Annihilationism

To Hell With Annihilationism: Part I

Annihilationism is the belief that hell does not exist, and that unsaved souls are simply annihilated upon the death of the body.

Annihilationists do not believe in eternal torment. As proof texts, annihilationists cite verses such as:

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. ~ Romans 6:23

The logic goes like this: The Bible says the wages of sin is death, not eternal torment. I must say, that is a very good point. My interest was stirred up enough to read the writings of some annihilationists, and thus was raised red flag number one. That is, I noticed that a plethora of writers espousing annihilationism were not even Christians. They deceptively cloaked their writing in Christianese language to gain credibility with Christians, but these writers were clearly not Christians. How do I know? Well, the Bible excludes all roads to God except one, faith in the Lord Jesus Christ– the Son of God, the Messiah, who was bloodied mercilessly and killed as a substitutionary atonement for my sins, and then rose from the dead. Yet, I was hard pressed to find such confessions from the writers who were most zealously advocating Annihilationism. This was a huge red flag.

Red Warning Flag

Red warning flag (Image source: abcnews4.com)

Here is another red flag. I noticed that annihilationists tend to be universalists. In other words, they tend to believe that all human beings receive Christ’s salvation, even people who explicitly refuse it. So, with the Annihilationist/Universalist combination, we have a paradigm in which all human beings are saved by Christ’s salvation– AND, if it turns out by some twist of fate that all humans are not saved by Christ’s salvation, it won’t really matter, because the worst that can happen is a “lights out” ending upon death. With this paradigm, one can choose evil their entire life, and there will be no negative consequences in eternity. Now THAT is one convenient paradigm!

I will address universalism in another post. For now, let’s stick with Annihilationism.

To clarify the issue of Annihilationism, I used the same method that I advocate over and over on this website to clear up any question about the Bible– letting the Bible interpret the Bible. As such, let’s look at whether Jesus Christ himself asserts a quick “lights out” ending to those who reject him:

This is how it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come and separate the wicked from the righteous and throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. ~ Jesus Christ, Matthew 13:49-50

Here we have Jesus Christ himself telling us that the wicked will be thrown into the “fiery furnace,” and that they will remain alive inside this fire to weep and gnash teeth. Contrast this with another account of a fiery furnace from the Bible.

Then Nebuchadnezzar…commanded that they heat the furnace seven times more than it was usually heated. And he commanded certain mighty men of valor who were in his army to bind Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego, and cast them into the burning fiery furnace… Therefore, because the king’s command was urgent, and the furnace exceedingly hot, the flame of the fire killed those men who took up Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego. And these three men, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego, fell down bound into the midst of the burning fiery furnace. ~ Daniel 3:19-23

Smelting

Smelting furnace and worker in protective suit (Image source: New York Times)

Let’s think about this for a moment. A man-made fire got so hot that it killed strong soldiers who merely got close to it, but the God-made fire has people alive inside of it, weeping and gnashing teeth.  Is God incapable of making a fire as lethal as Nebuchadnezzar’s fire, or can God’s fire be one that burns but does not consume? For the answer, just ask the burning bush:

There the angel of the LORD appeared to him in flames of fire from within a bush . Moses saw that though the bush was on fire it did not burn up. So Moses thought, “I will go over and see this strange sight — why the bush does not burn up.” ~ Exodus 3:2-3

A Burning Bush

A burning bush (Image source: wikipedia.com)

If the wages of sin are merely “death” (that is, the “death” we understand from this fallen world, a lights out ending), then why does God’s fire not kill the wicked quickly, just as Nebuchadnezzar’s fire killed the soldiers quickly? The eternal “death” the Bible prescribes for the wicked is not a lights out ending. It is eternal torment. This is a very unpleasant thought, especially for those slated to experience it because of their refusal to confess Jesus Christ as Lord (like some of those annihilationists whose works I’ve read). So, these annihilationists simply ignore God as righteous judge, and acknowledge God only as graceful and loving diety.

