Transcript

Can a Loving God Send People to Hell?

William Lane Craig vs. Ray Bradley

Simon Frasier University, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada – 1994

William Lane Craig – Opening Arguments

Thank you. "If God really is all loving, then how can He send anybody to hell?" The question is almost an embarrassment for Christians today. On the one hand, the Bible teaches that God is love, and yet, on the other hand, it warns that those who reject God face everlasting punishment, and it contains frequent warnings about the danger of going to hell. But aren't these two somehow inconsistent with each other? Well, a lot of people seem to think that they are inconsistent, but in fact this isn't at all obvious. After all, there is no explicit contradiction between them. The statement "God is all loving" and "Some people go to hell" are not explicitly contradictory. So if these two are inconsistent, there must be some hidden assumptions which would serve to bring out the contradiction and make it explicit.

But what are these assumptions? It seems to me that the detractor of hell is making two crucial assumptions. First of all, he assumes that if God is all powerful, then God can create a world in which everyone freely chooses to give his life to God and is saved. And second, he assumes that if God is all loving, then God prefers a world in which everyone freely chooses to give his life to God and be saved. Since God is thus both willing and able to create a world in which everyone is freely saved, it follows that no one goes to hell.

Now notice that both of these assumptions have to be necessarily true, in order to prove that God and hell are logically inconsistent with each other. So as long as there's even a possibility that one of these assumptions is false, it's possible that God is all-loving and yet some people go to hell. Thus, the opponent of hell has to shoulder a very heavy burden of proof, indeed. He has to prove that both of these assumptions are necessarily true.

But, in fact, it seems to me that neither of these assumptions is necessarily true. In order to explain this, let me lay out for you the Christian teaching on God and hell. According to the Bible, God's nature is both perfect justice and perfect love. Both of these are equally powerful, and neither can be compromised. Let's look first at God's justice. I was talking to a student once about his need of salvation, and he said to me, "I trust in God's justice. I don't think that there could be anyone who would be more fair or just than God. I have complete confidence in His decision." Now this is true. God is just. He is totally fair. He has no axe to grind. He is not out to get you. He is the most competent, intelligent, impartial, and fairest judge you will ever have. No one will get a bum decision at God's judgment seat. Every human being can be guaranteed absolute justice.

But this is precisely the problem! For God's justice exposes man's inadequacy. The Bible says that every person has failed to live up to God's moral law and so finds himself guilty before God. The Biblical word for this moral failure is sin. The Bible says that "All persons are under the power of sin. None is righteous; no, not one; all have turned aside, together they have gone wrong. All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Rom. 3.10,12,23).

We thus find ourselves under the law of divine justice: You reap what you sow. The Bible says, "Do not be deceived; God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction. The one who sows to please God's Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life" (Gal. 6.7-8). The prophet Ezekiel declared, "The soul that sins shall die" (Ez. 18.4), and the apostle Paul echoes, "The wages of sin is death" (Rom. 6.23). You reap what you sow. You reap what you sow. This is justice in its purest form.

The only problem is, nobody measures up! So, if we rely on the justice of God, we're sunk! There is nobody here who deserves to go to heaven. Nobody is good enough! So if we depend on God's justice, we've had it. It's all over.

Therefore, we must cast ourselves on God's mercy. Even though we are guilty and deserve to die, God still loves us. Sometimes people get the idea that God is a sort of cosmic tyrant up there, out to get us. But this isn't the Christian understanding of God. Listen to what the Bible says, "'Have I any pleasure in the death of the wicked?,' says the Lord God, 'And not rather that he should turn from his way and live? For I have no pleasure in the death of anyone,' says the Lord God. 'So turn and live! Say to them, "As I live," says the Lord God, "I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live. Turn back, turn back from your evil ways. For why will you die?"'" (Ez. 18.23,32; 33.11).

Here God literally pleads with people to turn back from their self-destructive course of action and be saved. And in the New Testament it says, "The Lord is not willing that any should perish but that all should reach repentance" (2Pet. 3.9). "He desires all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth" (1Tim. 2.4).

Thus God finds himself in a kind of dilemma. On the one hand are His justice and holiness, which demand punishment for sin, rightly deserved. On the other hand are God's love and mercy, which demand reconciliation and forgiveness. Both are essential to His nature; neither can be compromised. What is God to do in this dilemma?

The answer is Jesus Christ. He is the fulfillment of God's justice and love. They meet at the cross: the love and the wrath of God. At the cross we see God's love for people and His wrath upon sin.

On the one hand we see God's love. Jesus died in our place. He voluntarily took upon himself the death penalty of sin that we deserve. The Bible says, "In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins" (1Jn. 4.10).

But at the cross we also see God's wrath, as His just judgment is poured out upon sin. Jesus was our substitute. He tasted death for every human being and bore the punishment for every sin. None of us can imagine what he endured. As Olin Curtis has written, "There alone our Lord opens his mind, his heart, his personal consciousness to the whole inflow of the horror of sin, the endless history of it, from the first choice of selfishness on, on to the eternity of hell, the boundless ocean of desolation, he allows wave upon wave to overwhelm his soul."1 Jesus endured hell for us, so that none of us would have to endure it ourselves. That's why Jesus is the key, and life's supreme question becomes, "What will you do with Christ?"

In order to receive forgiveness, we need to place our trust in Christ as our Savior and the Lord of our lives. But if we reject Christ, then we reject God's mercy and fall back on His justice. And you know where you stand there. If we reject Jesus' offer of forgiveness, then there is simply is no one else to pay the penalty for your sin--except yourself.

Thus, in a sense, God doesn't send anybody to hell. His desire is that everyone be saved, and He pleads with people to come to Him. But if we reject Christ's sacrifice for our sin, then God has no choice but to give us what we deserve. God will not send us to hell--but we will send ourselves. Our eternal destiny thus lies in our own hands. It is a matter of our free choice where we shall spend eternity.

Now if this scenario is even possible, it follows that no inconsistency has been demonstrated between God's being all-loving and some people's going to hell. For given that God has created us with freedom of the will, it follows that He cannot guarantee that all persons will freely give their lives to Him and be saved. The Bible makes it very clear that God desires every person to be saved, and by His Spirit He seeks to draw every person to Himself. The only obstacle to universal salvation is therefore human free will. It's logically impossible to make someone freely do something. God's being all-powerful doesn't mean that He can do the logically impossible. Thus, even though He is all-powerful, God cannot make everyone freely be saved. Given human freedom and human stubbornness, some people may go to hell despite God's desire and efforts to save them.

Moreover, it is far from obvious that God's being all-loving compels Him to prefer a world in which no one goes to hell over a world in which some people do. Suppose that God could create a world in which everyone is freely saved, but there is only one problem: all such worlds have only one person in them! Does God's being all-loving compel Him to prefer one of these underpopulated worlds over a world in which multitudes are saved, even though some people freely go to hell? I don't think so. God's being all-loving implies that in any world He creates He desires and strives for the salvation of every person in that world. But people who would freely reject God's every effort to save them shouldn't be allowed to have some sort of veto power over what worlds God is free to create. Why should the joy and the blessedness of those who would freely accept God's salvation be precluded because of those who would stubbornly and freely reject it? It seems to me that God's being all-loving would at the very most require Him to create a world having an optimal balance between saved and lost, a world where as many as possible freely accept salvation and as few as possible freely reject it.

Thus, neither of the crucial assumptions made by the opponent of the doctrine of hell is necessarily true. God's being all-powerful and all-loving does not entail that everyone will freely embrace God's salvation or that no one will freely reject it. And thus no inconsistency has been demonstrated between God and hell.

Now the opponent of the doctrine of hell might admit that given human freedom God cannot guarantee that everyone will be saved. Some people might freely condemn themselves by rejecting Christ's offer of salvation. But, he might argue, it would be unjust of God to condemn people forever. For even grievous sins like those of the Nazi torturers in the death camps still deserve only a finite punishment. Therefore, at most hell could be a sort of purgatory, lasting an appropriate length of time for each person before that person is released and admitted into heaven. Eventually hell would be empty and heaven filled.

This is an interesting objection because it argues that hell is incompatible, not with God's love, but with His justice. The objection is saying that God is unjust because the punishment doesn't fit the crime.

Now if one finds this objection persuasive, one could avoid it by adopting the doctrine of annihilationism. Some Christians hold that hell is not endless separation from God, but rather the annihilation of the damned. The damned simply cease to exist, whereas the saved are given eternal life. Now while I'm not of this opinion myself, it does represent one way in which you could blunt the force of this objection. But is the objection itself persuasive? I think not:

1) The objection equivocates between every sin which we commit and all the sins which we commit. We can agree that every individual sin which a person commits deserves only a finite punishment. But it doesn't follow from this that all of a person's sins taken together as a whole deserve only a finite punishment. If a person commits an infinite number of sins, then the sum total of all such sins deserves infinite punishment. Now, of course, nobody commits an infinite number of sins in the earthly life. But what about in the afterlife? Insofar as the inhabitants of hell continue to hate God and reject Him, they continue to sin and so accrue to themselves more guilt and more punishment. In a real sense, then, hell is self-perpetuating. In such a case, every sin has a finite punishment, but because sinning goes on forever, so does the punishment.

