The Biblical Doctrine of Hell: Another View

The Christian Post has an interview with Edward Fudge, author of the book The Fire That Consumes: A Biblical and Historical Study of the Doctrine of Final Punishment.  In his book, Fudge presents an alternative view to the Biblical doctrine of hell.

His view differs from the traditional Christian view of hell.  This view teaches that the wicked will be tormented in the fires of hell forever.  His view of hell also differs from Universalism, a view that teaches that the fires of hell purify the wicked who, after a time of purification, will be saved.

Fudge’s view is a third alternative to hell, a view which he calls the “conditionalist” view of hell.  In this interview with a reporter from the Christian Post, Fudge explains the Biblical reasons for his view.

In the interview Fudge discussed the view of Gehenna.  Since Gehenna derives from the Old Testament, I want to quote Fudge’s view on Gehenna:

CP: Can you tell us more about the word Gehenna?

Fudge: It’s the Greek word for hell and it is not found anywhere in the Bible except in the Gospels where it appears 11 times. One time outside the Gospel is in the book of James, when it says the tongue is set on fire by hell, but that is not talking about the end of the wicked. So the only time it is used about the end of the wicked is in the Gospels. It is always only used by Jesus and it is only used speaking to Jews who live around Jerusalem.

The reason for that probably is the word Gehenna, the Greek word, comes from another term, the Valley of the Son of Hinnom, and that phrase is found in the Old Testament and that is a literal place outside of Jerusalem, which in the Old Testament is a place of idol worship, it is a place where pagans had burned their babies and sacrifice [sic] to pagan gods, and it is a place in the Old Testament where the prophets say will be cursed and be a horrible place in the future where there will be dead bodies and so forth.

I enjoyed reading this interview with Fudge.  I have to confess that I have never heard of him nor of his book.  I have included Fudge’s book on my reading list for the summer.  Fudge also discusses Rob Bell’s book, Love Wins: Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived, a book that I also plan to read this summer.  Fudge’s view differs from Bell’s, but both have something in common: both reject the traditional Christian teaching on hell.

The interview with Fudge is long, but it is worth reading.  I am sure that you will be challenged by Fudge’s argument.

You can read the interview with Fudge by visiting The Christian Post online.

Claude Mariottini
Professor of Old Testament
Northern Baptist Seminary

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25 Responses to The Biblical Doctrine of Hell: Another View

  1. Brian Small says:

    Fudge is also the author of two commentaries on Hebrews.

    If you are interested in looking at books on Hell, you might consider reading: David Powys. “Hell”: A Hard Look at a Hard Question: The Fate of the Righteous in New Testament Thought, in the Paternoster Biblical and Theological Monographs. He takes a position similar to Fudges’

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  2. I wonder how Dr. Fudge handles Matthew 25:45-46

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    • Marcus,

      I cannot tell you how he would interpret Matthew 25:45-46. This is one of those passages that affirms the traditional doctrine of hell. This is the reason I want to read Fudge’s book this summer. I want to know how he deals with passages such as this one in the gospel of Matthew. Thank you for your question.

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    • A H A T E L E Y says:

      I haven’t read Dr. Fudge’s book, nor do I yet consider myself an annihilationist or a universalist. But I do wonder why we read the “everlasting punishment” to be literal when it exists within an obviously metaphorical passage (I am not a literal sheep nor a literal goat) that when read as simply as it is written actually teaches the wholly works-based salvation of whole Nations — and not the faith-based salvation of individuals, that all Christians find a bit less squeamish. If this be the last bastion of the Eternal Tormentors than I fear the debate is long lost.

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      • Ahateley,

        Thank you for your comment. I have not yet read Fudge’s book, but I will do so before the summer is over. I still hold the traditional view. So, Fudge will have to convince me that his view is biblical. So, I cannot judge the merits of his argument without reading the book. After I read the book, I will write a review of the book and give an evaluation of his argument.

        Claude Mariottini

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    • Mike securo says:

      I would suggest that you ask Edward yourself. He is very humble and very personable. Edward@edwardfudge.com
      I dont know that those verses are on topic however. Read his book. It’s nothing to fear. Edward is a gentle scholar, lawyer and cherishes scripture.

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      • Mike,

        Thank you for your comment. I am planning to read Fudge’s book in a few days. By the way, I will be with Fudge in September. He is giving a lecture in Huston and he invited me to be his guest.

        Claude Mariottini

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    • Mike securo says:

      I would suggest that you ask Edward yourself. He is very humble and very personable. Edward@edwardfudge.com
      I believe he would say that the PUNISHMENT is eternal, but not the PUNISHING. In other words, “history” will always record that they were punished but the punishment would have ended after a span of time. Even civil authorities let criminals out after they have served time. Even for terrible crimes. As a lover of Jesus our Lord, I can’t abide the thought of him allowing or condoning one of his creations being horribly punished because they didn’t choose to believe in him. So they don’t get the joy of eternal life, but they get punished for some time and then are destroyed.
      Edward is a gentle scholar, lawyer and cherishes scripture.

