Archive for the ‘Annihilationism’ Category

A Traditionalist Response to John Stott’s (and others’) Arguments for Annihilationism

August 28, 2013

The title of this blog post refers to an interesting article by Robert A. Peterson, who was (and I believe still is) professor of systematic theology at Covenant Theological Seminary.  (Here is a link to the article.)

The arguments answered include the following:

1. The “Vocabulary of Destruction” Argument
2. The Hell-Fire Imagery Argument
3. The Justice of God Argument
4. The “Universalist Passages” Argument
5. The Conditional Immortality Argument

One serious question I would have for my friends and acquaintances who hold to, are sympathetic to, or are considering the annihilationist position: does this exhaust the major divisions of the annihilationist arsenal?  I’m not asking whether you find Peterson’s responses to be comprehensive and compelling, although I personally found many of them useful.  Rather, I’m asking whether he has identified the major points of dispute.  Is there some other major argument area that needs to be addressed?

-TurretinFan

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Supplement Response to Chris Date on Result Nouns

June 20, 2012

This post is heavily reliant (to the point that it would be plagiarism if I did not give full credit) on Adam Blauser’s comment in the previous post. 

First, he provided an article that states:

Deverbal nouns that allow a result interpretation often allow an event interpretation too.
In order to separate the different meanings of a deverbal noun, one usually employs distributional
tests. If we assume result objects to be concrete entities then result object nouns
should be usable in complement positions of verbs which require concrete objects:

(1) a. Die F¨alschung wurde der Polzei ¨ubergeben.
‘The forgery was handed over to the police.’

b. Er ber¨uhrte versehentlich seine Verletzung.
‘He inadvertently touched his injury.’

c. Er verbarg seine neuste Erfindung im Keller.
‘He hid his newest invention in the basement.’

d. Die Beurteilung wurde ihm gestern zugesandt.
‘The assessment was sent to him yesterday.’

He points out that words like “injury” and “forgery” are deverbal result nouns, yet one can easily think of contexts in which the focus is not on the result, but upon the action. Consider:

His back was injured during the first quarter of last night’s game. During the injury, he also hurt his left forearm.

Likewise:

He could have honestly worked for the money necessary to buy a house in the time the forgery took.

Notice how, in each of those instances, it doesn’t seem to make much sense to say that the only or primarily result is in view. While one might think that we are talking about the results of the act of injuring occurring, it is much more rational to assume that we are talking about when the act of injuring itself took place, especially since it is connected temporally with another event, namely, the “hurting” of his forearm. The same thing can be said of the second example. “The forgery” clearly refers to the making of the false document, with no focus on the result, especially when it is coupled with a parallel reference to a process verb (“worked”) and a reference to time.

His point (he used different but similar illustrations) that, even if Date were correct that “punishment” were a deverbal result noun, he would have to argue that the context favors a result interpretation, not an event/process/manner interpretation.

He goes on to state:

However, it gets even worse when he deals with the Greek and the Hebrew. From a historical linguistics perspective, the Greek term κολασις has the ending -σις, which is typical of words that are nominalized forms of actions. Consider the following:

ερημοω-to lay waste [to a city] ερημωσις-destruction, depopulation

κρινω-to judge κρισις-judgment

ζητεω-I seek ζητησις-investigation

ελευσομαι-I will come ελευσις-coming

πιπτω-I fall πτωσις-a fall

As can be readily seen, the meaning “the action itself as a noun” is typical of Greek nouns formed by adding the ending in -σις to the root. However, this is why historical linguistics can never settle these issues. The reason is that some of these nouns would go on to develop resultant meanings, for example, ποιησις comes from the Greek verb ποιεω which means “to do.” While ποιησις *can* mean “the act of doing something” [James 1:25], most of the time, it means the result of doing something, namely, “a work.”

However, in Matthew 25:46, the “result” meaning very clearly cannot be sustained, as it is put in parallel with “eternal life.” Living is something that will be done eternally, and thus, why would anyone think that punishment is something that will not be done for all of eternity? Even though this is my final point, I think it is what I would want to emphasize. Meaning in language cannot be taken from historical linguistics or semantic categories. Semantic classification is, itself, subject to change by multiple factors, including context, background assumptions, etc. Thus, when we discuss the deverbal character of nouns, how they morphologically came into existence, or their meaning, we cannot simply give universal labels, but must consider how this particular term is understood in the light of the communal and authorial context of our target text. If we don’t do that, we can fall badly into the fallacy of defining words by roots, and thus, a person who is feeling “awful” is “full of awe!”

