the rest of Scripture.” (Pg. 145)

He concludes, “For the moment, I remove the mantle of theology and assume the cloak of a lawyer, my other chosen profession… Now that you have read this book, it is time to ask which view of hell is supported by the greater weight and preponderance of the evidence… Which explanation makes the most sense? Does one seem more like God? Is it the view of hell as a place of unending conscious torment? Is it hell as a fire that purifies and reforms? Is it the understanding of hell as the fire that consumes? God has revealed what we need to know. Not necessarily enough to satisfy our curiosity or to answer all our questions.” (Pg. 173)

Fudge has of course updated his original 500-page book; this much briefer, more “personal,” but also more clearly written will interest not just those looking for a “simplified” presentation of his ideas and interpretations, but for those wanting a simpler and more direct explanation of a number of his interpretations.


Hell A Final Word: The Surprising Truths I Found in the Bible by Edward William Fudge (Jun 12 2012)
Hell A Final Word: The Surprising Truths I Found in the Bible by Edward William Fudge (Jun 12 2012)
by Edward William Fudge
Edition: Paperback
19 used & new from $21.72

5.0 out of 5 stars FUDGE’S “LAST BOOK” ON THE SUBJECT OF HELL, August 19, 2016
Edward William Fudge (born 1944) is a theologian and lawyer (and former Church of Christ minister), who has written/contributed to The Fire That Consumes: A Biblical and Historical Study of the Doctrine of Final Punishment, Two Views of Hell: A Biblical & Theological Dialogue, and The Divine Rescue: The Gripping Drama of a Lost World and of the Creator Who Will Not Let It Go. Fudge is also the subject of the 2012 independent film Hell & Mr. Fudge.

He explains in this 2012 book that when he first became a Christian in 1954, “I could not possibly have known that a quarter-century later I would be head-over-heels into a year-long research project on the final fate of the wicked… Part of my assignment for that year-long project was to discover the origin of the doctrine of everlasting conscious torment… I found that origin to be in Greek philosophy and not in Holy Scripture… .no one before or after could have been more ASTOUNDED at the things I found throughout the Bible during the course of my study. I knew instinctively that I had to write a book… I had to share what I had found with my Christian brothers and sisters… The book you are now reading is titled ‘Hell: A Final Word’… The book in your hand… will be my last book on that subject.” (Pg. 14-17)

He notes, “did you notice that no text we have read about hell ever remotely suggests that hell’s punishment is a means of instruction, or that it is intended to rehabilitate or restore?... you will not find a single hint that those who are banished to hell will ever come out again. Nor is there any Scripture that suggests that bad conduct in hell prolongs the punishment which already is said to be eternal.” (Pg. 24)

He asserts, “Scripture nowhere suggests that God is an eternal tormented. It never says the damned will writhe in ceaseless pains, or that the glories of heaven will forever be blighted by the screams of hell. The Bible does not teach the traditional doctrine of everlasting conscious torment. Don’t blame God for something he never really said… Does the Bible REALLY TEACH that God finally will keep people alive forever in hell just to suffer torment that never ends? Does Scripture REQUIRE us to believe that will be the destiny of MOST men and women whom God loved and sent his Son to redeem? If that is not what Scripture teaches, is it not a SLANDER against the heavenly FATHER almost too heinous to describe?” (Pg. 34)

He states, “Those who go to hell respond to God’s grace in a way directly opposite the way believers respond, and the opposite of belief is not unbelief but disbelief… They intentionally REFUSE to believe. They decide NOT to believe. And they live by the spirit of disbelief all of their life on earth. In the end, God gives them what they had always wanted---never to see, to hear, or to be reminded of God again.” (Pg. 42)

