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Smith-Pettit Lecture – The History of Heaven and Hell

Here is a webinar that I did on July 29th, 2020, as the Smith-Pettit lecture for the Sunstone Digital Symposium sponsored by Sunstone Education Foundation.  It was on the “History of Heaven and Hell.”  It was an unusual event for me: Sunstone is an independent organization located in Salt Lake City, Utah.  Sunstone does not have any official ties to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints but it does serve mainly them, bringing together traditional and non-traditional Latter-day Saints, promoting an atmosphere that seeks to value faith, intellectual, and experiential integrity.

Moderating the event was Karin Franklin Peter, president of the Fifth Quorum of Seventy, who serves on the Council of Presidents of Seventy with the Community of Christ.  This is a branch of “Mormons” that split from the LDS over polygamy in the 19th century.  She received a bachelor of science in psychology and a master of arts in Christian ministry from Community of Christ Seminary at Graceland University, Independence, Missouri.

I was introduced by Lindsay Hansen Park, an American Mormon feminist blogger, podcaster, and the Executive Director for the Salt Lake City-based non-profit Sunstone Education Foundation.

I hope you enjoy it!

Please adjust gear icon for 720p High-Definition:

What Is the Unforgivable Sin? Readers’ Mailbag.
“The Case for Christ”? The New Testament Review Podcast



  1. Avatar
    Robert1953  August 21, 2020

    Just got the audio CD’s for Heaven And Hell and was wondering why you chose not to narrate you own book outside the introduction?

    BTW the Apocalypse of Peter is quite the joy-ride, isn’t it? How would Peter explain to a 2020 audience that disobedient slaves suffer damnation?

    • Bart
      Bart  August 23, 2020

      It is a long and difficult process to record one’s own book!

  2. Avatar
    Stephen  August 21, 2020

    Prof Ehrman
    You’ve spent time thinking and writing about pedagogy although it doesn’t come up a lot in this forum, and you’re media savvy. So what do you think about the concept of the “virtual” university? You could conceivably lecture to students all over the world in real time. What becomes of the brick and mortar university? Is the video classroom a temporary response to transitory current events or the wave of the future? Do we lose something when teacher and student can’t sit “chest to chest” (as our Sufi Muslim friends say)?

    If you’re of a mind I for one would find a post or two from your perspective as a teacher in these times very interesting.


    • Bart
      Bart  August 23, 2020

      I think I’ll post on that. Basic view: it’s a terrible way to teach at the college level (the only one I teach at).

  3. Avatar
    Blaircb  August 22, 2020

    Having lived in Utah, and having once been LDS, I rather enjoyed the question about baptism for the dead, and Bart’s reply that he never gets that question from a Protestant audience.

  4. Avatar
    roy  August 22, 2020

    enjoyed the talk, the q@a, and excellent opportunity to lead into your blog.i hope you are able to bring it forth as often as possible(only fair considering you are often donating your time)

  5. Avatar
    Kevin@CoJCoLDS  August 22, 2020

    Being a Mormon myself, I was excited to see you at Sunstone. As usual you did an excellent job. I loved the part about how you never get questions about baptism for the dead from any other denominations.😄

  6. Avatar
    veritas  August 22, 2020

    You know Bart, I was in the LDS church for a number of years, it’s where I met my wife, and listening to you answer those questions, which were mostly related to Mormon theology, was uplifting and kind in your part to disclose understandings of certain scriptures without hurting their beliefs. Mormons are for the most part kind people, but always look for re-assurances from outside of their circles to affirm their belief which is somewhat outrageous for lack of a better word. Well done. Next time someone asks you, which books of yours would you recommend a lay person, pleasssssssssse reply, all of them !!!! 😊

  7. janmaru
    janmaru  August 23, 2020

    I already watched it when it was published on the channel. But I skipped the intro ’cause almost every time these intros are completely irrelevant (as in this case.)
    A feminist blogger that advocates polygamy (but only for men, of course) and cherishes Mormon temples where “for the eternities” a man is allowed to marry more than one wife (LDS has renounced the practice of polygamy but not its doctrine,) inviting to have courage but not to compromise: a moral coward is someone afraid of doing what is right!
    Well, yeah, ok.

    • Bart
      Bart  August 24, 2020

      I don’t remember her saying anything about polygamy in her introduction. But I was probably thinking about my talk instead of listening.

  8. Avatar
    DirkCampbell  August 23, 2020

    Hi Bart, thanks very much for this lecture and the Q & A. The question about Satan came up and of course there’s no devil or personified force of evil in the Old Testament. But… ‘An evil spirit from God came upon Saul’ 1 Samuel 18:10. An evil spirit from God?? Did the Hebrews think that God was the source of evil?

    • Bart
      Bart  August 24, 2020

      God was the source of all things, since he was the creator of all.

  9. Avatar
    mannix  August 26, 2020

    My question is relative to Lk 23:39-43 when the “bad” thief will be with Jesus in “Paradise” that day. I understand this is peculiar to Lk and possibly not historical.. However, does not the fact someone (“Luke”) WROTE such a passage indicate a first century belief in a post-mortem existence wherein certain individuals are rewarded?

    I also wonder about “eternal” hellfire…if. at the end of time, all the evil souls are “annihilated”, why is there a need for such a blaze to continue? Perhaps it means there is no such annihilation. Hey, it could mean there are others souls on other planets and earth’s Parousia is only one of many!

    • Bart
      Bart  August 27, 2020

      Yes, that’s right. It absolutely does mean that. I talk about it in my book on heaven and hell, as you can imagine.

      Why should the blaze continue? Yeah, good question. I guess it’s the same as asking why the earth will continue after we’re all gone….

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