Maxey - Thrasher Debate

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

Thursday, March 7, 2002

Thomas Thrasher's Comments
on Al's Last Post and Hades

As usual, I want to begin this article by reviewing a few of my friend's statements.

With respect to my request that Al supply us with a list of the "few troubling passages" to which he alluded, he remarked, "No debater worth his 'salt' would ever provide his opponent with a list of what that opponent might perceive to be 'weak points.' That would be ludicrous." I don't think it is "ludicrous" if our desire is to ascertain TRUTH on this subject! My desire was merely to be sure that these passages (to which he alluded, but which he refused to divulge) are not omitted from this discussion. However, it is quite possible that some of them may be omitted, since Al wrote, "In the course of this debate we will have the opportunity to discuss SOME of these together" (emphasis mine).

Al says, "It is obvious that Thomas and I differ over the subject matter of our debate ... we shall each present our position to the best of our individual abilities, and then we shall need to leave the matter in the hands of the readers." With this I concur.

Al clarifies his position with reference to Edward Fudge and The Fire That Consumes: "Thomas has also read far too much into my statement about perceiving Fudge's conclusions to be 'basically right.' Thus, it is rare that I will declare absolute agreement with any particular author or book. About the best I will do is to declare I 'basically agree' with the overall conclusions of a specific work. That does not necessarily imply that I am aware of specific errors, it's just that I personally do not proclaim unequivocal or unreserved agreement with anyone ... and that includes brother Fudge." He adds, "I am not a 'Fudgite,' nor am I a disciple of 'Fudgism.'" I accept Al's explanation. Therefore, I do not plan to mention Edward or his book again in this debate, unless Al brings them up.


Al says, "The two of us, therefore, need to define 'death.' Thomas provided us with his reasoning from several passages of Scripture, and then stated: 'My conclusion is that "death" is a SEPARATION, not an EXTINCTION.' My opponent has admittedly assumed that my own definition of 'death' is: 'extinction' or 'annihilation' or 'cessation of existence.'" I am puzzled by Al's statement. Is he denying that he believes "death" is extinction, annihilation, or cessation of existence? Increasing my uncertainty about his position, Al states: "Actually, I would agree with Thomas' view that 'death' is a 'separation.'"

In order to avoid misunderstanding him on such a crucial matter (what "death" is), I ask him simply: What is "death"?

  1. Death is extinction -- yes or no
  2. Death is annihilation -- yes or no
  3. Death is cessation of existence -- yes or no
  4. Death is separation -- yes or no
  5. Death is __________ (please specify)

I made my position clear in my third article: Death is separation, not extinction! I anticipate Al's unequivocal response to the question.

My friend comments, "....merely acknowledging that a 'separation' exists does not truly define 'death.' One must further seek to determine what happens to that which has experienced this separation. What is the RESULT, or resultant state?" This I have done! I showed that "death" refers to different types of "separation," citing Bible verses supporting each point. As most directly relates to the issue of this discussion, I said, "Likewise, 'the second death' (Revelation 20:14) is an ETERNAL SEPARATION from God. In the judgment Jesus will say to those on the left hand, 'Depart from me, ye cursed, into the eternal fire' (Matthew 25:41)." The Bible tells us "what happens to that which has experienced this separation" is that they are "cursed" and told to "depart ... into the eternal fire!"

Al says, "There is a perception among many who embrace the so-called 'Traditionalist' position that 'death' does not truly exist." Perhaps so, although I doubt it. Anyway, MY position is that "death" does exist, but that "death" is not cessation of existence! He also quotes a portion of a poem entitled "There Is No Death," and comments, "Death is not cessation or extinction of life, according to this view, but an enhancement of it ... at least for the righteous 'dead.'" Once more, my friend seems to equate "death" with "non-existence!" This is one of the very points he must PROVE by the Bible. Al, where does the word of God say "death" is "non-existence" or "cessation of existence" or "annihilation" or "extinction"???