2) Why think that every sin does have only a finite punishment? We could agree that sins like theft, lying, adultery, and so forth, are only of finite consequence and so only deserve a finite punishment. But, in a sense, these sins are not what serves to separate someone from God. For Christ has died for those sins. The penalty for those sins has been paid. One has only to accept Christ as Savior to be completely free and clean of those sins. But the refusal to accept Christ and his sacrifice seems to be a sin of a different order altogether. For this sin decisively separates one from God and His salvation. To reject Christ is to reject God Himself. And this is a sin of infinite gravity and proportion and therefore deserves infinite punishment. We ought not, therefore, to think of hell primarily as punishment for the array of sins of finite consequence which we have committed, but as the just due for a sin of infinite consequence, namely the rejection of God Himself.

3) Finally, it's possible that God would permit the damned to leave hell and go to heaven but that they freely refuse to do so. It is possible that persons in hell grow only more implacable in their hatred of God as time goes on. Rather than repent and ask God for forgiveness, they continue to curse Him and reject Him. God thus has no choice but to leave them where they are. In such a case, the door to hell is locked, as John Paul Sartre said, from the inside. The damned thus choose eternal separation from God. So, again, so as long as any of these scenarios is even possible, it invalidates the objection that God's perfect justice is incompatible with everlasting separation from God.

But perhaps at this point the opponent of the doctrine of hell could try one last objection. Granted that it is neither unloving nor unjust of God to create a world in which some people freely reject Him forever, what about the fate of those who have never heard about Christ? How can God condemn people who through no fault of their own never had the opportunity to receive Christ as their Savior? A person's salvation or damnation thus appears to be the result of historical and geographical accident, which is incompatible with an all-loving God.

This objection is, however, fallacious, because it assumes that those who have never heard about Christ are judged on the same basis as those who have. But the Bible says that the unreached will be judged on a quite different basis than those who have heard the gospel. God will judge the unreached on the basis of their response to His self-revelation in nature and conscience. The Bible says that from the created order alone, all persons can know that a Creator God exists and that God has implanted His moral law in the hearts of all persons so that they are held morally accountable to God (Rom. 1.20; 2.14-15). The Bible promises salvation to anyone who responds affirmatively to this self-revelation of God (Rom. 2.7).

Now this does not mean that they can be saved apart from Christ. Rather it means that the benefits of Christ's sacrifice can be applied to them without their conscious knowledge of Christ. They would be like people in the Old Testament before Jesus came who had no conscious knowledge of Christ but who were saved on the basis of his sacrifice through their response to the information that God had revealed to them. And, thus, salvation is truly available to all persons at all times. It all depends upon our free response.

No Christian likes the doctrine of hell. I truly wish with all my heart that universal salvation were true. But to pretend that people are not sinful and in need of salvation would be as cruel and deceptive as pretending that somebody was healthy even though you knew that he had a fatal disease for which you knew the cure. The issue before us today is not therefore whether we like the doctrine of hell; the issue is whether the doctrine is possibly true. I've argued that no inconsistency exists between the Christian conceptions of God and hell. If Dr. Bradley is to maintain that they are inconsistent, then the burden of proof rests upon his shoulders.

Ray Bradley – Opening Arguments

Thank you, Dr. Craig. We will now turn things over to Dr. Bradley for his opening remarks. Dr. Bradley. [applause]

Dr. Bradley:

Dr. Craig likes to talk about hell in such soothing terms as everlasting separation from God. This a favorite dodge of Christians. It makes our question sound rather like "Can a loving God send some of His children to Hawaii?" Think about it like this, and the answer seems obvious. Why not, if that is where some of them choose to go?

Now some Christians do in fact think of the question euphemistically in these terms, and some like to go further and think that when the children find that Hawaii's a little bit like hell because it's a bit too hot and the permanent locals are giving them a hard time, Father will relent and welcome them to His mansions on high. Such Christians are known as universalists. They believe that a time will come when God will actualize a perfect world, known as heaven, in which all of us will live with God in a state of joyous freedom and eternal happiness.

Now I see nothing logically impossible about this idea of heaven, and presumably neither does Dr. Craig. Yet Dr. Craig rejects the universalist's doctrine because the Bible tells us that the majority of God's children will be excluded from heaven and be sentenced then to hell. And here he is right. The Bible, we both agree, is exclusivist, not universalist.

Keeping Dr. Craig's biblical conservatism in mind, then, let's ask "How should we think of God's sending people to hell?" Not like Stalin sending people to exile in Siberia. It ought not even to be thought of as like Hitler sending people to the gas chambers of Auschwitz. For both of these are tame in comparison with the horror of being sent to hell. At least Auschwitz, Belsen, and the rest were death camps, finite in duration both for those who died and for those who survived. Hell, however, offers no such finality to those of us who are to fill its chambers. None will emerge from its torment, and its tortures will continue forever and ever.

You may think I am exaggerating. But let me then quote from what the "Good Book" has to say about the fate of those who will be eternally separated from God. I quote from Revelation: "He shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the Holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up forever and ever" (Rev. 14.10-11). Note that the so-called Lamb who features so prominently in these divine spectator sports is Jesus himself. He plays much the same sort of role as that of the subsequently sainted Pope Pius V in this illustration, torturing a dissenting priest. [displays drawing of a priest being tortured] Note, too, that Jesus himself is reported as having similar views of hell. No fuzzy talk of eternal separation from him! On a quick count I found 20 or so passages in the gospel of Matthew alone in which Jesus threatens unbelievers with what he calls fiery hell, that is, with eternal punishment, in an eternal fire, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

What should Christians say about such passages? They are faced with a devastating trilemma. To renounce them as untrue, because patently malevolent, would be to suppose that God or Jesus was either mistaken or misreported. But if Jesus was mistaken, he can't be divine. And if Jesus was misreported, then the Bible can't be the true word of God. The believer has no option, then, but to accept the doctrine of hell-fire in all its obscenities.

Now let's ask who will escape the tortures of hell? Saint Paul tells us that only those who have been sanctified and justified in the name of the Lord Jesus will be saved. He was, of course, only echoing Jesus himself, who repeatedly tells us that only those who believe in him will go the heaven. Neither good works nor generous donations will get you there. The legions of the damned, according to Jesus, include all those who don't have the right belief, the belief that he, Jesus, is Lord and Savior. In short, those who will be sent to hell include all those who, as the evangelicals put it, have not been born again. Dr Craig is commendably firm on this. There is no other name, he says, whereby we may be saved. On his view, even the most saintly believers of other religions are lost and dying without Christ. Dr. Craig, like Jesus, is an exclusivist.

But isn't the real problem here simply the necessary condition of believing in the name of Jesus that you both heard his name and understood its significance? No one can be saved from hell if they haven't been evangelized. What, then, of those who have lived in times or places in which the name of Jesus is unknown or ill-understood? Are we then to suppose that a loving God will send to hell all those who can't believe either because they have never heard or because, like me, they have heard but still find it impossible to believe?

Once more, Dr. Craig bites the bullet. Yes, he says, that's the way it is. The gate of salvation, he likes to remind us, quoting Jesus, is narrow, and the way is hard, and those who find it are few (Mt. 7.14). The exclusion of most human beings on the grounds that they don't believe in Jesus is a simple consequence of the fact that most of them haven't even heard of him.

Now Dr. Craig, as we will see in a bit, knows and appreciates his logic. I do wonder, however, whether he takes the same view of children who die before they understand what all this Jesus talk amounts to. Will they too, as Saint Augustine believed, be excluded? Infants, he'd have to admit, are just as tarnished with original sin as are others who are in no position to believe. So if, like him, we think God justified in sending the unevangelized to hell on the grounds that He knew from all eternity that they would have rejected Christ even if they'd heard His name, why shouldn't he think God justified in condemning non-believing infants on precisely the same grounds? Will he have the courage to tell that to grieving parents?

Now I can understand how those who believe in the God of the Old Testament might see no problem about that God condemning people to hell, for that God is often depicted as unjust. For example, He punishes not only sinners but their children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren. He is often depicted as unloving and unrighteous. For example, He gave Moses' soldiers 32,000 captured virgins for themselves while ordering the slaughter of their mothers and brothers, who were also prisoners of war (Num. 31.15-18; 32-35).

Summing it up, God even says of Himself in the book of Isaiah that He creates evil (Is. 45.7). Here's our problem of inconsistency. The God in whom Dr. Craig believes is supposed to have more desirable properties than the God of the Old Testament. He's supposed to have the properties stated in 1.

Proposition 1. God is omnipotent, omniscient, perfectly good, just, righteous, merciful, and loving.

At this point our question emerges into sharp focus from the fog of euphemistic verbiage: How could this God send the majority of human race to eternal torture in the fires of hell? The problem is that the proposition (1), when analyzed, seems logically inconsistent with 2.

Proposition 2. God will torture the majority of humans eternally in hell for the sin of unbelief, even though most of them have never even heard Jesus' name.

Now Dr. Craig and I both agree that this is a question of applied logic. But think for a moment and just test your intuitions about (1) and (2). If it would be inconsistent to suppose that Hitler was acting lovingly while sending the majority of German Jews to the gas chambers for lacking the right parentage, wouldn't it be equally inconsistent to claim that God is acting lovingly while sending the majority of the human race to roast in hell for lacking the right belief? Before proving (1) and (2) are indeed inconsistent, as I think they are, I'm first going to have to refute a logical argument by means of which Dr. Craig thinks he can prove that they aren't.

In his published works on this issue, Dr. Craig claims that there's a third proposition, which he mentioned today. And it's roughly 3.

Proposition 3. God has actualized a world containing an optimal balance between saved and unsaved, and those who are unsaved He will send to hell.

And he says that this is both consistent with (1) and together with (1) implies (2). Therefore, he claims that (1) is consistent with (2).

