Second Chance (Christianity)
Second Chance is one of the religious thoughts advocated by a Christian sect. It insists that even those, who died without hearing the gospel of Christ, can hear the Gospel after death in Hades, the world for unbelievers who died, to be converted. The first chance is the conversion opportunity on this earth, and the second chance is the one in Hades. The Basis of the idea is that Hades is different from Hell, and that Hades is a temporary place until the final judgement of God.
There is controversy in the Christian world as to whether or not there is the "second chance" after death.
In early Christian churches, church fathers and historians in the 2nd-3rd centuries such as Hippolytus, Tertullian, Clement of Alexandria, and Origen noted that Jesus descended to Hades to preach the Gospel (I Peter 3:19-4:6), and that the opportunity for conversion after death was the understanding of the Early Christianity, although they are not using the word Second Chance.
Many Protestant churches today deny the opportunity for conversion after death. However, British theologian William Barclay (University of Glasgow), American theologian Joel B. Green (Fuller Theological Seminary) and others write in their commentary for the Epistles of Peter that Jesus descended to Hades to preach the Gospel to the dead, and that it was the understanding of the Early Christianity.
The controversy is especially among churches in the East, for there are many unbelievers who think that they can’t believe in Christianity if there is no way to save ancestors, who died without hearing the Gospel.
In Japan, Yoshinobu Kumazawa, the former president of Tokyo Theological University, and Tsuneaki Kato, a professor of the university, preach that the Bible says there is opportunity for dead people in Hades to hear the Gospel and be saved.
Rev. Tsugumichi Ohkawa of Yamato Calvary Chapel, the biggest Protestant church in Japan, used the word "Second Chance" to explain the opportunity to hear the Gospel in Hades at his Sunday service on television. He also explained the same in his book for the public, Eternity and Resurrection, published by Gentosha in 2020.
Arimasa Kubo, the chief writer of the monthly Christian magazine "Remnant", emphasizes that Hades in Greek (Sheol in Hebrew) is different from "Hell" (Gehenna), and giving 8 biblical verses he argues that in Hades, the afterlife of unbelievers, there still is the grace of God and opportunity for the dead to hear the gospel. The website of his Second Chance theology "Salvation for the Dead" has been translated into more than 9 languages by free volunteers in the world.
Arimasa Kubo states:
"In the dark Medieval Ages began the confusion of Hades with Hell. The King James Version Bible, published in 1611, also mistranslated Hades with Hell. This brought the wrong idea that dead unbelievers are now in Hell and there is no way for them to be saved.
However, Hades is different from Hell (Revelations 20:14). Hades [also known as Sheol] is temporary; while Hell is final. Hades receives unbelievers, who stay there until the final judgment; Hell is the final destination for unbelievers after the Judgment. Dead unbelievers are now in Hades, not Hell. The rich man in the story of "The Rich Man and Lazarus" is also in Hades, not Hell. The following Bible verses say there is the opportunity for those in Hades to hear the Gospel,
"If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved… Christ died and rose and lived again, that He might be Lord of both the dead (in Hades) and the living." (Romans 10:9, 14:9)
"At the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth (=Hades), and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father."(Philippians 2:8-11)
"A time is coming and has now come when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God and those who hear will live (=be saved)... a time is coming when all who are in their graves (Hades) will hear his voice." (John 5:25, 28)
"'The LORD... has not stopped showing his kindness to the living and the dead." (Ruth 2:20)
The Bible also says that Jesus descended to Hades and "the Gospel was preached to those who are dead" (I Peter 3:19-4:6).
There are thus biblical verses confirming that there is opportunity for the dead in Hades to hear the Gospel and be saved.
Denialists often say that this opportunity will make seekers postpone their repentance to Hades; however, the Gospel is not only for life after death, but also for blessed living on earth. The Bible says that if you live the teachings of God on earth, you will get God's "mercy to thousands of generations" (Exodus 20:6). If we preach this clearly, no seekers will postpone their conversion. It is also clear that conversion while living on earth is far better than the one in Hades, for if you believe on earth, you can walk in God's blessings, and at your death you can straightly go up to blessed heaven, but if you do not believe, you have no blessings, and at your death you will go down to Hades and for a long time reap what you sowed on earth. If this is preached clearly, no-seekers will postpone their conversion."
There are also church leaders who deny this Second Chance. Many say:
"If there is the Second Chance, people will think that it is OK to be converted after death"
"If there is actually no Second Chance, it would give Hell to those who postponed his/her conversion"
"The bible verses, which affirmationists refer to, do not clearly mention that there is opportunity for the dead in Hades to hear the Gospel"
"The Second Chance theory will make believers lose their passion to do evangelism"
This article "Second Chance (Christianity)" is from Wikipedia. The list of its authors can be seen in its historical and/or the page Edithistory:Second Chance (Christianity).