In a previous post we looked at the first argument for the conditionalists, namely those who believe immortality is conditional and not innate to humans. That first argument was just that: God grants immortality to believers and therefore punishment of the wicked cannot be eternal, conscious punishment because that would require immortality on their part, which the wicked do not have. The second and third argument today, and once again I provide the helpful chart from the RethinkingHell.com as we look at the new book, Rethinking Hell: Readings in Evangelical Conditionalism.
The second argument is this: victory. Someday God will be victorious over sin and evil and injustice and will establish a kingdom of peace, love and justice. If evil exists, then God is not victorious; if God is victorious, evil cannot exist. Therefore, punishment cannot be eternal. Hence, we think of texts like 1 Cor 15:24-28 and Ephesians 1:9-10:
1Cor. 15:24 Then comes the end, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father, after he has destroyed every ruler and every authority and power. 25 For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. 26 The last enemy to be destroyed is death. 27 For “God has put all things in subjection under his feet.” But when it says, “All things are put in subjection,” it is plain that this does not include the one who put all things in subjection under him. 28 When all things are subjected to him, then the Son himself will also be subjected to the one who put all things in subjection under him, so that God may be all in all.Eph. 1:9 he has made known to us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure that he set forth in Christ, 10 as a plan for the fullness of time, to gather up all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.
What room is left for rebellion, evil, or injustice in these visions? Would the eternal existence of punishment, consciousness… etc… create a dualism? Is God victorious or not? Is it a victory of myriads are unrepentant? Is it victory if God conquers the conscience of all by force and continues the force?
Third argument is substitutionary atonement: here I don’t think the author of the brief, Glenn Peoples, is as clear as he might be, and perhaps I don’t understand the argument. But as I read it he seems to be saying that sin and death have been dealt with on the cross, in Jesus’ death for sinners, and therefore there is no need of eternal punishment.