Now I agree that if proposition (3) had both of these features, then it would, indeed, follow by a well-known theorem of logic that (1) is consistent with (2). But the problem is that (3) isn't consistent with (1), since, as I'll show, (3) implies a proposition within which (1) is inconsistent.

Just think about it: in talking about an optimal world, Dr. Craig is talking about the most desirable world that God could have created, given that He wanted to create a world in which people have free will and can exercise it by deciding whether or not to accept Christ. But this means that, as he himself has acknowledged, (3) wouldn't be true unless it were also true that 4.

Proposition 4. There is no possible world inhabited by creatures with free will in which all persons freely receive Christ.

In other words, as he acknowledges, (3) implies (4).

But now consider heaven. Clearly the concept of heaven is a coherent one. That is to say, in technical terms, heaven is a possible world. If it weren't, not even God or the saved could exist there. Moreover, Dr. Craig takes it to be one that is populated solely by believers who freely acknowledge Christ. That is to say, he and conservative Christians are committed to asserting the denial of (4), namely 5.

Proposition 5. There is a possible a world which is inhabited by creatures with free will, all of whom freely receive Christ.

But this spells trouble for Dr. Craig. If (5) is true, then both (4) and (3) are false, since a world in which some people go to heaven and others are sent to hell is by no means an optimal one. God can't be let off the hook, as it were, by saying that He couldn't have done any better without depriving His creatures of free choice.

The worst is to come. For since (5) merely asserts a logical possibility, it is one of those propositions which, if true, is necessarily true. It then follows that, in accordance with a few more theorems of logic which I will state later if necessary, the denial of (5), namely (4), is necessarily false, and that (3), which implies (4), is also necessarily false and therefore is inconsistent with (1). The mere possibility of heaven shows his free will defense to be a logical fraud.

Having demolished his defense, I'm now going to prove the inconsistency of (1) and (2). First, I want to point out that there's a problem about God's foreknowledge of our free acts. It's not that I think God's omniscience and consequent foreknowledge imply His predetermining what our acts will be, despite the fact that the Bible says the two go hand in hand. The trouble lies elsewhere, in the fact that God's foreknowledge of what the unsaved would do, together with the His perverse determination to create them nevertheless, makes Him what lawyers call an "accessory before the fact," and therefore responsible at least in part for the outcome. After all, it is up to God whether to create free creatures or not. Just as we must bear responsibility for the consequences our freely chosen actions, so must He. The New Testament God, every bit as much as the Old Testament one, creates us as sinners in an evil world, knowing well what the consequences would be for some of us, namely the worst evil of all, hell. At the very least, therefore, He shares responsibility for these evils.

Further proof that (1) and (2) are inconsistent: I can demonstrate the inconsistency of (1) and (2) by appeal to the following logical semantic principle, broadly logical principle, if you like: P.

Proposition P. In order for a descriptive concept to have any significant application, there must be possible circumstances in which it doesn't apply--possible circumstances, that is, in which some logically opposed concept does apply.

Now it follows from this principle that if we were to describe a person as perfectly good, then we commit ourselves to saying that he or she doesn't act in the kind of ways that evil people do. Fair enough? It follows further that if we were to describe someone such as Hitler as perfectly good despite all his evil doings, we'd be playing word games which are intellectually dishonest as they are morally pernicious. Needless to say, this principle applies just as much when describing God as it does when describing Hitler. And when it is applied to the descriptions of God given in (1), it yields the following truths:

P1. A perfectly good being would not torture anyone for any period whatever, however brief.

P2. A just being wouldn't punish someone eternally for the sins committed during a brief lifetime but would proportion the punishment to the offense.

P3. A righteous being would not punish someone eternally for unavoidable lack of belief.

P4. A merciful being would not be eternally unforgiving to those who have offended it.

P5. A loving being would not bring about and perpetuate the suffering of those that it loves.

But now the logical inconsistency between (1) and (2) becomes obvious on several scores all at once. For (1) in conjunction with (P1) through (P5) implies that the Christian God won't do the very things that (2) says He will do. The answer to our original question is that for purely logical reasons, God cannot send people to hell. Dr. Craig's concept of a loving God's sending people to hell is logically absurd. I've just shown, as I see it, that we have compelling reasons for not believing in Dr. Craig's sort of God.

But, finally, let me alert you to something deeply important. All this talk about what God can and cannot do can easily trap us into accepting the underlying presupposition that a God actually exists. But are there any reasons to suppose that the Christian God does in fact exist? Or that He loves us?

I'd say "no" for a host of reasons, the most important being that, as we've just seen, the Christian concept of God who sends people to hell is inconsistent. We have the best of all possible reasons, therefore, to be atheists. As to whether some other God exists, I'm inclined to be an agnostic. In my view, there's as little reason to believe in the existence of any God as there is to believe in Santa or the Tooth Fairy. The fact that we can talk about Gods, build them temples, make sacrifices on their behalf, etc. shows only that some of us suffer from what Bertrand Russell called "the cruel thirst to worship." We like to take flights of fantasy into worlds of fiction.

But not all fictions are on a par. Stories about Santa or the Tooth Fairy are fairly innocuous. But the Christian fiction, with its story of evils and an afterworld, demonstrably isn't. Belief in it has been responsible for some of the most horrendous evils of this world: the evils of witch hunts, religious wars, persecution, evils such as those in which the conquistadors first baptized Indian infants, thus saving their souls, then dashed out their brains so as to ensure that they couldn't become heretics; evils such as those in which the Inquisition cast non-conforming thinkers into temporal fires so that their souls, thus purified, might escape the fires of eternity. If there were an omniscient God, He would have known from the very beginning that all these atrocities and many more would result from believing in Him. He therefore bears as much responsibility for such evils as that other creature of Christian mythology, the devil.

Beware of such beliefs! I hope that you will come to see, as I once reluctantly did, that they can be hazardous to your health, not just physically, but intellectually and morally as well.

William Lane Craig – Questions

Don Reddick:

Thank you, Dr. Bradley. We will now move to the next segment of the debate. In this segment we will have a 20-minute discussion period. Again, each speaker will have 10 minutes to direct questions to the other speaker and receive responses. It's a bit of a free-wheeling time, but after 10 minutes we will switch. And to start things out, we will have Dr. Craig asking questions of Dr. Bradley. Dr. Craig.

Dr. Craig's Question:

Well, let me say that I think that you certainly grasped the nettle firmly, in the sense that you tried to do exactly what I asked you to do, namely, to furnish a positive proof that in fact God and hell are logically inconsistent. Let's start off with the beginning of your speech. You quoted the passage from the book of Revelation about someone's being tormented forever in the lake of fire. Who is it talking about that is going to be tormented in that way?

Bradley's Response:

In the immediate context it is all those who have the mark of the beast on their forehead. Take a look at a few verses back . . . a chapter or so back, you will find that all those whose names are not written in the Book of Life will have the mark of the beast imprinted on their forehead, and they are the ones who will be tormented in the lake of fire and brimstone.

Dr. Craig:

Could you give us the reference for that?--because I don't think that's accurate.

Dr Bradley:

Well, uh, . . . Revelation 14, but I think the chapter earlier is required . . . [audience member gives reference]. Pardon? [audience member repeats reference]

Dr. Craig:

I thought it was later.

Dr. Bradley:

Maybe, maybe; we'll look that up afterwards.

Dr. Craig:

I believe that . . . all right. Yeah, I think that the passage is talking about Satan. It says that Satan will be cast into the lake of fire and tormented in this way (Rev. 20.10). Isn't it true that the Bible uses a number of different images for the state of the damned?

Dr. Bradley:

Yes, it is. Let me quote you a different one, then. We can come back to Revelation as soon as I can find it or somebody else can. But let me quote from Jesus' own words from the gospel of Matthew. "The angels shall come forth and take out the wicked from among the righteous and will cast them into the furnace of fire where there will be weeping and the gnashing of teeth " (Mt. 13.49-50).

Dr Craig:

What I was asking is, aren't there metaphors other than fire used in the Bible to characterize the state of the damned in hell?

Dr. Bradley:

Well, I find just in the Book of Revelation . . . Matthew 20 alone--I can put them up on the overhead if you wish--in which Jesus explicitly talks about eternal fire, eternal punishment in it, weeping and gnashing of teeth therein.

Dr. Craig:

But isn't it the case that the Scripture also uses metaphors such as outer darkness, separation from God, that this notion of fire is just one metaphorical image of hell among many others that are found in the New Testament?

Dr. Bradley:

Well, I've got two points to make about that. There may, indeed, be other paler metaphors, but it's this one, this fiery metaphor, which most people have seized upon and which most people have believed in and which is the most morally pernicious insofar as belief in it has led to such things as the following. Let me just quote . . .

Dr. Craig:

No, no, I don't want to hear about that. I want to concentrate on this. You admit, then, that this is a metaphor.

Dr. Bradley:

No. Why should I admit it is a metaphor any more than any other doctrine in the New Testament? For example, the doctrine of Christ's second coming. Is that a metaphor? Is the doctrine of his salvation a metaphor?

Dr. Craig:

Isn't the case that the majority of Christian New Testament scholars interpret these passages as metaphorical for the suffering and the anguish of those who are separated from God, but not necessarily to be taken as literal flames, such as we experience here in this world?

Dr. Bradley:

It is true that the majority of Christian scholars of the New Testament do take a charitable interpretation of it. But just let me remind you that as soon they start taking charitable interpretations of that metaphor, they start looking at the question of whether or not other claims, other doctrines, are purely metaphorical, too. And you get to the position where so many New Testament scholars today, other than those who are evangelicals, claim that the whole of the biblical story needs to be demythologized . . . .