Then, they craft the argument that a graceful and loving God would never torment the wicked. Instead, he merely snuffs them out. One can live any way they want, sin abundantly without repentance, spit in God’s face, divide God’s land, deny God’s Son, and worship Satan, and the only consequence they would ever face is a quick lights out ending. What a bargain! I hate to be a killjoy, but the Bible says differently:

Then a third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice,”If anyone worships the beast and his image, and receives his mark on his forehead or on his hand, he himself shall also drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out full strength into the cup of His indignation. He shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. And the smoke of their torment ascends forever and ever; and they have no rest day or night, who worship the beast and his image, and whoever receives the mark of his name.” ~ Revelation 14:9-11

Here is another proof text that annihilationists cite:

For we will surely die and become like water spilled on the ground, which cannot be gathered up again. ~ 2 Samuel 14:14

This is a faulty argument for lights-out death. Once water is spilled on the ground (especially the dusty, rocky, dirty ground of Biblical settings), it is irretrievable. It cannot be gathered up again. Annihilationists argue that human life is the same way. That is, the soul of someone not granted eternal life by God merely ceases to exist upon death. Like water spilled on the ground, it is gone for good. But wait a minute. Water spilled on the ground does not simply cease to exist. There are three options for it:

  1. It can remain as a liquid
  2. It can evaporate
  3. It can freeze

The fourth option of “It can disappear into nothingness” does not exist. Matter cannot be created or destroyed (except by God). Therefore, even if this spilled water quickly evaporates in the middle east sun, it does not simply cease to exist. It becomes water vapor, which has exactly the same molecular composition as liquid water: two hydrogen atoms, and one oxygen atom– H2O. Similarly, if this spilled water froze, it would have the same molecular composition as liquid water and water vapor: two hydrogen atoms, and one oxygen atom– H2O.

  • The H2O molecules of frozen water hold each others’ hands tightly.
  • The H2O molecules of liquid water hold each others’ hands loosely.
  • The H2O molecules of water vapor let go of each others’ hands.

But at the end of the day, we still have the foundational unit of water, the H2O molecule. It does not cease to exist. Likewise, the foundational unit of human life (the soul) does not cease to exist upon the death of the body. If anything, the spilled water of 2 Samuel 14:14 argues for the longevity of the soul, more so than against it. It must not remain in one form to exist. H2O must not remain a liquid to exist, and the human soul must not remain in a body to exist.

To go even further, God states that he will actually rebuild the bodies of the dead to stand at the judgment seat.

And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books. The sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death and Hades delivered up the dead who were in them. And they were judged, each one according to his works. Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire. ~ Revelation 20:12-15

Now we see that just as matter can neither be created nor destroyed (except by God), deceased life cannot be “gathered up again” (except by God). Trillions of atoms, long-since disconnected from each other as the human bodies they formed decomposed in the sea and in the ground, will be instantly reconfigured to stand before God at his judgment seat. When viewed through the lens of the Bible, 2 Samuel 14:14 is seen to be a view of life from the fallen human perspective, not the perspective of the all-powerful Creator God. God can easily gather up water spilled on the ground, just as he can easily gather up the decomposed bodies of the dead.

Jesus tells us that the wicked will be weeping and gnashing their teeth in a fiery furnace. The Apostle John tells us that anyone who worships the beast or receives his mark shall be tormented with fire and brimstone, “and the smoke of their torment ascends forever and ever; and they have no rest day or night.” I do not split hairs in this post on the differences among Hell, Hades, Gehenna, the Lake of Fire, Abraham’s Bossom, etc. These are worthwhile studies, but for the purposes of this post, I want to shore up only one foundational truth– the truth that eternity for those who reject the God of Israel, and the Messiah he sent, is not pleasant, and never ends.

The Bible is always proven true.

(To my brother in the Lord who introduced me to Annihilationism,

You presented your argument for Annihilationism intelligently, and with class (as always). I thought this issue interesting enough, and important enough, to turn my findings into this post. This was a fascinating study to me, and I learned much from it– as I always do in our discussions. I am well aware of your love for the God of Israel and his Messiah, Yeshua. I in no way lump you in with the Annihilationist authors I mentioned in this post, those who make no confession of Yeshua as Lord.

Although I disagree with your conclusion, please see this post as a credit to your diligent study and boldness. Without your boldness for the Lord, and eagerness to discuss him, I would probably still never have heard of this topic. As for the title of this post, “To Hell With Annihilationism,” it was such a good pun, I couldn’t resist. 😉

God bless you, my friend.)

