Category Archives: Culver’s Theology Corner

Culver’s Theology Corner – What happens to a non-believer’s soul after they die?

Culver's Theology Corner

Have you ever wondered what happens to people’s souls after they die? Some would contend that the souls of non-believers will be annihilated. In this excerpt from his systematic theology book, Robert Duncan Culver explores this idea.

Annihilationism or Conditional Immortality

Annihilation means to be brought to non-existence. Conditional immortality is the name for the view that the soul of man is neither ‘naturally immortal’ nor granted immortality (deathlessness) by God in creation; but that immortality is the gift of God to the saved only. In relation to the present topic, there are theologians and groups who teach that after the resurrection and judgment of the lost they will be annihilated by God – either immediately or after a term of punishment in hell. The saved will, after resurrection, be granted immortality (eternal life) and live forever with God. Their eternal life (immortality) is conditional upon their faith, repentance, conversion and the divine grant of immortality.

This view is frequently connected with the doctrine of ‘soul sleep’ (or psychopannychia in the Latin/Greek of Reformation times): that if the soul, or center, of consciousness exists apart from the body as instrument of consciousness, it is inoperative (unconscious) between death and the resurrection, but brought back into existence by resurrection. Among modern denominations Advent Christian and Seventh Day Adventists make this distinctive of their groups. It gained some notoriety, though not general acceptance, in the nineteenth center among a few Anglican clergyman. In recent years, as noted earlier in connection with the intermediate state, Oscar Cullmann revived the notion in scholarly circles.

In ‘evangelical’ circles – as indeed among orthodox Christians everywhere in every age – these notions are not only rejected but frequently condemned.

Excerpted from Systematic Theology: Biblical and Historical by Robert Duncan Culver (Mentor, 2005).

Where to Buy:
Systematic Theology: Biblical and Historical is available at any good Christian bookstore. If you don’t have a Christian bookstore near you, you may want to consider purchasing a copy from one of the online book retailers listed below:

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Culver’s Theology Corner – The Origin and Unity of Mankind by Creation – Part 3

Culver's Theology CornerThe origins debate has received quite a bit of attention in recent months with the publication of Peter Enns’ The Evolution of Adam: What the Bible Does and Doesn’t Say about Human Origins (Brazos Press, 2012). In his magnum opus, Dr. Culver addresses many of the concerns raised by Enns and others taking part in the origins debate. Over the next few weeks, we will share a series of selections from Systematic Theology: Biblical and Historical focusing on the origin and unity of mankind by creation that will be helpful for those wanting to engage in the origins discussion. Part 3 follows below:

The Bible Does Not Affirm Either Mediate or Immediate Creation.
Hence if Bible language regarding the divine creation of Scripture by command, breath and speaking, when many years, human agents and material means were required, then when the same sort of language is used of creation of people and things it is illogical in the extreme to exclude the possibility of agents, materials and time. It may all have occurred by instantaneous events of coming into existence but the language of Scripture cannot be compelled to convey that meaning. These details are god’s business. He has seen fit not to reveal a smidgen of information about it. Certain scientists may suppose a big bang origin of matter and certain Bible interpreters may suppose a similar big bang origin for everything created by God, but the language of Scripture, understood in the Sitz im leben of Bible times and peoples does not support them. The creation of mankind is, like the feeding of the 5,000, the parting of the Jordan and the widow’s flour bin, a miracle. We know nothing for certain now about how God did it. It is unlikely either the ‘creation scientists’ or the scientism of the universities of today will ever tells us.

Excerpted from Systematic Theology: Biblical and Historical by Robert Duncan Culver (Mentor, 2005).

Part 1 of this blog post series can be found here:  LINK. Part 2 of this blog post series can be found here:  LINK.

