Edward Fudge lost his long fight with Parkinson's on November 25. He died quietly, with his dearest loved ones present. That battle is over. He rests from his labors, having left an indelible mark on our world.
I was privileged to have a small part in Edward's memorial service in Houston on December 2. I have been asked to share my brief comments that were based on a text selected by Edward himself prior to his passing.
“Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation.
“Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Corinthians 5:18-21).
I must restrain my enthusiasm for the profound theology contained in these verses, and limit my commentary to two complementary concepts that become one in the life of my dear friend Edward. Consider my choices: ministry of reconciliation and ambassador for Christ. Edward personified both.
As an ambassador Edward represented his Savior in word and deed, in both his personal and his public life. Through his lectures and his literature he challenged traditional views of an eternally vengeful God and introduced readers and listeners to a just and merciful heavenly Father. Thus, he was also a minister of reconciliation.
The personal legacy of Edward Fudge can be seen in the life and character of his children and grandchildren and others who have been influenced by him. But Edward has another legacy: he has put his indelible mark on evangelical theology.
Edward’s research on the doctrine of hell as found in the Bible and other ancient literature led him to reject Traditional teachings about the nature of man and the character of God.
He became a proponent of Conditional Immortality – the concept that man is not inherently immortal. He upheld Jesus Christ as the only way to eternal life. He denied the doctrine of eternal torment for the lost. He became an Annihilationist, insisting that the ultimate punishment for the lost will be eternal death – oblivion.