Maxey - Thrasher Debate

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

Tuesday, September 3, 2002

Comments by Thomas Thrasher
On Al Maxey's Last Response

I commend Al for decreasing the length of his last article to slightly less than 10,000 words (by way of comparison, a little longer than the books of Hebrews, James, and Philemon combined)! Unfortunately, he chose not to use any of those words to try to ANSWER the points I made. He wrote: "About all I can say after having reviewed brother Thrasher's eighth submission to this discussion is -- he and I differ on just about everything." He repeats this idea a little later: "Again, it is obvious we agree on very little."

When Al and I began this debate, I thought it was obvious that we did not agree. If we were in agreement, there would have been no need to debate! On his website Al refers to this discussion as "The Maxey-Thrasher DEBATE" (caps mine); however, he quit the "debate" in his eighth article, opting to "proceed with a presentation of what I believe God's Truth to be on the ultimate destiny of the unredeemed, and in so doing enter the final phase of our dialogue on this topic" without even attempting to answer anything in my preceding article. I am not objecting to his presenting what he imagines the truth to be "on the ultimate destiny of the unredeemed" (he ought to do that). However, I am objecting to his refusal to even try to answer the points I have made!

In concluding my eighth presentation I said, "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 ..." Regretfully, I will not be able to "review Al's responses to those arguments" because he once more refused to respond to them, even though I called attention to this at least three times in my last address. In addition, he did not attempt to answer any arguments advanced in my last address.

Rather than reply to what I have argued, Al chose to discuss several "traditionalist" arguments that I have not made! My friend admits this: "Yes, Thomas, I have indeed put forth arguments you yourself had not yet made (and perhaps would not have), but they are the arguments proffered by the traditionalist camp and thus must be addressed in any reasoned response to and refutation of that position." My friend, you agreed to a DEBATE, which obligated you to (1) offer Bible arguments in PROOF of his position, and (2) attempt to answer MY arguments. If your intention was to set forth all that you wanted to say on these matters and answer the "traditionalist" positions and arguments, you should have just written a BOOK!

My opponent states: "We both gladly embrace these challenges and seek to serve the Lord to the best of our abilities and opportunities." What about the opportunity YOU first proposed, and which I have accepted, for us to debate creation and the age of the earth?

Al judged my motives and spirit because I sent my article at the end of his arbitrary deadline. Near the end of his speech he said, "God is neither honored, nor our readers edified or educated, by a spirit of pettiness." I have acknowledged my irritation with Al's stubbornness in regard to several details of this debate, especially his escalation of article length; however, that was not the reason I sent my eighth article near midnight of Al's 40-day deadline. The truth is that I didn't start it until that day!

He and his cohorts can think whatever they wish; however, those who know me well are fully aware of the fact that I am disposed to procrastinate when it comes to lengthy writing assignments. I tend to postpone them as long as possible, then do "last-minute" work to meet deadlines. This was true when I was assigned numerous papers to write in college and graduate school --- and I still almost always made an "A" (g), and it remains true with regard to my writing articles for educational journals, religious periodicals, and even written debates.

In his 6th article, Al attempted to answer a "traditionalist" argument on the word "today" in Luke 23:43. He stated: "The argument by the traditionalists is that this verse assures us the penitent thief would be 'in Paradise' with Jesus THAT SAME DAY!" I replied to his peculiar notion on the word "today," quoting 5 different Bible translations of this passage in my 7th article and 14 more in my 8th article. Since then, I have found two more translations in my library:

These 21 English translations serve as impressive evidence against Al's position. He has totally ignored my reply. If (as all of these translations state) Jesus said that the "thief" would be WITH HIM in Paradise that same day, both Jesus and the "thief" continued to exist in Paradise AFTER they died! This is a deathblow to Al's entire position.

As I promised at the close of my previous offering, I will now respond to Al's remarks on Genesis 35:18, 1 Corinthians 2:11, and 2 Corinthians 12:1-4 given in his seventh article.

Concerning Rachel's death, Genesis 35:18 states:

In discussing the meaning of the word "soul" (nephesh), Al points out that it may also mean "life" and that the text simply means that "LIFE was leaving her ... Her life was departing." He quotes Adam Clarke and John T. Willis, neither of whose opinions are authority with me. I found it interesting that he endorses the comment by Willis, but he rejects the comment by Clarke.

When I looked up Clarke's commentary online, these were his observations on Genesis 35:18 (the *** replace the Hebrew words given by Clarke):

I showed early in this discussion that physical death occurs when the spirit LEAVES the body: "...the body apart from the spirit is dead ..." (James 2:26, ASV). Luke 23:46, "And Jesus, crying with a loud voice, said, Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit: and having said this, he gave up the ghost." Ecclesiastes 12:7, "Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it." The death of Rachel described in Genesis 35:18 is consistent with this Bible concept.

In 1 Corinthians 2:11 the apostle Paul wrote:

Al says, "This is simply a reference to one's own will or personality. You can't read my mind, but I can know my own mind or heart." He quotes The Expositor's Bible Commentary, Dr. C. K. Barrett, Adam Clarke, The Expositor's Bible Commentary again, and R. C. H. Lenski in setting forth his view. Remember, however, that Al has admitted that such quotations in "no way serves the purpose of providing proof or validation of one's views." He has also acknowledged that "both of us could quote a host of men (known and unknown, reputable and otherwise) who agree with our respective positions." Nevertheless, he continues in every article to give profuse quotations from such men.

