Saturday, October 1, 2016

Does the Doctrine of Hell Conflict With Penal Substitutionary Atonement?

by Hiram R. Diaz III

Does ECT Conflict With Penal Substitutionary Atonement?
        
Contemporary annihilationists have taken to arguing that the doctrine of Eternal Conscious Torment (i.e. the orthodox teaching on the nature of eschatological punishment) conflicts with the doctrine of penal substitutionary atonement. For if the punishment of the wicked consists in the infliction of torment, i.e. ongoing bodily and spiritual pain, then this implies that it would not be Christ’s death that serves as the atoning sacrifice for sinners but, rather, his suffering on the cross. They contend further that this obviously contradicts the clear teaching of Scripture that it is the death of Christ, the bodily death, of Christ that serves as the atoning sacrifice for sinners.
Placing their focus on the word death, annihilationists fail to take into consideration that it is not death in abstracto that is in view in the passages they quote. Had Christ died from a stoning, his death would not be the atoning sacrifice for sinners. Had he died from being trampled by the masses of people who sought to make him king, his death would not be the atoning sacrifice for sinners. This would not be the case if it was merely the bodily death of Christ, i.e. the separation of body and soul.[1] It cannot be the case, then, that Christ’s atoning sacrifice consisted only in his bodily death.
The Genesis of Death
Annihilationists will often underscore that the wages of sin is death, then point to several passages which specifically identify bodily death as the wages of sin. Problematically, this fails to account for the actual sentencing of death after the transgression of Adam and Eve, and the serpent. In Gen 2:16-17, God informs Adam that eating from the tree in the midst of the garden, the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, will result in Adam’s death. Traditionalists, for the most part, interpret the assertion “In the day that you eat of it, you will surely die” to mean that Adam spiritually died upon eating the forbidden fruit. Annihilationists largely interpret the assertion to mean that Adam’s eventual death would be made certain at the very moment he ate of the forbidden fruit.
Yet given the text of Gen 3, the annihilationist’s reading cannot be sustained. For if it is merely bodily death that is the punishment for sin, then nothing else is in view in Gen 3. This, however, is precisely what Gen 3:14-19 contradicts. The Lord first questions Adam and Eve, then he metes out judgment to the three parties involved. The serpent will be cast to the ground, forced to eat dust, and eventually be crushed under the foot of the Messiah. The woman’s pain in childbirth will be multiplied, and though she desires to rule over her husband she will be ruled/domineered over by her husband. Lastly, the ground is cursed for Adam’s sake, bearing thorns and thistles instead of useful vegetation. His life will be a largely unfruitful, toilsome, and burdensome life right up until the point his body ceases to function and returns to dust. If the punishment for sin is merely the bodily death annihilationists have in mind, then this is all that God meant when he warned Adam in Gen 2:16-17, and the other punishments listed Gen 3:14-19 are an addition to the original promised punishment for sin.
If God is adding punishments to mere bodily death in Gen 3:14-19, this would render his words in 2:16-17 false. Consequently, the death promised to sinners in Gen 2:16-17 has to be broader than the mere bodily death annihilationists have in mind. God did not add punishments to the promised punishment of death. Death is not merely bodily death, therefore, but the entirety of fallen man’s life, including his experience of death. This implies that death is a punishment and curse that man bears and experiences for the entirety of his life apart from the redemption purchased for the elect by the Son of God.
Enoch and Elijah, the Other Sinless Men in Scripture?
Even more problematically, if bodily death is meant in Gen 2-3 and Rom 6:23, then this implies that Enoch and Elijah, neither of which underwent bodily death, were free from the taint of original sin and never committed actual sin. Gen 5:23-24 reads:
Thus all the days of Enoch were 365 years. Enoch walked with God, and he was not, for God took him.
And 2nd Kings 2:11-12 reads:
And as they still went on and talked, behold, chariots of fire and horses of fire separated the two of them. And Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven. And Elisha saw it and he cried, “My father, my father! The chariots of Israel and its horsemen!” And he saw him no more. [...]
The belief that it is bodily death alone which is promised to transgressors  results in the heretical conclusion that there were men other than (prelapsarian) Adam and Christ Jesus who began their lives free from any taint of original sin. It also leads to the heretical conclusion that there are men, other than the sinless Lamb of God, who lived their lives without committing actual sin.
Either bodily death alone is the promised punishment for sin in Gen 2-3 & Rom 6:23, Enoch and Elijah were born sinless and lived sinless lives, and the Scriptures are in error when they declare that all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God - or the death promised to sinners in Gen 2-3 and Rom 6:23 is much broader in its scope, including, but not being limited to, bodily death.
That death is much broader in its scope than what annihilationists have in mind has been demonstrated above. As we look at the atoning sacrifice of Christ for sinners, as articulated in Isaiah 53, this truth is further elaborated upon, even more clearly demonstrating that the atoning sacrifice of Christ is his death, and that death is to be understood in a much broader sense than merely bodily death.
Isaiah 53
One of the clearest prophetic texts regarding the work of Jesus Christ is Isaiah 53. There, in great detail, the Holy Spirit explains that all of what Christ experienced prior to, during, and up to the end of his suffering on the cross was for our redemption. Multiple phrases drive this point home:
…he was pierced for our transgressions,
he was crushed for our iniquities[2]
…he was oppressed, and he was afflicted
[...]by oppression and judgment he was taken away
[...]he was cut off out of the land of the living and stricken
for the transgression of my people[3]
Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him;
he has put him to grief...[4]
The Holy Spirit clearly identifies Christ’s pouring out of his soul unto death[5] as part and parcel of the penal substitutionary work of the Messiah. Likewise, God reveals that part of Christ’s suffering unto death for his people consisted in his being “despised and rejected” as “a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief…one from whom men hide their faces.”[6] The penal substitutionary atonement of Christ is said to consist of these experiences that the Lord God had prior toduring, and up to the point he gave up the ghost.[7] Christ’s death for sinners is the totality of his bearing our transgressions, finalizing in the separation of his body and soul.
The Curse that Christ Bore/The Death Sinners Deserve
Returning to Gen 3, we see that the suffering promised to Adam for his sin, as well as the suffering promised to Eve for her sin, is not an extra punishment added to the merely bodily death that man would experience. These punishments are the death promised to sinners, the last of these being the point at which the soul and body are separated, the finalization of man’s death-life-experience, if you will. This is why the Messiah’s atoning work is contained in his being a man of sorrows acquainted with grief, and experiencing being the object of God’s furious wrath.
The annihilationist is correct in asserting that Christ’s death accomplished the atonement for his people’s sins. However, the annihilationist wrongly believes that the suffering of Christ was not also the death he experienced in the place of his people. As the Holy Spirit reveals in Gal 3:13:
Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree”
What does this accursedness consist of? We have already mentioned it in brief above, viz. the living-death-experience of all fallen men. Sickness, sorrow, pain, suffering, hunger pangs, futile toiling, interpersonal conflicts, and the antagonistic disposition toward humans of all animals and other aspects of the non-human creation. This is reiterated, in a covenantal context, in God’s promised curses toward all Israelite covenant breakers.
In Deuteronomy 28:15-68, the Lord enumerates a list of curses facing those who break his law. To be sure, the death of the body[8] is included in this list, but there is more. The curses include futile toiling,[9] human reproductive fruitlessness,[10] animal reproductive fruitlessness,[11] agricultural fruitlessness,[12]confusion and frustration in all that the Israelites sought to perform,[13] pestilence,[14] disease and fever and inflammation and fiery heat and drought and blight and mildew.[15] Additionally, the skies will also not yield rain needed for the production of crops.[16] God also declares that their accursedness will in part consist of their being defeated by their enemies and made an object of shame and scorn,[17] being afflicted with unhealable boils and tumors and scabs and itch.[18] What is more, they will be struck with madness and blindness and confusion of mind,[19] and they will be continually robbed and oppressed with no one to deliver them.[20] The Lord further adds that their wives will be raped,[21] their houses will be taken from them[22] - and the list goes on.
The death of the body is not the only punishment for their sin, in other words, but merely one part of the whole judgment on them. Christ, becoming a curse for his people’s redemption, therefore, did not merely consist in the death of the body on Calvary. Rather, it also consisted in his bearing the totality of the judgment of God upon sinners, the curses which we deserve have fallen upon him. As it is written:
…the reproaches of those who reproach you have fallen on me.[23]
The curse that Christ bore, his work of substitution is partly comprised of the sufferings he experienced and not merely the death of the body. The death of the body, rather, is where the work of redemption reaches its climax, its pinnacle. Thus, Jesus declares “It is finished” just prior to giving up his spirit into the hands of God the Father.[24]
Some Concluding Remarks
The doctrine of penal substitutionary atonement states that Christ suffered in full the wrath of God due to elect sinners. The suffering Christ experienced was itself death as promised to Adam and Eve, all of their posterity, and re-articulated in the curses promised to Israel if she broke covenant with Yahweh. It was completed in the death of the body, when the Son of God gave his spirit into the hands of God the Father, and his body was laid in the tomb.
This in no way conflicts with the doctrine of Eternal Conscious Torment, for the doctrine of penal substitutionary atonement summarizes the entirety of Christ’s passion and substitutionary work in the phrase “Christ died for sinners.” The reality of the situation is that Christ’s suffering, according to the Scriptures, is part of the work of substitution. It is the death of Christ for sinners. It is the place where the Son of God is made the object of God’s wrath, cut off from God’s beneficence, overcome with the sorrow and pain of being crushed by the Father. And it is finalized in the separation of Christ’s soul and body.
It is only by artificially limiting the meaning of death to the death of the body, i.e. the separation of body and soul, that the annihilationist can claim that the doctrines of penal substitutionary atonement and ECT conflict with each other. In fact, the situation is actually reversed, for the initial judgment of death in Gen 2-3 is not merely the death of the body but a complex of curses that terminate in the separation of body and soul. Moreover, Isa 53 tells us very clearly that Christ’s suffering, even his being led away to the slaughter like a lamb was part and parcel of the substitutionary work he completed on the cross for his people.
If this fact is ignored or, what is worse yet, denied, the Scripture is rendered incoherent and self-contradictory. Ergo, if annihilationists are correct in asserting that Christ’s suffering itself is not part and parcel of the substitutionary death he underwent for his people, then they imply that the Scriptures are not the Word of God. There are other implications that we will look at another time, but time and space require us to end on this note.
Soli Deo Gloria.
-h.