He admits that “For several years as a teenager, I studied religious/spiritual correspondence courses from … the order of the Rose (Rosicrucians), the Knights of Columbus (Roman Catholic), Back to the Bible (evangelical mainstream), Worldwide Church of God (Herbert W. Armstrong), the Voice of Prophecy (Seventh-Day Adventist), and Churches of Christ (our own fellowship)… In due course the Voice of Prophecy materials came to the subject of final punishment… The choice is simple and straightforward… It is LIFE or DEATH; LIFE or PERISH. What could possibly be easier to understand? Yet I did not then understand… Perhaps … I was unwilling to … be associated in anyone’s mind with the Seventh-Day Adventists who produced the Voice of Prophecy course? In theory, that should be totally irrelevant… The only question that counts… should be, ‘What does the Bible say?’ This has nothing to do with Roman Catholics or Seventh-Day Adventism or Herbert W. Armstrong.” (Pg. 54-55)

He became a Church of Christ minister, but was dismissed after four years: “some church members had concluded from my sermons that I thought people in other denominations might also go to heaven… [Also] I had recently invited a Black brother preacher to lead prayer when he visited our revival, which infuriated an influential man in our congregation. When I learned that he was stirring up trouble over the matter, I confronted him publicly and rebuked his attitude… Now that I had no preaching responsibilities, [he and a group of friends] decided to begin meeting as a nondenominational church… For six years, I was the little church’s unofficial and unpaid pastor… I was in a place of absolute liberty under the Word…” (Pg. 61)

After quoting Matthew 10:28 [“fear Him who is able to destroy both body and soul in hell”], he comments, “It seems straightforward enough doesn’t it?... we need not fear man, Jesus explains, for his reach is limited by comparison with God’s. Men can only kill the body but they cannot kill the soul. God, on the other hand, is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. And in case someone is tempted to give ‘destroy’ some novel meaning in that sentence, Jesus makes it plain that he is using ‘destroy’ here to mean what ‘kill’ means in the earlier part of the sentence. And ‘kill’ means the same thing here when used of body or of soul… ‘Destroy’ clearly is intended to include all that the previous clause meant to include in ‘kill.’ While it might mean more than ‘kill’… it certainly means no less!” (Pg. 89)

Noting that “the unending-torment defenders” argue that “Jesus did not mean that God will really ‘destroy’ the soul… He does not mean that rejecters really ‘perish’… If THAT is what Jesus is thinking, he needs only to say that believers ‘will not live forever in torment but have eternal life.’” (Pg. 91) He cites eleven NT passages using terms such as ‘destroy,’ ‘perish,’ etc., and concludes, “It’s quite obvious that the authors of these eleven sentences expect us to read these verbs of destruction with their basic, face-value meaning, isn’t it? Why should we not understand ‘perish’ and ‘destroy’ equally literally in John 3:16 and Matthew 10:28?” (Pg. 93-94)

He says, “In 2 Thessalonians 1, Paul tells what eternal punishment will involve… [Jesus] will PUNISH the wicked with ETERNAL DESTRUCTION (v. 9). Eternal punishment consists of eternal destruction. Once punished---in this case, once destroyed---the result is everlasting. The wicked will never be seen again. This is eternal capital punishment… The second death.” (Pg. 105) He adds, “the punishment of the wicked… [includes] also the LOSS of every good blessing, every godly companion, and of every moment that might otherwise have been enjoyed…” (Pg. 106)

He argues about the rich man and Lazarus story in Luke 16:19-31, “Some object that this story cannot be a parable because it begins with the words ‘there was a certain rich man’ and ‘there was a certain beggar.’ In fact, it is just as likely that the quoted words mark the story AS a parable. Two chapters later, Lue introduces another story with the words: ‘Now he told them a parable’… Jesus then continues with the same kind of specific identification he uses in our story: ‘In a certain city there was a judge… and there was a widow in that city.’ (Lk 18:1-3)” (Pg. 113)

He also points out, “In fact, the ‘hell’ in this story… is not the hell of final punishment at all. It is simply HADES, SHEOL, gravedom, the unseen realm of the dead. If the parable proved anything about post-mortem circumstances, it would still say nothing about final punishment in hell or GEHENNA.” (Pg. 115)