Where to Buy:
Systematic Theology: Biblical and Historical is available at any good Christian bookstore. If you don’t have a Christian bookstore near you, you may want to consider purchasing a copy from one of the online book retailers listed below:

Buy Now:

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Culver’s Theology Corner – The Origin and Unity of Mankind by Creation – Part 2

Culver's Theology CornerThe origins debate has received quite a bit of attention in recent months with the publication of Peter Enns’ The Evolution of Adam: What the Bible Does and Doesn’t Say about Human Origins (Brazos Press, 2012). In his magnum opus, Dr. Culver addresses many of the concerns raised by Enns and others taking part in the origins debate. Over the next few weeks, we will share a series of selections from Systematic Theology: Biblical and Historical focusing on the origin and unity of mankind by creation that will be helpful for those wanting to engage in the origins discussion. Part 2 follows below:

Except for Genesis 2:7 nothing is said of what method or materials God did or did not use in creation of anything. For those whose minds crave some assurance at this point I make two suggestions. The first is that there is not a positive suggestion or hint in the early chapters of Genesis or elsewhere in the Bible that evolution of any sort had any part in the creation of the universe and the natural order. People already convinced of evolutionary origins have managed to adapt the Genesis narrative to their version of evolution, but not one ever derived his theory from the Bible.

Creation Language.
My second suggestion is that the narrative language can be interpreted, but not necessarily so, to support the immediate creation of mankind by God. It is said that since context and logic imply absolute beginning in bara‘,’create,’ in Genesis 1:1 the same may be true when the same word (‘Let us create,’ etc.) is used of the origin of mankind (Gen. 1:26, 27). If so, only the soul was immediately created for at 2:7 God ‘formed man of the dust of the ground’ (KJV). The earth ‘brought forth’ the animals (1:24) in some unspecified way. The language of 2:7 suggests a more direct act of God, viz.: He ‘formed man’ (Heb yatsar, used of what potters do with clay, many times in Jer. 18; used of divine shaping of the fetus in his mother’s womb in Jer. 1:5; and twice used of a sculptor shaping an image in Hab. 2:18). The origin of the human soul, not only in the first man, but in all mankind, will soon be treated at length.

Let us seek to dissociate the question of evolution from other possible employment of means or material. The divine breath (2:7) is an obvious figure of speech. Whether a figure for creativity itself or of some imparting of divine nature or likeness cannot be settled apart from general doctrinal considerations. God certainly does not breathe air into nostrils in the manner of resuscitation procedures.

Excerpted from Systematic Theology: Biblical and Historical by Robert Duncan Culver (Mentor, 2005).

Part 1 of this blog post series can be found here:  LINK.

Where to Buy:
Systematic Theology: Biblical and Historical is available at any good Christian bookstore. If you don’t have a Christian bookstore near you, you may want to consider purchasing a copy from one of the online book retailers listed below:

Buy Now:

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Culver’s Theology Corner – The Origin and Unity of Mankind by Creation – Part 1

Culver's Theology Corner
The origins debate has received quite a bit of attention in recent months with the publication of Peter Enns’ The Evolution of Adam: What the Bible Does and Doesn’t Say about Human Origins (Brazos Press, 2012). In his magnum opus, Dr. Culver addresses many of the concerns raised by Enns and others taking part in the origins debate. Over the next few weeks, we will share a series of selections from Systematic Theology: Biblical and Historical focusing on the origin and unity of mankind by creation that will be helpful for those wanting to engage in the origins discussion. Part 1 follows below:

In systematic theology, logically everything that follows anthropology grows like a many-branched tree out of anthropology. The views one takes of mankind’s original constitution and primal history determine in a direct way views one takes of Christ, His work of redemption, the doctrine of salvation and even of final destiny (in heaven or hell). It is therefore important that we seek to understand the first part of the Bible about human origins in the light of how the rest of the Bible understands it. There is a unity of teaching.

No Pre-Adamites and No Non-Adamites
That there was an original, single, first male is a revelation of the familiar narrative of Genesis. There were no pre-Adamite human predecessors. What puts this out of all question, with those who believe the divine revelation, is, that it is expressly said, that before Adam was formed, ‘there was not a man to till the ground,’ (Gen 2:5). ‘And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul’ (Gen 2:7 KJV). All we really know about the origin of mankind is furnished by the accounts of Genesis 1 and 2.

Excerpted from Systematic Theology: Biblical and Historical by Robert Duncan Culver (Mentor, 2005).

Where to Buy:
Systematic Theology: Biblical and Historical is available at any good Christian bookstore. If you don’t have a Christian bookstore near you, you may want to consider purchasing a copy from one of the online book retailers listed below:

Buy Now:

5 Comments

Filed under Culver's Theology Corner