Maxey - Thrasher Debate

Eternal Destiny of the Wicked
Perpetual Torment or Ultimate Extinction
(An In-Depth Biblical Discussion)

Wednesday, July 24, 2002

Comments by Thomas Thrasher
On Al Maxey's Last Response

I want to congratulate Al for actually decreasing the length of his speech in his seventh offering (the first time in this debate that one of his articles has been shorter than the previous one!). This time he used only 12,922 words! Maybe I am winning him over (g)!

Al says, "Thomas has declared to me in more than one post that this debate is not a priority with him." I don't recall telling Al that "this debate is not a priority"; however, I have said it is not a top priority. I have told Al that commitments to my school job must be honored (cf. Ephesians 6:5; Colossians 3:22). I am usually at school from 7:00 A.M. until 4:30 P.M. (Monday though Friday), and occasionally at night or on Saturday. Commitments to local church work (preaching, classes, radio, preparing study materials, etc.) fill many nights and weekends. Preparation and conduct of occasional oral debates also require substantial time, as I have informed Al from the beginning. Of course, family responsibilities also have priority over this written debate (1 Timothy 5:8. etc.). Remember, I am a grandfather (smile). I am certainly not complaining about any of this -- I receive enjoyment in serving the Lord in all of these activities. I am simply explaining to the readers why this written debate is not a TOP priority in my schedule.

Al comments, "That is indeed somewhat strange in light of the fact that it was Thomas who challenged me to this debate, not the other way around." Yes, I contacted Al about the possibility of our having an e-mail debate on this subject; HOWEVER, my proposal was to limit articles to no more than 2000 words, a very manageable length for e-mail articles. If you check the early articles as posted on Al's website, you will see that my first three articles were all posted within a period of eleven days (including the amount of time that Al took). That was when the posts were a reasonable length. However, Al's last three articles have averaged more than 13,000 words apiece! (By way of comparison, Al's last three articles have averaged as many words as the apostle Paul used in the books of Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, 1 Thessalonians, and 2 Thessalonians COMBINED!!!)

Al charges me with "the epitome of 'childishness'" because I delayed sending my previous article to him until just before midnight -- the time he had given in his "ultimatum" to me. However, one of the common characteristics that I have observed in children (and I have observed thousands of them during my three decades in public education) is that they often insist on having things their own way. In this respect Al has demonstrated childishness from the first contact I made with him. Like a stubborn child determined to have his way, Al has refused to accept any of my suggestions relating to features of this debate such as length of articles, number of articles, profuse quotations from uninspired men, etc. I admit experiencing a degree of irritation with his lack of cooperation in these matters. I deny his charge that most of his e-mails to me relating to this discussion go unanswered. However, a considerable number of his e-mail messages are unrelated to this debate. For example, he has sent messages to me about some interview in which he was involved, or reporting on his vacation, or something else to which I feel no inclination to respond. My hours from 7:00 A.M. to 4:30 P.M. each weekday cannot be devoted to extensive e-mail correspondence or even preparation of these debate articles.

My opponent states: "Let's move on to the Word of God .... in-depth and intense examination, proclamation and defense of which, for me, is very much a priority." Surely this discussion is not the only component of Al's alleged "proclamation and defense" of God's word. It certainly isn't the only one for me! Between submission of articles to Al (whatever time period that may involve), I am continually proclaiming and defending God's word. In fact, since Al has introduced the possibility of a debate between us relating to creation and the age of the earth, I will agree to meet him in an ORAL debate on this important issue SOON, if he is willing. That could provide him with another opportunity to "proclaim and defend" God's word even while this written debate is on-going.

With regard to Al's quotation from brother H. Leo Boles relating to the thief on the cross and Paradise, I stated, "I found that Boles actually takes the OPPOSITE view to what Al is seeking to prove! .... Why did Al reproduce only a small part of Boles' statement, taken out of context, and leave the impression that Boles agreed with his view when he actually agrees with mine?" Al responded, "Thomas is correct in his analysis of Boles' convictions with regard to the state of the dead. He and Thomas do indeed share the same misunderstanding, as many do. I don't suggest otherwise. What I do suggest, however, is that brother Boles has made a most insightful observation in his commentary, and it was merely to that astute observation that I made appeal, not to the entirety of his theology on the matter (with which I greatly differ)." Al proceeds to re-quote the same portion of Boles' comments that he cited before: "Brother H. Leo Boles, in his Commentary on Luke, correctly observed, 'Evidently Jesus did not mean that this robber would go with him to heaven that day, as it seems clear from other statements that Jesus did not go to heaven that day. His day of ascension came about forty days after that time' (p. 454)." However, Al overlooks the comment HE made immediately following this quotation from brother Boles (caps below are by TNT):

Al says the "thief" would NOT be with Jesus THAT DAY in PARADISE, but Jesus and Boles both said he would be! I agree with Boles (and Al) that the "thief" did not go to HEAVEN that day, but I agree with our Lord, Boles, and all of the translations quoted below that the "thief" DID go to PARADISE that day!

