The Conditionalist Faith of Our Fathers, vol. 2


XIII. Baptist Pastor Hatch Becomes Ardent Conditionalist

We close our impressive line of Conditionalist witnesses, spanning the centuries, by presenting the recent testimony of Rev. SIDNEY A. HATCH, of Portland, Oregon. A glimpse into his personal background is essential to an understanding of the revolution of concept on the immortality question that came into the life of this well-trained Baptist minister-along with its aftermath. Fortunately, he has left record both of the process and the results: CFF2 1029.4

“Upon graduation from a State university [University of California] I felt God was calling me to the ministry. Training for this work was begun, and then completed after military service during World War II. A B.D. degree was secured [from California Baptist Theological Seminary] in 1948, and a Th.M. degree [from Dallas Theological Seminary] in 1953, followed by two more years of graduate study, primarily in Hebrew [for a Th.D. at Dallas Theological Seminary].” 105 CFF2 1029.5


Two developments took place during his seminary days that started a train of thought from which Hatch could not escape. First, a student in class asked the professor of theology whether it was necessary for a minister of the gospel to believe in the traditional position of “eternal hell-fire torment of the lost.” The professor admitted that the “traditional view did seem harsh,” but added lamely that after all it was the “orthodox” view. This equivocal answer raised a question that persisted. CFF2 1030.1

The second factor was Hatch’s special study of Hebrew, particularly of the Pentateuch, and of such words as nephesh (“soul”). As a result, the traditional structure began to weaken and crumble. Gradually the light of “Life Only in Christ” began to dawn, and a satisfying solution was found for his problems over the nature and destiny of man. Erelong his doubts were resolved. He came firmly to believe that CFF2 1030.2

“Conditional immortality is a very simple and clear doctrine, and it resorts to no difficult theological or philosophical gyrations. It is the belief that man may become immortal on one condition and that is that he believe in the Lord Jesus Christ as his personal Saviour. This immortality, or everlasting life, shall then be put on at the second coming of Christ and the resurrection of the believers, not before. On the negative side it is the belief that man does not possess any innate, inborn immortality of his own. Such can only be ‘the gift of God.’ This precious doctrine is sometimes simply called ‘life only in Christ.’” 106 CFF2 1030.3

This strengthened his faith and gave him assurance. CFF2 1030.4


Meantime Hatch had become pastor of a Baptist church in Los Angeles. In the years that followed, Life in Christ became a vital part of his ministry. But, in time, outside pressures led some in his congregation to charge him with being a “soul-sleeper” and an “annihilationist” because he did not believe in persisting consciousness after death, and in Eternal Torment. The upshot of it all was this: CFF2 1030.5

“Ultimately, it led to several things: a change of pulpits, a change of denominations, a change of friends, the misunderstanding of many; even for a time it meant a change of vocation. But it also meant new light on the Word, a clearer grasp of the gospel, a greater appreciation of and dependence on our Lord Jesus Christ, a new and greater fervour to preach the true gospel, new friends, new fellowship, and a newly opened door of ministry. And through it all, never for a moment did I doubt the truth of this glorious message; rather, faith and devotion to it became stronger.” 107 CFF2 1031.1


In two major articles in Words of Life (official organ of the Conditional Immortality Association of Britain) appearing in 1962, Hatch epitomizes his conclusions in a series of topical subheads. He tells how CFF2 1031.2

1. “Conditional Immortality Explains What Man Is.” CFF2 1031.3

2. “Conditional Immortality Explains Where Man Goes at Death.” CFF2 1031.4

3. “Conditional Immortality Explains What the Gospel Is.” CFF2 1031.5

4. “Conditional Immortality Explains Why Christ Must Return.” CFF2 1031.6

5. “Conditional Immortality Explains What God Is.” CFF2 1031.7

Under the first heading, Hatch, in commenting on Genesis 2:7, says:
“The Word of God says he (man) is a creature formed from the dust of the ground into which God breathed the breath of life. The result of this creative action is ‘a living soul’ or ‘a living being.’ Not an ‘immortal soul!’ Nowhere is this expression found in Scripture.
CFF2 1031.8