He says of Revelation 19:11-21, “This is the only text in the whole Bible that speaks of anything being tormented forever. The statement applies to the devil, Beast, and False Prophet, neither of which is a human being. Scripture nowhere says that any human being will be tormented forever. Jesus does say the wicked will suffer eternal punishment’ (Matt 25:46), which Paul explains to be ‘eternal destruction.’” (2 Thess 1:9) (Pg. 140)

He explains, “John twice mentions human beings being thrown into the Lake of Fire. Both times, he adds the explanatory words: ‘which is the second death.’ John begins by naming the symbol to be defined---‘the Lake of Fire.’ He then defines that symbol by equating it with a different reality easy to be understood---‘the second death’… The Lake of Fire IS the second death. The first death is the death we experience now in the present age. It is temporary---the redeemed will be raised from it to immortality and resurrection glory. The second death is … the death that is the wages of sin. It is the destruction and perishing promised to the unfaithful. It is the death from which there is no resurrection or return. It is the death of the whole person forever. The second death is the reality, easily understood. It is REPRESENTED by the more difficult symbol---the Lake of Fire… Because John defined the Lake of Fire as the second death, we are not free … to explain the second death as the Lake of Fire, which would be moving from the simpler to the more difficult.” (Pg. 143-144)

He summarizes, “Is one supposed to conclude that dozens, even scores and more of simple, declaratory statements throughout all of Scripture must finally be ignored because of fewer than five symbolic statements in Revelation? It makes far better sense to read these few apocalyptic statements written in symbolic language in light of the clear, repeated, consistent teaching from throughout all the rest of Scripture.” (Pg. 145)

He concludes, “For the moment, I remove the mantle of theology and assume the cloak of a lawyer, my other chosen profession… Now that you have read this book, it is time to ask which view of hell is supported by the greater weight and preponderance of the evidence… Which explanation makes the most sense? Does one seem more like God? Is it the view of hell as a place of unending conscious torment? Is it hell as a fire that purifies and reforms? Is it the understanding of hell as the fire that consumes? God has revealed what we need to know. Not necessarily enough to satisfy our curiosity or to answer all our questions.” (Pg. 173)

Fudge has of course updated his original 500-page book; this much briefer, more “personal,” but also more clearly written will interest not just those looking for a “simplified” presentation of his ideas and interpretations, but for those wanting a simpler and more direct explanation of a number of his interpretations.


Edward William Fudge, Hell a Final Word
Edward William Fudge, Hell a Final Word
by Edward William Fudge
Edition: Paperback
16 used & new from $7.78

5.0 out of 5 stars FUDGE’S “LAST BOOK” ON THE SUBJECT OF HELL, August 19, 2016
Edward William Fudge (born 1944) is a theologian and lawyer (and former Church of Christ minister), who has written/contributed to The Fire That Consumes: A Biblical and Historical Study of the Doctrine of Final Punishment, Two Views of Hell: A Biblical & Theological Dialogue, and The Divine Rescue: The Gripping Drama of a Lost World and of the Creator Who Will Not Let It Go. Fudge is also the subject of the 2012 independent film Hell & Mr. Fudge.

He explains in this 2012 book that when he first became a Christian in 1954, “I could not possibly have known that a quarter-century later I would be head-over-heels into a year-long research project on the final fate of the wicked… Part of my assignment for that year-long project was to discover the origin of the doctrine of everlasting conscious torment… I found that origin to be in Greek philosophy and not in Holy Scripture… .no one before or after could have been more ASTOUNDED at the things I found throughout the Bible during the course of my study. I knew instinctively that I had to write a book… I had to share what I had found with my Christian brothers and sisters… The book you are now reading is titled ‘Hell: A Final Word’… The book in your hand… will be my last book on that subject.” (Pg. 14-17)

