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25 April 2017

Clark H. Pinnock on the Gravity of Annihilationism

        [W]hatever hell turns out to be like, it is a very grim prospect. Though annihilationism makes hell less of a torture chamber,[1] it does not lessen its extreme seriousness. After all, to be rejected by God, to miss the purpose for which one was created, to pass into oblivion while others enter bliss, to enter into nonbeingthis will mean weeping and gnashing of teeth. Hell is a terrifying possibility, the possibility of using our freedom to lose God and destroy ourselves. Of course we do not know who or how many will be damned, because we do not know who will finally say No to God. What we do know is that sinners may finally reject salvation, that absolute loss is something to be reckoned with. I do not think one needs to know more about hell than that.
—Clark H. Pinnock, ‘The Conditional View’, in Four Views on Hell, ed. William Crockett, 1st ed., Counterpoints: Bible and Theology (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1996), p. 165.

Copyright © 1996, Clark H. Pinnock. All rights reserved.

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Notes
        1. That is, ‘less of a torture chamber’ than the conventional view of ‘hell’. The traditional understanding of the future and final state of the unrighteous is that the lost are to experience endless bodily and soulish suffering in Gehenna/the lake of fire along with the devil and his angels.
        2. A new edition of this volume has been released under the same title with different contributors. See Preston Sprinkle (ed.), Four Views on Hell, 2nd ed., Counterpoints: Bible and Theology (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2016). —J. D. Gallé

22 April 2017

The Remonstrants on the Nature of Faith

        [K]nowledge alone of the divine will does not suffice for true and saving faith, or understanding of all the concepts [that] are contained in the gospel. For this is possible without assent and trust. Indeed, it really is in the demons, and in many of the ungodly and unbelieving. Nor indeed is it any assent whatever, namely sudden, perfunctory, implicit, brutish or blind, ungrounded in reason and yielded without judgment. For this by itself, taken alone, is not saving, nor can it ever sufficiently move the will to any rational and free obedience. And therefore [assent] is not rarely found in those who live little like Christians, but it must be entirely firm and solid, strengthened by the command of a deliberate will. Finally, assent which is faithful and obedient is called faith, not just an absolute confidence of special mercy, almost as if already secured, namely, by which I believe that my sins are already forgiven me (for this is not the essential form which constitutes justifying faith, but only a certain additional consequent, indeed it necessarily presupposes saving faith itself, as its prerequisite condition), but by which I firmly establish that it is impossible that I should escape eternal death and to the contrary obtain eternal life by any other means than Jesus Christ, and in any other way than by that prescribed by him. And hence this has always had joined to it our debt of new obedience to Jesus Christ, that is, not some sterile purpose of obeying or feelings without effect, but which continually brings forth of itself true and actual obedience itself.
—Simon Episcopius,[1] ‘On Faith in Jesus Christ’, in The Arminian Confession of 1621, trans. Mark A. Ellis, Princeton Theological Monograph Series (Eugene, OR: Pickwick Publications, 2005), pp. 78–79.

Copyright © 2005, Mark A. Ellis. All rights reserved.
 
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Note
        1. Simon Episcopius (1583–1643), protégé of Jacobus Arminius (1560–1609), is attributed as the primary (if not sole) author of the Arminian/Remonstrant Confession of 1621 (i.e. the Confession or Declaration of the Pastors which in the Belgian Federation are called the Remonstrants, on the principle articles of the Christian Religion’). See Ellis, ‘Introduction’, in Arminian Confession, p. ix (par. 2). Ellis’ translation of the confession is from Latin to English. (As an aside, the Dutch names of Episcopius and Arminius are Simon Bisschop and Jakob Hermanszoon [respectively].) —J. D. Gallé

23 March 2017

Robert E. Picirilli on the Nature of Discipleship

        To be a disciple means to repent and believe the gospel and so to enter the Kingdom of God. It means to declare sincerely that one is a follower of Jesus, learning from Him. It means one must renounce all other competing allegiances and values and submit to His Lordship as the one who will teach the will of God. It means applying that teaching to one’s own life and so bringing forth “fruit worthy of repentance.” It means giving the word of God a favorable hearing and keeping it. In short, this means leaving, following, and learning.
        And this is what it means to be a Christian.
—Robert E. Picirilli, Discipleship: The Expression of Saving Faith (Nashville, TN: Randall House, 2013), p. 38, emphasis in original.

Copyright © 2013, Robert E. Picirilli. All rights reserved.

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10 March 2017

Matthew 3:12 and Traditionalist Translational Bias in the Christian Standard Bible (CSB)

J. D. Gallé | Friday, 10 March 2017

        The Christian Standard Bible (2017) translates Matthew 3:12 in such a way that it is apt to reinforce belief in the doctrine of eternal, conscious punishment amongst its (principally) conservative evangelical readership:

“His winnowing shovel is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor and gather his wheat into the barn. But the chaff he will burn [katakausei] with fire that never goes out [puri asbestō].” (CSB)[1, 2]
        By way of contrast, the BSB,[3] LEB,[4] MEV,[5] Mounce Reverse-Interlinear New Testament (2011), NASB,[6] NET,[7] and NKJV[8] translate katakaiō as ‘burn up’, and six of the seven preceding English Bible translations render pur asbestos as ‘unquenchable fire’.[9]
        The trouble with the CSB’s rendering of Matthew 3:12 is that it is interpretational in nature, potentially (if not very likely) misleading, and reflective of traditionalist translational bias. A fire that never goes out conforms well with the conventional notion that the wicked will be preserved for ever in a place of torment (i.e. ‘hell’), but such a reading of Matthew 3:12 is not derived from the actual text.