“Nor does it say that God breathed into Adam a soul, whether immortal or not. The verse must be read carefully. God ‘breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.’” 108 CFF2 1031.9

That was foundational. CFF2 1031.10


Under number two—“Where man goes at death”—contending that “the first four chapters of Genesis are the theological seed-plot of the Bible,” Hatch declares: “There is nothing here to suggest that Adam would find himself, after death, in some sort of spirit world.” 109 CFF2 1031.11

The Conditionalist “chooses to believe” Genesis 3:19. CFF2 1032.1


After dealing incisively with certain stock problem passages-such as the “parable of Lazarus” (Luke 16), the “thief on the cross” (Luke 23:40), and Paul’s “absent from the body” statement (2 Corinthians 5:8)-Hatch next discusses the basic “death” and “life” issue of Romans 6:23. Here is his forthright position: CFF2 1032.2

“Death here means death, and life here means life. But in the popular way of presenting this verse ‘death’ is supposed to mean life somewhere in time or space in separation from God. And ‘life’ here is supposed to mean a life in the presence of God. CFF2 1032.3

“But the issue here is not life in one place or life in another place. The issue is life or death, the complete possession of life or the complete absence of it. The definition that eternal death is a form of eternal life in separation from God is not in the Bible’!” 110 CFF2 1032.4

That likewise is foundational. CFF2 1032.5


Turning next to the fate of the wicked, Hatch is very specific:
“Perish means the utter loss and destruction of any form of life, hence death. What right have we to read into this word some pagan notion of life in a spirit world of the damned? The Greek word here is apollumi, which means to kill, or to destroy, or to utterly destroy.” 111
CFF2 1032.6

The wicked are not “kept alive somewhere and tortured forever“:
“According to conditional immortality the gospel issue is very simple: Life or death. To say that it is life in one place or another place is to reduce our Lord to nothing more than a sort of universal housing administrator, assigning ‘immortals’ to one place or another. It is to deny our Lord’s claim that He is the resurrection and the life, for men would already have life. In short, it is to succumb to the Satanic lie that men do not really die (Genesis 3:4).” 112
CFF2 1032.7

Logic and consistency are invoked:
“I therefore also believe in conditional immortality because it preserves the clear-cut gospel issue from Genesis to Revelation. For example, if eternal torment, not death, is the penalty of sin then the great promise of Genesis 3:15 would have to read, ‘And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall torture forever thy head, and thou shalt torture forever his heel.’” 113
CFF2 1032.8


Pressing this point to its logical conclusion, Hatch asserts:
“If eternal torment, not death, is the penalty for sin many other [Biblical] types, illustrations, and parables would have to be changed. The sacrificial animals of the Old Testament should never have been slain and burned; rather, they should have been kept alive, caged up, and subjected to some type of unending torment. David should never have slain Goliath and cut off his head. He should have brought him back alive, imprisoned him somewhere, and tortured him indefinitely. In the parable of the wheat and tares the tares should never be bound in bundles to be burned up; rather they should simply be bound.” 114
CFF2 1033.1

He adds such telling points as that Christ, who paid the full penalty for our sin, did not suffer “unending everlasting torture or torment.” Thus, he holds, Conditionalism “preserves the clear-cut and simple issue of the gospel and of the ages, life or death-complete perishing.” 115 CFF2 1033.2

And Hatch states, incisively, that God does not “maintain a chamber of horrors somewhere in the universe throughout eternity.” 116 These are samplings of his views. CFF2 1033.3


Hatch closes the section with these telling words:
“Everlasting destruction does not mean everlasting torment, for then nothing is destroyed; it is simply preserved, kept alive, in torment. Let destruction mean destruction is the plea of the Conditionalist.” 117
CFF2 1033.4