I want to underscore what I see as his most crucial point. Words can have a range of meanings, known as the “semantic range” of the word. When there is a question about which meaning of the range of meanings applies, the very best clue to that meaning is the immediate context.

Recall that, above, “injury” and “forgery” are deverbal result nouns (generally speaking), yet clues from the sentence allowed us to recognize that they were being used in a “event” or “manner” sense. Likewise, when “eternal punishment” is placed in parallel with “eternal life,” we are given an unmistakable clue that the “event” or “manner” sense is intended.

Thus, while my previous post sinks Mr. Date’s argument, even if Mr. Date were correct about punishment being (generally speaking) a result noun, Mr. Date’s argument is still sunk.

-TurretinFan

Punishment is a Deverbal Manner Verb – Response to Chris Date

June 18, 2012

In his constructive speech (in a recent debate with Joshua Whipps), Mr. Date alleged that noun “punishment” is a “deverbal result noun.” He stated:

Linguists call this a deverbal result noun: a noun referring to the results of its corresponding verb.

He cites no authority for this contention. The noun “punishment” is a deverbal noun, but it is not a deverbal result noun (as previously discussed in the comments box here).

Roget’s Thesaurus provides the following entry for “punishment”:

Definition: penalty
Synonyms: abuse, amercement, beating, castigation, chastening, chastisement, comeuppance, confiscation, correction, deprivation, disciplinary action, discipline, forfeit, forfeiture, gallows, hard work, infliction, just desserts, lumps, maltreatment, mortification, mulct, ostracism, pain, penance, proof, punitive measures, purgatory, reparation, retribution, rod, rough treatment, sanction, sequestration, short shrift, slave labor, suffering, torture, trial, unhappiness, victimization, what for
Antonyms: encouragement, exoneration, praise, protection, reward

(Roget’s 21st Century Thesaurus, Third)

As you can see, most of the descriptions of “punishment” are of processes, not of results. The punishment may be the beating, whereas the hoped-for result is correction of behavior.

Thus, for example, “eternal punishment” would be similar to “eternal abuse,” “eternal amercement,” “eternal beating,” “eternal castigation,” etc. When each of those words is modified by “eternal,” what is referred to is the duration of the process, not the duration of the effect. An “eternal beating,” is a beating that does not have an end, in contrast to something like an “eternal scar” which would be a scar that would last forever.

So, “punishment,” like “walk,” is a manner noun, not a “result” noun. Mr. Date quotes from Augustine who says that people wouldn’t consider capital punishment as measured primarily by its duration. This is true, but it misses the point. Capital punishment is severe regardless of its duration, because of the kind of punishment it is. But “eternal punishment” is specifically a comment on the duration of the punishment.

The lexical analysis is a little complex (see here and here), but it should be intuitive, particularly when you see the synonyms above.

Punishment describes a manner of treatment, not the result of that treatment. Thus, “punish” is more like “walk” (a manner verb) than “go” (a result verb) – it’s more like “wash” (a manner verb) than “clean” (a result verb). It tells you more about the process than about the outcome. But “punish” and “punishment” are about the process.

Therefore, Mr. Date is all wet in his linguistic claim. Linguists may refer to a category of “deverbal result nouns,” but Mr. Date has not identified any that treat the noun, “punishment,” that way.

-TurretinFan

P.S. Incidentally, while Mr. Whipps and I advocated for the same side in our respective debates against “conditionalism” (aka annihilationism), our presentations are quite different.

Annihilationism / "Conditionalism" Debate

November 26, 2011

I recently debated the topic of Annihilationism in the specific form of “Conditionalism.”  The debate can found in two sections (link to first part)(link to second part). Thanks very much to Chris Date (the moderator) as well as to Ronnie (my opponent) for this debate.

Debate Announcement – Conditionalism Debate

September 25, 2011

Lord willing, I will be debating Ronnie of Consuming Fire on the topic of what he calls “Conditionalism”  (Debate announcement and chance to submit “audience questions” here.), which evidently holds to the idea that those in hell will eventually be consumed by the fire there (leading others to describe it as “annihilationism”).


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