Exploratory Questions for Chris Date

1) Do you believe that the inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah were annihilated by God in Genesis 19?
2) Do you believe that those who die the first death are annihilated?
3) Do you continue to believe that there is no explanation/expansion of Old Testament texts by those who quote them in the New Testament?

“I’m completely open to the possibility that New Testament authors, and the Lord himself, expanded upon Old Testament imagery; show me where they do that? They don’t, they just quote it. In Mark 9:48, Jesus simply quotes Isaiah’s language. What indication is there that the language is expanded upon to mean something greater? Something more than what Isaiah had communicated.”[1]

4) Do you believe that all of the words employed for death/destruction/destroyed (and the like) have a singular meaning throughout Scripture, that being annihilation/extinction?
5) Do you believe that the word “eternal” when related to punishment or destruction is limited to the length of time that that men remain dead?
6) What do you believe is the current state of men who have died in the past (feel free to distinguish between that of unbeliever and believer if that is appropriate for your position)?
7) Are you a physical monist with regard to the nature of human beings?
8 ) Do you believe, with Fudge and other conditionalists, that the humanity of Christ was annihilated?
9) If your answer to either 2 or 8 is affirmative, do you believe that those persons are recreated?
10) What is your precise position on penal substitution?

I haven’t got a clear answer (that I’ve heard, at least, although I freely admit my audio memory is not especially good) on any of these questions thus far from listening to your material, so I figured it was better to just ask. Feel free to ask your own questions, should you so desire. I’ll be continuing to post resources, arguments, exegetical/theological responses and the like in the days to come, of course, however. Your lines of argumentation contra Diaz have been helpful in preparation thus far, and are directing me to relevant material from other conditionalists. I’m sure I’ll have more specific questions for you in the future, as very few others are even Calvinistic; hence your position seems to be rather more eclectic (in some ways) than theirs, as a rule.

  1. [1]Diaz-Date, 60:10ff



I like the shades smiley for #8.

That is all.


lol. Fixed.


1. No
2. No
3. Yes–but I meant specifically that they don’t expand upon them in such a way that indicates that eternal conscious suffering is their fulfillment.
4. No
5. No–I don’t think one who has been annihilated can be said to remain anything.
6. Don’t know–except that all will rise
7. No–I once was a dualist, now I’m agnostic.
8. No
9. N/A
10. Christ bore the eternal punishment of irrevocable death, by means of violent execution, in place of the elect.

Of course, feel free to ask additional questions where necessary.


Thank you.

As further clarification for 3 – are you saying that the NT does not expand upon the OT at all, or were you intending that to be limited solely to matters of eschatology? It seemed to be the case that you were expressing that the NT doesn’t say anything new with respect to the interpretation of this point, but even more strongly, that it has nothing to say which adds to the testimony of the OT in any respect. In either case, I find that to be an interesting position to hold, but I’d like to know which one, if you don’t mind 🙂

As further clarification for 5, I’m asking what the punishment being called “eternal” actually intends to express, in your view – ie: that these men/angels are dead (I take this to mean in the sense of “have ceased to exist”), for eternity, the cessation of existence is irreversible, and will never be rescinded – and therein consists the reason for the usage of the word “eternal” to modify “punishment” – the extent of the duration (and the extent of the quality) of their (non-existence?). I’m really not sure how this is actually considered to be intelligible from your position, which is why I’m asking.

I am hearing from Fudge, et al, that the modifier “eternal” is qualitative and quantitative – that there is a quality to this punishment that is unending, and that it will continue on without end. What I am trying to grasp is how your position explains a punishment itself that is unending, yet is said to be applicable to persons who no longer exist, DO end, in every sense of the term, as a result of it. If it is a punishment of those persons, once those persons cease to exist, it is no longer a punishment of them, as they do not exist for the punishment to be relational to. Hence, the punishment, while rightly thought of as *final*, does not seem to be *eternal* in any meaningful sense, as eternity seems to be either the quality or quantity of something, and that something seems to be no longer meaningful when there is no referent for it. Again, if the something that is punished ceases to exist, it is no longer being punished, as it seems to be the case that it does not exist for punishment to be meaningfully related to it, and there cannot be a relation to non-entity.

