Rethinking Conditionalism (Part 2a) – Eternal Fire

It can be difficult for some people to digest large chucks of complex information. It is even harder for people to pick up on subtle nuances that certain teachers use in order to make their case. What’s even more difficult is the fact that not many Christians read the New Testament with a systematic and linguistic lens that is trained to detect and digest all these subtle nuances that certain teachers use to deceive them. But I have good news! You do not need to know all of how Greek works to understand what I am about to show you. As hopefully some of my readers already know, I like getting to the point. So in this particular article, I will challenge the idea from certain conditionalists that believe hell’s fires are only temporary. Or, to be accurate, the fire is only eternal in the fact that the effect of the punishment they provide the wicked endures forever. If you haven’t picked up on that subtle nuance already, some who believe in conditional immortality believe that the fires of hell are meant to eventually “consume” the person. They contend that this is what Jesus meant by “unquenchable.” That is, the fire cannot be “put out” rather than “die out,” and that it will not stop until the adversaries are totally consumed (or in their case annihilated).

Before I show from Scripture why this isn’t the case, here is the only difficulty I have, or anyone has, who wishes to make a case in writing. This isn’t conversation. In conversation you can investigate and probe in ways that writing cannot. In live debate and cross-examination, you can publically show why a person’s position in a particular area is in error. In blog posts, all people do is write in response to opposing blog posts, and will carefully pick and choose what they will or will not respond to, or write something in such a way that seems like a legitimate response, but it is not. Of course, anyone can use my previous sentence against me, and I should expect that. But the reason I went through all the trouble to write this paragraph is so that the reader is aware that what I am about to deal with in this article is so specific and easy to understand, it would take a linguistic twisting so incredible, that it would have to deny how certain grammars of Greek work. And while some opponents of eternal conscious torment believe this is “insignificant” in comparison to the stacks of evidence that seems to support conditional immortality (CI) or annihilationism, this is just one of the many semantic proofs that will be the proverbial snow ball that rolls down the mountain.

One of the text used by CI folks is Matthew 25:46 when Jesus says:

“And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

I will deal with how the words “eternal punishment” does not mean that the results of the punishment lasts forever as CI presents it. But for now, let’s look at this Scripture in context. The first thing we have to see is that this whole chapter deals with Jesus and His judgment on the wicked at His return. Starting in verse 31 of chapter 25, He begins a discourse about those who will inherit the kingdom prepared for them from the foundation of the world, and those that are wicked will be cast into eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. Other than the fact that some CI and annihilationists think that Satan and his angels will also be “consumed” by this fire, some others insist that this “eternal fire” is eternal in the sense that it is from God (because He is eternal), or that its punishment upon the wicked has eternal consequence, but not the fire itself. Don’t run, here comes the easy-to-understand-Greek-grammar that I mentioned earlier.

In Greek, you will sometimes have an article-noun-article-adjective construction. Don’t run. If I lost you, you will get it in a second. It would like literally writing, in Matt 25:41,  “the fire, the eternal one.” Adjectives describe or limit nouns. If I say I have a house. That’s the noun. If I have a yellow house. That adjective describes the noun. If I further mention that my house is eternal, then I have added another element to the noun, but it still describes or limits the noun in some way. If I say, “Hey, look at that house.” And you ask “which one?” It is probably because there is more than one house around and you seek to know which one I am looking at. If I reply, “The yellow one” I am implying that not only is the yellow house significantly different than all the other houses around it, but I am also saying that this one is a certain kind of house in context of all the other houses. In this Scripture, starting in verse 41, Jesus turns to the wicked and says:

“Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.”

This is what it looks like in Greek. I will highlight the words you need to pay attention to in order to understand my illustration above.

ότε ἐρεῖ καὶ τοῖς ἐξ εὐωνύμων πορεύεσθε ἀπ’ ἐμοῦ οἱ κατηραμένοι εἰς τὸ πῦρ τὸ αἰώνιον τὸ ἡτοιμασμένον τῷ διαβόλῳ καὶ τοῖς ἀγγέλοις αὐτοῦ

Notice that εἰς  means “into” and τὸ (article) πῦρ (noun), which means “the fire.” But not just any fire, but τὸ (article) αἰώνιον (adjective) – “the eternal one.” In essence, what this Scripture is making clear is that unlike all the fires that die out and/or are eventually put out, this fire that the wicked will be cast into, with the Devil and his angels, is itself eternal. This is not dealing with the consequences or results. The fire itself is of an eternal nature meant to burn for eternity. Despite what some opponents may say about this, this carries huge implications. Because what Jesus is saying that we will be cast into the fire, the eternal one, when we are judged. And here is the kicker. The eternal punishment mentioned in verse 46 sits within the context of this eternal fire that awaits us. This means that the fire that burns forever dictates how eternal punishment in this context is to be understood. No linguistic tricks attached. Even though the word “punishment” by itself can ambiguously represent the result of it dished out, in this particular text, it clearly illustrates that the punishment will be itself eternal. And that the fire, which burns eternally, will be the instrument used to carry out the sentence.

But wait there’s more!

In Matthew 18:8, Jesus uses this same Greek construction (article-noun-article-adjective) to illustrate our reaction toward sin. He says:

“And if your hand or your foot causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life crippled or lame than with two hands or two feet to be thrown into the eternal fire.”

This is what it looks like in the Greek.

εἰ δὲ χείρ σου πούς σου σκανδαλίζει σε ἔκκοψον αὐτὸν καὶ βάλε ἀπὸ σοῦ καλόν σοί ἐστιν εἰσελθεῖν εἰς τὴν ζωὴν κυλλὸν χωλόν δύο χεῖρας δύο πόδας ἔχοντα βληθῆναι εἰς τὸ πῦρ τὸ αἰώνιον

Look familiar? It should. It is as Matthew 25 says, “the fire, the eternal one.” And Jesus not only says that the fire is itself eternal, but he parallels this with the next verse by saying:

“And if your eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into the hell of fire.”

Another way to put this verse is fiery hell. The word hell used here is “Gehenna” which is the book of Revelation equivalent to the lake of fire. And Jesus spoke about Gehenna differently throughout the gospels then He did about Hades, which just generally meant the place of the dead. But CI and annihilationists want you to believe that this fire is not going to burn those in it forever, but that they will eventually be consumed. However, in this Scripture, Jesus semantically links the two – Gehenna and “the fire, the eternal one” – equally to make His point about what will happen to those who don’t take sin seriously and are not born again.

Hang in there, although I can go on, there is only one more thing I want to show you.