Al charges that Boles' teaching, as understood from my quotation of the context from which Al lifted his quote, "reverted back to the pagan roots of his theology." I wonder ... do you suppose that any of the multitude of uninspired men from whom Al has quoted throughout this debate had any theological roots to which they reverted in agreeing with Al's position? (This assumes he has quoted them correctly, which he has not always done!)

Al failed to answer my reply to his ridiculous contention on the word "today" in Luke 23:43. I cited five Bible translations that dispute his claim that Jesus and the "thief" did not go to Paradise that day:

To further reinforce this point, I quickly looked for other translations that I have in my library. They read:

As I am preparing this article, it is possible that I have overlooked some other Bible translation in my library (several thousand volumes housed in four different locations), but the agreement of these quoted is a marvelous testimony to the error that Al holds on this matter. I wish to make it clear that I do not necessarily recommend all of the translations I have quoted, except with regard to their accuracy in rendering the verse under consideration. I included some that I do not generally endorse just to be as thorough as possible on the point regarding the word "today" in Luke 23:43.

Due to our font limitations, I will not be able to display the Greek characters, but the Greek texts that I checked support the translations on this matter:

Al objects to the idea that "the wicked are being tortured as they are held in ... Hades.'" He says that "the dead ... are not rewarded or punished prior to that trumpet sound." However, I again cite what OUR LORD said for our readers' benefit, "And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and that he was carried away by the angels into Abraham's bosom: and the rich man also DIED, and was buried. And in HADES he lifted up his eyes, being in TORMENTS, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am in ANGUISH in this flame. But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and Lazarus in like manner evil things: but now here he is comforted, and thou art in ANGUISH ... For I have five brethren; that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of TORMENT" (Luke 16:22-25, 28, ASV). Following his physical death, the "rich man" was in TORMENTS/ANGUISH in HADES! That's what the Bible says, although Al and many others are not willing to accept it!!!

Al states: "I had previously written, 'Scripture also makes it abundantly clear that the GRAVE (Hades, Sheol) is not a place of conscious activity for the dead.' Thomas remarked, 'Al quotes some more uninspired men to this effect, but not one Bible verse to PROVE it.' Thomas is correct that in my last post I did not quote any of the Scriptures which demonstrate this truth. The reason is because I had quoted them extensively in previous posts. Here are just a couple from my fourth post dealing with Hades.'" He then quotes Ecclesiastes 9:10 and 9:2-5.

It so happens that I answered his argument on these verses in my fifth article; however, Al did not see fit to acknowledge or refute my response. Therefore, I will provide that information again at this point:

Al quotes a portion of Ecclesiastes 9:2-10, as if it supports his position that Sheol is an unconscious state. However, what he fails to report to our readers is that these statements relate to what happens "under the sun" (on earth). Look at the context:

Al takes Ecclesiastes 9:2-5, 10 totally out of this context. Let me illustrate with a NT example:

Al next turns "to several more passages of Scripture to which the Traditionalists appeal in a futile effort to validate their false theology." I will make a few observations in that connection.

Al took a considerable amount of space in seeking to prove that "immortal soulism" is not taught in Revelation 6:9-11. It is a fact (easily verified by checking my articles) that I made NO ARGUMENT on this passage such as that to which Al refers. It has been my experience in debate that those who teach error often introduce (and try to answer) arguments that I did not make, rather than answering the arguments I did make! For example, in debating a "one container" brother a few years ago, he wanted to know why I did not make the "old Jerusalem argument." He then proceeded to discuss this argument that I had never made, rather than taking up what I did say!

As usual, Al's remarks included several quotations from uninspired men, which (he has admitted) do not prove what is the truth. After lengthy comments on the passage, Al concludes, "'Immortal soulism' is a false theology." Even if Al is right in his interpretation of Revelation 6:9-11, it would not prove his conclusion. At most, if he is right, it would mean that THIS passage does not teach what he calls "immortal soulism"!