As further clarification for 10 – First, what do you mean by “irrevocable”, since your usage of it doesn’t seem to mean what the most common sense of the word seems to convey? Second, since you don’t consider it to be the case that Christ’s humanity was annihilated in propitiation, in what sense did he bear our penalty, given your view? Third, while it’s undeniable that “violent execution” was part of Christ’s atonement, what do you consider Him to have accomplished/bore in our place insofar as His taking upon Himself the wrath of God, which seems to be far more weighty a concern in comparison to His purely mortal death, as horrible as it was?

In any case, thanks for the response, looking forward to the next.

Chris Date

As further clarification for 3…

I can understand why it came across that way; even Edward Fudge misunderstood me. I meant that when the OT is quoted or hearkened to in the NT 1) when speaking about final punishment, my position is that it doesn’t expand upon its meaning 2) in such a way that lends itself to eternal conscious suffering, as opposed to execution.

As further clarification for 5…

One way to put it is that “eternal” describes the duration of the effect of the verb, when attached to a nominalized transitive verb. Or, Douglas Moo uses the word “results” on page 106 of Hell Under Fire, with respect to Mark 3:29, Heb. 5:9, 6:2, 9:12 and Jude 7 (he also uses “consequences,” which is a word that technically fits, but is sometimes misunderstood).

As further clarification for 10…

1. Irreversible would probably have been a better word.
2. In the same way many critics of my view do: being the Godman, His punishment was finite in duration but qualified as being eternal.
3. I consider Him to have done just that: bore God’s wrath in place of the elect–His rage, displeasure, indignation, anger, etc.


I started to write a comment about this, but then I was asked to preach, so I took care of that first.

I get #3, sort of. I don’t think that it’s true, or applicable to what we’d say the Old Testament says, but I think I understand your position.

As to #5 and #10, you seem to be awfully cagey, at least to me. I understand the temptation to keep it under your hat, so to speak, but I know it might (possibly) be because you don’t have time to make a fuller explanation. However, the request was to explain how that position is intelligible.

I’m really not sure how this is actually considered to be intelligible from your position

When a presuppositionalist asks you why your position is intelligible, that’s asking for a lot more than a restatement of your position, for instance. Using verbiage like “like many of the critics of my position do” just isn’t even sensical to me at that point, either, especially if you don’t say why you are using that verbiage. What is it like, and which critics are you talking about, and in what context? I don’t care about those critics, especially. What I want to do is address your particular position. If, even when I directly ask you about something, and ask you to expand on it, you seem to restate your position using the same sorts of terms terms that I’ve already asked about, how does that help?

“Irreversible” for #10 doesn’t seem to be helpful, either, as (as far as I can tell, given that the Son was raised, and is “alive forevermore”) it was reversed. If the penalty was death, in the sense of extinction, or “the body and soul being killed” – I fail to see how his punishment was substitutionary. In the Scripture, He bears the wrath of God, poured out in all of its infinite fury (is this something you even affirm, that it is infinite in its fury?)- and in that wrath-bearing, as well as in the mortal death that he died, while knowing no sin, yet becoming sin for us. For us, the reason why only Christ could be our substitute was because only the God-man could bear an infinite penalty in Himself – men cannot do so, and will therefore bear it for eternity. It is that which predicates the eternality of the punishment – it is the inability of man to ever pay that penalty fully if he is finite, as well as to satisfy the actus purus wrath of the infinite God by a finite punishment. For you, since, for instance, Christ was the propitiatory sacrifice for the sins of His people, and the purported penalty for those sins is being killed, never to be raised again – at least for everyone else – how is this intelligible? How do _you_ make this intelligible? What is your position on what Christ actually bore? Saying that “He bore the wrath of God”, when we seem to have different views on what, precisely, the wrath of God is, isn’t helpful. This is what I’m trying to say. Giving instances of synonyms for His wrath isn’t what I’m asking for. It’s what, precisely, Christ bears – the nature of that which is borne – and will be borne by sinners. That’s the question. Is it your contention, for instance, as a theologian, that the wrath which Christ bore is finite, or that it is infinite? Is it your contention, as a theologian, that the wrath of God ends with the cessation of the target’s existence, or what is it that you say? Is it your contention, as a theologian, that the body and soul of Christ were killed in propitiation for the sins of the elect? Here is where the question of intelligibility enters. If “finite”, for the first question, is this not a denial of Simplicity, along with a host of other theological topics? If “infinite”, then how can this wrath cease? If Yes for the second, then how can we affirm Simplicity, along with a host of other theological topics? If Yes, for the last question, did you not just posit a violation of Chalcedon’s definition of the hypostatic union? If No, then how can it be considered propitiatory, given that you did NOT affirm #8? I don’t see what intelligible definition there can be of substitution if Christ was not killed in the same fashion that the dead in unbelief will be killed.