Just like in Matthew 18 where Jesus parabolically encourages you to slice your hand off in comparison to being thrown in hell, Mark 9:43 provides a parallel passage that describes the same teaching. But notice how the eternal fire is mentioned here.

“And if your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life crippled than with two hands to go to hell, to the unquenchable fire.”

Here is how it looks in the Greek:

kαὶ ἐὰν σκανδαλίζῃ σε χείρ σου ἀπόκοψον αὐτήν καλόν ἐστίν σε κυλλὸν εἰσελθεῖν εἰς τὴν ζωὴν τὰς δύο χεῖρας ἔχοντα ἀπελθεῖν εἰς τὴν γέενναν εἰς τὸ πῦρ τὸ ἄσβεστον

Do you notice something familiar about this verse? I bolded it for you so you can recognize it. Do you recognize the grammar/construction? You should. It is the art-noun-art-adj construction we’ve been talking about. Except we have a new word introduced. It is ἄσβεστον (asbeston) which means to be “unquenchable” in English. And it is only used three times in the New Testament (Matt. 3:12; Mark 9:43; Luke 3:17). It literally means that it cannot be extinguished, put out, or die out. In essence, what this verse is saying is people will go “into Gehenna, into the fire, the unquenchable (inextinguishable) one.” It’s a bit awkward sounding in English, but Gehenna, fire, and eternal burning are all interconnected ideas.

The proponents of CI like to say that unquenchable means that the fire can’t be “put out,” not that it won’t “die out.” This is a subtle nuance, and I find it manipulative and trite. But it is a nuance nevertheless. The difference is illustrated by knowing when I light a fire, it will either die out on its own, or I can snuff it out, extinguish it, or quench it with my fingers, water, blowing it out, etc. This isn’t an entirely bad case to make, because God’s eternal wrath cannot be quenched against those who are His enemies (except by atonement). The difference is that conditionalists believe that this only means that the fire will not be quenched until it has entirely consumed the wicked. In other words, it can’t be put out until it has finished consuming. But as we already learned from these other passages above, the fire itself is indeed eternal. So whether it cannot be extinguished or put out or die out, really makes no difference seeing that the fire will burn perpetually. Even if it meant that it can’t be “put out,” the point is the fire will not stop burning, ever! But perhaps the Scripture means what it has always meant for the majority who read it, and the Greek scholars who interpret it. That is, the fire burns forever because those in that place of punishment, as Matthew 25 implies, are there forever. Unquenchable means it can’t be put out, extinguished, or die out because God is the only one who can do it! And even if it is taken from Isaiah 66, and various other passages in the Old Testament that have similar semantic value, it does not negate Jesus’ exegesis that the fire will remain and so will those who are in it.

Although more could be said, for the sake of brevity, I will close with this. In a future article, I will deal with “unquenchable” fire and arguments that proponents of CI and annihilationists make to justify their reasoning as to why the fire is a “consuming” fire and not an eternal one. But for now, ponder the grammatical construction and think about how the fire could burn for eternity, and yet there will be nothing left to burn? A predictable rebuttal will be that God Himself is a (or The) consuming fire. I agree. But that is not what the Greek is implying. This fire resides within the “place” where the Devil, his angels, and all those who are wicked will go. It is its own fire. It is categorically different than other fires that burn. That is what the grammar reveals. Of course, it is a fire that comes from God, is kindled by God, and can only be put out by God. And, It is God administering the punishment, and it is God who is present within the fire. But if the persons are eventually consumed, why would the wrathful anger of God burn forever against an enemy that no longer remains? Therefore, the fire cannot be simply from God, because the implications are not as simple to deal with, and the grammar doesn’t point in that direction.

-Until we go home

*For more information on Greek grammar, I recommend getting a copy of Dan Wallace’s book “Greek Grammar: Beyond the Basics” which verifies this grammar and many other constructions.

43 thoughts on “Rethinking Conditionalism (Part 2a) – Eternal Fire

  1. Pingback: Rethinking Conditionalism (Part 2) – Eternal Fire — Defending. Contending. | Talmidimblogging

  2. I hear you. The difficulty with certain conditional immoralitists is that they are not denying this view of hell because of their own morality (not saying that this is what you meant). They are addressing it from a Scriptural standpoint that many are not ready for. So I’m hoping to bring about a better understanding.

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  3. Im a ci proponent. I have no real problem with what you are saying about the fire. However, those that are thrown into it will in fact be burned up. That is the whole point of throwing them in the fire. ☺

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  4. Rob, thank you for your input.

    You say that is the point of throwing them into the fire. But if the fire is categorically a different fire, and of which is in and of itself eternal (which is also indicative of God’s wrath), why do you have a wrathful fire burning, but eventually there is no one to burn against? There are other challenges I can offer, but we can start here.

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  5. gee didn’t God speak through a burning bush that wasn’t consumed? Guess He could make an all consuming fire (meaning totally engulfed, like totally immersed) and have it burn its contents forever then!

    What is more amazing is that folks are more afraid of what others think than they are of what He has ordained…

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  6. George, what you’re presenting is completely inconsequential. Both articular orderings can be read as describing a specific kind of fire, and neither one gets a special translation. Definitely the point isn’t ordinary fire that’s then made eternal by feeding it special fuel; no, it’s apparently fire that’s always been burning, probably the fire of God’s glory. Putting all of the descriptions together, it’s eternal, consuming, and unquenchable; and all of that is because of what it IS, not because of what’s IN IT.

    It’s also not merely local to a place called “gehenna”; rather, it’s consistently used throughout the Bible to carry out the wrath of God, and to express His presence. According to Jude 1:7, Sodom and Gomorrah are set forth as examples of it, meaning that it burned them. Jesus addressed those cities as well, adding sulfur as part of the description; other passages add “from heaven”. Through John’s Revelation, Jesus has an angel tell us that this fire will burn people before His eyes (and never mentions gehenna). The unquenchable fire also burned down the city gates and palaces of Jerusalem at the Babylonian sack, according to Jer 17:27. One can also see that this fire from God was operating on the false worshipers with Korah. Interestingly, as someone else pointed out above, the burning bush seems to be expressing this same fire of God, but with the unusual added twist that the bush is protected from consuming effects of the fire; showing that although God’s presence can burn and destroy, it need not; God can protect. Much the same thing happened to Isaiah, as the holy coal touched his lips and burned out his confessed uncleanness. Much more powerfully, we see this applying to the entire world in 2 Peter 2-3, with the righteous being saved _through_ the world-bathing fire due to God’s power actively protecting them, just as God protected people through His judgments in the past. So although gehenna is the strongest example of God’s judgment, the WORST place, it is not the only place God will use, or HAS used, unquenchable fire.

