Chris Date is the host of the Theopologetics podcast, and says that he has been convinced over the past year of the truth of annihilationism, sought out the best arguments he could find, and found them lacking. He will be defending the following:
Resolution: “The final punishment of the risen wicked will be annihilation, the permanent end to the conscious existence of the entire person.”
The debate is tentatively scheduled for June, with a fairly standard debate format, to include Q&A from questions submitted beforehand.
20-minute opening affirmative 20-minute opening negative 10-minute rebuttal affirmative 10-minute rebuttal negative 15-minute cross-examination of affirmative by negative 15-minute cross-examination of negative by affirmative 10-minute rebuttal 2 negative 10-minute rebuttal 2 affirmative 15-minute cross-examination of negative by affirmative 15-minute cross-examination of affirmative by negative 8-minute closing negative 8-minute closing affirmative 30 minutes Q&A
Our moderator will be Dee Dee Warren.
As a confessionally Reformed believer, I’ll obviously be defending the historic orthodox view, which Mr. Date tends to call the “traditionalist” view, interestingly. Clearly, I would affirm that the eternal conscious punishment of the unbeliever is the Biblical, exegetically necessary position, not merely “traditional”. In fact, I intend to argue that the contrary position is impossible to hold intelligibly. Mr. Date also considers himself “Reformed”, which I believe is an odd identification to make, given the crystal clear confessional/systematic position on eternal punishment. If anything is clear to me after having studied the history of the Church, it is that we cannot isolate one doctrine from others in the system of Christian doctrine without consequence. Christianity stands or falls as a unit.
In any case, this should be an interesting debate, on an interesting topic. Annihilationism has become somewhat of a bugaboo in recent times – as Packer notes, it has been a topic of conversation over the past century, but only very recently has it made inroads into evangelical circles. It should be instructive to us that among the primary advocates of this view, we are left with a picture almost devoid of evangelical acceptance, save perhaps to some extent in Anglicanism, and in that broad realm, only a whisper of Reformed sympathies; and of that, primarily in the case of Stott. The most vocal champions of this viewpoint, of course, are the theological descendents of the Millerites – who are not evangelical in any sense. This is not to say that it’s lack of popularity is an argument against it – but when there are no evangelical denominations that ratify it, you might have a problem, when it comes to speaking of any claim to orthodoxy it might have.
I’ll be honest with our readers, and with my opponent – I have no sympathy for the position at all. I find it to be a serious breach of orthodoxy, and an overthrow of Biblical doctrine which has serious consequences on a variety of levels. I do pray that this debate will be valuable to the body of Christ, and will shed some light on a doctrine that is often relegated to secondary importance in the modern evangelical churches. This conviction of mine is not due to mere tradition, but due to exegetical conviction, and I would hope that the same would hold true for any confessionally Reformed believer, with their fundamental dedication to the principle of Sola Scriptura. We cannot afford to undermine the doctrine of Hell any more than we can afford to allow the doctrine of Heaven to be undermined – as both have their organic relationship to the doctrine of God, and its analogous Doctrine of man. The doctrine of Hell must be presented in it’s full-orbed state, as it is indeed a doctrine of first importance, and is found in that full-orbed state in major creeds and confessions throughout the history of the Church, which faithfully systematize the Scriptural witness. My desire is not to demonize my opponent – so please don’t mistake me on this point. I believe he is mistaken in his adoption of this position, and wish to prove that his position is Biblically unwarranted. I have had no contact with Chris Date prior to our email exchange, and I can’t recall ever interacting with him previously in any other medium. I’m not after him personally. I have grave concerns with his position, not with him. My concern is with the claims found in this doctrine of annihilationism, and the continual need for a faithful response to it. I am not the first to respond to this position, and by no means believe I will be the last. My aim will be the utilization of the covenantal apologetic in response to what can only be seen as a sub-Biblical doctrine.
Additional info for our readers:
TurretinFan (also an AOMin contributor) vs. Ronnie from Conditionalism.net – Part 1 Part 2
James White vs. Roger and Faith Forster – Conditional Immortality on Unbelievable
Hiram Diaz vs. Chris Date – “The punishment of the damned will actually be torment forever and ever.” – Part 1 Part 2