Dr. Craig:

But that's a different issue than use of literary metaphor as a literary device. You're talking about historicity and so forth.

Let me go on to your question you asked about the condemnation of those who have never heard. You characterized my position as the condemnation of most people as a result of their not having heard. After listening to my first speech, wouldn't you like to retract that statement as inaccurate?

Dr. Bradley:

No, on the grounds of my having read your article in Faith and Philosophy entitled "No other Name."2

Dr. Craig:

And isn't it the case that in that article I argued that those who have never heard of the gospel will not be judged on the basis of their response to the gospel and that therefore their condemnation is not due to the fact that they have not heard? Their condemnation is due to the fact that they have not lived up to the light of nature and conscience which is available to all persons.

Dr. Bradley:

Let me quote page 186: "Perhaps some will be saved through such a response to general revelation." But, you say, "On the basis of Scripture"--and I agree with you totally--"we must say that such anonymous Christians are relatively rare."3

Dr. Craig:

Right; and then the next sentence says that "Those who are judged and condemned on the basis of their failure to respond to the light of general revelation . . ."4 I'm not saying that they're condemned because they haven't heard.

Let me go on to the question about whether or not (1) and (2)--could you put those back up for us?--whether (1) and (2) are logically inconsistent. I think that your argument is incorrect when you say that (3) entails (4). That seems to me to be inaccurate. What I'm arguing is that there is no world which is feasible for God to create which is inhabited by creatures in which all persons freely receive Christ. But I am not at all arguing that there is no possible world in which this is true. It's just that this is a world that is not actualizable by God. But it is certainly a possible world.

Dr. Bradley:

For the purposes of this presentation I didn't use your own terminology, since I thought that most people wouldn't understand it. But you might like to define for them what you mean by a "feasible world." I take it that it is a subclass of the set of possible worlds, namely, that subclass in which people act of their own free will.

Dr. Craig:

No, no. It would be a proper subset of all the range of possible worlds which are such that God is capable of actualizing them. To give an illustration, suppose that if Peter were created in just a certain set of circumstances, he would freely deny Christ. Now it is logically possible for him to be in those circumstances and affirm Christ. But he just wouldn't. If he were in those circumstances, he would freely deny Christ. If that's the case, it's not within God's power to actualize a world in which Peter is in precisely those circumstances and yet he affirms Christ. So (3) doesn't entail (4). There is a possible world in which creatures have free will and freely receive Christ, but it's just that God is not capable of actualizing it.

Dr. Bradley:

But what's heaven? Isn't heaven a possible world?

Dr. Craig:

No, heaven isn't a possible world. A possible world, as philosophers use that term, as you know, is a maximal state of affairs--which includes not just the afterlife, but the pre-life on the way to heaven. And the point is here that it may not be possible for . . .

Dr. Bradley:

[tape unintelligible] Now by a possible world we simply mean a state of affairs which is describable by a maximally consistent set of propositions or what Plantinga calls a "book." And we get that, as Carnap and others have always pointed out, simply by taking a set of every elementary proposition and affirming or denying each of them. We get a possible world in that way which is heaven. Technically, heaven is a possible world. If it isn't, then it's not a possible world; it's an impossible world.

Dr. Craig:

No, heaven may not be a possible world when you take it in isolation by itself. It may be that the only way in which God could actualize a heaven of free creatures all worshiping Him and not falling into sin would be by having, so to speak, this run-up to it, this advance life during which there is a veil of decision-making in which some people choose for God and some people against God. Otherwise you don't know that heaven is an actualizable world. You have no way of knowing that possibility.

Ray Bradley – Questions

Don Reddick:

We'll interject at this point and switch things over to the second part of this segment. Dr. Bradley will now have an opportunity to address questions to Dr. Craig.

Dr. Bradley:

Well, it's obviously going to be my point to continue the little discussion we've had. You're saying, in effect, that when I characterize heaven as a possible world in which everybody freely receives Christ, I'm wrong insofar as that had to be preceded by this actual world, this world of vale of tears and woe in which people are sinful and the like.

Dr. Craig:

I'm saying that it may not be feasible for God to actualize heaven in isolation from such an antecedent world.

Dr. Bradley:

Well, you have got to provide grounds, then, for saying that there are logical connections as opposed to merely contingent ones between various stages of the actual world. And that would be a very difficult thing to try to prove.

Dr. Craig:

I don't think that I have to do that because . . . these statements about what creatures would freely do under different circumstances are contingent. They're not necessary truths. And it may just be the case that if God tried to actualize a world in which, say, everybody is just in heaven, some people would go wrong, and then He wouldn't be able to do it. And that's just a contingent fact that is the case.

Dr. Bradley:

I'll return to this microphone, if I may, okay? Now let me try to get my point across on this because this is crucial. And we both agree that Dr. Craig's strategy has been to try to prove that propositions (1) and (2) are compatible on the grounds that there is a third proposition which is consistent with (1) and with together with (1) implies (3). I've said that (3) . . .

Dr. Craig:

Entails (2).

Dr. Bradley:

Entails (2). Sorry! I've said that his (3) is all by itself inconsistent with (1).

Let's look at it like this [draws circle on the overhead]. Let that circle represent the set of all possible persons that God could have created with free will and of whom He knows in advance from the very beginning, in the words of the Bible, what the outcome of their choices would be. Okay? Now that set of possible persons, possibilia as you call them in one of your works, can be subdivided more or less arbitrarily, we'll say, into those who would be saved if He were to create them and those who would be damned as a consequence of their free choices [divides the circle into two halves labeled "sacred" and "damned" respectively]. All right?

Dr. Craig:

I don't want to be difficult, but I think that's too simplistic because some people might be damned if created in some circumstances but saved if they were created in other circumstances. So you can't just divide the line down the middle and put people on either half. It depends on what world these possible persons are put into.

Dr. Bradley:

So we can shift the line wherever you wish according to which actual world God chooses to create. All right?

Dr. Craig:

All right.

Dr. Bradley:

Now He creates an actual world [designates a segment of the circle overlapping both halves]. These are just possible individuals up here, the whole domain of possible individuals with free will [designates individuals outside the segment]. Here we've got the actual ones [designates individuals in the segment]. And, as you can see, some of them on this have been assigned to heaven because God knew in advance that if He were to create them in these circumstances, they would be saved. And, here we have those He's consigned to hell. In fact, I've been generous to God and you here because I've created equal parts. And, of course, Jesus says its going to be pretty rough on most of them.

Now the point is this. Why did God have to create just this subset of possible individuals with free will? [designates segment of actual individuals] He could have sliced the pie a very different way. He could have sliced the pie so that there weren't any in this segment at all, the segment of hell [shades sub-segment of actual, damned individuals]. He could have chosen to create a world in which no actual individuals like you or me were existent [draws another segment outside the segment of actual individuals].

Dr. Craig:

Right.

Dr. Bradley:

After all, there's nothing all that great about us, is there?

Dr. Craig:

Right.

Dr. Bradley:

So He could have created all these possible individuals . . . [ticks new segment]

Dr. Craig:

And my point is He wouldn't be able to guarantee--so long as those people have free will--that they would FREELY RESPOND TO HIS OFFER OF SALVATION AND BE SAVED.

Dr. Bradley:

But if He knows in advance that these will in those circumstances be saved by virtue of freely accepting God's offer of salvation through the blood of Jesus, then why not?

Dr. Craig:

Because there may not be a compossible set of individuals such that if you put all of them together in a world, all of them freely receive God's salvation and are saved. It may be that individual "S" would only be saved in a world if in that world individual "S'" were lost . . .

So that it's impossible for God to . . . or infeasible for God to create a world in which all are saved . . . .

Dr. Bradley:

I understand quite well about them having to be compossible. And, let's just say that out of the set of all possible inhabitants of this world that God is going to choose to create, only some are compossible. So let's make it a subset. We now have a subset of compossible individuals all of whom would be saved.

Dr. Craig:

But, see, my point is that you don't know that such a set is not the empty set. It could be the empty set.

Dr. Bradley:

Well, look, you play with possibilities. You talk about it's possible that this, it's possible that that. . . I'm asking you to confront some actual examples of possibilities. Heaven is allegedly a state of affairs in which God exists and the only other persons to exist are people who either have been saved because they believed in Jesus' name or would have believed in Jesus' name and have been saved or you could throw in a few of those who get there by general revelation.

Dr. Craig:

But that in itself presupposes there was an antecedent pre-mortem world . . .

Dr. Bradley:

It doesn't logically presuppose it. Causally perhaps. But you understand the distinction between causal ties and logical ones as well as I do. [long pause]

Dr. Craig:

You've still got three minutes.

Dr. Bradley:

Oh, there's so much here! What I've just been doing, of course, is to go over some of the steps that I made in refuting the free-will defense Dr. Craig has employed. We haven't yet discussed the counter-arguments which I produced--or rather, if you like, the counter-thrusts that I made where I employed that broadly logical, or as I called it, logical semantical principle about the use of descriptive expressions. And I produced a set of subsidiary theses, all of which follow from that, which together with (1) imply the falsity of (2). I'll remind you of those if you wish. But I'd like you to say something about them because I think you are going to have some problems in trying to reject all or even, for that matter, any of the subsidiary . . .

Dr. Craig:

Yeah, I reject both P as well as P1 to 5. I think that P isn't even true.

Dr. Bradley:

Maybe you'd like to tell me why?