    But through all this, the consistent teaching is that the fire is eternal because it is God’s fire, NOT because the things thrown into it provide special fuel it needs. On the contrary, the thing thrown into it — apart from God’s protection — are like tinder, tares, thorns, dead trees, dry vine branches, and chaff. Never once does God tell us that the wicked will be like bricks thrown in the fire, or metal; rather, they are like things that burn utterly and are ashes. The fire burnt blazingly before they were thrown in; and it will burn blazingly forever, after they are ashes under the feet of the people of God (Mal 4:1-3).

    What is the purpose of the fire? It’s not identical to the wrath of God; that’s impossible, because God’s wrath is reserved for sin, and sin is not eternal. Sin did not exist before creation, when the triune God lived forever in perfect love. The fire of God is the fire of Holiness, and when holiness meets contamination, the two cannot coexist. One or the other will cease to be. But God’s holiness is eternal, resulting in the consuming fire that will devour the adversary of God.

    I started by saying that your argument was inconsequential. I hope you see that it’s a little worse than that; all of your evidence, _everything_ you’ve cited, is actually evidence against your claims. And this is not trivial, as though I’ve merely shown you to be wrong in your claims; I’ve shown that assuming the facts you claim, conditional immortality (with a judgment by a fire that consumes and destroys the adversaries of God) is the direct teaching of the Bible — not merely hidden in a grammatical detail, but explicit in translatable texts.

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  7. Please read 2b of this post. Also, eternal fire is semantically linked to eternal punishment as Matt 25’s discourse points to. Furthermore, I never said it burns because of what’s in it. Read 2b as I stated. But it cannot be God’s glory because it is a place prepared for Satan and His angels and all those who rebel against God. Once again, basic semantics and grammar prove the contrary. There is more that you said that I will refute in time. But thank you for your post.

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  8. Thank you for the response.

    //Also, eternal fire is semantically linked to eternal punishment as Matt 25’s discourse points to.//

    Of course it is, we’ve both agreed with that; it’s “semantically linked” in that “the eternal fire” (a unique thing) is the thing the wicked goes into that carries out “eternal punishment”. But that alone doesn’t give anyone your conclusions. There are two independent problems you’re not considering.

    First, it’s true that affliction (e.g. torment and shame) is semantically linked to those (2 Thess 1:5-10), but so are all of the other things I pointed out in my message, including death, reduction to ashes, and eternal destruction due to fire and mighty angels. And the way all of them are simultaneously true is both trivially obvious (since one can’t be destroyed and then tormented, obviously one is tormented and then destroyed) and explicitly taught: the torment, weeping, shame, seeing judgment, and other experiences all both happen AND ARE COMPLETE on the Day. See 2 Thess 1:9-10: “They will pay the penalty” — that is, their payment of affliction, fire, mighty angels, fear, vengeance, and destruction promised through 1:5-8 — “when He comes, on that Day.” After that day their destruction remains a fact (eternally so), but their payment is complete, the books are settled, and Christ turns to those who have believed because His vengeance is complete against their persecutors (as well as all who have disobeyed the gospel).

    But second, you’re using “eternal punishment” as though it proved your case, and in the OP you expressed another (respectable BTW) misunderstanding of conditionalism. We do not believe that /the result of the punishment/ is eternal; we believe that the punishment itself is eternal, and the punishment is the result of Jesus’ punishing action. This is the same as Hebrews 9:2, “he entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption.” The word “redemption” is an economic term, which can either refer to the one-time act of purchasing (which happened by Christ’s blood), or can refer to the results of the act, which apply to us and will apply forever. Matt 25:46 is simply ambiguous as to whether it’s the punishING that lasts forever or the results of the punishING; either way it would be accurate to say that the punishMENT lasts forever. It simply does not prove your case that the Bible says “eternal punishment”; you would have to show that it’s an eternal act of punishING, and Matt 25 simply doesn’t provide you with evidence for that.

    //Furthermore, I never said it burns because of what’s in it.//

    I was responding to your challenge: “think about how the fire could burn for eternity, and yet there will be nothing left to burn?” Can you clarify what you meant by that challenge, since it’s been raised many times by others to mean exactly that the eternal fire cannot burn without the fuel provided by the body and souls of the wicked?

    In 2b, you said //So if you have a fiery wrath that burns forever, but no one is there to burn against it since they are consumed, you have a huge (perhaps heretical) problem. And yes, the fire exists because the wicked exist.//

    I’m trying to be charitable here, but how am I supposed to interpret this in a way compatible with “I never said it burns because of what’s in it.”? You’re directly stating the exact causation of the fire here that you deny above — and you’re using that to call me a heretic!

    //Read 2b as I stated.//

    Thank you; I’m responding to your arguments, though, and if you have some specific interaction with me it would make the most sense to discuss it directly so that we can be clear — as above, where it appears to me that you’re making an argument from “nothing left to burn” but you say that’s not what you meant. Now you get to clarify your argument to me, and I have to admit in fairness that your argument is what YOU say it is.

    In other words: 2b, or not 2b? That is not the question. (I’m sorry for the pun-ishment.)

    I will re-read your post 2b, of course, in respect for your request. But I also expect some detail about what argument I’m looking for there; you tend to make many small arguments in addition to your main point. And honestly, the main point of 2b looks like a rehash of this one (I suppose that’s why you called them “a” and “b”, of course).

    //But it cannot be God’s glory because it is a place prepared for Satan and His angels and all those who rebel against God.//

    Nice response! But first, the passage is not discussing an explicitly identified place, but rather “the eternal fire”. In order to support your argument you cannot simply assume it’s a place, since in my arguments I’ve presented evidence that “the eternal fire” does not ONLY apply to the place called “gehenna” (although it certainly is applied there, it’s also applied in other places that are certainly not gehenna). Since you have not shown it’s a place, you have to admit that it *might* be a thing independent of place instead; in which case the preparation for the devil would consist in something about the fire, not something about a place — perhaps the point is that the fire is hotter, or more tormenting, or simply that the same fire/punishment deals with extreme planned malice (the devil) as with “mere” deliberate lovelessness (those who turned away one of “the least of these my brethren” in their need).

    And as such, the reading I have presented still stands: that God’s glory is the eternal fire, which sometimes turns to punish the wicked and sometimes is held back (to show God’s kindness and longsuffering, Rom 1:32 through 2:6). Once the wicked are gone, it still burns as God’s eternal fire, but it is no longer “prepared for the devil and his angels” nor being restrained out of kindness and longsuffering, but is instead given freely for the blessing and glory of Himself, and the delight of the saints — perhaps this is the dual meaning of Malachi 4:1-3’s “the sun of righteousness … with healing in His wings” together with the burning of the wicked, root and branch, so that the righteous can walk on their ashes.

