Preston Sprinkle’s ‘Theology in the Raw’ is akin to going to a third-world open-air meat market and purchasing a rancid salmonella-infested hunk of meat that has been sitting out in the sun for days, rotting away and covered in flies. Consume such “raw” theology at the peril of the body, and by body, we mean both yourself and the church body to which you belong.
The theology of Sprinkle’s recent Theology in the Raw: Exiles in Babylon conference is no exception to this description. Protestia previously reported on the first day of the conference, which included Francis Chan’s description of the Lord’s Supper as having a mysterious “intercourse with Jesus”. Within days of the reporting, Preston removed video of the first day of the conference from Youtube, scrubbing evidence of false teaching. You can still view day one of the heretical conference here.
Day three of the conference included a debate and discussion on views of hell. Before introducing Chris Dates, the defender of the annihilationism heresy, and Gerry Breshears the defender of the eternal conscious torment position; Preston began by making the argument that he believes that there are 3 orthodox positions on hell that can be held by a believer. (Preston Sprinkle, Conference Day 3, 20:10-21:52)
There’s three Christian views of hell. By Christian, I mean views that have been held by Christians who hold to Christian orthodoxy and have different views of hell.
There is the most familiar one, eternal conscious torment, and that’s the view that probably almost all of you… when you think of the idea of hell this is what comes into your mind. That hell is a place in the afterlife where people who don’t follow Jesus will suffer never ending punishment. That’s eternal conscious torment.
Then there’s the annihilation view, or sometimes called conditional immortality. This view also says that there is a hell. It’s a place of punishment, but when people go there, they die. They will cease to exist. There is no never-ending ongoing conscious torment.
The third view is sometimes called Christian Universalism. It’s better titled ultimate reconciliation. That says that, and you have to distinguish between Christian universalism and non-Christian forms of universalism or pluralism, which would say ‘oh all roads lead to you know heaven or whatever you know. Jesus is one way and Hinduism is one way and even atheists is another way.’ You know that’s radically different from Christian Universalism or ultimate reconciliation Christian Universalism says that the blood of Jesus is so powerful that it can even overcome the unbelief of all humanity, and that God will ultimately reconcile all things, including all people to himself.
All three of those views have been held by orthodox bible-believing Christians throughout the centuries and this morning we have two of those three views.
Notice how Sprinkle cloaks his own heretical views (annihilationism) and the heretical views of the unrepresented position (Christian Universalism) with an unproven declaration of orthodoxy. He also refers to the views by their adherents favored names, conditional immortality and ultimate reconciliation, in an attempt to make heresy more palatable. According to Sprinkle, alleged orthodox Christians held these views, therefore they must be orthodox.
Prior to the conference, Facebook advertisements for the conference were blitzed by commenters who called out the conference as woke and heretical. Sprinkle responded in the comments section by telling the commenters that they would have to answer to God for calling such great preachers as Francis Chan and David Platt these things. Such methodology is backwards. The scripture defines orthodoxy and heresy. Men who are orthodox follow orthodox Biblical teaching that adheres to the scripture. By definition, men who follow heretical teaching are heretics.
Splitting the hair of the heresy of universalism, as Sprinkle attempts, gives cover to rank heretics, such as Rob Bell. Universalism is heretical whether the heretic believes that Jesus universally saves everyone or the heretic believes that all paths, whether Christian or not lead to heaven. These beliefs are two sides of the same coin. Both “types” of universalism are unscriptural and lead the heretic away from the clear scriptural command to repent and believe on Jesus for salvation. Both brands of universalism lead their adherents to false, but easy pragmatic positions where there is no point to evangelism or teaching ministry. If all people end up in heaven, as universalism claims, what is the purpose of anything done by the church on earth? This is the reason why “churches” that believe universalism are dying. They have no purpose.
Sprinkle didn’t have a universalist at his conference, because an explanation of universalism by a universalist would clearly reveal that universalism is heresy, in light of scripture. While the remainder of the debate and discussion of the views on hell remained cordial, at one point Chris Dates exclaimed that Gerry Breshear’s position was “nearly heretical”. One could only imagine what would have happened if Sprinkle invited a universalist to represent the position rather than simply excusing universalism as just another orthodox position.
All of you know what might have broken loose.
This article was written by Paul Brown for Protestia.
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