The Fire That Consumes: A Biblical and Historical Study of the Doctrine of Final Punishment By Edward W. Fudge
It is encouraging to read a very positive review of Fudge’s book, The Fire That Consumes, in the latest issue of Reality Magazine (unfortunately the review is not available online). Reality is published by the Bible College of NZ, our top interdenominational, evangelical college. The Fire that Consumes is a top-class full-length study of what the Bible teaches regarding the final fate of the lost, completely supporting our conditionalist view. Simon Humphrey, who writes a witty and intelligent review, is clearly very impressed by Fudge’s book.
The book, writes Humphrey, “vigorously challenges” the traditional view of unending conscious torment. It offers, he says, “many highlights”, “a fair assessment of traditionalist writings” and “a compelling presentation of relevant biblical and intertestamental data”. His conclusion is that “this book is essential reading for anyone thinking about this subject”. I wholeheartedly agree. I am also well aware that several articles and books have been written since Fudge’s book first appeared, attempting to criticise its arguments. None of those which I have read impressed me. In the Second Edition of The Fire that Consumes, Fudge has included answers to the most important of these criticisms, often in footnotes. I once had the privilege of giving a lecture at BCNZ on the conditionalist view of hell. I was grateful of the opportunity and found many students very receptive, or at least glad for the chance to hear a fair and (I hope!) clear, though brief, presentation of the conditionalist understanding.
The matter is not one of which Christians ought to wage war! And yet it is of real importance, bearing directly upon the credibility of Christian faith and witness. Often the conditionalist view is attacked on the grounds that it is “soft” on judgment and reduces the incentive to evangelism. On the contrary, it restores credibility, and therefore full seriousness, to the Christian doctrine of judgment. Let the matter, rather, be debated on the grounds of an informed view of what the Bible actually teaches. This is an area in which we rightly look to our Bible colleges to take a lead.This is why it is heartening to see such a fair and positive assessment of Fudge’s splendid book in the pages of Reality.
A helpful link
Edward Fudge’s The Fire That Consumes web page which includes many resources on this topic.