Of course, as I mentioned in my sermon, it might be due to your view of what “death” is, and what “sin” is. I don’t know, because it hasn’t been explained, that I can find. Following the exegetical work of Augustine, and the Reformers, I see sin and death to be “corruptions” of righteousness and life, respectively. They do not have existence of themselves, but presuppose righteousness and life, obviously.

I guess my biggest problem is the desire to defend a position which seemingly has no position on some of the biggest aspects pertaining to it.

When you say “whatever the soul is” – what is going through your mind when you say that? What, in systematic, do you object to in regard to the orthodox position on what the soul is? It’s quite obviously there, and defined rather extensively. These things were not written in a corner. It’s not as if there’s no exegetical material written on the subject, either. How can you possibly be “agnostic” to what happens after the first death, either? This also has a well-defined position in systematic and historical theology. Especially, I note, when you claim to know what happens after the second death?

Even more, what is your “beef” with the position of reformed systematic on what death is. What I did with my sermon was just pull it out of the text. I haven’t heard your particular position on what sin is – but that of other annihilationists surely doesn’t accord with mine. We know what sin is from Scripture – we’re told explicitly – and we know what death is – because we’re also told this explicitly in Scripture. Yet, your definition of “death” doesn’t seem to bear any resemblance to mine. Talking about “they will be killed” as if the presuppositional commitments being brought to bear on what that word is and means aren’t there doesn’t seem to be helpful. What does it mean to be “killed?” To be killed, in the Scripture, seems to have a particular meaning. My definitions could easily come straight out of systematic, and historical theology; because when I exegeted it, I referred to them specifically to make sure I agreed. When a Reformed guy is asking for definitions from a putatively Reformed guy, getting something unsystematic is not exactly what we’re asking for. If you don’t have a systematic theology of the first death, the intermediate state, the last judgment, and Hell – and if they don’t all flow together smoothly, you’re going to tend to be very, very confusing to try to follow, at least for this Reformed guy.

I mean, I understand that you guys don’t have an annihilationist systematic to refer to. I keep being referred to Fudge – great. But then when I ask whether you do believe what Fudge does on a great many things, the answer is “no.” So, the question becomes, if you don’t agree with Fudge, and you don’t agree with me – what are you saying, systematically, about the other topics that your position on the eternal state of sinners necessitate modification of? That’s what I’m trying to get at. I get what your position says about “the second death”. That isn’t even the question. The question is, what about all of these other doctrines of systematic that the change at this one point involves changes in? If you want to just say “we’ll hash this out in the debate”, that’s fine – but I’ll tell you right now that it’ll involve me asking questions to both these things, then more related to them, and you *will* be spending time trying to 1) build your systematic in the course of a debate, instead of in the course of preparation for the debate, or 2) Saying “I don’t know” a lot, which has it’s own line of argumentation in TAG. That’s why I’m asking you now. If I don’t, this isn’t going to be nearly as valuable as it could have been, and you’ll be giving me the opportunity to show that there really is no systematic case being made, and that it defeats itself on the basis of constant incoherence – when I could be addressing an established position which at least attempts to show that it is coherent and systematic. I’ll be listening to your exchanges with Ronnie and Joey to see if there’s any more to be said about the doctrinal ramifications – but I didn’t hear all that much in what I’ve listened to thus far. Remember, we deal with CT as a whole – so that point is going to affect all the others to some extent – and that is the overarching context in which I’ll be arguing – not just the point itself, but the ramifications it has on every other point.