28 replies »

  1. “Is God incapable of making a fire as lethal as Nebuchadnezzar’s fire, or can God’s fire be one that burns but does not consume? For the answer, just ask the burning bush”

    But Scripture teaches—quite explicitly—that the unrepentant *will* be consumed/burned up by God’s fire:

    For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that WILL CONSUME the adversaries. (Hebrew 10:26-27)

    His winnowing fork is in His hand, and He will thoroughly clear His threshing floor; and He will gather His wheat into the barn, but He WILL BURN UP the chaff with unquenchable fire. (Matthew 3:12)

    “I noticed that annihilationists tend to be universalists.”

    What? Just no, man 🙂

  2. Ronnie,

    As I wrote the burning bush part of this post, I had one finger figuratively on the delete button. I don’t really love that part of this post. However, it does serve a purpose (at least in my view). It gives a precedent for fire that burns upon physical matter but does not accomplish physical decomposition of that matter. This fire is capable of punishing without annihilating. And let’s look at the verses in Hebrews immediately following the ones you posted:

    Anyone who has rejected Moses’ law dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. OF HOW MUCH WORSE WORSE PUNISHMENT, do you suppose, will he be thought worthy who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, counted the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified a common thing, and insulted the Spirit of grace? ~ Hebrews 10:28-29

    I believe this “worse punishment” is remaining alive in eternal fire, not being annihilated by it. What’s more, let’s look at your verse in the King James Bible.

    But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery INDIGNATION, which shall devour the adversaries. ~ Hebrews 10:27 (KJV)

    This “fire” seems to be describing God’s hot anger, rather than physical fire.

    Regarding Matthew 3:12, we have that word “unquenchable” describing the fire. This is a fire that cannot be put out. It is a fire that burns whether or not it is fed fuel. Worldly fire needs three things to survive: 1) Fuel, 2) Heat, 3) Oxygen. Take away any one of those three, and the fire goes out. This “unquenchable” does not care whether it has fuel. It does not NEED to decompose that which it burns. This follows perfectly (I believe) with the idea that God designed this fire to punish without annihilating. We see this “unquenchable” fire elsewhere in Scripture, and it is right alongside a reference to life continuing inside of it.

    It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into hell, where “‘their WORM DOES NOT DIE, and the FIRE IS NOT QUENCHED.’ Mark 9:47-48

    Regarding Universalism, I certainly do not believe that all Annihilationists are Universalists. However, I noticed that many of the wolves in sheeps’ clothing embracing Annihilationism were also embracing Universalism. It is a lethal combination of deception. These wolves were Leftists posing as Christians. None of them confessed Jesus Christ as the only way to God, and none of them defended the right of God’s people (the Jewish people) to live in the land God gave them (Israel). Expose one’s views on these two issues, and you will expose the wolf’s fangs, not matter how well-made his sheep costume.

    Thank you very much for your comments. God bless.

    • Regarding Hebrews 10:27, every single modern translation that I’m aware of (e.g. the NASB. ESV, NIV, NRSV and all the newest translations such as the ISV, NET, and HCSB) all translate the passage as something like “fury of fire that will consume the adversaries.” Nothing that you’ve written indicates that you think the KVJ is a superior translation, so I’m not sure why you would cite it all of a sudden. With respect, can you see how someone like me would find that suspicious?

      I fully agree that God’s punishment will be much worse than earthly punishment, and that God’s fire is unquenchable, but that doesn’t change the fact that, contrary to what you said, God’s enemies *will* be consumed and burned up. Note, none of your comments regarding Matthew 3:12 overturned the explicit teaching that God’s enemies will be “burned up.”

      You are absolutely correct that “unquenchable fire” is “a fire that cannot be put out.” However, it just doesn’t follow that the things thrown into that fire will somehow burn forever without being killed and consumed. Jesus took the language of fire and worms directly from Isaiah 66:24:

      “And they shall go out and look on the dead bodies of the men who have rebelled against me. For their worm shall not die, their fire shall not be quenched, and they shall be an abhorrence to all flesh.”

      Note, *dead bodies* and not living humans are in view. In Scripture, unquenchable fire refers to fire/judgment that cannot be resisted, or fire that cannot be prematurely extinguished. For instance, see Jeremiah 17:27 and Ezekiel 20:47-48.

      Let’s consider two assertions you’ve made:

      “I believe this ‘worse punishment’ is remaining alive in eternal fire”

      and

      “We see this “unquenchable” fire elsewhere in Scripture, and it is right alongside a reference to life continuing inside of it.”