[1] cf. James 2:26.
[2] Isa 53:5.
[3] Isa 53:7-9.
[4] Isa 53:10.
[5] Isa 53:12.
[6] Isa 53:3.
[7] cf. John 19:30.
[8] I am following the language of James 2:26 here.
[9] Deut 28:17.
[10] Deut 28:18.
[11] ibid.
[12] ibid.
[13] Deut 28:20.
[14] Deut 28:21.
[15] Deut 28:22.
[16] Deut 28:23-24.
[17] Deut 28:25-26.
[18] Deut 28:27.
[19] Deut 28:28.
[20] Deut 28:29.
[21] Deut 28:30.
[22] ibid.
[23] Ps 69:9; cf. Rom 15:3.
[24] John 19:30.

21 comments:

  1. // Ergo, if annihilationists are correct in asserting that Christ’s suffering itself is not part and parcel of the substitutionary death he underwent for his people, then they imply that the Scriptures are not the Word of God. //

    But that is exactly what we DO say. In fact we INSIST that Christ's sufferings are "part and parcel" of his atoning substitutionary death—NOT separate from it. For instance, in Four Views on Hell, John Stackhouse states, "hell is the situation in which those who do not avail themselves of the atonement made by Jesus in his suffering and death must make their own atonement by suffering and then death." Most of us would go even further than Stackhouse here, to more explicitly incorporate Christ's sufferings into his death.