Dr. Craig:

Well, look at what P says. I'll read it for those who cannot see the overhead. "In order for a descriptive concept to have any significant application there must be some possible circumstances in which it doesn't apply." Now that doesn't seem to me to be true at all. What that entails . . . P seems to me to entail that there are no logically necessary truths. For example, the description of the properties of a Euclidean right triangle on a planar surface: there are no possible circumstances under which that description doesn't apply, and yet it clearly has a significant application. Or God; I would say that God exists in all possible worlds and has certain descriptive attributes essentially, and those are meaningful.

Dr. Bradley:

You're missing the point. I'm not stating that with respect to propositions, of course. I would not, since, as you know, I am as fervent a proponent of necessary truths as anyone. Rather I'm talking about concepts. I'm saying that in order significantly to say of somebody that they are good, for example, we've got to understand what it would be like for them not to be good. You can't stretch the term "good" so as to encompass all those possible circumstances in which one would naturally call a person "not good" or "evil." That's a point that was made by Aristotle.

Ray Bradley – Closing Comments

Don Reddick:

Well, thank you, both of you, gentlemen, for that lively discussion there! We're now going to move to our third segment of our debate before the question and answer period. And that is to provide both Dr. Craig and Dr. Bradley with a 7 minute opportunity to make closing comments. And we will be starting out with Dr. Bradley. If you are choosing to leave, please leave at this point. Or you can stay--that's what we most desire--but we don't want to have any disruption.

Dr. Bradley:

The question we've been addressing isn't just a theological one. It's a logical one. Is it logically possible for God to be loving and to do all the heinous things that the Bible claims He will do to those who don't believe?

Dr. Craig likes, as I've said, to address this question in rather sanitized terms. He wants us to understand this talk about fiery hell and eternal punishment in sanitary terms. Such as metaphors for something like, as I put it, right at the outset, being sent to Hawaii. But it isn't like that, and no orthodox believer has standardly believed it to be like that. Just think about, for example, that passage that is so often quoted in the pulpit: "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believeth in him should not perish but have eternal life" (Jn. 3.16). How many times have you heard sermons preached on that? Often, I guess. But how often have you heard sermons preached on what comes a couple of verses later? Just two verses later, we read: "And he who does not believe has been judged already because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten son of God" (Jn. 3.18). And it goes on further to say that Jesus knew from the beginning who they were that believed him not. Here we've got exclusivism very clearly stated and the consequences of exclusion from salvation.

But you want some more? Second Thessalonians 1.8-9: "The Lord Jesus Christ shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, in flaming fire"--listen again--"in flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. They shall suffer the punishment of eternal destruction . . . ." No mere alienating , . . . alienation and anguishing of over not being in the nice place. Look, people have taken this seriously. And people have been bludgeoned into belief as a consequence of it. Let me read and display for you the kind of use that has been made of the doctrine of hell in the past. Here is a little gem from a book written by a Catholic priest known quite appropriately as Father Furnace. He was named as the children's apostle, and here he is describing what's going to happen to little children in hell. Read it for yourself as I read it too:

". . . his eyes are burning like two burning coals, two long flames come out of his ears, sometimes he opens his mouth and breath of blazing fire rolls out. But listen! There is a sound just like that of a kettle boiling. Is it really a kettle boiling? No. Then what is it? Hear what it is. It is the blood boiling in the scalding veins of that boy. The brain is boiling and bubbling in his head. The marrow is boiling in his bones."

You see, part of the problem is that whether or not the belief in hell is true, the psychological state of believing in it has brought about some of the most heinous evils that this world has ever known, evils such as burning so-called witches in fire, in accordance with the dictates of the Old Testament, Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live. Do we just take that metaphorically? Condemning homosexuals to death--why? Because they've violated God's injunctions and that if they weren't suitably punished on this earth, they would be punished even worse in the next life to come. I find the doctrine of hell obnoxious, morally, and I find it intellectually pernicious. It's intellectually pernicious because it numbs our critical capacities just as it dulls our moral sensitivities. Believe in that sort of stuff, and you can believe in anything! Believe in that sort of stuff, and you feel you have the license to treat people any way you wish, provided you think, as with the Spanish Inquisition, as with the Roman Inquisition, as with the Conquistadors, that you're sending people to heaven rather than to hell.

It's often suggested that if we didn't believe in hell and heaven and all this God stuff, morality would have no objective basis. But just think about that for a moment! What does objectivity mean with respect to morality? Surely it means unchanging. Yet the God of the Old Testament is so very different from the God of the New Testament. The injunctions in the Old Testament, the commands of God are different from those in the New Testament. And, in both cases, many of them are morally obnoxious.

My time is up. [applause]

William Lane Craig – Closing Comments

Don Reddick:

Thank you, Dr. Bradley. We will now have Dr. Craig and his closing comments.

Dr. Craig:

In my opening speech I argued that there is no incompatibility between God's being all-loving and some people separating themselves from God forever and being lost in hell. And I suggested that if you are going to show that those are incompatible you have to show these two assumptions to be necessarily true: (i) that if God is all-powerful, He can create a world in which everyone is freely saved. And I think it became very evident during the cross examination time that Dr. Bradley has not succeeded in showing that that proposition is true. He's clearly confused the notion of possible worlds and feasible worlds. Certainly it is logically possible for everyone to freely receive God's salvation and be saved. But so long as people are truly free, there is no guarantee that God can actualize or create such a world. So long as people are free, it may be that if God actualizes a world of free creatures, some of them would freely reject Him and be lost. I think that Dr. Bradley's failure to distinguish between what's feasible and what's logically possible invalidated his refutation of that point.

(ii) I also argued that, in any case, God's being all-loving does not necessitate God preferring a world in which everybody is freely saved over a world in which some people are freely damned--particularly if the worlds that have universal salvation have overriding deficiencies. Dr. Bradley never attempted to show that that assumption was necessarily true. So I think that he has failed to show any sort of logical inconsistency between God's being all-loving and some people freely rejecting God and being lost forever.

Now he did have this positive argument, that did not get discussed very much, based on proposition P. But as I say, it seems to me that P is completely false. P would imply, for example, that a description of God, who exists in all logically possible worlds, is somehow a meaningless description because the opposite cannot be true. And that's just wrong. If you take a logical description of a circle with the properties, say, for figuring the area and circumference of a circle, they can't possibly be false; and yet that description of the circle is obviously meaningful. So all of his arguments based on P and P 1-5, it seems to me are simply wrong; they're logically fallacious. P is false. It's probably necessarily false. So on the intellectual level, I don't think we've seen any good reason to think that it is incompatible or logically impossible to say that God is all-loving and all-just and that some people freely separate themselves from God forever.

Now Dr. Bradley made a good deal of quoting the fiery images from the Bible, which are one image among many others, and these images are generally taken to be metaphors. I don't have to defend such ridiculous things as what "Father Furnace" had to say. These are metaphors for eternal separation from God. And it is interesting that Dr. Bradley misquoted II Thessalonians 1:9 a minute ago. He quit reading right in the middle of the verse. The verse goes on to say they shall suffer "exclusion from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might." And that's really the essence of what hell is. It is eternal separation from God. And that is awful! I don't want to minimize it. It is horrible. The metaphors of flames and weeping and gnashing of teeth are meant to convey what it's like for a person to be lost forever in a world just of his own, with his own selfish heart, his own selfish desires, and away from the source of all love, all goodness, all truth, and so forth. So it is terrible.

But my point is that God has provided a way of escape from this, and it's entirely up to us whether we avail ourselves of it or not. In fact, I like Dr. Bradley's trilemma here. Jesus, he says, who taught the doctrine of hell, is either malevolent, mistaken, or misreported. He's clearly not malevolent because you look at the way he treated women and children and social outcasts and the disadvantaged; he's not a malevolent man. He's not misreported because his teachings on hell are found in all the of the strata of the New Testament documents. That means that if Jesus is wrong about hell, he must be mistaken. But then the question comes down to "Who was Jesus, then?" Was this man mistaken? I would argue that Jesus was who he claimed to be: the absolute revelation of God. I think there are good historical grounds for believing this. I will be sharing some of these in a talk tomorrow on the historical evidence for the resurrection of Jesus.5 And on that basis I think that Jesus knew what he was talking about. He can't be mistaken as the Son of God and the revelation of God. Therefore it follows that what he said is true. So I think that far from disproving hell, Dr. Bradley's trilemma actually serves to show that what Jesus said is right. And it focuses our attention in the proper place: who was Jesus?

Finally, let me just close by saying this. It seems to me that this problem of the doctrine of hell isn't really for most people an intellectual problem at all. And I think that in many of the comments Dr. Bradley just made in that last speech we saw that. It's an emotional problem. And I think that this is easily proven. How many people do you know who reject God or Christianity because of the question: "How could an all-holy and just God send people to heaven?" As a purely intellectual problem that is every bit as difficult as how an all-loving God could send people to hell. But how many people reject God or Christ because they just can't figure out how an all-holy, all-just God could permit people to go to heaven? Nobody, right?

I think this shows that the problem is primarily emotional, not intellectual. People just don't like the idea of a God who might send them to hell, and so they choose not to believe in Him. But that kind of attitude is just suicidal. Imagine you're standing in the middle of the street, and suddenly a friend on the curb says, "Look out! Here comes a car!" Now what do you do? Do you stand there and close your eyes real tight and say, "anybody who would run over me can't be a very nice person! If I don't believe in him, then it won't affect me! I just won't believe that he exists!" And then it is too late. A lot of people look at God that way. They think that just because they don't like the idea of God sending them to hell, if they close their eyes real tight and pretend that He doesn't exist, then it doesn't affect them. And that kind of attitude is just fatal.