My opponent says that "one of the major differences between Thomas and me" is that "I [Al] believe that when a person is DEAD, then that person (body and being/soul) has been completely separated/severed from LIFE. Death, therefore, is a cessation of life for the entire person, not just a part of him." Again, is that "death" a complete separation from EXISTENCE? Does "that person" still exist after death? Al evidently says, "No." The Bible says, "Yes" (cf. Acts 2:27, 31; Luke 16:22-23; 23:43).

Al says, "Thomas embraces a dualistic view of the nature of man --- man being made up of distinct living parts, one of which is subject to death, the other of which is not." The second part of the statement is false! Al knows that I discussed physical death (that certainly involves the body, James 2:26) and spiritual death (that involves the soul, Ephesians 2:1; Isaiah 59:2). With respect to the first part of his statement (that I embrace a dualistic view of the nature of man), it seems to me that the Bible is very clear on this truth (2 Corinthians 12:2-3; Luke 16:22-23; Ecclesiastes 12:7; Acts 2:27-31; etc.). Al claims, "the body is separated from the breath. When body and breath are separated ... Life for this person is extinguished." Just "body" and "breath," according to Al! I invite our readers to study the Bible passages cited above.

Al contends that "death is basically understood as the termination of life on earth. Most frequently it indicates the end of an individual's existence." Therefore, he admits that DEATH is not always the end of one's existence! One can be dead, but still exist.

Al comments, "To become SEPARATED from one's purpose in life, and from one's God, is truly to be 'DEAD' even though still PHYSICALLY ANIMATED." Please take note of the admission that one can be "truly dead" yet "physically animated!" Therefore, DEATH is not cessation of existence or extinction!

Concerning spiritual death, Al says, "It is truly a 'DEATH,' a CESSATION OF UNION with Him. Such carries only one ultimate prospect: ETERNAL DEATH" (emphasis mine).

"spiritual death" is a "cessation of union with Him"
"eternal death" can be an eternal "cessation of union with Him"

"Eternal death" does not require EXTINCTION/ceasing to exist, as my opponent contends! He even acknowledges that these meanings "cannot always be clearly distinguished ... since spiritual death merges into eternal death" (A Greek-English Lexicon of the NT and Other Early Christian Literature, p. 351).

Al quotes 1 John 5:12, "He who has the Son has the life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have the life"; however, he seems to think this means "He who has the Son EXISTS; he who does not have the Son of God DOES NOT EXIST"! The apostle did not say that!

Al states: "Jesus told the church in Sardis, 'You have a name that you are alive, but you are DEAD' (Revelation 3:1). They had SEPARATED themselves from a relationship with and service to their Lord, and that is truly a 'DEATH' experience, a loss of life" (emphasis mine). Again, a SEPARATION, not an EXTINCTION!

Al wants us to notice carefully four passages: Ephesians 2:1-2; Colossians 2:13; Luke 15:24; Matthew 8:22. Before looking at these verses, remember that Al said, "I believe that when a person is DEAD, then that person (body and being/soul) has been completely separated/severed from LIFE. Death, therefore, is a cessation of life for the entire person, not just a part of him."

On "eternal death," Al provided this quotation: "Those who remain in spiritual death throughout their lives and do not believe on the Son of God, die in their sins (John 8:21, 24) ... and in the Day of Judgment will be consigned to a state of eternal separation from God, called in Scripture the second death (Revelation 21:8)" (The Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia of the Bible, Volume 2, p. 71). My brother, how does this help your position? Notice:

My opponent says, "I believe the biblical view is that the second death is a termination of life itself" [He did not prove by the Bible that it is termination of EXISTENCE]. "In the lake of fire the raised unredeemed will be ultimately and completely destroyed, deprived of life, and will cease to be." [He did not PROVE by the Bible that they "cease to be"!]

Al says, "Yes, Thomas, I believe 'death' is a SEPARATION. But the result -- the effect -- of such a separation is not an enhanced life, it is a forfeited life!" However, Al, what you need to PROVE by the Scriptures is that "it is a forfeited EXISTENCE"! I would like to know the verse that PROVES "death" is cessation of EXISTENCE, extinction, or annihilation.