    So what gives? Your entire post seems predicated on this caricature.

    You also say, "the mere bodily death annihilationists have in mind"—infused, no less, with your *own* definition of this as "the separation of body and soul."

    "Bodily death" includes a caveat that annihilationists don't wish to emphasize, because the Bible doesn't do so when speaking of "death" as the judicial penalty. The Bible portrays people as dying, not just their bodies. A disembodied soul is not the person whose body had died, but rather a continuing part or aspect of a person who has died. They are still dead (the dead are not the living) until they are brought back to life in resurrection. You're free to cast your own philosophical definition for death, but grounding a definition of death in the mechanics of bifurcation fails to capture how the Bible speaks judicially of death. The body and soul that you seek to separate under a supposed definition of death, Jesus unifies in Matthew 10:28 under the action of destruction, which we know is implicated in the idea of a second death. That makes sense, because final judgment happens to whole resurrected people, not to disembodied souls. Biblical holism knows nothing of "merely the death of the body," and there's nothing "mere" about the murder of the Son of God.

    But in fact your language belies the fact that you consider ordinary death to be trivial in that way, revealing that the annihilationist critique that traditionalism minimizes Christ's death, is true in your case.

    After giving lip service to *our* mantra that “Christ died for sinners,” which you know is the orthodox thing to say, you can't help but to speak inconsistently. You say that Christ's death was "part of the work of substitution," but you immediately add that his suffering "is the death of Christ for sinners." This is doublespeak. Either suffering is death, or it is part of death. The wages of sin is death, a singular concept which can happily incorporate a tormenting process of being put to death. But instead of preserving this penal unity, you say that death is "not the only punishment for their sin."

    Christ's death to you clearly does not have primacy, but serves "merely" somehow to "finalize" and "complete" a series where suffering is the main event. And it is the fact that you have it in a series of punishments that reveals your driving problem of parsimony with eternal torment.

    But despite all the inconsistency, let's take you at your word that you, like us, see suffering as "part and parcel" of the penal substitutionary death of Christ. Let's concede that you don't minimize, trivialize, or otherwise ignore the death of Christ in this scheme.

    What then? At what point in the final punishment of the damned can this death be seen? Where does their suffering (torment) lead into their death? You said that Christ's death was "the separation of body and soul," so when will their body and soul be separated?

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  2. Hello Peter, thank you for commenting. As my time is limited, I won't be able to go back and forth with you on this comment thread. I'll just post some brief responses. In time, I will be touching on the topic of final punishment. So if you want to get more clarification on my stance, please keep an eye for those posts.

    Now regarding your comments, here are my responses.

    1. "So what gives? Your entire post seems predicated on this caricature."

    By calling my representation of your position a "caricature" you are insinuating that I have purposefully misrepresented you. However, I haven't purposefully sought to misrepresent your position. So please don't insinuate that I have sinful intentions when you have no textual warrant for your claim.

    What I wrote does not imply or suggest that my intention was to misrepresent you. You may think I'm mistaken, and that's fine. But present your objections in a way that reflects that. As it stands you appear to be accusing me of purposefully misrepresenting your position, and I said and did nothing to warrant such an accusation.

    2. "You also say, 'the mere bodily death annihilationists have in mind'—infused, no less, with your *own* definition of this as "the separation of body and soul.'"

    I am identifying the annihilationist conception of death. To say that you have a particular view of death in mind is simply say that you have that view in mind. I think you are again attributing intentions to me without having any textual warrant for so doing.

    Be that as it may, however, you go on to state that the definition of "bodily death" is the separation of body and soul. This is false. It isn't my own definition but James' view.

    I footnoted the passage where he uses the language of "bodily death" (he says "the body...is dead...") and identifies it as the separation of body and soul (he says "...the body apart from the spirit...."[ESV], or "the body without the spirit..." [NKJV]).

    I am deriving the idea of "bodily death" from James. I am also deriving the definition of that death from James.

    That there is another kind of death other than bodily death is something that you must affirm too, seeing as you believe the wages of sin is death and the devil and his angels will be consumed entirely (eventually ceasing to exist) at the final judgment. [If I'm wrong about your view concerning the devil and his angels "dying" then I am open to correction.] And the devil and his angels are indeed with physical bodies.

    If the devil and his angels will be consumed by the fire of God's wrath, and they are "spirits" which do not have "flesh and bones" (i.e. material bodies), then does this not imply that there is indeed a distinction to be made between physical death and the death experienced by spirits (viz. the devil and his angels)?

    3. " A disembodied soul is not the person whose body had died, but rather a continuing part or aspect of a person who has died."

    Scripturally, this is false. Peter and Paul both refer to their bodies as distinct from their persons. For instance, Peter says he must "put off this tent" (i.e. put off his body/die physically a la James 2:26). And Paul says he knows of a man who "whether 'in the body'" or not was caught up to heaven and saw things he cannot repeat. (Sorry for the paraphrase, I'm in a rush here :))

    Peter and Paul's statements, as well as James', demonstrate that the "I"/"self"/"person" inhabits the body and can be separated from their body.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. 4. "After giving lip service to *our* mantra that “Christ died for sinners,” which you know is the orthodox thing to say, you can't help but to speak inconsistently. You say that Christ's death was "part of the work of substitution," but you immediately add that his suffering "is the death of Christ for sinners." This is doublespeak. Either suffering is death, or it is part of death. The wages of sin is death, a singular concept which can happily incorporate a tormenting process of being put to death. But instead of preserving this penal unity, you say that death is "not the only punishment for their sin."