He notes, “did you notice that no text we have read about hell ever remotely suggests that hell’s punishment is a means of instruction, or that it is intended to rehabilitate or restore?... you will not find a single hint that those who are banished to hell will ever come out again. Nor is there any Scripture that suggests that bad conduct in hell prolongs the punishment which already is said to be eternal.” (Pg. 24)

He asserts, “Scripture nowhere suggests that God is an eternal tormented. It never says the damned will writhe in ceaseless pains, or that the glories of heaven will forever be blighted by the screams of hell. The Bible does not teach the traditional doctrine of everlasting conscious torment. Don’t blame God for something he never really said… Does the Bible REALLY TEACH that God finally will keep people alive forever in hell just to suffer torment that never ends? Does Scripture REQUIRE us to believe that will be the destiny of MOST men and women whom God loved and sent his Son to redeem? If that is not what Scripture teaches, is it not a SLANDER against the heavenly FATHER almost too heinous to describe?” (Pg. 34)

He states, “Those who go to hell respond to God’s grace in a way directly opposite the way believers respond, and the opposite of belief is not unbelief but disbelief… They intentionally REFUSE to believe. They decide NOT to believe. And they live by the spirit of disbelief all of their life on earth. In the end, God gives them what they had always wanted---never to see, to hear, or to be reminded of God again.” (Pg. 42)

He admits that “For several years as a teenager, I studied religious/spiritual correspondence courses from … the order of the Rose (Rosicrucians), the Knights of Columbus (Roman Catholic), Back to the Bible (evangelical mainstream), Worldwide Church of God (Herbert W. Armstrong), the Voice of Prophecy (Seventh-Day Adventist), and Churches of Christ (our own fellowship)… In due course the Voice of Prophecy materials came to the subject of final punishment… The choice is simple and straightforward… It is LIFE or DEATH; LIFE or PERISH. What could possibly be easier to understand? Yet I did not then understand… Perhaps … I was unwilling to … be associated in anyone’s mind with the Seventh-Day Adventists who produced the Voice of Prophecy course? In theory, that should be totally irrelevant… The only question that counts… should be, ‘What does the Bible say?’ This has nothing to do with Roman Catholics or Seventh-Day Adventism or Herbert W. Armstrong.” (Pg. 54-55)

He became a Church of Christ minister, but was dismissed after four years: “some church members had concluded from my sermons that I thought people in other denominations might also go to heaven… [Also] I had recently invited a Black brother preacher to lead prayer when he visited our revival, which infuriated an influential man in our congregation. When I learned that he was stirring up trouble over the matter, I confronted him publicly and rebuked his attitude… Now that I had no preaching responsibilities, [he and a group of friends] decided to begin meeting as a nondenominational church… For six years, I was the little church’s unofficial and unpaid pastor… I was in a place of absolute liberty under the Word…” (Pg. 61)

After quoting Matthew 10:28 [“fear Him who is able to destroy both body and soul in hell”], he comments, “It seems straightforward enough doesn’t it?... we need not fear man, Jesus explains, for his reach is limited by comparison with God’s. Men can only kill the body but they cannot kill the soul. God, on the other hand, is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. And in case someone is tempted to give ‘destroy’ some novel meaning in that sentence, Jesus makes it plain that he is using ‘destroy’ here to mean what ‘kill’ means in the earlier part of the sentence. And ‘kill’ means the same thing here when used of body or of soul… ‘Destroy’ clearly is intended to include all that the previous clause meant to include in ‘kill.’ While it might mean more than ‘kill’… it certainly means no less!” (Pg. 89)

Noting that “the unending-torment defenders” argue that “Jesus did not mean that God will really ‘destroy’ the soul… He does not mean that rejecters really ‘perish’… If THAT is what Jesus is thinking, he needs only to say that believers ‘will not live forever in torment but have eternal life.’” (Pg. 91) He cites eleven NT passages using terms such as ‘destroy,’ ‘perish,’ etc., and concludes, “It’s quite obvious that the authors of these eleven sentences expect us to read these verbs of destruction with their basic, face-value meaning, isn’t it? Why should we not understand ‘perish’ and ‘destroy’ equally literally in John 3:16 and Matthew 10:28?” (Pg. 93-94)

