It is with a deep sense of gratitude to God that we pay tribute to Edward Fudge, who passed away on November 26. What an outstanding contribution he has made to the witness of the Christian Church. The DVD Hell and Mr. Fudge begins with a quotation from Victor Hugo: “To rise from error to truth is rare and beautiful.” By God’s grace Edward Fudge has done just that himself. More than this, he has set forth the truth he found, God’s truth, in commanding and comprehensive terms, he has held his ground humbly and patiently through thick and thin and, by personal example and diligent promotion, he has enabled many many others also to see and to stand.
The truth referred to is, of course, the real teaching of the Bible regarding the final fate of the lost, as opposed to other views that have taken hold in Christian tradition with devastating consequences. Although other writers certainly advocated the conditionalist understanding (annihilation) long before Edward Fudge, and even occasionally wrote books about it, the credit must go to Mr Fudge for bringing this truth forward in our time in such a thorough and convincing way that it simply must be reckoned with. Because of him, biblical scholars, pastors and teachers can no longer dismiss opponents of the doctrine of eternal torment as marginal, shallow, uninformed or heretical. Conditionalism, praise God, is here to stay. Thank you, Edward Fudge.
I first came across Edward Fudge’s book The Fire That Consumes in the mid-1980’s. At that time I was in the middle of studies of my own around the twin subjects of the nature of the soul and hell. On the subject of hell, I had already progressed along similar lines to Mr Fudge but was surprised, excited and most encouraged to find such a comprehensive, enlightened and methodical treatment in print. Here, in what has become a classic of evangelical Christian scholarship, I found abundant confirmation and clarification. I also found important ground-breaking work that was new to me, regarding the range of views expressed in both Inter-testamental Jewish literature and also Church history.
I was hugely impressed that Edward Fudge had indeed risen out of deeply ingrained traditionalism to a truly biblical understanding simply through conscientious and courageous personal study. Just as impressive has been his steadfast and faithful public advocacy of conditionalism ever since, often in the face of hostile and misguided criticism. The Fire That Consumes has been through three editions, attracting forewords from three eminent New Testament scholars. He himself has maintained the highest standards in both personal conduct and responsible, articulate debate, winning growing recognition and agreement.
In the year 2000, CIANZ sponsored Edward Fudge on a trip to New Zealand. It was a great pleasure for me to welcome him to my own church in Auckland, where he conducted a first-class seminar on conditionalism and his own journey of discovery. His talk was subsequently published in our magazine. I spent some quality time with him during this trip and found him to be a very warm, approachable and unassuming man, with a lively wit and genuine godly humility.
In 2015, Tarnya Burge, sponsored by CIANZ, updated Edward Fudge’s website and has continued to manage it since that time. It has been a real privilege for us to be invited to be so closely associated with Edward Fudge in his vital God-given ministry. We extend to his wife, Sara Faye, and to his family, our sincere condolences as they mourn his passing. We also assure them of our love and esteem for this outstanding servant of Christ. It is such a joy to be reminded again, at this time, of the steadfast and certain hope we share in our Saviour Jesus Christ, who has indeed “abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the Gospel”.
(President of CIANZ)