My spiritual journey is different than Dr. Bradley's. I was raised in a non-Christian home and became a Christian in high school. And when I first heard the gospel, it bothered me deeply to think of my friends and others as going to hell. And I said, "How could this be true?" And the Christians wisely said to me, "Don't worry about those others; worry about yourself. God judges them. We can't judge them. Only judge yourself." And when I looked into my own heart and saw the selfishness and evil that was there, I had no difficulty in seeing that God might send me to hell. And that impelled me to give my life to Christ as my Savior and to turn my life around. And I think that he can do that for you as well. [applause]

Question and Answer

Don Reddick:

Thank you, Dr. Craig. I certainly enjoyed what I've heard so far. I think it would be appropriate to give a round of applause to both these men for their efforts. [applause]

We'll begin our question and answer period now. So let's start out with a question addressed to Dr. Bradley.

Question:

I symbolize the eternal anti-Christian. Craig's Christ is sort of oxymoronic, bleeding-heart Jack the Ripper. Where Craig would burn me, Bradley would give me prozac and a polo mallet. You both have to choose, people have to choose, anti-Christ or Christ.

Don Reddick:

Sir, your question is . . . Do you choose to respond, Dr. Bradley?

Dr. Bradley:

If by anti-Christ, you mean the anti-Christ who is portrayed in the book of Revelation, then no, I'm not asking you to choose between Christ and anti-Christ. I am asking you to choose between belief in Christ and non-belief in Christ and all that stuff. For myself, as I said, I've found that, despite having been brought up with the intent of becoming a minister, missionary, or following in the footsteps of my maternal grandfather in those evangelical capacities, I could no longer bring myself to believe in that sort of God. Nor do I believe in any. I'm not asking you to believe in anti-Christ.

Dr. Craig:

Certainly that is the choice before us: to believe in Christ or not. Now all we've talked about today is a sort of defensive consideration: is there some logical incoherency in Christian doctrine? I haven't tried in any way to give a sort of positive case for why you should believe in Christ. But I think that is what a person needs to also consider: what are the arguments and evidence in favor of Jesus' being who he said he was and therefore being a reliable authority to speak on these matters? We should not only consider the negative objections but also the positive evidence.

Don Reddick:

Thank you. Now we will take a question for Dr. Craig. Sir . . .

Question:

I think in your opening speech you said that eternal damnation could be justified in terms of perpetual sinning in hell, is that right? I was wondering whether that implies that once you're in hell, you can get out of it by, say, stopping your sin?

Dr. Craig:

Well, that was my third option. I presented three or four possible ways in which this objection could be handled. And one of them was that you could say that, yes, God would let people out of hell if they would repent and believe in Him, but in fact they freely choose not to.

Question:

So there is nothing essentially eternal about it, is that right?

Dr. Craig:

One could adopt that point of view, right. It's only contingently eternal. It goes on because those in hell choose it to go on.

Dr. Bradley:

Just a quick comment on that: some Christian apologists like to construe the word "everlasting" or "eternal" in such a way that it simply means "of long duration" or "for an eon" or "for an age." There's a problem, of course, about that, as I'm sure Dr. Craig is aware, because if one were to believe that damnation in hell were only for a long period, then since the very same word "eon" is used also for everlasting joy in heaven, one would have to conclude that heaven was of finite duration, too.

Don Reddick:

Okay, we'll field another question for Dr. Bradley. Sir . . .

Question:

In your discussion on possible worlds there is no mention of another world which is revealed in Scripture, which is in the realm of angelology, in which, prior to the creation of this world, we had the creation of Lucifer and the angelic realm. And they were created in order to serve God, without choice. And yet Lucifer chose, by looking at himself, to choose to become like God. So therefore he chose . . . I know I should go faster.

Don Reddick:

Please phrase your question.

Question:

If this is the case, then, where there is another world and someone chose to go against what God wanted in serving Him, when they were not even given that choice, through pride and therefore fell, shouldn't we recognize that the New Testament also teaches that hell itself was created for the devil and his angels, and that was the purpose of the creation of hell and that otherwise . . . ?

Dr. Bradley:

Well, I think Dr. Craig will back me up on this, so far as I've understood your question. You're asking whether hell wasn't just created for Satan and his angels. Clearly the New Testament teaching, as I understand it, is that it was not solely created for them, but rather that we who are non-believers will also become inhabitants thereof along with Satan and his angels. Am I right?

Dr. Craig:

There is a passage in Scripture where it refers to hell, or this lake of fire you mentioned, as prepared for the devil and his angels6, and in one sense I would agree with the questioner that it's not God's intention that any human being should ever be there. That people should be there is something that is contrary to God's perfect will.

Don Reddick:

Okay, we'll move on to another question, a question for Dr. Craig. Ma'am . . .

Question:

We have talked about heaven and hell; we have talked about God. I would like you to elaborate on Ahriman and Lucifer and their role in establishing the heirarchies when the earth was created, their role especially to put the human beings . . . [interruptions] . . . between good and evil.

Don Reddick:

I'm sorry. Could you rephrase your question? I'm sorry; we missed it.

Question:

I wanted Dr. Craig to elaborate on the role that Lucifer and Ahriman played when the heirachies were established and when the human beings were placed in the polarity between good and evil to exercise their free will.

Dr. Craig:

I'm sorry, but I'm not familiar with that second name you mentioned. This . . .

Question:

Ahriman.

Dr. Craig:

Oh, Zoroastrianism? Well, this is not part of Christian doctrine. I mean, I'm not a Zoroastrian, so this is beyond the scope of my ability to answer.

Question:

Can I ask you if you agree that if you see human being as polarity between good and evil? That their highest . . . [interrupted]

Don Reddick:

I'm sorry; we'll have to just address the question and response. So I'll have to give Dr. Bradley a chance to respond to the question, if you choose.

Dr. Bradley:

As it has been pointed out, it seems to me that you are talking about the Manichaean conception of two gods, one eternally good and all-powerful, the other eternally evil and equally powerful, eternally warring with one another. But that is not the Christian concept, though it is one that is widely accepted in various parts of the Middle East and is one whose intellectual credentials, I think, have got a lot more going for it than for the Christian concept.

Don Reddick:

Well, we'll go on to another question, a question for Dr. Bradley. Go ahead, sir . . .

Question:

I have two questions, real quick. Now, first of all, are you saying that you don't believe God exists at all?

Dr. Bradley:

I certainly am saying that, yes. I think I have the very best of all possible reasons for denying the existence of the Christian God. As I said, with respect to other, less well-defined gods, tell me about them, and I'll tell you what I think.

Question:

Are you saying you don't believe in any God whatsoever?

Dr. Bradley:

I am saying that, yes.

Question:

Okay, to me that would be more of an illogical statement because therefore you'd have to know everything in the universe at all times, and you would have to be omnipresent to go through the entire universe at all times to know that there is no other God, at all. And you'd have to be all-powerful, so I mean that takes a lot more faith [fades out] to have to believe in something that is not possibly known.

Dr. Bradley:

Okay, I think I understand your question, the point of it being, I take it, that if I were to say that I believe there are no such things as sea serpents, then I'd have a difficult job trying to prove it because I'd have to search through the vast realms of space and time to see whether there ever were any sea serpents. Notice that I didn't say that I believe that I have conclusive proof of the non-existence of God, except for one sort of God, namely the kind of God that we have had described today. I think I have logical reasons for that. As for other kinds of gods, as I say, I'm more of an agnostic. I don't think there are any good reasons for believing in any god whatsoever, even the nicely sanitized one that Dr. Craig would have us believe in.

Dr. Craig:

It's important to understand that the topic of today's dialogue is not the existence of God. I haven't in any way tried to give any arguments or evidence that God exists or even that Christianity is true. The operation has been wholly defensive. I've simply been arguing that there is no incompatibility internal to Christianity between God's being all-loving and all-powerful and some people's going to hell. So these questions, I think, are in a sense misdirected. What Dr. Bradley could argue, in response to this questioner, is that if he could show an internal contradiction in the idea of God, then he wouldn't have to do an inductive search throughout the universe. That would prove decisively that God does not exist. But I don't think that anybody, including Dr. Bradley, has ever been able to come up with a successful demonstration that the concept of God is internally incoherent or contradictory.

Don Reddick:

Okay, a question for Dr. Craig.

Question:

Dr. Craig, Dr. Bradley has a point that you were only able to lightly touch on in your discussion period. You believe or you say that it is logically impossible for God to create a world in which we humans with free will will all follow Him and Dr. Bradley points out, "Well, then, what is heaven?" I'd just like you to comment on that.

Dr. Craig:

All right. It's difficult to communicate to a lay audience some of these difficult concepts because when we talk about a possible world, we're not talking about, say, a planet or a universe. We're talking about a sort of maximal state of affairs. And I agree that it is logically possible that there would be a world in which everybody would freely choose to accept God's salvation. What I argued is that it may not be feasible for God to actualize that kind of a world, that if He tried to actualize that kind of a world, in fact the creatures would freely go wrong and some of them would not freely accept Him. It's the difference between what's logically possible and what's feasible. And I'm simply saying that not everything that is logically possible, not every world that is logically possible, is a feasible world for God to create. Now, with respect to heaven, I would say two things. First of all, it may not be feasible for God to create a world which consists simply of heaven alone, in isolation from the world that leads up to heaven, where people freely choose to go there or not to go there. Secondly--this did not come out the debate--but I personally don't see any reason to affirm that people have free will to sin in heaven. I would be quite happy to say that people who have the beatific vision of Christ, who are in the very presence of Christ, are in a sense sealed in the decision they have made during the earthly life, and that they therefore no longer have freedom to sin. I don't have any problem with that. So I would be quite willing to say that in heaven, due to the immediacy of the presence of Christ, that the freedom to sin is removed.