“Finally, let the evangelical Christian consider that if he persists in his eternal torment theory, which includes the pagan idea of the immortality of the soul, he opens the door to all sort of vagaries such as reincarnation, transmigration of souls, spiritism, purgatorial theories, or universal reconciliation.” 118 CFF2 1033.5

That is a truism well stated. Space forbids reproducing his strong “Conclusion,” with supporting citations. CFF2 1033.6


In an earlier article in an American journal, Present Truth Messenger, written while Hatch was still in the Baptist ministry, he said this of the “Blessed Provision“: CFF2 1033.7

“Our everlasting and immortal God [1 Timothy 1:17; 1 Timothy 6:16] has provided for mortal man a way of securing this immortality. We do not already possess it. Death is very real and still in our midst. But there is a way to achieve victory over death and the grave.” 119 CFF2 1034.1

Then, turning to the “Blessed Prospect” he declares:
“It is at His (Christ’s) coming again that the provision of ‘life and immortality’ shall be realized in its fulness. So we have the blessed prospect: Awaking from the sleep of death and putting on this glorious resurrection life. How clear the Bible is! How glorious our prospect!” 120
CFF2 1034.2

Discussing further the “Blessed Hope” of “resurrection from the dead at the second coming of our Lord Jesus Christ,” Hatch closes with this thought: “Everything hinges on His coming again. It is at that moment that we shall stand up again in resurrection glory.” 121 CFF2 1034.3

These are some of the reasons why Baptist Sidney A. Hatch became an ardent Conditionalist, and why multiplied thousands of other sincere and thoughtful truth seekers are traversing the same pathway and steadily coming to similar conclusions. It is a definite trend. There is an unquestionable, widespread ground swell of revolt under way against the un-Biblical traditional position of Innate Immortality of the soul and the Eternal Torment of the wicked. CFF2 1034.4