Al admits, "Yes, most translations do indeed translate this word 'eternal.' As I pointed out in my last post, this term has both qualitative and quantitative significance and application." Al, what Bible verse have you given that PROVES the "qualitative" aspect? He has not proved BY THE BIBLE that "aionios" ("eternal") refers to quality as well as quantity. He continues to assert this. Al, do you think that if you say it enough, the audience will think you have proved it? What Bible verse PROVES your point? I've not seen it yet!

Al quotes Romans 6:23 -- the "wages of sin is DEATH"! That is exactly right! The wages of sin is SEPARATION from God, not EXTINCTION! He also says, "And that death is everlasting." Yes, the SEPARATION is everlasting! "There is no future reversal ... It is forever!"

Al asserts, "What Thomas has done is essentially to declare the PROCESS to be everlasting, rather than the RESULT." Not so, my friend! The RESULT is eternal SEPARATION from God. He then says, "In other words, the result promised by God is never actually achieved." Untrue! The "result" (eternal separation from God) will be achieved!

Al misrepresents my position, saying, "Thus, the unredeemed also experience an everlasting LIFE." He is once more equating EXISTENCE and LIFE, which is false! The unredeemed exist in a state of separation from God. This SEPARATION is a death! Al repeatedly assumes that EXISTENCE is LIFE, and that EXTINCTION is DEATH; however, these are false definitions unsupported by the word of God.

Hebrews 9:12 mentions "eternal redemption." Al comments, "It is thus redemption itself, not the redeeming process, that continues without end." Note that he recognizes that "eternal" means "without end," just as he ought to recognize that the death/separation of the wicked is "without end"!

Al continues to cloud and confuse the issue by saying, "It is judgment, not judging. It is destruction, not destroying. It is death, not dying. It is punishment, not punishing." However, I checked Webster's New World Dictionary (Third College Edition) for definitions of these words. Here is what I found in the #1 definition of each term (emphasis mine):

Although Al says it is "not," the dictionary says it "is"!


I expressed my honest opinion that "apart from reliance upon a multitude of denominational authors (who have scarcely a notion of the true scheme of redemption or of God's kingdom) and a few brethren to whom such writers offer some sort of attractive appeal, the Bible makes it very clear the meaning of aionios ..." I listed every NT occurrence of this word as translated in the KJV and ASV, most as "eternal" or "everlasting." Al does not refute the evidence as to the meaning of the word aionios in the NT!

Al's belief that some "denominational authors" (those "outside our heritage") "probably perceive" "the true scheme of redemption" and "God's kingdom" "better than we do" is disappointing, though not unexpected. I place little confidence in the comments of "scholars" who fail to comprehend such matters as the conditions of salvation and the differences between the Old and New covenants.

Al considered my statement ("Let us persevere in warning the unregenerate and unfaithful about their existence throughout eternity, rather than proclaiming a false hope of their eventual EXTINCTION!") to be premature. However, I will not retract that admonition in view of his misdefining of words and the absence of Bible proof for his "eternal extinction" theory.


The Greek word Hades (Strong's #86) is defined "prop. unseen, i.e. 'Hades' or the place (state) of departed souls" (Strong's Greek Lexicon, page 8). Listed below are all of the occurrences of this word in the NT (quotations from NKJV):

In Acts 2:24-32 the apostle Peter clearly points out the "dual nature" of Jesus:

Jesus' body was buried, but His soul went to Hades. He didn't "cease to exist" when He died. Al, do you believe that Jesus' death upon the cross was the "cessation of life for the ENTIRE PERSON, not just a part of him"???

In Luke 16:19-31, both Lazarus and the rich man died (their souls/spirits left their bodies, James 2:26). However, they continued to exist in Hades (verse 23, 26). The "dual nature" of each person is readily discerned by reading the Bible. Verse 31 shows they were "dead" (physically), because Abraham said (by the way, he still existed although he had "died" centuries earlier), "neither will they be persuaded though one rise from the dead"!

I urge our readers to accept what the word of God teaches, not what any man's opinion may be. I look forward to my brother's next effort.

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