    Oh, and don’t forget what happens to gehenna after the Day of the Lord:

    Jer 31:38-40: “Behold, the days are coming, declares the LORD, when the city [Jerusalem] shall be rebuilt for the LORD from the Tower of Hananel to the Corner Gate. And the measuring line shall go out farther, straight to the hill Gareb, and shall then turn to Goah. The whole valley of the dead bodies and the ashes, and all the fields as far as the brook Kidron, to the corner of the Horse Gate toward the east, shall be sacred to the LORD. It shall not be plucked up or overthrown anymore forever.”

    Dead bodies and ashes? That’s in Jeremiah and Isaiah (and Jesus explains Isaiah to be about gehenna). The location given includes gehenna (AKA gia ben hinnom, AKA “the valley of slaughter”). The valley of Hinnom — the site of God’s judgment — becomes included within Jerusalem’s expanded walls, but is left unturned as a sacred memorial park. And the righteous will walk on the ashes… Of course this is figurative, but figurative of /what/? The point is that the destruction of the wicked will become holy and clean, sacred to the Lord like the dishes the sons of Korah used to offer wicked sacrifice to the Lord became after the Lord cleaned them with fire from Himself.

    //Once again, basic semantics and grammar prove the contrary.//

    An argument that can be made from what’s actually translatable is worth more than one that’s only apparent from reading a beginner’s grammar in isolation from all the things actual (expert) translators have to consider. But even so I’ve adopted all your premises and shown they don’t lead to your conclusion when applied consistently and without prejudice; your argument is therefore unsound, and your conclusions are selective rather than the simple result of your argument.

    Thank you for studying this issue.

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  9. Thank you for responding. If you are convinced of your position, then I invite you to an open, public conversation on this topic. Let me know what you decide.

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  10. I’m sorry, what are you saying? I was just commenting with you on Facebook, and I got the impression you didn’t want to comment there. Were you actually saying you didn’t want to comment here? Is there a problem with this venue?

    Serious question, BTW; not rhetorical.

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  11. There is. You cannot do in conversation what you do in this medium. Conversation affords the opportunity to correct and expose misunderstanding and possible unbiblical assertions. I am inviting you to public discussion on G220 radio. If you do not want to discuss and be critiqued about your beliefs, then I understand.

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  12. I’ve very interested in discussing my beliefs. I’m not understanding why you’re not discussing them.

    //There is. You cannot do in conversation what you do in this medium.//

    It sounds like you think this written medium is more flexible and useful. So let’s keep using it. I personally depend on Logos for research before I post, so that’s an example of something that can’t be done in verbal conversation that can be done in written.

    Unless by “you do” you mean that I’ve done something you don’t like (or that’s wrong). Please tell me and I’ll adjust to your expectations. I doubt that’s what you meant, since it would imply that spoken word is less vulnerable to abuse, and you can’t think that. And of course you blog here, and I’m pretty sure you don’t think you’re sinning every time you do that.

    //Conversation affords the opportunity to correct and expose misunderstanding and possible unbiblical assertions.//

    This _is_ conversation. Or it was, until you started demanding a change. I’d like to get back to the conversation.

    If you’re more comfortable with the spoken word, I respect that. I’m personally more comfortable written, so it’s possible one of us needs to stretch a bit, or we can just shake hands and go our separate ways. But I have to point out that you’ve written a lot up there. If you can’t discuss what you’ve _written_ in writing, I have to wonder why you wrote in the first place.

    //I am inviting you to public discussion on G220 radio.//

    You started a discussion here. Your post remains here. Why are you wanting to discuss the topic of your post somewhere else?

    Can you provide a link to the radio? (Do you mean literal, broadcast radio?) What format will the discussion have?

    //If you do not want to discuss and be critiqued about your beliefs, then I understand.//

    I’m willing. But now, I’m discussing your post above. Will you respond to my discussion?

    Would you be more comfortable with a short post with the single thing I’d most like to address? Or would you like to start the back-and-forth rather than me? (If so, do so.)

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  13. It is not a question of comfortability for me. I have written much, and so has Rethinking Hell. But I find the hesitancy to discuss in phonological conversation interesting in your camp. You all want to formally debate, you want to have online discussions, and you desire private discussions, but not a public, open critique in which a natural back and forth conversation can be had in order to dig into what you really believe. All these forums in which conditionalists do best are in these controlled environments in which you can twist, parse, and respond in ways that is advantageous to you. In phonological conversation, you cannot accomplish such a thing. I invite you to G220 radio podcast where we can openly see whether your view holds up. If you will not, then once again, I understand. That’s where you are most comfortable. But I will not get into a parsing match where we endlessly dissect each other’s sentences in such a way that does not afford a real challenge. I have a ready answer to your posts and comments. and in due time, they will be written about.

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  14. OK, I see that you don’t want to converse here anymore, and I won’t ask you to interact where you’re not willing. I’m satisfied that I’ve answered all the points of this post that I see, and without a reaction or questions from you I see no reason to think I’m wrong in my impression.

    However, you’ve now become a tiny bit clearer that you somehow think I’ve done something _wrong_, but you’re being vague. Something about “twisting”. Please explain to me what I’ve done to offend you — quite apart from a debate, Christian charity requires that we have our offenses settled unless we can overlook them; and it’s very clear you’re not overlooking whatever I’ve done.

    And one other thing: //But I find the hesitancy to discuss in phonological conversation interesting in your camp.//

    “You keep using those words. I do not think those words mean what you think they mean.”

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  15. Well, for this forum I’m waiting for your reply. I hear that you want to switch forums, but I’m still waiting on a “why.” And honestly, you’re actually going to have to _convince_ me, not just proclaim it and expect me to agree; outside of informal conversation and presentation of carefully prepared research with pages of notes (as I mentioned Logos is my friend), I’m simply not interested in producing audio.

    Above you claim I’m “twisting” something. I’d like to know, as your brother in Christ, what I did to offend. I have not intentionally twisted anything, but I would owe you an apology if I misunderstood anything.

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  16. Let me do to you what you have done to me and show you why this kind of forum does not work when trying to discuss this kind of topic.