I’m going to be dealing with the formal doctrines of Hell, propitiation, and the wrath of God myself. Believe me when I tell you – there shouldn’t be any surprises for you as to what I’m going to say. My problem is that your position seems to be rather eclectic, and not particularly systematic at this point – probably because you’re new to it, and because there isn’t much out there on these topics. So, what I’m trying to encourage you to do is to systematize these – so you’re not doing it ad hoc. On the other hand, if you think that the orthodox positions on these topics is what you can still hold to, while holding this eclectic position on the nature of eternal punishment, it’s going to be demonstrated that this cannot be the case. So, whatever your position happens to be – I’d like to see it – tied together. Because that’s precisely what I’m going to be posting over the next month, the systematic doctrine of judgment as it relates to everything it touches.

If you don’t have it, I understand – but just know that this is what I’m going to do. I’m going to look for ad hoc attempts, incompatibilities, and impossibilities in your view. That’s what a presuppositionalist does. Then, I’m going to TAG your view on that basis. So, if your view isn’t coherent, it’ll show. I’m aiming to TAG as many different varieties of inconsistency as humanly possible, because this is a testbed for us – how to use TAG in theological debate. So, again, this is a friendly exhortation – press for consistency, and press for systematic cohesion. If it’s not there, I’m going to hit it. Saying you’re agnostic to it, incidentally, will not help with any particular position when it comes to TAG, as we’ve demonstrated with those who are “agnostic” to the existence of God. Van Til has a good bit to say about that, in fact.


There’s an awful lot I’d say in response to this, but as I mentioned in the comment I left this morning in the other thread, I do not want to get into a debate before the debate, and I believe you’re requesting far more from me than my position; you’re asking me to defend my position, which is what I’ll do during the debate.

There are too many questions here for me to sift through them for those which ask for my position, as distinct from those which ask me to defend it. What’s more, they’re not very digestible as currently presented, at least not for someone who doesn’t speed-read, who’s a husband and father of three, with a full-time career and numerous other daily responsibilities–and with whatever lack of intellectual fortitude I have. As such, it would help me to help you if you would condescend to my needs and ask perhaps one or two brief questions at a time.


I’m asking you for a systematic position, yes. Most systematic positions include a bit about how they’re necessitated, which is a bit to do with defense of them, sure. Whether you do present a coherent, systematic position prior to the debate – which I certainly intend to do so – is really immaterial to the debate itself; it is material to the value of the debate, which is why I brought it up. My concern is not with winning, it’s with dealing with your position. If you don’t have a fully articulated position, and/or don’t want to share it as fully articulated, I understand, if time constraints are the issue.

I don’t know if asking/answering sequential questions is especially valuable, given the depth of response I’ve received thus far. I’d far prefer that you spend the time in your own preparation, and especially in preparing a cohesive theology of death and hell – if you articulate it beforehand, on your own show/blog, that’ll be gravy, to me. I don’t see the value in a series of questions with one to three sentence answers in the context of the effect that your position has on systematic – which is my primary concern. So, instead, I’ll be bringing them up in the course of my own preparation, so hopefully, I’ll at least hear the results in the debate, and additionally, in further hope, if you have time, in the course of your own preparation. I write to prepare. I always have. So, the material I’m going to be dealing with between here and the debate is going to be in terms of what we’re going to be debating. As soon as I have the next sermon ready to go, I’ll be back to writing more in-depth pieces. I basically dropped most of my prep in order to fill this pulpit request.


I understand, and that sounds fine to me. You have the entirety of the case I’ll be presenting at your disposal already, and I will prepare to defend my systematic theology in the debate; reciprocally, I’ll look forward to seeing you formulate on your blog the case you’ll be presenting, and to challenging it in the debate. That said, the invitation remains open, to ask me to clarify my position.

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