Katakaiō
κατακαίω [katakaiō] means not only to burn, but “to consume” by fire (…). It is used in relation to burning the gates of the Jerusalem temple (1 Mac. 4:38), of books (Acts 19:19), trees and grass of the earth (Rev 8:7), weeds (Matt 13:40), and chaff … [Matt 13:12].[10]
Pur Asbestos
[T]he image of unquenchable fire throughout the Old Testament prophets, … [describes] fire that cannot be resisted or put out. Not surprisingly, such a fire consumes, reduces to nothing and burns up whatever is put in it (Ezek 20:47-48; Amos 5:6; Mt 3:12).[11]
Commenting on Mark 9:43 and the ‘unquenchable fire’ of Gehenna, Kim Papaioannou observes:
ἄσβεστον (abeston) … qualifies the nature of the πῦρ [pur], namely, that it cannot be put out by a third party. It is thus a description of the nature of the fire without any reference to duration.[12]

Conclusion
        When left unmolested by the traditionalist biases of certain English Bible translation committees, Matthew 3:12 can readily be seen as providing solid support for an annihilationist understanding of the future and final judgement of the unrepentant. The contrast John the Baptiser sets forth in this text is one of preservation and destruction. As wheat is gathered and preserved in a barn at the time of harvest, the righteous will be preserved from the wrath of God on Judgement Day. Conversely, as chaff is discarded and consumed at harvest time, the unrighteous will not be so preserved, but completely destroyed (cf. Matt. 13:30, 40). 
        Regrettably, the Christian Standard Bible obscures this rather plain reading of Matthew 3:12 in two ways. The CSB (1) blunts the force of the term katakaiō (‘burn up’, ‘consume’) by rendering it simply as ‘burn’; and (2) reads duration into pur asbestos where such a consideration is absent (i.e. the ‘fire that never goes out’).

Notes
        1. Christian Standard Bible. All emphases in scriptural quotations have been added by the author.
        2. Compare Matthew 3:12c in the Holman Christian Standard Bible (2009): ‘ “But the chaff He will burn up [katakausei] with fire that never goes out [puri asbestō].”
        3. Berean Study Bible (2016).
        4. Lexham English Bible (2012).
        5. Modern English Version (2014).
        6. New American Standard Bible (1995).
        7. New English Translation (1996–2006).
        8. New King James Version (1982).
        9. The NET reads ‘inextinguishable fire’.
        10. Kim Papaioannou, The Geography of Hell in the Teaching of Jesus: Gehena, Hades, the Abyss, the Outer Darkness Where There Is Weeping and Gnashing of Teeth (Eugene, OR: Pickwick Publications, 2013), p. 69 n. 55.
        11. Edward William Fudge, ‘The Teachings of Jesus’, in Edward William Fudge and Robert A. Peterson, Two Views of Hell: A Biblical and Theological Dialogue, Spectrum Multiview Books (Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2000), p. 38.
        12. Papaioannou, Geography of Hell, p. 34.


Original content copyright © 2017, J. D. Gallé. All rights reserved.

(Readers are encouraged to consult the volumes cited in this article.)

27 January 2017

1 Peter 1:20 and the Christian Standard Bible (CSB)

J. D. Gallé | Friday, 27 January 2017

        The Christian Standard Bible (2017) joins the ESV,[1] LEB,[2] NASB,[3] and NET[4] in rendering proginōskō as ‘foreknown’ in 1 Peter 1:20:
He was foreknown [proegnōsmenou] before the foundation of the world but was revealed in these last times for you. (CSB, emphasis added)
        The CEB,[5] HCSB,[6] and NIV[7] have ‘chosen’ for proginōskō in the main text; the Mounce Reverse-Interlinear New Testament (2011) has ‘chosen in advance’; the MEV[8] and NKJV[9] read ‘foreordained’; the NRSV[10] and RSV[11] have ‘destined’.
        Why is this a matter of importance? The aforementioned readings – ‘chosen’,  ‘chosen in advance’, ‘foreordained’, ‘destined’ – are theologically loaded renderings of proginōskō. In 1 Peter 1:20, knowing in advance, not ordaining or choosing in advance, is specifically the concept in view. God’s plan of redeeming fallen humankind through the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ, whilst foreknown to the Father prior to the foundation of the world, has now been made manifest to believers at the end of the times (see vv. 18–21). What was previously concealed has now been disclosed.
 
Notes
        1. English Standard Version (2001–2016). 
        2. Lexham English Bible (2012). 
        3. New American Standard Bible (1995). 
        4. New English Translation (1996–2006). 
        5. Common English Bible (2011). 
        6. Holman Christian Standard Bible (2009). (As from early 2017, the HCSB will be replaced by the CSB translation.) 
        7. New International Version (2011). 
        8. Modern English Version (2014).
        9. New King James Version (1982). 
        10. New Revised Standard Version (1989). 
        11. Revised Standard Version (1971).

Copyright © J. D. Gallé, 2017. All rights reserved. 


(To view the Christian Standard Bible online, visit the following website: <http://read.csbible.com/>.) 

Latest revision: 28 January 2017 (emended last paragraph slightly; added one sentence).