…Just make a simple distinction between the first death that all people will experience and the second eternal death that only the lost will experience after the judgment.

When presenting the Gospel to a lost sinner, the good news is that they are being saved from something – namely eternal death (the second death). They are not being saved from eternal torment. While it is not essential that you hold to CI, it is nonetheless a Gospel issue. You can’t avoid the subject when sharing the Gospel of salvation. The bad news is that sinners will be judged and condemned to eternal death. The good news is that Jesus paid the penalty of death on your behalf. Through faith in Him you can have eternal life rather than eternal death. Those who hold to ECT are not lost for holding to it, just misguided on this particular doctrine.

Here is why it matters to me:

First, we all have things we are “hung up” over. Things we feel passionate about. Things we focus a lot of our time and energy on. This is normal human behavior. We all do not focus our lives on the same things. I am “hung up” on several things. The Kansas City Chiefs. Fighting leftist liberalism that is destroying our country. Promoting the Gospel and biblical truth to believers and the lost. And yes, defending the fundamental biblical truth of Conditional Immortality – that immortality and eternal life is only promised to believers in Jesus, not to the lost. These are a few of my “hang ups.”

Second, why I care so much? Three reasons: A. B. C.

A. DEFENDING BIBLICAL TRUTH. I stand in the tradition of the Reformation. I hold to the biblical values as promoted by the Reformers. (Faith alone. Grace alone. Scripture alone.). Many Evangelicals such as myself believe that one theological area the Reformers failed to reform adequately is Conditional Immortality and the eternal destiny of souls. Catholicism got many doctrines wrong and taught things that were in direct contradiction to the biblical record. One of those things is that all souls are inherently immortal and that the lost will live immortally in a perpetual state of torment. Many Evangelicals believe this is a neglected doctrine that needs to be corrected. The Bible clearly teaches that immortality is a gift that will be imparted to believers and that the lost will perish for eternity. The Bible teaches that the wages of sin is death (the end of life) and it is not eternal torment.

B. DEFENDING THE CHARACTER OF GOD. I believe that slander, falsely defaming and accusing someone of something that is not true is an awful sin. In my view, teaching Eternal Conscious Torment (ECT) is a slander on the name and character of God. It makes God to be a monster and a cosmic sadistic torturer who is never satisfied in punishing the lost. God is a just God. God has determined that the just wages of sin is death- not eternal torture. Jesus paid this just penalty through His death on the cross. The lost do not need to be punished far beyond what a God of justice has determined to be just. Even in the Old Testament, Justice was an eye for an eye. Eternal torture in hell goes far far far beyond an eye for an eye. It’s even more than a billion eyes for an eye. It is endlessly and mercilessly “punishing” someone for sin. It goes from punishing to endless sadistic torture. This is not the character of a loving, just and merciful God we come to know in the Bible. So I am defending the name and character of God against a horrific slander. It also keeps some lost people from converting to such an awful God. Many atheists have said as much.

C. OBEDIENCE. As a Christian, I feel an obligation to share and teach the full counsel of God as taught in His Word. I see Conditional Immortality taught throughout the whole Bible – from Genesis to Revelation. It is not a minor doctrine. Death and immortality are at the heart of the Gospel. Through Adam sin and death (loss of immortality) entered the world. And Jesus brought the possibility that sinners could regain immortality and have the eternal life that was lost through Adam for those who believe. Those who do not believe will perish and remain in death. As an Evangelical, I feel a responsibility to help restore this fundamental biblical truth back to the Evangelical church. In the tradition of the Reformers, we Evangelical Conditionalists feel compelled out of obedience to restore and share this fundamental biblical truth.

If you also care about defending/proclaiming biblical truth; if you care about defending/proclaiming the true character of God; or if you want to walk in obedience to defending/proclaiming biblical truth to both believers and unbelievers, then I would hope and pray that this issue would matter to you since it lies near the heart of the message of the Gospel.

Richard Dobson