Al quoted 1 Peter 3:18-20 (NIV), then he summarized and commented upon four "major interpretations proposed over the years." He then stated: "Personally, I do not believe any of the above have a great deal of merit." I agree with Al in this conclusion.

He then says, "My own personal interpretation, and the one which I think best fits the context, and which best harmonizes with the remainder of the Scriptures, is this: It was the Spirit of Christ who preached the message of salvation through His servant Noah, unto the people of Noah's day, during those years prior to the flood." I also agree with Al's interpretation, which (of course) does not necessarily mean it is right (g)!

My friend quotes Clem Thurman, Dillard Thurman, and Albert Barnes, none of whom (to my knowledge) wrote any New Testament books! I do not accept their pronouncements as Bible proof in this debate. He then states: "I find nothing whatsoever in this passage which suggests the concept of 'immortal soulism' or some Hadean holding area of disembodied spirit-beings." Once more, I do not recall making any argument on this passage such as that to which Al refers.

Why won't my opponent answer what I HAVE said? For instance, I made numerous points back in my fifth article to which he has not even alluded, much less answered. When Al regularly goes on for 13,000 or so words in an article, the readers may forget the many points I have made to which he has not replied. At the risk of being repetitious, that is one reason I prefer shorter articles. It is easier for us to detect such failures to respond when the exchanges are shorter. May I remind the reader that I am not seeking to limit what or how much Al writes? (He pretends this is what I have sought to do.) He can present any point or passage he desires in this discussion. I have simply requested that he do so in more digestible quantities.

Al cites the case of the "Witch of Endor" in 1 Samuel 28 and "the apparent appearance of Samuel from beyond the grave." Have I made this argument anytime during this debate? (I did make several arguments in my fifth article that he has not touched!)

He continues his scholarly quotations in this section, citing one "unnamed" commentator, Dr. Lewis, Origen, Dr. Kretzmann, and the Babylonian Talmud, all of which was very entertaining (?), but which PROVED nothing about what God's word says.

Al asked, "Were Saul and his sons saved? Are they and Samuel now together ("you and your sons will be WITH me") in Abraham's bosom, experiencing the joys of their salvation? It will be interesting to hear Thomas' response!" My answer (although I'm not certain how "interesting" it is): (1) I think Saul and his sons are lost. (2) They are all in Hades; however, they are separated by the "Great Gulf" (cf. Luke 16:26). Saul and his sons are not in "Abraham's bosom" nor "experiencing the joys of their salvation," but Samuel is.

Al concludes, "Well, what can be said with certainty about this event in 1 Samuel 28? Actually, very little! There is much we just don't know, and probably never will know this side of heaven. We can speculate a great deal, and form numerous opinions, but we have very little in this passage with which to form doctrine with regard to such matters as the nature of man or the nature of what occurs between death and the resurrection." What has Al said about 1 Samuel 28?

In spite of all this, Al concludes, "One by one the building blocks of their false theology fall under the scrutiny of sound biblical hermeneutics." Strange!

In his comments on 1 Peter 3:3-4, Al quotes Wuest, Lenski, the Tyndale Commentary, Wuest again, The Expositor's Bible Commentary, Lenski again, and John Calvin -- all of whom are uninspired and subject to error in their statements. Al has acknowledged that such quotations do not PROVE what the truth is, and he also has admitted that I could quote plenty of people who take opposite views.

Referring to 1 Peter 3:3-4, Al remarks, "This passage says nothing at all about some 'immortal soul' (a phrase NEVER found in the Bible, by the way ... not even one time)." Reader, do you remember when Al made a similar statement several articles ago? I demonstrated that, using his reasoning, the same is true for a number of things HE believes. He still believes them, even though those phrases are "NEVER found in the Bible ... not even one time"! I will provide that list again, although I am sure the reader can see that his statement would also undermine HIS position if it undermines mine.

My friend concludes his discussion by saying, "If one is looking for a proof-text for an 'immortal soul,' one is going to have to look elsewhere. This is not it." Again on this point I ask: Did I make this argument in this debate?

It seems that I recall making some arguments back in my fifth article. It would be nice if Al would address the ones I DID make that he has not even touched!!! I encourage Al to deal with those arguments. In my next article, I will review Al's responses to those arguments, and also look at his comments on Genesis 35:18, 1 Corinthians 2:11, and 2 Corinthians 12:1-4.

May the Lord bless us in the study of His word.

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