Below is a video teaching of Edward Fudge at Lanier Theological Library in which he addresses the doctrine of hell. Fudge is author of the book, The Fire That Consumes, which presents a case around what is known as annihilationism. This particular view states that the ‘fire’ of judgment is not given for eternal torment but to do just what every fire was meant to do, that is consume (or annihilate) the wicked. It is in contradistinction to the more popular view amongst evangelicals known as eternal conscious torment that says all wicked will be tormented forever as part of God’s judgment. The fire-torment will never end.
I’ve not yet read this particular book, though I had to engage with the debate in seminary as my systematics professor, Robert Peterson, is one of the great modern defenders of eternal conscious torment. Fudge and Peterson debated things in the book, Two Views of Hell. And I am becoming more aware of the in’s and out’s of the two views: annihalitionism and eternal conscious torment. Not to mention the third view known as evangelical universalism or ultimate reconciliation, which is not a nothing-matters universalism, but that all will ultimately be reconciled to God because of the work of Jesus Christ. One of the more well-known works describing this third position is Gregory MacDonald’s (or Robin Parry’s), The Evangelical Universalist. The name, Gregory MacDonald, comes from two of the more well-known evangelical universalists in church history, Gregory of Nyssa and George MacDonald.
I suppose that what is stated in Fudge’s own book is pretty much well summarised in the video teaching below. While most people think that eternal conscious torment is THE belief of the church throughout, it actually isn’t. And, as with all the Rob Bell hubbub from a year ago over his book, Love Wins, I think many evangelicals are realising that they might need to rethink the traditional-popular view of eternal conscious torment. We need to really grasp what the words Sheol, Hades, Gehenna, Tartarus, destruction, death, etc, really refer to. I’m not saying Bell’s book is the best place to learn, though I still think it worth engaging with as we consider both the theological and philosophical ramifications of God’s judgment. But it at least made many aware that there are some points that need to be laid down within evangelicalism’s view of hell and other important points worth engaging with to help us form a better and biblical view of hell. And I think many theologians have shifted more towards annihilationism and away from the eternal conscious punishment.
Without further ado, here is the video teaching from a good ol’ Texas boy, Edward Fudge.