    //Please explain to me what I’ve done to offend you — quite apart from a debate, Christian charity requires that we have our offenses settled unless we can overlook them; and it’s very clear you’re not overlooking whatever I’ve done.//

    You have not offended me. I’m not offended by you. I think I’ve made my invitation clear. Come on our show. Let’s talk. Prove your assertions in live conversation.

    //This _is_ conversation. Or it was, until you started demanding a change. I’d like to get back to the conversation.//

    Since you missed my point in inviting you to conversation, which was a semantical misunderstanding, I changed my wording so that you know that I wanted you to have a live, informal, public, phonological conversation so that you know that what is going on here is NOT conversation that could allow for back and forth engagement and challenge.

    //“You keep using those words. I do not think those words mean what you think they mean.”//

    That is because you don’t study linguistics. They were purposefully chosen so that you can differentiate the type of conversation I was referring to. And this is the challenge I’m faced with. People like yourself that make linguistic claims from a position without careful consideration to discourse analysis, semantics, pragmatics, discourse structure, co-text, context, metaphorical transfer, meta-language. presupposition, and other linguistic theories that go into the study of how language works. I will not get into a internet war where we are parsing large amounts of sentences at one time because that is not how conversation works in real life. We can address particular pieces of your view bit bit bit, presupposition by presupposition when we converse in phonological conversation. And yes, I understand exactly what that means. If you would have taken two seconds to Google it with quotation marks, you might have saved yourself the embarrassment.

    //Well, for this forum I’m waiting for your reply. //I hear that you want to switch forums, but I’m still waiting on a “why.” //

    Why when I’ve already invited you to a conversation. Conditionalist are very comfortable behind keyboards, in formal debates, and in monologue on podcasts where they parse and tear apart other peoples sermons and podcasts, but they are cowards in conversation. So far, this has been my interaction from your group. You all are very willing to discuss what you believe in a controlled environment or in a private conversation, but will not stand under scrutiny in a public discourse. You want a “seat at the table” but only want to sit if the table meets your specific terms. Please forgive me if I do not fall for this. I know how the internet functions and the pros and cons. That’s one of the many things we study in linguistics. And since this forum is an advantage to you an provides you the linguistic safety you desire, that is why you want to stay here.

    //And honestly, you’re actually going to have to _convince_ me, not just proclaim it and expect me to agree; outside of informal conversation and presentation of carefully prepared research with pages of notes (as I mentioned Logos is my friend), I’m simply not interested in producing audio.//

    I don’t need to convince you. Your desire to be a keyboard warrior will prevent you from being convinced. You’ve said no to the challenge. Thank you very much. Your Logos studies have done nothing for you since you can’t even discuss them in an open forum where you can be challenged about your beliefs. You have mentioned your apparent Logos notes on here and Facebook, but I don’t understand, then, why the reluctance to have a discourse? Are you not prepared? Or is it the fact that there is much to fear when being thoroughly probed about your beliefs? At this point, certain conditionalist do not provide any evidence they are ready to be any kind of teacher in the public forum. You can’t be openly challenged. I am providing you an opportunity to crush the orthodox view of eternal conscious torment like a bug by showing that your view can stand underneath scrutiny.

    //Above you claim I’m “twisting” something. I’d like to know, as your brother in Christ, what I did to offend. I have not intentionally twisted anything, but I would owe you an apology if I misunderstood anything//

    As I said, no offense. If you want to discuss, in detail, what I think you all are twisting, you have an opportunity. If not, then you have my posts that I have written, and will continue to write as to what I believe you all are doing wrong in your hermeneutics. No apology is necessary from you.

    Once again, if you choose to deny the invitation, that’s fine. You are not the man for the job. Stay behind your keyboard which you are good at.

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  17. All right, I’m glad to hear you confirm that I’ve done nothing wrong to you. For the rest of your downtalking, I’ll let the reader be the judge of how likely your claims are to be true and whether they matter to the substance of our dispute with respect to the original post.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. I just noticed that you started that message with a promise to “do to you what you have done to me.” I didn’t notice the implication of that — you feel that I harmed you by my quoting you extensively and BBS-style.

    I sincerely didn’t know you were annoyed or harmed by that, but now that I know you’re against that I’ll avoid it. Would you forgive me for doing that in the first place?

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  19. I was not annoyed or harmed by you. My tone was not downtalking. But then again, that is why I don’t go back and forth in these forums. There are linguistic limitations here that are not in conversation. If you want to know my tone or whether or not my offense is present, the invitation is still open to dialogue.

    No forgiveness is needed because you did nothing wrong.

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  20. George, your tone toward William is condescending and disrespectful. Anyone can see that. The way you’re acting simply because someone interacted with your blog post in absolutely standard fashion, is appalling.

    In particular, your jabs at him to have googled your peculiar phrase in order to have saved himself embarrassment, your calling him a keyboard warrior, “this forum is an advantage to you an provides you the linguistic safety you desire,” etc., all reek of insecurity and lack of charity.

    The fact is, there are pros and cons to written versus verbal communication. Written communication is arguably superior for this purpose. It is a mutually “controlled environment,” which is a good thing. Your show is another controlled environment that sounds decidedly less mutual. Who in their right mind wants to be the “guest” of a passive-aggressive host? Passing on combativeness and belligerence is not cowardice; it’s common sense, and indeed fidelity to Christ.

    To your petty point about “phonological conversation,” you’re demonstrably wrong to portray this as a thing that William should have known or researched as an instance of clear communication.

    Nobody but you has ever applied the phrase “phonological conversation” to anything like a radio show exchange. I’m not exaggerating. It’s an exceedingly rare phrase arising by coincidence rather than convention, in a technical context. This is proven by scouring the meager 24 search results in Google, most of which turn out to be dead ends, spelling mistakes (intending “conversion” instead of “conversation”), and emphases on the adjective only (eg. “phonological conversation mistakes” just refers to mistakes in conversation that are phonological in nature). Seriously, I could count on one hand the number of instances of something plausibly intended to refer to “phonological conversation.” It’s just not a thing.

    One reason for this lack is that the word “phonological” does not even work in your context. Of course it doesn’t just mean “using sound,” as in the connotation of “audible” or “verbal.” Rather, it has to do with the actual structure and function of sounds in speech, as to how they are organized via patterns and rules (governing pronunciation, for example), whether in everyday recognition of such sound-structures (a learned skill), or in more formal analysis (i.e. to study this phenomenon).

    “Phonological conversation” thereby would be to designate the logical patterns we use when we engage in audible conversation, just as “graphemological conversation” might refer to the functioning of the shapes of the letters in written conversation. Phonemes and graphemes are counterparts, and phonological knowledge essentially permits transformation into the written counterpart, and vice verse. Neither feature of human communication is inherently superior; they are on a par. Or if any is superior, it is the latter when legible typefaces are used, since verbal communication is fraught with more difficulties in the transmission.