However, what does the inspired apostle say? "But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God. For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God." Paul parallels "the Spirit of God" (Holy Spirit) to "the spirit of man." Since the Holy Spirit is a spirit being, then so is the spirit of man.

Remember, "the spirit of man" is IN him. If it were not, the body would be dead (James 2:26)!

In my fifth article, I quoted 2 Corinthians 12:2-3, "I know a MAN in Christ ... whether IN THE BODY I do not know, or whether OUT OF THE BODY I do not know, God knows ... and I know such a MAN -- whether IN THE BODY or OUT OF THE BODY I do not know, God knows." I then observed that "the inspired apostle knew that a MAN could exist without being in his physical BODY. So there is more to MAN than his physical body!"

Al struggled against the force of this passage, referring to "extra-bodily experiences," "out-of-body experiences," and "soul traveling." He also cited statements from Adam Clarke and The Pulpit Commentary. My friend stated:

In his effort to overcome the "Traditionalist" view, my brother EVADES my point on this passage! Let me quote several translations of 2 Corinthians 12:2-3 (with caps for emphasis) and then make my point again!

Surely, any sincere reader of the Bible can see what this passage SAYS. My point was (and is) that "the inspired apostle knew that a MAN could exist WITHOUT being in his physical BODY. So there is more to MAN than his physical body!" If a MAN has no existence APART FROM THE BODY (as Al contends), then Paul certainly should have known that he was IN THE BODY!!!

In Al's "introduction to the conclusion," he seeks to provide his answer to this question: "What will be the ultimate destiny of both the wicked and the redeemed?" Inasmuch as the "ultimate destiny of the redeemed" is not the issue in our discussion, I will forego direct response to that. However, I will respond to his assertions on "the ultimate destiny of the wicked."

Al says, "Scripture informs us that the dead, both righteous and wicked, sleep in the dust of the ground awaiting the trumpet blast which will awaken them on that final day." Insofar as their physical bodies are concerned, I agree.

Al quotes Revelation 22:12 where Jesus said, "I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me ..." He claims these "rewards" will not be dispensed until the second coming of Christ. However, I believe he has misinterpreted and misapplied this passage. It refers to a coming of the Lord that would be soon:

He goes on to say, "Then, on that day, a great judging and separation will occur among those raised from the dead. This does not occur in some intermediate holding area prior to the coming of Christ. Our Lord's 'reward' comes with Him, it is not given out beforehand." Although Al has misapplied Revelation 22:12 to the second coming of Christ, he is correct that the "reward" mentioned here "comes with Him, it is not given out beforehand." It occurred when the Lord came in judgment back in that general time period. The Bible speaks of several "comings" of the Lord in judgment against various people. Those judgments should not be confused with the "second coming of Christ."

My friend discusses at some length the reward of the righteous; however, that is not the topic of this debate. I suspect that the eternal destiny of the redeemed is one of the few points on which he and I basically agree.

Al quotes Malachi 4:1-3 and comments that "the destruction of the wicked is likened unto the burning up of chaff. All it leaves is ashes."

Doesn't my opponent see the obvious use of figurative language in this context?

Al says a little later, "The wicked will be nothing more than ashes under our feet. In other words, the figure portrays the reality that they are gone forever." So he admits this is a figure! How does he KNOW that this figure "portrays the reality that they are gone forever"?

My friend makes the following claim: "As one examines the many biblical examples of God's dealings with the wicked, it will be quickly perceived that not one single time in all of recorded biblical teaching is the punishment for sin against God ever declared to be torture.... Nowhere does God ever use torture as divine punishment. Not even once!" Let us see if that is true or false.

According to Webster's New World Dictionary (School and Office Edition), "torture" comes from the Latin torquere, to twist, and refers to "any severe physical or mental pain; agony" (page 452). "Torment" also comes from the Latin torquere, to twist, and means "great pain or anguish; agony" (page 451). They mean the same thing.

According to the New Webster's Expanded Dictionary, "torment" (as a noun) means "extreme pain; torture; that which gives pain"; as a verb it means "to torture" (page 346). "Torture" means "extreme pain; agony; torment"; as a verb it means "to pain to extremity; to torment" (page 346). They are interchangeable words.

In Luke 16:24 the no-longer-rich man says (after his death), "I am tormented in this flame"! The word used here is defined in the BAGD Lexicon: "of physical torment.... Esp. of the tortures of hell ..." (page 555). Here is one clear example of a person who was being "tormented"/"tortured" by God for his sins.

Revelation 14:9-11 says, "... If anyone worships the beast and his image ... 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 ascends forever and ever ..."

Revelation 20:10 says, "And the devil ... was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone where the beast and the false prophet are. And they will be tormented day and night forever and ever."

Brother Maxey says, "Nowhere does God ever use torture as divine punishment. Not even once!" Our dear readers, whom will you believe -- God or Al Maxey???

Al quotes the opinions of Edward Fudge (who, like Al, apparently doesn't possess the courage to participate in an oral debate on his views), Curtis Dickinson, Leroy Edwin Froom, and several other men in the remainder of his article. I do not accept their pronouncements as authoritative.

My brother seems to especially appreciate what he calls "Leroy Edwin Froom's monumental two volume, 2000 page study The Conditionalist Faith of Our Fathers." I wonder what it is that makes it "monumental"?

Citing this work, Al lists many NT expressions regarding the "final disposition of the wicked." However, not a single one of them teaches Al's theory of annihilation, extinction, or ceasing to exist. I will examine these various expressions in my next article.

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