He says, “In 2 Thessalonians 1, Paul tells what eternal punishment will involve… [Jesus] will PUNISH the wicked with ETERNAL DESTRUCTION (v. 9). Eternal punishment consists of eternal destruction. Once punished---in this case, once destroyed---the result is everlasting. The wicked will never be seen again. This is eternal capital punishment… The second death.” (Pg. 105) He adds, “the punishment of the wicked… [includes] also the LOSS of every good blessing, every godly companion, and of every moment that might otherwise have been enjoyed…” (Pg. 106)

He argues about the rich man and Lazarus story in Luke 16:19-31, “Some object that this story cannot be a parable because it begins with the words ‘there was a certain rich man’ and ‘there was a certain beggar.’ In fact, it is just as likely that the quoted words mark the story AS a parable. Two chapters later, Lue introduces another story with the words: ‘Now he told them a parable’… Jesus then continues with the same kind of specific identification he uses in our story: ‘In a certain city there was a judge… and there was a widow in that city.’ (Lk 18:1-3)” (Pg. 113)

He also points out, “In fact, the ‘hell’ in this story… is not the hell of final punishment at all. It is simply HADES, SHEOL, gravedom, the unseen realm of the dead. If the parable proved anything about post-mortem circumstances, it would still say nothing about final punishment in hell or GEHENNA.” (Pg. 115)

He says of Revelation 19:11-21, “This is the only text in the whole Bible that speaks of anything being tormented forever. The statement applies to the devil, Beast, and False Prophet, neither of which is a human being. Scripture nowhere says that any human being will be tormented forever. Jesus does say the wicked will suffer eternal punishment’ (Matt 25:46), which Paul explains to be ‘eternal destruction.’” (2 Thess 1:9) (Pg. 140)

He explains, “John twice mentions human beings being thrown into the Lake of Fire. Both times, he adds the explanatory words: ‘which is the second death.’ John begins by naming the symbol to be defined---‘the Lake of Fire.’ He then defines that symbol by equating it with a different reality easy to be understood---‘the second death’… The Lake of Fire IS the second death. The first death is the death we experience now in the present age. It is temporary---the redeemed will be raised from it to immortality and resurrection glory. The second death is … the death that is the wages of sin. It is the destruction and perishing promised to the unfaithful. It is the death from which there is no resurrection or return. It is the death of the whole person forever. The second death is the reality, easily understood. It is REPRESENTED by the more difficult symbol---the Lake of Fire… Because John defined the Lake of Fire as the second death, we are not free … to explain the second death as the Lake of Fire, which would be moving from the simpler to the more difficult.” (Pg. 143-144)

He summarizes, “Is one supposed to conclude that dozens, even scores and more of simple, declaratory statements throughout all of Scripture must finally be ignored because of fewer than five symbolic statements in Revelation? It makes far better sense to read these few apocalyptic statements written in symbolic language in light of the clear, repeated, consistent teaching from throughout all the rest of Scripture.” (Pg. 145)

He concludes, “For the moment, I remove the mantle of theology and assume the cloak of a lawyer, my other chosen profession… Now that you have read this book, it is time to ask which view of hell is supported by the greater weight and preponderance of the evidence… Which explanation makes the most sense? Does one seem more like God? Is it the view of hell as a place of unending conscious torment? Is it hell as a fire that purifies and reforms? Is it the understanding of hell as the fire that consumes? God has revealed what we need to know. Not necessarily enough to satisfy our curiosity or to answer all our questions.” (Pg. 173)

Fudge has of course updated his original 500-page book; this much briefer, more “personal,” but also more clearly written will interest not just those looking for a “simplified” presentation of his ideas and interpretations, but for those wanting a simpler and more direct explanation of a number of his interpretations.


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