The nature and duration of Hell have been a point of theological controversy for centuries. The majority of Christians today understand Hell as a place where, upon death, the unsaved are eternally damned to be tormented and punished day and night. This is a tough pill to swallow. More recently, with the work of Edward Fudge (though Fudge was certainly not the first to rethink these issues) and others, many Christians today have begun reconsidering the doctrine of Hell. The above-mentioned pill gets easier to swallow as opinions grow further and further from Christian orthodoxy. Still, for many, a balance of biblical and theological faithfulness has come to rest on a positioned known as Conditional Immortality (or Annihilationism).
Rethinking Hell: Readings in Evangelical Conditionalism edited by Christopher M. Date, Gregory G. Stump, and Joshua W. Anderson brings together a fascinating collection of excerpts from well-respected evangelical thinkers concerning the nature of Hell and Conditional Immortality. The contributors of this volume include Edward W. Fudge, John R. W. Stott, Clark Pinnock, John W. Wenham, E. Earle Ellis, Anthony C. Thiselton, Roger E. Olson, Ben Witherington III, and much more. While it should be said that there is nothing presented in this volume that is inherently new, either by way of argument or article, the convenience of having such an exemplar roster of contributors under a single roof and the scope of material presented makes this volume indispensable to the ongoing conversation.
The book is comprised of six major sections: (1) Rethinking Hell, (2) Influential Defenses of Conditionalism, (3) Biblical Support for Conditionalism, (4) Philosophical Support for Conditionalism, (5) Historical Considerations, and (6) Conditionalism and Evangelicalism. These six sections provide a good sense of the overall scope of the book. Moreover, there are a number of standout articles in this volume that are worth mentioning, including, “New Testament Teaching on Hell” by E. Earle Ellis, “Claims about ‘Hell’ and Wrath” by Anthony C. Thiselton, and “Conditionalism in the Early Church” by LeRoy E. Froom. I could easily list more articles but these are definitely among the top three. The only hesitancy that I have with this volume, apart from not being fully persuaded by the Conditionalist claims, is the overstated identification with Evangelicalism. Many of these authors should not be considered as evangelicals. But, then again, what is the definition of evangelicalism today anyways?
Rethinking Hell: Readings in Evangelical Conditionalism edited by Christopher M. Date, Gregory G. Stump, and Joshua W. Anderson is an excellent introduction to Conditionalism. The editors have brought together some of the most influential articles from some of the most well-respected contributors to the conversation. This is a volume that will challenge your understanding and make you think long and hard about your traditions. It presents an important conversation that needs to take place more often, and I believe that this book will help that need become a reality. It comes highly recommended!
I received a review copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.