The Conditionalist Faith of Our Fathers, vol. 2


Part II — Gathering Momentum and Status (1800 to 1900)

CHAPTER THIRTEEN: Resurgence of Conditionalism Characterizes Nineteenth Century

I. Unprecedented Developments Characterize the New Decades

As we step over the threshold into the nineteenth century we find the spread of Conditionalist proponents increasing, and in time extending even to faraway lands. Soon, instead of solitary voices, we find coordinated choruses, growing larger and more impressive and embracing many of the outstanding religious and educational leaders of the century. Or, to change the figure, the Conditionalist movement began to assume the semblance of a definitely rising tide. CFF2 247.1

By the latter half of the century special organizations were formed—not merely new Conditionalism-professing denominations, but, for example, an interdenominational Conditionalist Association in Britain. The members, all proponents of Conditional Immortality, were scattered throughout the various churches, and did not sever their regular church memberships. Moreover, the literature produced became increasingly impressive, both in character and in content. A succession of books, pamphlets, periodical articles, and symposiums were sent forth in a steadily increasing stream. Some were scholarly and technical and some popular. In addition, many journals devoted chiefly to promoting the cause of Conditionalism were launched on both sides of the Atlantic. And there was a new and major development—the American counterpart, soon to be noted in detail, and hereafter paralleling the Old World witnesses. CFF2 247.2


Conspicuous clerics, teachers, translators, historians, physicians, lawyers, scientists, and even statesmen, entered the discussion to a degree surpassing all previous centuries. Noted expositors and lexicographers, with definitive discussions of terms and usages, contributed to an amazingly diversified and wellrounded literature. A remarkable revival of Early Church Conditionalism was undeniably under way. And scholarship was much in evidence. CFF2 248.1

The ablest literature on Conditionalism to be found in the annals of the Christian Church was now being produced. As a result, Conditionalism came to assume an unprecedented place in the religious world—a minority view, it is true, but widely respected and competently represented. The roster of champions now included some of the most brilliant and godly religious and educational spokesmen of the century. It was a new day in the history of the church as regards the contraverted question of the nature and destiny of man. CFF2 248.2

In the very nature of the case, reactionary rationalist developments likewise arose to plague. And the three schools of the Early Church trilemma—Eternal Tormentism, Restorationism, and Conditionalism—were all operating in force, vying for the minds of men. And momentous new developments, like Modern Spiritualism, entered the picture. The pattern had become exceedingly complex. But the issues were sharply drawn and the battle was on anew in intensified form. Certain entire denominations now adopted the Conditionalist position, which was a distinctly new development. And, as stated, the far-flung lines now touched every continent. Thus we will make our way through the decades of the nineteenth century, by far the most momentous period in the history of Conditionalism. CFF2 248.3

With this preview before us, we now address ourselves to tracing its setting and unfolding in some detail, and to presenting the testimony of its leading witnesses. CFF2 248.4