Changing your Mind on Hell?
A conversation with Dan Page
Dan Page changed his mind from believing and teaching Eternal Conscious Torment to Conditionalism. We discuss why.
We reference a note that Dan posted on his Facebook page. You can see it here with some edits to fit in the description:
“This rather lengthy post is primarily for my friends who call themselves Christians. ... Since the beginning of my relationship with God I’ve often heard people say something along the lines of, “the Bible says everyone is going to live forever in one of two places.” I’m now quite sure that’s not at all what the Bible says. The primary picture the scriptures paint is one of eternal life (eternally alive & preserved) in heaven or eternal death (eternally dead & destroyed) in hell. I’m not trying to stir up discord or cause division. Nor am I saying that hell isn’t real. Of course it is. Jesus said,
“Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Instead, fear the one who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” (Matthew 10:28)
When we bring the most honest hermeneutic we can to the scriptures, being committed to letting them speak to us rather than us telling them what we think they say, that’s when we find ourselves more able to discover what the truth truly is. No matter how long any individual, church or religious organization has believed anything, it doesn’t make it right or mean it’s true. I remember the cognitive dissonance with which I wrestled as I began questioning ECT. As I’ve continued to read & study the Bible being honest about what never seemed compatible with believing that love & justice would allow for let alone require ECT, it’s come to this: doesn’t inviting someone who never asked to exist to consider & respond to the good news communicated & confirmed in the gospel & person of Jesus Christ all the while having to include the reality of eternal conscious torment in a fiery hell if they refuse His gift of eternal life create its own cognitive dissonance? God is good & He is love & in His image He created every human being who was, is & will ever be? Yet the overwhelming majority of humanity will be tormented if not tortured eternally? Where, even once (yes, once), in the entirety of the Old Testament or the Book of Acts or any of the letters written by Paul, Peter or James does anything even hinting at ECT appear? ... If it isn’t & someone’s rejecting God because of it, then it's not God they’re rejecting but a distorted & disfigured caricature of Him.
There is no doubt whatsoever that the misinterpretation of scripture leads to the misrepresentation of God. While some will say that’s exactly what I’m doing here concerning this, obviously I would beg to differ. The bottom line is that I am trying to expose as clearly as I can that which I’ve come to see is an absolutely humungous misunderstanding concerning immortality being something anyone has who has not yet received the gift of eternal life in Christ (Genesis 2:16-17 / Matthew 7:13-14 / John 3:16 / Romans 6:23 / 1 Corinthians 15:53-54 / 2 Timothy 1:10 / 1 John 5:11-12).
Knowing that how we look at what we see very much influences what it is we see, I do have to say I see the scriptural support for conditional immortality far outweighs that for eternal conscious torment. May whatever the truth is always be our passion & prize. May we always be willing to say “I was wrong” about anything & anyone, including the Bible & God, whenever the need to do so arises. The best questions to ask about whatever the Bible addresses are what does this actually say & what does it truly mean? This includes being aware of context historically, culturally & geographically. It requires being willing & able to acknowledge & address the difference between metaphor, hyperbole, symbolism, allusion & imagery, etc. Is something timely or timeless? Is it a promise, a proverb or a principle / a moral, civil or ceremonial law / a commandment, exhortation or observation? Is a verse or passage primarily descriptive or prescriptive? What are the implications of the Old Testament being written in Hebrew & the New Testament in Greek especially as it pertains to how it is we translate them into whatever other language it may be that we happen to speak?
If you are wondering about the veracity of conditional immortality, I cannot recommend these online resources highly enough. They have helped me immensely in my search for the truth concerning hell: http://rethinkinghell.com/, https://www.youtube.com/thehellproject & https://www.conditionalimmortality.org. ...
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