      I have to run, so this will be my last response within this overall last response.

      I don't say that the proposition "Christ died for sinners" is your mantra. It is a proposition derived from Scripture. It's the belief of all regenerate persons. All Christians.

      What I stated early on is that the substitutionary work of Christ in its entirety is the death he experienced in the place of his elect. I can say, therefore, that his suffering is both the death and part and parcel of the death he experienced in the place of his elect.

      There is no contradiction here.

      Also, it is not "doublespeak."

      You may have been thrown off by my rushed failure to clearly state "bodily death" when I said his "death" was not the only punishment for their sin.

      That is my mistake. I meant his bodily death. I'll fix that soon. Thank you for calling my attention to that.

      I can assure you, though, that I'm not guilty of "doublespeak."

      You are accusing me of the sin of lying, Peter, and doing so without any evidence of this being the case. You are slandering me and unjustly accusing me of sin.

      And I urge you to repent of so doing.

      I didn't do this to you or your colleagues. Any misrepresentation of your position was an error on my part.

      And any confusing language from me is probably due to my editing this article in a bit of a rush.

      Soli Deo Gloria.
      -h.

      Delete
  3. Peter, I reread my article in order to correct what I thought was an error. But when I looked for the error, I saw that I didn't make that error.

    You state that I

    "say that death is "not the only punishment for their sin."

    But I didn't say that anywhere.

    Here is the actual quote:

    "The death of the body is not the only punishment for their sin, in other words, but merely one part of the whole judgment on them."

    The sentence makes my meaning clear.


    If it was an honest mistake, I understand that mistakes happen.

    But if you misrepresented me on purpose, then I again urge you to repent.

    -h.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Hiram, Peter is trying to address your presentation of a caricature of our position. Your response, rather than to consider whether or not it was a caricature, has been to go into full self-defensive mode as though it mattered more to us whether you're personally guilty than whether you're representing our position well.

    Let me speak for myself: it's more important to me that you represent my position well when refuting me than that you're personally evil and wicked. In fact, it matters so much more that I'm going to go on the record and state, without any need for proof, that I vouch for your honesty and integrity. All I doubt is that you've accurately _understood_ us.

    I just wish you'd address Peter's actual expressed concerns for his position (and mine), rather than defending yourself against accusations he didn't even make.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I'm genuinely curious as to your actual response to Peter's first question. You seemed to read much into the word caricature, but you didn't actually address the question. I won't assume this was intentional, so allow me to rephrase the question, as I'm curious what your response would be. I may be writing a response article to this, so it would be splendid to get a bit deeper on your thoughts. Here goes:

    Your entire argument seems to be based upon the proposition that conditionalists believe that Christ's atonement was comprised of His death and His death *alone*. This is not what we believe. As such, it seems that (regardless of intentions) you have attacked a straw man, not the argument, and given the foundational nature of that particular point, how are we to take the rest of your article as a serious contribution to this ongoing discussion?

    Thanks in advance.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for your input, Peter.

      The idea is not that Christ's atonement only occurred at the moment when he underwent bodily death. I understand that you don't believe that the suffering of Christ is not part of the atonement.

      Christ's death, however, is identified solely as the bodily death of Christ (i.e. the point at which he gave up the ghost). The inclusion of suffering is irrelevant, seeing as the death itself, which is emphasized repeatedly by annihilationists, is not the suffering of Christ but the point at which he committed his spirit into the hands of God the Father.

      Is death the process? Or is death the final product of the dying process?

      If suffering unto death is not death itself, then it is not the punishment for sin. If it is the punishment for sins, then it is the death, and death is not merely bodily death but the process of suffering unto death as well.

      You don't believe that Christ's suffering unto death (i.e. the process leading up bodily death) is itself death (i.e. bodily death), do you?

      Delete
    2. Hiram, your response here is perhaps the most valuable post here; it clearly and concisely states what you think our position is. Here:

      //Christ's death, however, is identified solely as the bodily death of Christ (i.e. the point at which he gave up the ghost).//

      You've stated this claim in many other words: that we believe death is "only" bodily, "merely" physical, "limited" to the death of the body, and so on.

      But none of this is what we believe. You are _completely_ wrong about our beliefs. We believe that death necessarily means the body becomes a corpse, yes; but we do not believe that the body ever becomes a corpse without anything else changing.

      //You don't believe that Christ's suffering unto death (i.e. the process leading up bodily death) is itself death (i.e. bodily death), do you?//

      The death of Christ would be unaccountable except for Him being wounded, crushed, nailed, and exposed. Those wounds are what killed Christ. Take them away, and no death would have followed, and thus no penal substitution could have taken place.

      But just as you proposed a thought experiment, so I propose one in return. Suppose Christ received all the same wounds that killed Him, but then was medically treated (without anesthesia, so that he suffered as much or more). No death followed, but all the same suffering. Could that have been our atonement?

      The answer must be an emphatic NO. A sacrifice for sin is invalid without a death -- which includes, but is not limited to, a "merely" bodily death.

      Your incorrect understanding of our belief is that we separate the death from the process of dying and then deny the process of denying completely. But it is you who have separated the painful process of dying from the death that follows it, and made only the painful suffering, without the death that follows it, be the punishment for sin.

      On this essential mistake your entire post founders.

      Delete
    3. This is my last response, wt.

      When I say "merely" I am not using a pejorative, I am describing the kind of death that is in view according to Scripture (James 2:7). I am writing from my perspective. So "limited to the body" is in reference to the kind of death, according to James 2:7, that is in view in your position. Different words, same concept.

      I didn't imply or explicitly state that you believe the body becomes a corpse without anything else changing. I simply identified the death of the body as the death of the body.