No.PageNameDatePlaceReligionPositionNature of ManIntermediate StatePunishment of Wicked
1936Heller, James J.1958AmericaMoravianDean (Moravian Col.)Man wholly mortalNo disembodied souls
2940Gill, Theo. A.1958AmericaPresbyterianEd.—pres. (S.F. Sem.)No immortal soulsNo discarnate souls
3941Canadian Un. Ch.1959CanadaM.E.—Pres.—Con.Authorized Comm.No natural immort.Some hold to sleepNo everlast. tor.
4947Von Allmen, J.-J.1958SwitzerlandReformed Ch.Group Ref. workNo innate immort.Unconscious sleep
5948Burnier, J.1958SwitzerlandGroup Ref. workNo eternal suffering
6949Michaeli, F.1958SwitzerlandNo separable soul
7949Jacob, Ed.1958SwitzerlandMan mortal creatureLife is derived
8950Mehl-Koehnlein, H1958FranceNo independ. exist.
9951Pidoux, G.1958SwitzerlandNot created immortalEffects eternal
10951Baudraz, F.1958SwitzerlandAwaits resurrection
11952De Berry, Keith1959EnglandAnglicanRector (St. Algate’s)Soul is destructibleTotal destruction
12953Strawson, Wm.1959EnglandMethodistProf. (Handsworth)No inherent immort.Sleep and awakeningExtinction of life
13957Simpson, James Y.1922BritainPresbyterianProf. (Edinburgh)No inherent immort.Immort. through res.ceases to be
14959Korff, F. W. A.1887-1942NetherlandsDutch Ref.Prof. (Amsterdam)No innate immort.New life at res.
15960Van Niftrik, G. E.1948-49NetherlandsDutch Ref.Prof. (Amsterdam)Man is mortalNo surviving entity
16961Holden, J. StuartBritainAnglicanEdu.—authorAll dead are asleep
17963Andrews, Charles1957AmericaBaptistPastor (R.I.)Gr. innatism substitutedNo separated souls
18966Michalson, Carl1957AmericaMethodistProf. (Drew)No innate immort.No discarnate exist.
19968Princell, J. G.1845-1915AmericaEvan. (Sw.F.C.)Pres. (S.B.Inst.)Annihilation
20969Sceats, Frank W.1883BritainMethodistPres. (Cond. Miss.)—ed.Man wholly mortalAsleep in deathUlt. total destruction
21970Keet, Bennie B.1945South Af.Dutch Ref.Prof. (Stetlenbosch)Soul not immortal
22970Marais, Ben1957South Af.Dutch Ref.Prof. (Pretoria U.)No discarnate soulsNot in Heaven
23971Heyns, J. A.1960South Af.Dutch Ref.Pastor (Rondebosch)Soul not immortalWhole man raised
24972Richards, H. M. S.1963AmericaS.D. Advent.BroadcasterWholly mortalAwaits resurrectionComplete destruction
25979Fagal, Wm. A.1963AmericaS.D. Advent.TelecasterOnly mortalUnconscious sleepCease to exist
26986Vandeman, G. E.1963AmericaS.D. Advent.Evan.—telecasterMan is mortalCessation of lifeExtinction
27993Grouse, Moses C.1960AmericaAdvent Chr.Prof. (Aurora)Man wholly mortalDeath is sleepUlt. total destruction
28999Swaim, J. Carter1960AmericaUn. Presby.Editor—educatorMan only immortableGr. Dualism un-Biblical
291001Knight, G. A. F.1960Scot.—U.S.Ch. of ScotlandProf. (McCormick)Immort. from PlatoImmort. through res.
301004Cocks, H. F. L.1960EnglandCongregation.Principal (Western)No natural immort.Immort. through res.
311004Davis, Charles1960EnglandRom. CatholicProf. (St. Edm’ds)—ed.Immort. not Biblical
321005Hendry, Geo. S.1960Scot.—U.S.PresbyterianProf. (Princeton)Immort. not BiblicalReward not at death
331013Bateson, B. L.1961EnglandAnglicanRector (Holton)No immortal soulNo independent lifeUtter, Ult. destr.
341016Schweitzer, G. K.1961-62AmericaBaptistProf. (Tenn.)No immort. of soulTotal man res.
351017Kearney, C. J.1962AmericaAdv. Chr.EditorMan wholly mortalWholly unconsciousComplete destruction
361018De Purv, Roland1946Swiss—Afr.Fr. Ref.Prof. (Prot. Sem.)No immort. of soulImmort. at res.
371019Mehl, Roger1953FranceReformedProf. (Strasbourg)Mortality of soulSoul dies at death
381020Crespy, G. S.1950FranceReformedProfessorNo imprisoned soul
391020De Coppet1956FranceReformedPastorImmort. conditionalTotal destruction
401021Antomarchi-Doria1949Former PriestNo eternal torment
411021La Morte, AndreImmort. conditional
421021Von Hoff, E.1952Entire extinction
431021Berdiaeff, N. A.1933RussiaNo inherent immort.
441022Bertoud, Aloys1910FranceDead are asleep
451022Barth, Karl1958GermanySwiss Ref.Theologian—prof.Wholly mortalNo discarnate soulsFaces eternal death
461022Carrel, Dr. Alexis1950FrancePhysicianNo independent soul
471027Vaucher, Alfred1957FranceS.D. Advent.Prof. (Collognes)Man wholly mortalDeath unconscious sleepWicked totally destr.
481028Hatano, Seiichi1949JapanPresbyterianPres. (Tamagawa U.)Soul not immortalRes. from non-being
491029Hatch, Sidney A.1962AmericaBap.—Adv. Chr.PastorImmort. conditionalUnconscious in deathUtter loss of life


1. The same general diversity in geographical spread continues in segment C, in Old World and New, Africa, the Far East, and even Australia. Specifically it involves the United States and Canada, Britain, Sweden, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Italy, France, South Africa, and Japan.