    I’m sure you can make a connection between this and what you meant. Others can too, and what you meant is clear from the multiple contexts in which you used the phrase. But the inference made there is just different from what the phrase means or should mean. Google isn’t your friend here.

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  21. Welcome Peter. Are you willing to come on the show and defend your position? Or will you also be a keyboard warrior, making comments about my attitudes and passing judgment on me in an uncharitable fashion (which I don’t actually think you are being uncharitable. But perhaps someone reading this could perceive this)? The passive aggressive comments, however, that you speak of are almost a distinctive characteristic of some within your camp. I’m not passive aggressive. I state why I believe something is false and why I believe it is deceptive. The reason why I will not discuss conditionalism in this forum is because those of your camp have, for too long now, keep using the charity card as an excuse to mask the same kinds of passive aggressive comments you accuse me of on your shows and blog posts. If your position is true, let it be challenged in discourse. Let it be challenged by someone that actual understands your position and sees through the linguistics nuances you all propose. And if I don’t understand, help me to understand. Allow me to question your position as you all have repeatedly done to ours. No more behind the back podcasts and no more evaluating each other’s positions without anyone there to evaluate the truth of those statements. Let’s talk.

    Thank you for judging me as insecure and uncharitable, but you failed to accurately evaluate my motives and my tone, which is once again not something you can accurately do in writing. But since you have made the effort to study written versus verbal communication, and the advantages vs disadvantages thereof, perhaps you could site certain linguistic studies that map out what you are saying? I am always open to such studies and realize that it can be a vast topic. I realize the precision of writing. But it is not just about precision in this case, but social context. Nevertheless, you show your ignorance as well by not understanding the linguistic context by which I used the phrase phonological conversation. William states that this forum was conversation. I purposefully changed my terminology to help him understand the differing kinds of conversation. He got the point. Whether he or you agrees with the terminology, is another question. I could have used audible, oral, live, verbal, or the like, to illustrate this, but I didn’t. Sorry that wasn’t sufficient enough for you or William. But in your camp, this kind of nit-picking is standard. But, if you don’t like phonological conversation, you can also look at “phonological discourse” which would be just as beneficial. In any case, I wouldn’t disagree with some of the definitions you proposed concerning the elements of phonological conversation. But is that really all you came here to say? I’m not sure if you are just trying to make yourself look smart, or you just want to try prove that I am wrong about something (which isn’t that hard to do), but frankly you haven’t proven anything. I love linguistics. I love language. I am sorry that you find my terminology unconventional. And do you really believe that verbal communication is fraught with more difficulties? Do you have research from linguistic sources? Are you aware of all the complex concepts, difficulties, and challenges that go into language processing? Do you know any research that could help us to understand those difficulties? I wouldn’t disagree with the pros and cons between written and oral communication, but I am kind of floored that of all the things you could have said, you came here only to address my phrase “phonological conversation?”

    For your convenience, here is more than one resource that uses the word “phonological conversation” that you could count with two hands: https://www.google.com/search?tbm=bks&hl=en&q=%22phonological+dialogue%22#hl=en&tbm=bks&q=%22phonological+conversation%22 Now, these are the books that Google has on their server. There are loads of other linguistic writings that are just not on Google. Also, take some time to read some of the material rather than just tagging the phrase. Perhaps you might see why I used the phrase in the first place. Also, here is a list of books that use “phonological discourse”: https://www.google.com/search?tbm=bks&hl=en&q=%22phonological+dialogue%22#hl=en&tbm=bks&q=%22phonological+discourse%22 After you are done reading those, a great introductory book on linguistics is: https://www.amazon.com/Exploring-Language-Linguistics-Natalie-Braber/dp/1107662508 I recommend this to you because I can see that you are intelligent, and there may be some things in this book that may be hard for others to grasp. I could recommend more, but I also perceive that you might have no interest in understanding where I am coming from. I could be dead wrong though.

    Let me know if you want to converse. I’d be happy to.

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  22. Since you all won’t come on the podcast with me. Do you agree with this statement?

    “Even traditionalists often recognize that in these texts and others, in which the fire of God is not able to be quenched, it does not mean the object of God’s wrath will burn forever, but that the fire will burn unabated until its intended destruction is complete.”

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  23. Right, George. Note that it denies that the object burns forever, from which it does not follow that the fire doesn’t burn forever.

    (Although in fact there are instances of unquenchable fire, such as the fires set by Babylon that burned the palaces of Jerusalem, that didn’t burn forever.)

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  24. Thanks for answering. So if the fire is unquencheable in the sense that it does not burn forever, and according to Chris Date, the fire is indicative of God’s wrath, then why does Matthew 25’s language reveal that the fire burns forever?

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  25. I specifically answered that — I said “from which it does not follow that the fire doesn’t burn forever.”

    So “unquenchable” neither affirms nor denies that the fire burns forever. “Eternal” affirms that the fire burns forever. Neither one says that the _thing_ put into the fire burns forever; examples of things that don’t burn forever would be palaces, chaff, vines, trees, tares, tinder, and so on with _all_ of the Bible’s examples of what the wicked will be like on the Day of Judgment. Literally there is nothing Scripture compares the unrepentant to that would, normally, endure.

    However, I’m confused about one thing you may be able to explain:

    //the fire is indicative of God’s wrath//

    I don’t see how this fits into your argument; does it carry weight I’m misunderstanding?

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  26. Thanks for answering again. You just said that unquenchable means that it doesn’t last forever. It either affirms this or it doesn’t. The claims that are made in the Rethinking Hell blog is that it doesn’t. Which is it?
    This is precisely why I brought up what I said in my blog. If the fire in one place is described, by one of your contributors and yourself, as not lasting forever, then in Matthew 25 it does, how? And since it is indicative of God’s wrath against sinners, or sin, take your pick, then you have the wrath of God burning against an enemy that no longer exists. Why? That’s what I said in my podcast. Did you listen to it?

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  27. //You just said that unquenchable means that it doesn’t last forever. //

    I don’t know where you got that; it would contradict my beliefs to say that. But it’s not relevant to our argument — the most you can “win” here is proving that I typoed a “now” instead of a “not” or something. (I don’t see it.) You _clearly_ understand and agree with the claim I’m making (and have made from my very first post here!); it’s time to accept my clear claim and stop insisting that I made the opposite claim. (Perhaps some other conditionalists disagree with you and me.)

