The Fire That Consumesby Edward W. Fudge
Evangelical Christians agree that a dreadful destiny awaits those who reject God's presence now. According to the traditional majority view, that destiny will involve everlasting conscious torment in hell. However, believers are increasingly questioning the traditional view, finding it unbiblical and inconsistent with God's own character.
This internationally acclaimed book investigates the whole teaching of Scripture on the topic of final punishment, and concludes that hell will involve the irreversible destruction of body and soul, leaving room for whatever degree of conscious torment God justly decrees in any individual case.
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Edward Fudge has written a compelling, biblical, and comprehensive book on the doctrine of hell. It has helped me in teaching, preaching, and talking with others about this important subject. No one can say they have completely studied the doctrine of hell without interacting with this book.
Edward Fudge dares to believe - and to urge you to believe - that God really is a "consuming fire," just as scripture says. One wouldn't think that was such a controversial (and even revolutionary) idea, but it is. Fudge's scholarship is first rate. (With the original Foreword having been written by F.F. Bruce, that comes as no surprise.) This book is thorough, scholarly, and challenging. It is not a light read, to be sure, so come to the book with your "thinking cap" on. If you've harbored any doubts about the doctrine of hell as eternal, conscious torment, you should read this book. And if you are thoroughly dedicated to the notion of hell as eternal, conscious torment, you owe it to yourself to allow Fudge to challenge your thinking. You just might find yourself moved to reconsider. And in the end, I think you'll come away more convinced than ever before that God is truly just, astonishingly merciful, and holy beyond compare.
You cannot read this book without your thinking being challenged. It will force you to re-examine traditional thinking about the eternity of the soul and eternal punishment of sinners.
What I liked best about Fudge was that he provided alternative explanations to the training I was raised up with. The title says it all. The Bible says our God is a consuming fire, but we don't believe that his fire actually consumes. Fudge challenged a lot of my assumptions and I appreciate the hard work, research, and depth of reporting in this book. I would highly recommend it as an opportunity to explore Conditionalism. For those set in their ways, I'd offer a challenge: See if you can refute him from scripture. I'm guessing you can't. For that reason, I said to Edward in one of my e-mails, Like Agrippa, almost thou persuadest me to be a Conditionalist.
I purchased this book because I hoped it would provide information on hell for a book that I'm writing. Instead, it turned out to be little more than quote after quote after quote of other authors. Fudge had little to say for himself. I returned the book.