2. Denominationally, it embraces Anglican, Church of Scotland, Methodist, Presbyterian, Congregational, Reformed, Dutch Reformed, Baptist, Lutheran Advent Christian, Evangelical, Moravian, Seventh-day Adventist, and even Roman Catholic.

3. There are Conditionalist Dutch professors at Amsterdam, British editors and authors, and rectors at Holton and St. Algates, with professors at Headsmouth and Edinburgh, and a principal at Western. There are American pastors, editors, a San Francisco Seminary president, professors at Drew, Aurora and Tennessee, and an Institute president. To these are to be added Swiss and French professors, a Japanese Christian University president, and South African professors at Stetlenbosch, Pretoria, and Rondebosch. They constitute an impressive company.

4. A special noteworthy item is a Canadian authorized report by a Methodist-Presbyterian-Congregational Committee. Radio and television now play their part. And such a noted figure as Dr. Karl Earth makes a significant statement.

5. A new mass communications feature for Conditionalism is noteworthy. For example, the radio work of Seventh-day Adventists is now conducted over 1,710 stations throughout the world, with 2,371 broadcasts weekly in 31 languages. And whenever the nature and destiny of man is presented it is invariably the Conditionalist position. Their television programs are likewise carried over 249 TV stations. And their paralleling Bible correspondence courses operate in 72 languages, with approximately a half million enrollees annually. Such is one mass communications feature of current Conditionalism.

6. On the nature of man side, practically all witnesses stress the total mortality of man. He is not innately, inherently immortal, has no independent spirit existence, was not created immortal. His soul is not indestructible, but it was created for immortality. His immortality is consequently conditional. No soul is imprisoned in a body. And man’s life is a derived life. The testimony is clear.

7. On the intermediate state aspect, there is no surviving entity, no separate existence of soul or spirit. All the dead are in unconscious sleep. They sleep until the resurrection awakening, and are not now in Heaven or Hell. Our rewards come not at death, but at the Second Advent. As the whole man dies so the whole man is made alive at the resurrection. Greek Innatism and Persian Dualism are both declared un-Biblical.

8. As to the punishment of the wicked feature, there is to be total destruction and loss of all life-ceasing to be, extinction of the entire being, ultimate annihilation, with the fate fixed at death. It is the effects that are eternal.

9. SUMMARIZING: It will be seen that the combined testimony of all three twentieth-century charts—A, B, and C—is in continuing harmony. The phrasing varies but the essence is essentially the same. There is not only harmony of position geographically, on both sides of the Atlantic, but also in the Far East, “down under” in Australia, and in South Africa as well—some 18 countries being cited. In other words, wherever Conditionalism is found it is basically the same. Some stress all three major principles of Conditionalism. Some in their presentations, press on only one or two of the determining features. But it is the Conditionalist concept.

10. Moreover, it makes little difference with which denomination the witness is affiliated-and there are some 22 in all. The Conditionalist speaks essentially the same fundamental language. And similarly with the various professions or vocations represented-some 26 in all.

11. The testimony here presented is not, of course, complete. We had to terminate our quest with 1963. But new voices are continually breaking forth. And we are aware that we have not covered all of those who have gone on record. Moreover, many lesser witnesses always echo the prominent testimony of others before or about them. The evidence is broader than the charts might at first seem to indicate.

The Shape of Things to Come

Turning from the past and present to the future, we believe that Conditionalism is bound to grow. But so will persistent opposition thereto. A por-tentious conflict is bound to come-and that before long. The eerie forces of Spiritualism, augmented by the Eastern occult (covered in succeeding chapters), building upon the traditional postulate of Immortal-Soulism entrenched in the churches, will increasingly penetrate the ranks of nominal Protestantism, as well as Roman Catholicism, in a fatal union of deception. But truth is destined to triumph in the end. That is obviously the shape of things to come.