Periodical Reviews -- By: Anonymous
BSac 153:609 (Jan 96) p. 104
“The Hermeneutics of Annihilationism: The Theological Method of Edward Fudge,” Robert A. Peterson, Presbyterion 21 (1995): 13-28.
Recently several evangelicals, including John Stott, Philip Hughes, John Wenham, Clark Pinnock, and Edward Fudge, have rejected the view that the unsaved will suffer eternal divine wrath in hell. They have all embraced some variant of annihilationism, the view that the unsaved cease to exist after they are resurrected to face final judgment. Although not in the public eye so much as Stott and the others, Edward Fudge has authored the most comprehensive modern scholarly works on the topic, and behind the scenes he is a major force in the annihilationist camp.
Peterson criticizes Fudge’s method under five rubrics.
1. Misuse of the Old Testament. Many Old Testament passages that use the “vocabulary of judgment” speak of earthly temporal judgment. Fudge alleges that this same vocabulary is used in reference to eternal annihilation. Fudge then reads his Old Testament theology into critical New Testament passages. Old Testament temporal imagery thus controls New Testament doctrine about eternal destiny.
2. Disregard of Linguistic Canons. Fudge seeks to determine the meaning of terms in New Testament Greek by appealing to special uses of these terms hundreds of years earlier. Fudge also commits illegitimate totality transfer, that is, he seeks to transfer a term’s meaning from one context to another entirely different context. In general, Fudge violates standard canons of linguistic argumentation.
3. Avoidance of Opposing Arguments. Although Fudge discusses at length the main passages that support the traditional view of endless torment in hell (e.g., Matt 25:41, 46; Rev 14:9–11; and Rev 20:10, 15), he avoids the central issues in those passages. He fails to confront traditional arguments directly.
4. Logical Fallacies. Fudge is guilty of ad hominem and petitio principii fallacies.
5. Systematic and Christological Implications. Fudge alleges that Christ was annihilated on the cross, that is, His human nature ceased to exist. This seems to be a repudiation of Chalcedonian Christology
BSac 153:609 (Jan 96) p. 105
and it is the parade example of the extremes to which Fudge goes to seek to support his view of annihilationism.
Marvin T. Hunn
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