Fallacies In The Annihilationism Debate? A Response To Glenn Peoples -- By: Robert A. Peterson

Journal: Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society
Volume: JETS 50:2 (Jun 2007)
Article: Fallacies In The Annihilationism Debate? A Response To Glenn Peoples
Author: Robert A. Peterson


Fallacies In The Annihilationism Debate? A Response To Glenn Peoples

Robert A. Peterson

Robert Peterson is professor of Systematic theology at Covenant Theological Seminary, 12330 Conway Road, St. Louis, MO 63141.

I am appreciative that Glenn Peoples regards my work on the doctrine of hell as worthy of a response.1 Although several recent books have furthered the traditionalist-annihilationist debate, I am afraid that Peoples’s article does not.2 Although his arguments related to 2 Thessalonians 1 and Revelation 20 have been cogently answered in Hell under Fire by Douglas Moo and Gregory Beale, respectively, Peoples seems unaware of this. In this essay, I will respond to his major criticisms of my exegesis and theological method, express appreciation for a point of correction, and largely overlook his comments that reflect negatively on my character. Along the way I will also indicate why I continue to affirm the historic view of hell (traditionalism) and to oppose annihilationism (conditionalism).

I. Misrepresentation

Peoples alleges that I committed “inexcusable misrepresentation” when I wrote in Two Views of Hell that Edward Fudge’s view that Christ’s death involved destruction compromises the unity of Christ’s person because it implies the dissolution of his human nature.3 I am also accused of misrepresenting Fudge’s exegetical presentation as a theological argument to avoid his exegesis, of misrepresenting one of Fudge’s footnotes, of falsely claiming that Fudge cited Edward White, of misrepresenting White’s teaching, and of attacking a straw man that I had erected.

I respectfully submit that none of these accusations is true. For example, in the first edition of The Fire that Consumes Fudge included the heading,

“Jesus’ Death Involved Total Destruction.”4 Therein he made the following theological argument: (1) Jesus suffered the penalty of hell in his death; (2) this penalty consisted of his destruction, not his suffering everlasting punishment; (3) therefore, annihilationism is true and traditionalism is false. I called this a theological argument, because, although Fudge appealed to Scripture, which I acknowledged, he employed the theological deduction that I have summarized here in three points. And that is plainly a theological argument.

Fudge’s footnot...

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