Today, hell is a front-burner topic, thanks to media attention stirred by mega-pastors Rob Bell, Francis Chan, and others. But, between the extremes of universal salvation and everlasting torment, there shines a third view, known as annihilationism or conditional immortality, claiming the most biblical support of all.
Now the man whose 500-page book, The Fire That Consumes, helped ignite the scholarly debate thirty years ago brings this exciting alternative viewpoint to the everyday reader in simple form. And--the story behind the book is now the subject of a feature film, “Hell and Mr. Fudge,” due to release in theaters in 2012 (and starring Mackenzie Astin and Keri Lynn Pratt; see www.hellandmrfudge.com).
While relating his own personal journey in understanding the nature of hell, Fudge leads the reader through the whole Bible to see what we have missed, then through church history to understand the origin of the other two views.
Here are the basics: Life is short. Death is sure. Judgment is certain. Hell is real. And when John 3:16 says the options are eternal life or perish, we can take that at face value.
At the end of the world, the good and bad alike are raised to face judgment. The righteous enjoy eternal life with God; the lost are sentenced to hell. But the God who gave his Son to die for sinners does not keep them alive forever to torment them without end. Instead, those in hell suffer such precise pains as divine justice may require, in a process that ends in extinction. This is the second death, the wages of sin. Eternal punishment is eternal destruction.