    Just to repeat my claim: the eternal fire lasts forever by its nature (on this I believe we agree). The unquenchable fire may or may not last forever (context will tell), but its point is that it cannot (or will not, per context) be stopped from its fiery action.

    I think I understand your second argument now:

    //And since it is indicative of God’s wrath against sinners, or sin, take your pick, then you have the wrath of God burning against an enemy that no longer exists. Why?//

    You’re making an argument using claims the Bible doesn’t make in so many words. When we agree that fire “indicates” God’s wrath, you presume that we’re agreeing that the fire IS God’s wrath; but the text actually identifies God HIMSELF as fire, and that for unholiness to be in His direct presence (as in the temple) means the unholy thing will die, be destroyed, and be swept away.

    I think “fire indicates wrath” only when God uses fire in judgment, not all the time. Other times God uses fire to envelop the righteous (but with complete safety for them), or to guide them as God did the Israelites at night. See Psa 30:5, Isa 33:14-15.

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  28. George Alvarado. Hi. It seems that one of the key points you are making here is about Greek construction “the fire, the eternal one” in that it shows it is categorically different to regular fire. Is that right?

    If so, then I think there is something you need to know which kind of nullifies this. It seems that the Greek construction “the fire, the eternal one” is actually identical to “the eternal fire”, and the ordering actually makes no difference to the meaning or translation at all. You can easily see this in many Greek textbooks, I saw it here on this website for example: http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/text?doc=Perseus%3Atext%3A1999.04.0007%3Apart%3D4%3Achapter%3D40%3Asection%3D82%3Asubsection%3D77 and there are many others.

    Do you think that kind of makes your observation that this is actually the author trying to make a special distinction about the nature of the fire faulty or incorrect? If not, why not (since you will be contradicting Greek scholars everywhere)? Or if so, will you retract this article or correct it? Or will you keep on asserting that what you’ve said here is true and accurate despite this knowledge?

    I look forward to your response since this article is used as a foundation for further articles by you, but I think it’s a pretty shaky foundation.

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  29. See Part 2b. Also, Robertson’s grammar points out the linguistic nuance and why it is appositional. So even if you disagree that it makes no distinct difference in meaning, the fact that it is appositional explains why the fire is categorically different. As future articles are written, the reason for this explanation will be made more plain, as well as why (even though the first article explains it). I don’t contradict any scholars. If you look at the second attributive, or most attributive constructions, they reveal a categorical difference. Once again, linguists may disagree with the nuances and their distinction, but the base line semantical value is the same. (See Dan Wallace’s Book Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics, p 306, for a start in that direction).

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  30. Thanks for the response, George. The problems don’t stop though. In your later articles, you point to this one as a foundation. But here you say you’ll justify this article in later articles. Doesn’t that seem circular?

    Secondly, your dependence on apposition collapses because apposition happens between two nouns, not a noun and adjective. Look it up and see for yourself such as here: http://dictionary.cambridge.org/grammar/british-grammar/apposition
    So you might want to edit your article to remove that, because it’s just incorrect.

    Thirdly, as I say, we already know the fire is eternal, because that is how it’s described. You really don’t need to say anything more than that because:
    1. We’ve seen that the majority of linguists say that there is nothing at all special or different with the ordering of the attributive position of the article (“the fire, the eternal” is identical to “the eternal fire”).
    2. Apposition occurs with nouns, not adjectives!

    At the end of the day, what we are left with is just what the Bible says, and that is that the unrighteous enter the eternal fire and go to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life. – If that punishment is death, then this is a perfect picture of it. The fire destroys you and you die a painful death which will be irreversible and permanent, but the righteous inherit eternal life.

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  31. andygsp

    So if a person is justly sentenced for life at age 21, then kills himself after one hour in prison, then according to you he has actually really served the full life sentence? Your logic is astounding.
    If the sole purpose of the eternal fire is to consume immaterial eternal souls then it will serve no further purpose to exist once the last immaterial eternal soul has been consumed. Once consumed the eternal soul by definition is no longer eternal. This sounds more like attempting to syncretize Nirvana oblivion with Christianity. God does not take advice on justice from Buddha.
    A human father then would also be just and loving to kill his kids rather than to let them serve a life sentence. Taking your logic to the absurd extreme then, all Christians should fight to replace every life sentence with the death penalty.
    Have you read my comment on part 3?

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  32. Andy, please understand when I say that your wrong about how apposition works. Please use more than a dictionary to approve your claims. Im not just some random person making linguistic claims. Linguistics is my life’s study along with Scripture. If you look at the work of lexicography, you’ll notice that there purpose isn’t to prescribe but describe language. It isn’t to regulate, but to record. Unless you have more knowledge in this area, I would pull back from making such claims. Lastly, if you feel so strongly about apposition, please tell me why Dan Wallace and Robertson’s Greek Grammar would make such a claim about the second attributive in their Grammars? Have you looked at them?

    If you desire, I would love to have you on my show to talk about Conditionalism if you feel so strongly about it. If not, then I will not continue to got back and forth on social media or blogs. This environment is not a well suited environment to discuss such a nuanced topic such as this.

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  33. Hi T. I. Miller, I’m ready to respond to any actual argument you make. But Incredulity is not an argument. My points are based on what the Bible says, and does not depend on incorrectly applying linguistics (either intentionally or accidentally). George Alvarados’ arguments depends on unusual and patently incorrect application of linguistic techniques, as I’ve shown, and your response is sheer incredulity that I could possibly disagree with him. That’s not persuasive to me. Also, asking a rhetorical question and then jumping to a conclusion is also not an argument, may I suggest that you need to fill in the blanks of how you arrived at the conclusion, because I’m not seeing the connection.

    You seem to be attributing a perspective to me that I did not actually make:

    Who said anything about the sole purpose of the eternal fire being to consume immaterial souls? I didn’t. Firstly, it’s unclear whether this fire is a literal fire, or whether it’s more symbolic (such as when God is described as a consuming fire, that does not mean that Christians are fire/flame worshipers – it’s just a symbolic description of God, we’re not asserting that God is made of fire). Even if it is literal, that in no way implies it’s sole purpose is to consume immaterial souls, and I don’t even know how a fire would do that anyway, being a physical phenomenon. I don’t understand how this relates to anything I said in the first place.

    Why do you think there is an eternal soul? Most theologians who think the soul is eternal do so because of the imagery of an eternal fire which they think is evidence of the eternality of the soul, so you can’t then turn around and say that how we interpret this eternal fire is based upon the eternality of the soul (because the understanding of an soul in turn is based upon the eternal fire) – see, circular thinking.