Dr. Bradley:

I agree with Dr. Craig that this does raise some highly technical questions, and I hope that I'll have the chance to go through some of them with him later.

I would have thought that the heaven that is portrayed in the New Testament and that he believes in is a feasible world. As to whether it is maximal, then again we are into technical issues here, and I would argue along with Carnap and others that it is indeed a maximal world . . . in Plantinga's sense, too. But, leave the technical issues aside, although much does indeed hinge on them; there's an interesting question raised by Dr. Craig at the end, and that is with respect to the role and the importance of free will. If we don't need to have free will in heaven, why the hell, might I ask, do we need it here on this earth? What's so good about it, if it's going to lead the majority of the human race into eternal damnation?

Don Reddick:

A question for Dr. Bradley. Ma'am . . .

Question:

I just wanted to ask why would we choose a good life, more or less, if there is no existence of heaven or hell? What I mean by this is why we continue to be good if there are no rewards such as heaven or punishment such as hell?

Dr. Bradley:

Well, I guess your question could be construed as asking, well, you know, if there is nothing to look forward to like a heaven and an afterworld, does life here have any meaning this time around? Is that what you're getting at?

The quickest way I can answer is to invite you to consider the following analogy. You open a book, a good novel perhaps or a history. You read it. What do you read? You find all sorts of sentences that in the book have meaning. The book comes to an end. There's a period at the last page. There's nothing more thereafter. Does this mean that because the book--your life by away of analogy--has come to end, there is no meaning in life? On the contrary, I want to suggest the meaning of life lies in the little things that we do for each other in life. It lies in the texture of everyday existence. It does not lie in yearning for something in an afterlife. If it lay in the latter, if this life had meaning only by virtue of there being another life afterwards which gave it meaning, then what is the meaning of that life? It would have to be followed by a still a third, and so on.

Dr. Craig:

We haven't talked in today's dialogue about any positive reasons to believe that, in fact, hell is true. And I think that the questioner raises one: namely, in a world where there is no moral accountability, it ultimately doesn't matter how you live. What that means is that ultimately our moral choices have no significance. Acts of self-sacrifice, acts of compassion, are empty gestures. What do you say to the hedonist or the amoralist who says, "I may as well just live for pleasure and live as I please because there is no moral accountability!"? Richard Wurmbrandt, who was a pastor who was tortured for his faith in communist prisons, says that sometimes the torturers said, "There is no God. There is no afterlife. There is no hereafter. We can do what we wish." And they expressed it in terrible brutality inflicted on prisoners.7 A world in which there is no moral accountability and our choices are devoid of moral significance is truly a horrible prospect.

Don Reddick:

Okay, a question for Dr. Craig. Sir . . .

Question:

If is as the Bible says, there's a vast gulf between heaven and hell, I would like to know what that gulf, that vast, vast gulf, really is?

Dr. Craig:

The questioner refers to a parable in Luke 16 where Jesus describes a man in Hades and sees another man in Abraham's bosom, and there's a vast gulf fixed between them. We need to be very careful about trying to press the details of these parables to try to tease Christian doctrine out of them. The parables were primarily meant to teach one important truth, and it's not a legitimate interpretive principle to try to use the details of these to get Christian doctrine. Those details may just be incidental or colorful elements of the story. In this case the idea of the gulf between the two, simply means, I think, that the righteous in the afterlife are separated from the unrighteous in the afterlife, namely, that there is such a thing as a heaven and a hell, and I don't think there is any deeper significance to it than that.

Dr. Bradley:

I pass.

Don Reddick:

Sir, your question for Dr. Bradley.

Question:

When a person becomes aware of religion itself, they will then become aware of a whole variety of religions in the world. How would this person, on what basis would this person, base their decision for choosing their religion? For choosing the wrong religion, as we've seen today, you would be sent to hell.

Dr. Bradley:

Interesting question because it raises a lot of issues. And it certainly raises an issue that I agonized with in my very early years. Yeah, I'd been brought up as a good little Baptist, Bible class boy. I believed the Bible. I believed, as I said before, that I was going to follow in the noble footsteps of my grandfather. And then I found myself wondering why not everybody who was good, why not everyone who was religious, shared my beliefs. Across the road there were the Catholics, the Kellys, and I was told by my mother in virulent terms that, of course, they worshiped the God of Rome. I found that there were Presbyterians down the street and Methodists around the corner and Anglicans, and then came across all sorts of other religions, too, and I began to wonder why it was that I was so fortunate as to have been brought up with the only possible true faith.

I therefore began to inquire--first of al--reading the three volumes of systematic theology that my grandfather bequeathed to me on his deathbed and then, since those volumes alluded to the beliefs of other world religions, I started to investigate them. I read the writings of Buddha; found that Buddha had some 600 years before Christ jumped the gun with respect to much of the content of the Sermon on the Mount, for example. Problem is, of course, that these different religions were, of course, contrary to one another in so many ways. They issued contrary injunctions getting down to the point of morality. The God of one would tell you to kill the heretics who didn't believe in his religion and the God of the other equally. And I found that I could not reconcile those divergent, because logically inconsistent, belief systems, coming to think that indeed, none of them was true.

Dr. Craig:

Wait, a minute! What was that last sentence? You came to the conclusion that therefore none of them was true?

Dr. Bradley:

No, I said I came to the conclusion that probably none of them was true.

Dr. Craig:

Oh, it doesn't follow at all! From the fact that they are mutually contradictory , it doesn't follow that none is true. It only follows that at best one is true. [clapping and interruptions] Let me finish my answer . . .

Dr. Bradley:

No, no! Wait! You're putting words in my mouth. I didn't say that.

Dr. Craig:

Okay. You didn't say that. What did you say?

Dr. Bradley:

I said I came to the conclusion that probably none of them was true. Probably. That doesn't say that it follows logically that none of them was true--that is, follows logically, at best, that only one could be true if they are all contraries.

Dr. Craig:

But that doesn't even follow probably or inductively that none is true because you have a number of logically incompatible views. Especially when you think that atheism, Dr. Bradley, is also one of those views. Now if none of them is true, then not even atheism is true.

Dr. Bradley:

Atheism is not a religion; it is the denial of a religion.

Don Reddick:

Okay. Lively exchange! Let's move on to the next question. The question is for Dr. Craig.

Question:

To what end, teleologically speaking, would it be for God to create people He knows are going to commit evil, have them come into the world and wreak this evil upon innocents, or whomever, and then internalize them in hell for eternity to suffer? And why isn't this idea completely repugnant to Him? Would not just the mere thought of it make Him ill?

Dr. Craig:

I think that the thought of these people going to hell and, as you say, being lost forever is repugnant to God. And you read the Scriptures, like the one I read, where God literally pleads with people. I mean, this is the God of the universe, begging people to repent and believe and not to die! Now let me finish. The question is, then, why would God create such people, you ask? Why would He create a world like that?

What I'm suggesting is that it may not be feasible for God to create world of free creatures in which there are no such people, given that He gives people free will. He doesn't create people in order that they would be damned. He creates them in order that they would be saved. And His desire and will in creating is to redeem a people, a multitude, for Himself the Scripture says, from every tongue and tribe and people and nation, that they would know and experience the love and joy and fellowship of God forever. But unfortunately the only way in which God can do that is by creating a world in which people have the freedom to reject Him. And the cost of that is that some people freely condemn themselves to hell forever. But that is not the reason for which He created them. That's not His primary intention. It's kind of like the unfortunate concomitant. You're following me? It's kind of like the unfortunate consequence of a desire that is good, namely, to create people who would know Him and experience His love and fellowship forever.

Do you want to come back on that? We've got thirty seconds.

Question:

If you don't mind. So the greater good, which would be everyone's happiness, is sacrificed for this . . . [interrupted]

Dr. Craig:

No, He does it for the greater good, which is to achieve this multitude of persons who come to know and experience His love and forgiveness. And what I'm saying is the fact that some people freely would choose to reject it shouldn't be allowed to blackmail God into not being free to create a world. They shouldn't have a veto power over what God wants to do, so long as God gives them sufficient grace to be saved as well. Their loss is the result of their own free will.

Question:

But I'm still not seeing the purpose of then taking these people and concretizing them and then having them suffer . . .

Dr. Craig:

I'm out of time.

Dr. Bradley:

I think one of the problems you may be getting at here, though I don't want to put words in your mouth, is that there are so many barriers to belief. I seem to recall Woody Allen once saying that he would believe in God if only God would give Him a sign--like if God depositing a hundred thousand dollars into his Swiss bank account. [chuckles] We don't need to take that one terribly seriously. But . . . look, it is very, very difficult for many of us to have the kind of belief in Jesus as Savior that Dr. Craig and Christians, conservative Christians, that is, insist that we should have. Many Protestant theologians these days are prepared to say that there is so little we know about Jesus, for example, after a century or two of biblical scholarship, that what we know could be put on one postcard alone. Why should we believe in him?

Don Reddick:

Sir, a question for Dr. Bradley.