      Part of the misunderstanding you are having may be due to a problem that I addressed in the comment you quoted. The problem is that death can be interpreted as a process or as the point at which a person breathes his last breath/gives up the ghost. Annihilationists who claim that ECT conflicts with PSA do so on the basis of claiming that it is the "death" of Christ which atones for sins. They claim this after criticizing those in my camp as misidentifying the "suffering" of Christ on the cross as that which atones for sins.

      The disjunction I invoke in my article is not my own; it's taken directly from annihlationists.

      But do the logical parsing for yourself: If the suffering of Christ does not atone for sins, but only his "death" then this implies there is a distinction to be drawn between his suffering (i.e. the process of dying) and his death (i.e. the point at which he gave up the ghost).

      Delete

    4. Now you say:

      "The death of Christ would be unaccountable except for Him being wounded, crushed, nailed, and exposed. Those wounds are what killed Christ. Take them away, and no death would have followed, and thus no penal substitution could have taken place."

      But this is not true. Christ could have died in a myriad of ways. Why did he not? He could have just stopped breathing in an instant. His heart could have stopped in an instant.

      Why did he have to suffer on the cross?

      Because the atoning death of Christ is more than the point at which he gives up the ghost. Now, remember, the distinction between suffering on the cross and dying on the cross is one that annihilationists have themselves put out there - not me.

      So my article still stands.

      I didn't propose a thought experiment, btw. I was waiting for an answer to my question to Peter B. However, I'll answer your question. You ask:

      "Suppose Christ received all the same wounds that killed Him, but then was medically treated (without anesthesia, so that he suffered as much or more). No death followed, but all the same suffering. Could that have been our atonement?"

      Scripturally speaking, death is the suffering and wounds he experienced on the cross. So your question begs the question by identifying the death of the body with death proper (i.e. the overarching Scriptural conception of death).

      Why did Jesus have to suffer? In order to experience the wrath of God, which is death - the curse elaborated upon in Gen 3:14-19. That IS death proper. The death of the body is the end of that experience of death in this life.

      Yes a sacrifice has to die bodily. Could Christ have atoned for sins without bodily death? No. I agree. That's not an issue for my position. However, it is a problem for your position.

      For the reasons I stated in my article.

      Your last words deserve a final response. You say:

      "Your incorrect understanding of our belief is that we separate the death from the process of dying and then deny the process of denying completely. But it is you who have separated the painful process of dying from the death that follows it, and made only the painful suffering, without the death that follows it, be the punishment for sin."

      1. It is not my incorrect understanding, it is the position upon which the ECT conflicts with PSA argument stands. This is not my concoction but that of various annihilationists. It is also a logical necessity given the articulation of their claim that ECT and PSA conflict.

      2. If you think that I have made only the suffering of Christ that punishment for sins, you have not understood my argument. The pain, suffering, bearing the shame of sinners, being cursed by men, being abandoned of God, being spat upon, being whipped, being cursed by God according to his law - this IS death. And yet so is the death of the body that he experienced. Gen 2-3 shows us that death proper is man's existence under the wrath of God.

      I do not separated them, that is one of the biggest points I make in my article. If you fail to see that, I don't know what I can say or do to help you out.

      -h.

      Delete
  6. Hi Hiram, your talk of sin and repentance seems very out of place, and only agitates reasonable discussion. Three times you expressed a similar concern, so perhaps I can clear the air just on that issue. Maybe later I'll swing back around to the actual substance, but I am conscious of your lack of time to further engage here and now, and your prommisory note about further posts.

    1. All I said was that you've given a "caricature" of our view. This is just a statement of fact. I don't think you've "purposefully misrepresented" our position. As a former traditionalist myself for several decades, I understand how difficult it is to apprehend the annihilationist position when viewed through a traditionalist lens. Annihilationism is not hard to understand on its own terms, but if you're aiming to be polemical, you're liable to get it wrong. No harm, no foul.

    At the same time, if I was a little direct it is because I'm aware that you've critiqued our view previously in a debate context, and this post aims at a strong critique too. So there is a sense in which our side should expect to be more accurately represented. But again, no insinuation about nefarious motives should be read into this observation.

    2. You say "I think you are again attributing intentions to me," but again I just made a simple statement of fact. You spoke of what we "have in mind," yet you included what you have in mind as a definition for death. A typical reader would assume that we agree, when we don't. But instead of accepting my rejection of your infused definition, you responded by simply reiterating that you are "identifying the annihilationist conception of death." But you're just not. We repeatedly reject the traditionalist definition of death as "the separation of body and soul." That is to opt to ground a definition in descriptive states with respect to anthropology, at and beyond the event of death. Our standard definition for death employs the category of privation, and references ongoing life. There is a big difference here in terms of criteria and underlying categories. Succinctly, you say separation of parts; we say cessation/privation of life lived. That you think we have "no textual warrant for so doing" is of course a different point entirely.

    By the way, in selecting our definition for death in judicial contexts (eg. the cross, Adam's penalty, the "wages" of sin), we are simply not rejecting that a human body and soul are separated. You suggest that we have to hold to "another kind of death other than bodily death" in the case of angels, but as I have said, we prefer to speak just of death, and not emphasize this so-called "bodily death." You're the one here interested in mechanics, convinced of your approach. That's fine, but don't force-fit our approach into yours.

    I've studied the scriptures extensively on this point, so am not unaware of the proofs you gave, and many more. I simply affirm with James that the body without the spirit is dead. He is not defining death in any judicial sense, but is in fact invoking a general understanding of "dead" to mean cessation of life. If there is any objective reason to use this text to cast a definition for something called "bodily death," then I would hew closely to what James says: the death of the body.

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    1. Peter, here are my replies.

      1. "All I said was that you've given a "caricature" of our view. This is just a statement of fact. I don't think you've "purposefully misrepresented" our position. As a former traditionalist myself for several decades, I understand how difficult it is to apprehend the annihilationist position when viewed through a traditionalist lens. Annihilationism is not hard to understand on its own terms, but if you're aiming to be polemical, you're liable to get it wrong. No harm, no foul."