    Wow. I don’t see how Buddhism has anything to do with this. How would you like it if I blindly asserted ECT has more to do with Islam that Christianity and that God does not take advice on justice from Muhammad? Such a likening is not an argument, it’s just pejorative. And in any case, I don’t think you understand Buddhism anyway if you think it’s about achieving non-existence – it isn’t about that. Can we please stop just throwing accusations and pejorative language at me? I’m willing to discuss, I’m not willing to just have insults hurled at me. Let’s just deal with the arguments and points. Again, I don’t see how this relates to anything I said.

    I don’t think you understand my position. You seem to think that since I think the Bible teaches that fate of the lost will be to suffer “death”, you think that means that I think “A human father then would also be just and loving to kill his kids”. But if on your view the fate of the lost will be to suffer eternal conscious torment then doesn’t that mean that by your own reasoning a human father then would also be just and loving to eternally consciously torment his kids? A more apt analogy would be that if the children reject the father then he lets them go, thus they deprive themselves of the source of life and as such they will die, as opposed to the father keeping them and torturing them for all eternity. Look, we’re getting off track here again.

    Regarding your comment on part 3: You seem to be saying that the gravity of the punishment is determined by who it’s committed against. If you can provide Biblical support for your case then I’m happy to discuss it. If it’s just your own personal opinion, then you’re welcome to it.

    In summary, all I’m doing here is pointing out that George has misapplied linguistic techniques (while he’s simultaneously accusing others of the same) and since his whole article is dependent upon those then he should remove those arguments. I then cut through the many words and briefly say exactly what the Bible says on the topic, which I’ll repeat here: “The unrighteous enter the eternal fire and go to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.” – If that punishment is death, then this is a perfect picture of it. The fire destroys you and you die a painful death which will be irreversible and permanent, but the righteous inherit eternal life. This is not anti-Christian, and it’s not anti-Biblical either.

    Thoughts?

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  34. Hi George, I appreciate that you think you’re right about how apposition works. It’s just that your disagreeing with the information I can find on it, such as Merriam-Webster, Cambridge, and even Wikipedia. Thus your assurances that you really do know what you’re talking about are not very reassuring at all. If Wallace and Robertson disagree with other scholars about the significance of attributive positions, then the very most we can say here is that there is a diversity of views, thus making it fairly inconclusive – your point could go one way or the other.

    I understand not wanting to back and forth on social media. If you’re wanting to have someone on your show, I’m probably not your guy. I’m just a learner who is exploring what the Bible says. I’m happy to leave it for now and agree to disagree if that’s your preference.

    Liked by 1 person

  35. But I really do appreciate the invitation to discuss this on your show. That’s very nice. Perhaps if we knew each other better first, and built up some mutual trust, then it might be appropriate in that case. So perhaps in the future.

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  36. Andy, appositional function will not be discovered in mere dictionaries, but in linguistic research and sources. In short, apposition works with nouns or noun phrases that adds more information regarding the noun in question. Apposition can be found within the grammar, or can be implied within the semantics of any given construction. In this case, according to Robertson, the adjective functions as a sort of “climax in apposition” in relation to the fire. In laymens terms, it is describing the fire by inputing more data. Now, as I said, even if certain linguists disagree with the semantical impact any of these constructions have, they still remain appositional. Adjectives function within appostional phrases, and even themselves can function as an appositon in the same way a noun phrase or noun can.

    There is no inconclusiveness here in this topic. The grammar is very conclusive.

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  37. Hi George! So are you saying that I won’t find appositional function in mere dictionaries and encyclopedias, but instead I should believe you that you can tell me about how it really works?

    In any case, even if I were to grant you this point, that the fire is different to other fires in that it is eternal, well I’m sure conditionalists would agree that this is what the text says (eternal fire) anyway.

    I think the other really disappointing and disheartening thing about this article is where you say about the word unquenchable that “This is a subtle nuance, and I find it manipulative and trite”. Really, so you find it manipulative to use a word according to how it is defined and how it is used? This really saddens me because it reveals how much cognitive dissonance is required to keep on holding your views. I encourage you to let the Bible speak, rather than try to read into it what you want it to say. Let the Holy Spirit guide you, don’t harden your heart.

    You may still disagree about conditionalism, that’s all fine, but I’d just love to see you soften your heart a little. We know that God is able to do that.

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  38. What is the opposite of the illegitimate total transference fallacy? Is it perhaps the illegitimate 50/50 equivocation fallacy? The same word is used for all verses concerning all aspects pertaining to “eternal” life and for all aspects of “eternal” damnation. The same is true in regards to “everlasting”. It conveys the same meaning in both cases, without end.
    Jesus said what he meant and meant what he said. Jesus only said what the Father told him to say and with which words. Otherwise it would not be totally God breathed. His teachings have always been easily understood by ordinary adults and even children. It does not take language linguistic experts to mine out some hidden truth. A truth hidden to all except those who understand the proper use of the appositional function.
    It appears to be the case that perhaps your understanding comes trough the prism of your personal premise preference.
    It seems that all who oppose reformed election do so because it offends them morally. God anticipated this when He inspired Paul to write a response in Rom. 9. The pot was refusing to accept that moral absolutes can only come from the creator.
    It seems that you are desiring that God not George would soften His heart to align with your particular finite understanding and fallen heart.
    Shall the pot indeed talk back to the potter?

    Liked by 1 person

  39. Hi T. I. Miller. Thanks,

    I agree with pretty much most of what you said there. I think we agree on a lot of things, for example, that Jesus is the Son of God, and that he died on the cross for our sins.

    I also agree with you when you say “His teachings have always been easily understood by ordinary adults and even children.”

    For example, the meaning of John 3:16, Romans 6:23, Matthew 10:28 and so on are quite clear. They say that for the saved the gift of God is eternal life, and that the wages of sin is death, but who ever believes in Jesus will not perish but have everlasting life.

    So we both are sticking with what the Bible says. I just think the Bible is clear when it teaches that the lost will be judged and found guilty and sentenced to death in the lake of fire even though I wish it didn’t say this. So even when it doesn’t suit us, or if we have emotional reasons, we still stick with what the Bible says, because we both believe it, right?. That’s all trying to say. I do not fear those who can kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather I fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. So we I agree with Paul when he writes “who are you, O man, to answer back to God?” Instead, we believe God and what he teaches us, as terrifying and disagreeable as some of those teachings are. That is why I say we should soften our hearts to what the Bible says and let it speak to us, rather than us speak to it and force it to say something it’s not trying to say.

    So again, thanks for the discussion. Cheers.

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