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  3. Greg Masone says:

    Fudge will be giving a lecture at the Lanier Theological Library here in Houston this September. I plan on going to it as this topic sounds very interesting. It’s listed under the LTL Events section in the website below.

    http://www.laniertheologicallibrary.org/

    Dr. Mariottini, if you ever find yourself visiting Houston, see if you can find the time to visit this amazing resource! A very generous Christian built his own theological library with over 70,000 books, and he opens it up to the public for free to read and do research. He also built a chapel patterned after a 5th century Byzantine Church, complete with a painted ceiling of scenes from the Bible. My family and I visited it not too long ago and took some pictures of it all. If you would like to see them, I can point you to them through Facebook.

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    • Greg,

      Thank you for this information. The reason I posted the interview with Fudge is because I am also interested in what he has to say. I am not familiar with the Lanier Theological Library. I have been to Huston many times, but never visited the Library. I would love to see the pictures of the Library.

      Claude Mariottini

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  4. Dr. Mariottini,
    Thank you for bringing the new revised and enlarged third edition of THE FIRE THAT CONSUMES to the attention of your readers. It is published by Cascade Books, the academic arm of Wipf and Stock Publishers (available at http://www.wipfandstock.com and wherever good books are sold; Kindle third edition from http://www.amazon.com). This new third edition features my interaction throughout with 17 traditionalist authors of 12 books published since the first edition’s release in 1982.
    It has a commendatory foreword by Richard Bauckham, Professor Emeritus of New Testament at the University of St. Andrews, Scotland, now at Cambrige University, U.K., plus earlier forewords by F.F. Bruce (first edition) and John W. Wenham, Oxford (second, British edition).
    And, yes, it devotes an entire chapter of thirteen pages to an examination of the Parable of the Sheep and the Goats.
    Cordially — Edward William Fudge

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    • Dear Mr. Fudge,

      Thank you for taking the time to provide additional information about the third edition of your book. What I read about the book in your Interview was very interesting. Later this summer I am planning to read your book and evaluate your argument. I hope many readers will take the time to read your book and become familiar with your views. Best wishes on the success of your book.

      Claude Mariottini

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  5. mattdabbs says:

    I was going to put Fudge’s take on Matthew 25 from his book but it looks like he is reading the comments so maybe he can tackle that one 🙂 He mentions 25:46 about a dozen times in The Fire that Consumes. He takes the position that it is aionios can be suggestive of a quality rather than a quantity (See pp. 37, 39ff).

    Another great book on this topic that has this view and three others is called “Four Views on Hell” it is worth a look as each guy lays out his view and then at the end of each view they critique each other’s view.

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    • Matt,

      Thank you for this information. I was not familiar with the book you mentioned. I will try to include it on my reading list for this summer. I will read Fudge’s book and eventually write a post on his book.

      Have a nice summer.

      Claude Mariottini

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  6. Craig Benno says:

    I enjoyed reading through your link. I knew that John Stott held to a conditionalist position, but was pleasantly surprised to read F.F. Bruce does / did also. Finally I agree with Fudge that we do need to take the terms Perish and Death as having a literal meaning.

    I would like to think that the church still has the spirit of the reformation still working through it and it seems the doctrine of hell is one such issue that is still held from medieval times.

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    • Craig,

      Thank you for your comment. I have to confess that I still hold to the traditional view. I will read Fudge’s book and see if he convinces me to change my views. After this summer I plan to write a review of his book. If Stott and Bruce held the same view, then I have to say that Fudge is in good company.

      Claude Mariottini

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  7. Pingback: HELL CONVERSATION CONTINUES | Afterlife | Conditional Immortality, Soul Sleep and Annihilationism |Conditional Immortality Discussion around the web

  8. Michael B. says:

    How about: God, Who is Love, being Heaven and Hell ? Heaven is a Person, more than a place – likewise Hell. The difference, on this theory, is in the “recipient”, not in God. God is the same for atheists and Christians – but He is not “received” in the same way. So maybe He is a horror & a torment for those who hate Him, but Life & Joy & Love for those whose hearts have been made subject to His. In both cases, people are getting what they really want: either the idol of Self – or else, God. Such a theory imputes no unfairness to God – the wrong is in the sinner, where it comes from.

    It would be interesting to know whether others have come across this idea.

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    • Michael,

      It is true that people make a choice in life. People who accept God will enjoy life; people who reject God will be separated from him. If that is what hell is, then hell is a reality. I am reading Fudge’s book and will write a review of the book in the near future.

      Thank you for your comment.

      Claude Mariottini

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  9. Lynda says:

    What an awesome way to explain this-now I know everyhnitg!

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    • Lynda,

      Thank you for visiting my blog. I am in the process o reading Fudge’s book and I will have a detailed review of the book probably in October. Welcome to my blog and I hope you will visit it again.

      Claude Mariottini

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  10. Pingback: Hell and Mr. Fudge | Claude Mariottini - Professor of Old Testament

  11. Pingback: A Lecture on the Final Punishment of the Wicked | Claude Mariottini - Professor of Old Testament

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