Question:

Dr. Bradley, thank you very much for taking the hot seat, and Dr. Craig as well. I also appreciate . . . pun intended . . . I also appreciate your drawing attention to the fact that Christians often gloss over the fact of the terribleness of hell. And I would agree with you that the Bible does depict a very terrible picture of hell. My question for you deals with your definition of being exclusive. I feel Dr. Craig was able to define that as heaven and/or Christianity being open to all, to both the evangelized through their choice in hearing it and the unevangelized through nature and conscience. How does a requirement relate to being exclusive? If I invite the world to a party and my requirement to come to the party is that they RSVP, and people show up to the party who have not RSVP'd, they are not allowed in. Am I being exclusive when I've invited everybody? In other words, defend your definition of being exclusive.

Dr. Bradley:

It's not my definition. It's one that's standard in the literature, and it has to do with the question whether or not there will be people who are excluded from God's presence in the afterworld. Whether by their own choice or not is not the issue when the terminology is actually used. Exclusivism, then, is to be contrasted with universalism--universalism being the doctrine that all will eventually, if not immediately, finish up in God's presence, basking in the beatitude of Christ. Exclusivism is the denial of universalism--it is the claim that not all will. Just take the term in that relatively innocuous sense.

Dr. Craig:

I think there is a relatively innocuous sense of the term, but it is an emotionally loaded term, too, . . . exclusivism. My understanding is that people exclude themselves from salvation, not that God excludes anybody. He includes everybody. People exclude themselves. In that respect, I didn't comment on this before, but Dr. Bradley changed some of the propositions that he said were from my article such that you had them reading God will send them to hell, when in fact that is not what I said. My view is that people send themselves, not that God sends them. It's people who exclude themselves from salvation.

Dr. Bradley:

But the topic of our question was whether God will send people to hell.

Dr. Craig:

Yes, yeah.

Don Reddick:

Okay. Yes, ma'am, a question for Dr. Craig.

Question:

In the Scriptures, in Genesis, I believe, Moses sees a burning bush, and it is referred to in some translations as an everlasting fire. Now that word "everlasting" is used in other portions of the Bible. I believe that it is incorrectly translated because I don't think that the bush that Moses saw is still burning. Therefore I think that there is no such thing as a hell that lasts forever. It only burns until evil is destroyed.

Dr. Craig:

I think that your point about the burning bush is just inaccurate. I think that's wrong--that that could be or is translated as "everlasting." But your viewpoint is what I call annihilationism. I said that if one does have trouble with the idea that hell is everlasting separation from God, there are Christians that hold to the doctrine of annihilationism, such as this lady just enunciated. Seventh Day Adventists, in particular, is a Christian denomination that holds to annihilationism. I don't hold to it myself. As Dr. Bradley said, the words used to describe hell are the same words used to describe the eternity of God.

[tape jumps]

Question:

. . . and I'll be praying for you as well. First of all, I'd like to share with you a verse from God's Word, from I Timothy 4:1 and it says that the Spirit clearly says that in latter times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. Such teachings come through hypocritical liars whose consciences have been seared with a hot iron. Dr. Bradley, if you go to Psalms 4:2 it also says . . .

Don Reddick:

Sir, excuse me, could you please phrase your question?

Question:

I've got two questions for Dr. Bradley. Comparing Stalin and Hitler's death camps to Christ's justice of hell is ludicrous. God is a divine being made into the flesh to suffer and feel our pain so He can be a more compassionate and loving God.

Don Reddick:

Sir, you'll have to phrase a specific question. We have a limited amount of time.

Question:

So how can you compare Hitler and Stalin's judgments with God almighty, the creator of man? Should not Satan be condemned to hell for his pride? How can man try to set himself up as God, above God? Two questions.

Dr. Bradley:

I made the comparison between Hitler and his atrocities and God and those described in the Bible read non-metaphorically because the comparison is one that must inevitably strike one. If you are going to be talking about sending people to torture, just think of some of the worst perpetrators of those sort of crimes on this earth. I'm sure Hitler is likely to come to your mind. He sent people to the gas chambers because they were of the wrong parentage, whether Jews or Gypsies. That certainly does invite comparison with God, who sends people, in the terms of our question, sends people to hell for the sin of lacking the right beliefs. What I did say was that when you make the comparison, which must inevitably come to mind, you must recognize that the kind of horrors that people are going to suffer in the gas chambers are only finite, whereas those of hell, unless you are going to believe in annihilationism, which Dr. Craig I think very properly rejects, are eternal. I would suggest to you that burning in hell eternally is a lot worse than burning for five or ten minutes in a gas chamber.

Dr. Craig:

I certainly do think that being in hell is far, far worse than what the people experienced at the death camps. But I think that the point is that they are disanalogous because those who endured the death camps were innocent, but those who are in hell are not innocent. They are there because they have deliberately chosen to reject God and because they have failed to live up to the demands of his moral law. Therefore, their condemnation is just. As I've said, the way to assess this question is to not look at others. It's to look into your own heart and ask yourself, "What do you see when you look into your own heart?" Do you see someone there who deserves to go to heaven, who has some kind of a claim to have earned his way? Or do you see someone there who desperately needs God's forgiveness and grace? I think it's the latter and that therefore those who are in hell are only there of their own free choice.

Dr. Bradley:

I'd just like to make a quick comeback on that one, if I may. Dr. Craig, you spoke of the damned as being deliberately there of their own free choice. But, of course, part of your article and part of your argument is that a lot of the people who go to hell are people who haven't even heard and are sent there because God knew in advance what they would choose were they to hear. So you can't speak fairly here of them deliberately choosing to go to hell. You can only speak of God's alleged foreknowledge of what they would deliberately choose.

Dr. Craig:

That's a misunderstanding, Dr. Bradley, of the position I take. That would be unjust of God to judge people on the basis of what they would do in other circumstances. What my article argues is that those who have never heard of Christ are not judged on the basis of Christ. They are judged on the basis of how they respond to the information that they do have, which are standards vastly, vastly lower. Even on those lower standards the question is whether or not people live up to those. If they will, then they will be saved.

Don Reddick:

We have only time for one more question, unfortunately. We've covered a lot of ground, and we are running out of time. Now we'll just do one more question. Sir.

Question:

Dr. Craig, I would just like to ask you if you could comment on what Dr. Bradley was talking about before, about there being two Gods, like one of the Old Testament and one of the New, and that the Old Testament God is more compatible with the idea of hell and that the New Testament God is not. I'd just like for you to comment on that.

Dr. Craig:

Well, I obviously think that is a false dichotomy. The God of the Old Testament is also the God of love, who draws people to Himself, whether they are in the covenant family of Israel or outside like Job, for example. The New Testament God is equally the God of righteousness and holiness. It is important to have a balanced picture of who God is. He is both the holy God and He is the loving God. To quote passages just on one side would give a distorted caricature of who God is. This picture of God as both holy and loving is found both in the Old Testament and in the New Testament.

Don Reddick:

Let's just do one more. Sir.

Question:

Okay, I didn't know we'd get two more questions, but that's all right. Dr. Bradley, do you think Dr. Craig has really refuted your argument about logical inconsistency or is he just claiming to do so? And how can you assume that there is no moral accountability in this life without God?

Dr. Bradley:

Two big questions! As to the first, no, I don't think Dr. Craig has adequately answered my refutation, my heavenly rebuttal, as I euphemistically called it, of his free will defense. As I said, that is a question we'll have to go over because it involves a lot of technicalities about maximally consistent sets of propositions, feasible worlds as opposed to possible worlds, and the rest.

As for the other question which you asked about . . . I take that it was to do with morality . . . the grounds of morality if one were not to believe in God. Could there be an objective morality if one did not believe in God? It seems to me that a morality based on belief in a divine command theory of ethics, that one must do what God says one should do because that is definitive of what is good and disobedience is evil, is a very primitive morality. It is one that is based on fear, and it is in fact contemptible.

Furthermore, I believe that if one takes a look at the evidence there is in the Bible for an objective morality, then you will find the content of many of God's edicts is repugnant. For example, as I cited earlier in my paper, the command to Moses to give 32,000 captured virgins to his soldiers, to use as they may while going on to slaughter their mothers and their brothers, seems to me to be the kind of edict which shows that God's commands, though Christians may claim that they are always good, are often patently not.

Dr. Craig:

I think it is important to understand that with regard to the first question the propositions that God is all-loving and that some people go to hell are not explicitly contradictory. So the burden of proof lies on the person who claims that they are. I don't think that Dr. Bradley has been able to succeed in any way in showing that these are logically incompatible. That is all that I have tried to demonstrate in today's debate. All of these other issues are sort of extraneous, issues that haven't come in or shouldn't be coming in. I haven't defended a divine command morality. I would say that God's commands flow necessarily from the goodness and holiness of His moral nature so that they're not arbitrary.

As for the sorts of commands in the Old Testament that Dr. Bradley is talking about, I think you would have to look at those specifically on a case-to-case basis. In some cases, for example, these would represent God's judgment upon unrighteous nations which were merely carried out by human instrumentality. Human beings wouldn't have the right to do such things; it would be only as instruments of God's judgment upon certain persons. That would have to be looked at in much greater detail on a case by case basis.

Don Reddick:

Well, we are going to have to wrap things up right now. I hope you've found this worth while. I'd like to thank you all for attending. That will be it.

Notes

1 O. A. Curtis, The Christian Faith, p. 325.

2 William Lane Craig, "'No Other Name': A Middle Knowledge Perspective on the Exclusivity of Salvation through Christ," Faith and Philosophy 6 (1989): 172-188.

3 Ibid., p. 186.

4 Ibid.

5 See "Contemporary Scholarship and the Historical Evidence for the Resurrection of Jesus Christ," on this site at "Articles: Historical Jesus."

6 Mt. 25.41.

7 Richard Wurmbrandt, Tortured for Christ (London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1967), p. 34.