      I understand the word "caricature" to imply agency. o produce a caricature is to intentionally distort someone else's views for some purpose. I didn't do that. If that isn't what you meant, i.e. that I purposefully did that, then I apologize.

      I'm not trying to be polemical, btw.

      2. "But instead of accepting my rejection of your infused definition, you responded by simply reiterating that you are "identifying the annihilationist conception of death." But you're just not."

      I didn't say that your understanding of death is the separation of body and soul. I am trying to deal with the same phenomenon of death from your (i.e. as you have in mind) which I understand as the separation of the body and soul.

      This is difficult to do. Any confusion here I get. So I apologize for not being clearer about this.

      3. "You suggest that we have to hold to "another kind of death other than bodily death" in the case of angels, but as I have said, we prefer to speak just of death, and not emphasize this so-called "bodily death." You're the one here interested in mechanics, convinced of your approach. That's fine, but don't force-fit our approach into yours."

      Yet humans, corporeal beings, die in a certain way. That way differs from how angels die, does it not? If it doesn't, then does that not imply that angels are corporeal beings (a point which Scripture clearly contradicts)?

      Whether you emphasize "bodily death" or not is irrelevant, then, seeing as the angels do not die in the same way that humans die. There is more than one kind of death.

      4. "He is not defining death in any judicial sense, but is in fact invoking a general understanding of "dead" to mean cessation of life."

      The death of the body implies that there is a kind of death the body undergoes; ergo, bodily death. That's all that I meant by saying "bodily death."

      But, as you know, James' statement that the body apart from the spirit is dead harkens back to Genesis 2:7 where the Lord God breathed the breath of life into the man's nostrils and the man became a living soul.

      The body prior to being breathed into was neither dead nor alive. Once breathed into, it was alive. The reversal of the breathing into the body is implied in the assertion "The body apart from the spirit is dead."

      Bodily death is a return of the body to its pre-breathed-into state; ergo, a separation of body and soul/spirit.

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  7. Yet you will note that I called your attention to Matthew 10:28, where the death of the body is compared to the final death of the body and soul together. This is the distinction that annihilationists are careful to preserve in our model, while maintaining a single definition for death (and hence greater parsimony under PSA). I don't see that you responded to this obviously relevant text, and I don't see that you responded to my final questions about where your definition of death can be found in the schema of eternal torment. I'll look out for your future posts on this subject in case you do respond to those.

    4. // Also, it is not "doublespeak." . . . You are accusing me of the sin of lying, Peter, and doing so without any evidence of this being the case. You are slandering me and unjustly accusing me of sin. . . . And I urge you to repent of so doing. //

    Wow. No I accused you of saying two different things. You of course say them intentionally. But . . . lying? Sin? Slander? Injustice? Be dramatic if you want, but let's not pretend you have the right to tell me what I'm charging you with. I didn't speculate about your motives in any moral sense. The thought that you sinned never crossed my mind, and in fact I went right on to explain what I think is the driving cause of your doublespeak: parsimony with eternal torment. All that I said is a about logic. Again, insofar as you didn't respond to my questions about that, you're not off the hook.

    5. // If it was an honest mistake, I understand that mistakes happen. But if you misrepresented me on purpose, then I again urge you to repent. //

    No mistake here. No misrepresentation, or need for repentance.

    You surely did say the part that I attributed to you. That's what the quotation marks signify, so there's no guesswork involved. You were concerned about a particular statement of mine. Here it is in full:

    // But instead of preserving this penal unity, you say that death is "not the only punishment for their sin." //

    I think my point was very clear, inclusive of that paragraph and the next. I said you had to "speak inconsistently," so that you say both that Christ's death was a "part" of his substitution, and that Christ's suffering "is the death of Christ." The problem, I offered, is that you can't consistently give us a "singular concept," a "penal unity." Instead, you line up a "series of punishments."

    So my point with the statement was only to show that something in your system prompts you to speak of multiple punishments for sin, not a single punishment. I never misrepresented you as not also saying that there are parts and a whole. In fact I quoted you as saying that, as part of showing your inconsistency. Your problem, again, is that you want to say only that suffering is part of the punishment of death—which is what our side repeatedly and emphatically says—but you end up *also* suggesting that suffering is another punishment from death ("not the only punishment"), and to boot, outright saying that the suffering component "is the death." Maybe in hindsight you would want to change those statements to be compatible with the part-whole idea. But I only have your statements and grammar to go on. Both are fallacies of composition: reducing the whole to the parts (that's what I meant about having a series of two punishments, keeping suffering and death too distinct), and reducing the whole to a single part (as if suffering just "is the death"). Neither things should be said if one is being clear about death itself being the punishment for sin, with suffering incorporated into that death in a way that does not claim primacy, logically relegating death to a kind of afterthought.

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    1. Peter, here are my replies.

      1. "Wow. No I accused you of saying two different things. You of course say them intentionally. But . . . lying? Sin? Slander? Injustice? Be dramatic if you want, but let's not pretend you have the right to tell me what I'm charging you with. I didn't speculate about your motives in any moral sense. The thought that you sinned never crossed my mind, and in fact I went right on to explain what I think is the driving cause of your doublespeak: parsimony with eternal torment. All that I said is a about logic. Again, insofar as you didn't respond to my questions about that, you're not off the hook."

