The Conditionalist Faith of Our Fathers, vol. 2


Part III — Accelerated Acceptance and Expansion (Twentieth Century)

CHAPTER THIRTY-SIX: Twentieth Century Epoch of Far-reaching Expansion

I. Comprehensive Over-all View of Current Living Witnesses

As we turn from that long and illustrious line of former champions of Conditionalism who are themselves now “sleeping in Jesus,” we will, in the remaining chapters, attempt to present a comprehensive panoramic view of the living witnesses-the men who are writing and testifying today on the nature and destiny of man. A few who have recently died must, of course, be included, but the majority are still living as of this writing (January, 1962). Because of their number, however, and the relentless pressure of space limitations we must for the most part confine ourselves to briefer sketches and more terse excerpts. The deceased have gone on record forcefully but the living are still speaking. And they continue to testify just as effectively. The cumulative witness of the two groups in this twentieth century is most impressive. CFF2 747.1

The corroborative word of less-known current spokesmen will be presented more as indicative straws in the wind, as it were, than as systematic presentations, primarily to show that the expanding witness of Conditionalism continues unabated. Some of the more important sketches must necessarily be fairly full, to indicate the strength of current testimony. Or, to change the figure, this final assemblage of witnesses will show that the tide of Conditionalism is still rising steadily. Or, to draft upon yet another figure, they will attest the growing ground swell of revolt in many lands and languages, and among practically all faiths. As we progress, it will become evident that there are no longer any geographical, language, or churchly barriers here. The voices are ringing out. CFF2 747.2


We will present the evidence of this undeniable revolt on the part of a surprising number of scholars that has been taking place against the traditional positions on the nature and destiny of man, especially within the past two decades. In the Old World there has been a significant stir in high ecclesiastical circles in Scandinavia. Voices have similarly been raised in the Low Countries and in Germany. The same is true of France and Switzerland. And in England there is a remarkable disavowal both in Anglican and in Free Church circles, as we shall see. In fact, out to the ends of the earth word keeps coming of declarations, here and there, of Protestant missionaries who no longer subscribe to the concept of the Innate Immortality of the soul and the Eternal Torment of the wicked. Sometimes difficulties with their ecclesiastical superiors resulted because of their convictions. CFF2 748.1

The same may definitely be reported of North Americato some extent in Canada but more especially in the United States. These will all be noted in wide-ranging survey. The spread is so broad and the caliber of these men is so impressive that the fact of a distinct and continuing trend in favor of the basic positions of Conditionalism cannot be gainsaid. CFF2 748.2


The simplest way to compass the twentieth-century testimony, which increases impressively as we come to the past two decades, is for the most part to present these champions of Conditionalism largely in historical sequence, roughly by decades. CFF2 748.3

The same Tabular Charts scheme, used in previous parts, will bring the evidence of the entire group, together with their salient features, into convenient conspectus for our customary analysis and summarizing conclusions. CFF2 748.4