      I'm not trying to be dramatic. I'm responding to what you said. Here are some defintions of "double-speak"-

      "Doublespeak is language that deliberately obscures, disguises, distorts, or reverses the meaning of words. Doublespeak may take the form of euphemisms (e.g., "downsizing" for layoffs, "servicing the target" for bombing[1]), in which case it is primarily meant to make the truth sound more palatable. It may also refer to intentional ambiguity in language or to actual inversions of meaning (e.g., "I just want you to know that, when we talk about war, we're really talking about peace."[2]). In such cases, doublespeak disguises the nature of the truth. Doublespeak is most closely associated with political language.[3][4]" - Wikipedia

      "Doublespeak definition, evasive, ambiguous language that is intended to deceive or confuse." - dictionary.com

      "doublespeak: language that can be understood in more than one way and that is used to trick or deceive people." - merriam-webster.com

      "Doublespeak is language that's intended to deceive or confuse people." - grammar.about.com

      "Intentionally deceiving language. Not an outright lie or a tactful euphemism, but systematic use of ambiguous, evasive words and sentence structures to say one thing but mean something else." - businessdictionary.com

      "evasive, ambiguous, or high-flown language intended to deceive or confuse." - thefreedictionary.com

      I'm not being dramatic by saying you slandered me. Now, if you didn't know that doublespeak implies purposeful deception then I take back my charge.

      And I urge you to consider whether or not you're using a word correctly before you use it.

      I didn't intend to deceive. I didn't use doublespeak.

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    2. 2. "I think my point was very clear, inclusive of that paragraph and the next. I said you had to "speak inconsistently," so that you say both that Christ's death was a "part" of his substitution, and that Christ's suffering "is the death of Christ." The problem, I offered, is that you can't consistently give us a "singular concept," a "penal unity." Instead, you line up a "series of punishments.""

      One can unintentionally speak inconsistently, sure. However, that is not the same thing as doublespeak (which is speech intentionally designed to mislead, deceive, etc).

      I wasn't inconsistent, either, Peter. I was clear the punishment for sin is death. Death is the wrath of God abiding on fallen man, a la Gen 2-3. You misunderstand me when I say that Christ's physical death is the finalization of his substitutionary death. What is meant is that when he gives up the ghost, commits his spirit into the hands of the Father, he has completed dying the death due to sinners (i.e. bearing the wrath of God, existing as the object of God's judicial hatred, etc).

      3. "Neither things should be said if one is being clear about death itself being the punishment for sin, with suffering incorporated into that death in a way that does not claim primacy, logically relegating death to a kind of afterthought."

      I do not reduce death to a kind of afterthought, either intentionally or unintentionally. I already explained that Gen 2-3 demonstrates very clearly that "death" is the state that fallen man exists in.

      This means that suffering is death, an instance of death if that is any clearer. Likewise, bodily death is an instance of death. These individual experiences are death.

      Your claims only hold if I assume that death is only the death of the body. I do not assume that.

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  8. But eternal torment necessarily effects that shift in balance, for this simple reason: resurrected human beings suffer alive, like Christ did, BUT they do not actually go on to die like Christ did. When will a traditionalist respond squarely to this charge? Defining death as separation of body and soul certainly doesn't answer that question. It just pretends as if the question was "Can you construe all of hell as some kind of separation of something from something else?" I'm sure you can appeciate why that common response is a dodge. Equally, it's inadequate to say that Christ died a spiritual death before His ordinary death, so the spiritual death (involving a deep existential/spiritual/relational agony and suffering) is the thing we need to locate within eternal torment under PSA. That's patently weak, were it even orthodox, but even if "Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures" could somehow be construed to call our attention to something that happened while Jesus was yet alive, which the eternally tormented surely are, the finally damned are already spiritually dead right now in that same sense.

    So let's just be plain: in the end, the damned are alive, like Christ during his sufferings, and suffer, like Christ during his execution. But they are not being executed, like Christ. Eternal torment knows nothing of that, and that's why we have our debate over this major point of difference. In ECT, death does not "complete," "climax" or "finalize" the suffering of the eternally suffering. After all, they eternally suffer! One can pretend that Christ did eternally suffer prior to giving up his spirit, as many traditionalists do, but that is just another way to dodge the actual challenge of Christ's atoning death. As traditionalists well know, under PSA the idea of "the Lamb of God who was slain" follows the type of the sacrificial lamb under the old covenant, where the point of the shed blood was its implication in the creature's loss of life. The notion of suffering is difficult to find at all, let alone it being something to hold primacy. All this needs a full accounting from proponents of eternal suffering, in a way that does not minimize the fact that the Lamb of God was slain in the stead of the redeemed.

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    1. Peter, phrases like "actually go on to die like Christ did," and "just be plain" are instances of begging the question.

      To state that the wicked do not go on to "actually die like Christ did" is to assert that Christ's death was merely his bodily death. (Note that the word merely is to be understood not in a pejorative sense but a quantitative sense, meaning "only").

      Likewise, it is not "being plain" to simply assume that death is merely the bodily death man experiences. Death is a much broader concept in the Bible, a la Gen 2-3 (cf. also the Lake of Fire/2nd Death).

      With that in mind, I'll address some other things you say.

      1. "resurrected human beings suffer alive, like Christ did, BUT they do not actually go on to die like Christ did."

      Yes, they do suffer alive, like Christ did. However, that suffering alive, being under the wrath of God, is death. Broadly, death is the totality of man's existence as the object of God's judicial hatred/wrath.

      If the wicked suffer the full wrath of God, then they do indeed die just like Christ did.

      2. "his ordinary death"

      I could have included this phrase with the others that beg the question. "Ordinary" according to whom?

      I don't see any Scriptural justification for believing that bodily death is "ordinary death" whereas other kinds of death are not.

      This is the assumption that I don't agree with, seeing as the very death sentence given in Gen 2-3 includes much more than bodily death.

      3. "But they are not being executed, like Christ."

      You say this on the basis of the assumption that their suffering, and Christ's, is not death itself. I contend that it is indeed execution. It is an execution that is constantly occurring, the totality of man's existence under the wrath of God is death.

      4. "All this needs a full accounting from proponents of eternal suffering, in a way that does not minimize the fact that the Lamb of God was slain in the stead of the redeemed."

      I don't minimize that Christ was slain in the stead of the redeemed. I emphasize it more than anything else. It is the Gospel, after all.

      The claim that traditionalists do minimize it is, again, based on the assumption that the death of Christ solely consisted in his bodily death. That is what I don't believe.

      When I talk about "finalizing" I am repeating Jesus' words: It is finished. The debt has been paid in full.

      The wicked will not cease to be executed, killed, slain, destroyed, etc. They will never "pay the last penny."

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  9. //I footnoted the passage where he uses the language of "bodily death" (he says "the body...is dead...") and identifies it as the separation of body and soul (he says "...the body apart from the spirit...."[ESV], or "the body without the spirit..." [NKJV]).//

    But what is James trying to teach? His stated purpose seems to be to teach that faith without works is dead; and when I read the whole context, I see that faith without works is worthless, powerless, ineffective, and cannot save (in James' words). Faith like that is like a corpse! And you see that's what James is saying. He's not teaching that faith PLUS works saves us; he's saying that a living faith has power to participate in the ordo salutis and therefore be part of the salvation God provides. He's comparing a dead faith to a corpse in order to show how useless a dead faith is -- and therefore how important a living faith is.

    How can you ever interpret James to be claiming death means separation, when the entire context is about how a dead faith is ineffective, powerless, and so on? So when he says "the body apart from the spirit" he means to parallel that to the idea of "faith without works". And the operative element in that comparison is not _separation_, but rather the deadness he describes in so very many words for faith. Just picture asking a corpse for help -- that's the same thing as expecting a person who claims faith (but has no works) to be saved.

    //That there is another kind of death other than bodily death is something that you must affirm too,//

    Thank you for addressing this substantial difference between us. In fact, we do not affirm that there's a fundamentally different KIND of death. The death that leaves the body a corpse might leave a remnant behind, possibly; but that remnant is not a living person, but is part of a dead one. (The whole dead person would include the corpse.) Death is fundamentally shown and explained by the difference between a living body and a dead body.

    Bodily death was made by God to tell us visible truth about the reality of death. It's not the whole story, but it's not an outright lie either.

    We also reject the idea of "mere" death, whereas your position seems to require that (scan through your post and see how many times you use the word 'mere').

    //seeing as you believe the wages of sin is death and the devil and his angels will be consumed entirely (eventually ceasing to exist) at the final judgment.//

    I don't understand what you're trying to explain here. Why does this show us anything about two different types of death?

    //[If I'm wrong about your view concerning the devil and his angels "dying" then I am open to correction.]//

    Thank you. I actually agree with the view you describe, although I have no idea what it has to do with the rest of the discussion.

    //And the devil and his angels are indeed with physical bodies.//

    I've heard of people who believe that; I guess you're one of them. Is it important to this discussion? (I'm not hostile to this claim, but it's foreign to me.)

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    1. First, I want to correct my typo. I didn't mean the devil and his angels are *with* physical bodies. I meant to say *without* physical bodies. oops!

      But on to the other issues.

      1. James is talking about the death of the body. "The body apart from the spirit is dead." This is a very clear identification of bodily death. I can't read James' assertion as meaning anything else than this: The body separated from the soul is dead.

      It says nothing about the soul of man/spirit of man. So I can't infer that from his words.

      2. I say that you must affirm that there is another kind of death because the second death is one which the devil and his angels will experience, too. Yet they do not have physical bodies. This implies that the second death is one that may be experienced by physical beings (humans) and incoporeal beings (i.e. spirits, the devil and his angels).

      If the second death is what the immaterial fallen ones and the fallen sons of Adam will experience, and yet they do not experience the first death together, then the second death is a different kind of death than the death of the body that is experienced by man.

      3. I mention the death of the devil and his angels because fallen spiritual beings do not have flesh and bone. This is to say: The death man experiences, which is either the separation of body and soul (i.e. the death of the body) or the annihilation of man as a psychosomatic unity, is not what the fallen spirits ever experience.

      Therefore, on any view, save one that denies that spirits are immaterial beings, there has to be more than one kind of death.

      There is a bodily death, therefore, and a death which is not bodily. My whole emphasis on this was intended to demonstrate that I'm not making up the idea of "the death of the body" as opposed to other kinds of death (e.g. spiritual death).

      The Scriptures do not speak of one kind of death only.

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    2. Another typo: a death which is not *exclusively* bodily.

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  10. Hey wtanksley, I appreciate your feedback. I don't know if you or Peter read my argumentation, however, seeing as I've re-read Chris Date's articles on the supposed conflict between PSA and ECT, and I realized that I am not misrepresenting his position.

    Additionally, however, I did not go all out attack mode on Peter. I addressed Peter's comments directly.

    A caricature is a purposeful misrepresentation of someone or some idea. It is a form of parody. It implies agency.

    Similarly, doublespeak is a purposeful abuse of language intended to deceive one's listener. This also implies agency.

    Peter, therefore, accused me of purposefully misrepresenting him.

    I didn't do that. If I made a mistake, which I now know I have not, then I am more than willing to be corrected. However, I did not purposefully misrepresent the position.

    My charge, therefore, still stands. I have been wrongly accused of being a deceiver, of purposefully misrepresenting the view I am contending against. And that is not at all the case.

    Thank you for believing that I have not done so, I should add :)

    But please read Peter's charges against me, and you will see that he is the one who has misrepresented me (by implying that deception was my intended goal - that is what is implied when you accuse someone of presenting a caricature and using doublespeak), and also misrepresented my argumentation.

    If you read my argumentation closely and read Peter's response, you will see what I mean.

    As far as addressing the claims of Peter that had some bearing on what I wrote, I have already done that in my response to him.

    Contrary to what you think, the response is less about being in attack mode than it is about correcting Grice's errors.

    Soli Deo Gloria
    -h.

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