      So you clearly believe that people in hell will be alive forever. But Scripture is explicit that only the saved will live forever and that everyone else will die:

      “For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.” Romans 8:13

      “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16

      “Let him know that whoever brings back a sinner from his wandering will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.” James 5:20

      “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 6:23

      “I am the bread of life. Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. This is the bread that comes down from heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die.” John 6:48-50

      Finally, universalists are not annihilationists and annihilationists are not universalists. One believes that some will not be saved and the other believes that all will be saved.

      I appreciate your humility. I hope I’ve given you something to seriously consider here.

      • Ronnie,

        I absolutely do believe the KJV is a superior translation. I began this blog using the NIV because of its ease of reading for newbies. I do not, however, believe the NIV or any of the versions you mention can stand up to the KJV.

        In the article, I stated that the “death” prescribed for the wicked is not the “lights out” death we know from this fallen world. It is eternal torment.

        I also pointed out a God-made fire in the Bible in which people are alive to weep and gnash teeth, in contrast to a man-made fire in the Bible that killed strong soldiers who merely got close to it. You have not overturned this paradox.

        And with respect, the annihilationists I referred to ARE universalists, and the universalists I referred to ARE annihilationists. As I stated, these are Leftists who I do not believe for one second are actual Christians. They love the ideas of annihilationism and universalism because both ideas are poisonous to Christendom.

        Thank you for your comments. God Bless.

      • BTW, with regard to acceptable English translations, I am with you that the NIV is NOT my favorite, not by a long shot. I’ve used the NKJV since I got saved in 1987, and it’s still my go to. NAS is accurate but wooden.

        I’m not crazy about the ESV either, though many buy into the marketing ;).

        Personally, after the NKJV, I like the NLT, NET, and CEB translations. But that’s me.

        KJV suffers in that it (a) hasn’t been updated based on the many discoveries (dead sea scrolls especially) and advances in understanding the history and linguistics since the 1600’s, and (b) it’s in old English, which is not really a modern translation, making it inaccessible to modern people (not us scholarly types ;). And I’m not a KJV only kinda guy.

      • Ronnie,

        I get your point. You made it well. But if we keep going back and forth, the thread becomes chaff and confetti. My general rule of thumb is two posts from a guest. If I see something unique, I may ask for elaboration, but after two posts, we all get the point. You are a very good arguer, and you may want to consider becoming an attorney, if you are not one already. I don’t adhere to your side of this debate, but I promise you that I will look into all of your points. I am not interested in invented doctrine. I am interested in Biblical truth. Don’t be a stranger. Thank you!

  3. That is actually a good post in that it directly refutes some significant claims; unfortunately, they’re not claims made by Christian annihilationists, but rather by cultists. The writers you found were Jehovah’s Witnesses, not Christians. Christians agree that Jesus will judge the wicked and the righteous after the resurrection from their graves; Jehovah’s Witnesses (in addition to rejecting the deity of Christ and many other essentials of the faith) believe that most of the wicked will never be resurrected.

    Aside from that, thanks — and I am curious about Ronnie’s question, how you think universalism could be compatible with annihilationism, since a person who’s paid the penalty of everlasting destruction on the day the LORD comes (2Thess 1:9-10, read as an annihilation text but you see what I mean) cannot possibly ALSO be saved — they’re already permanently destroyed. Only if the condemned are kept alive forever could there be any hope for universalism.

    (Full disclosure: I am a “conditionalist”, which is like an annihilationist but speaks more about the contrast of fates between the righteous and wicked.)

    • Wm,

      With all due respect to you, the annihilationist authors I refer to are not Jehovah’s Witnesses, they are atheist/socialists (A.K.A. Leftists) acting like Christians in order to gain credibility as they introduce the poisonous doctrines of annihilationism and universalism into the church. Thank you for your kind words about the post. I hope you keep reading this blog. God bless you.

      • I definitely will, and thank you!

        Now I’m puzzled. You know these people are atheists, and you know they deny the resurrection of the wicked. Those are the first and penultimate* statements in the Apostle’s Creed — “we believe in God” and “He is coming back to judge the living and the dead.”

        It seems to me that you’re getting distracted, therefore; their denial of those things is *essential* to Christianity, and any Christian who hears that should perk up and pay attention to the warning. Their claim that death (as extinction) is the punishment for sin is shared by your Christian friend, as well as by church fathers like Irenaeus and Ignatius — although in the orthodox context of a final judgment as in Malachi 4:1-3 and 2 Thess 1:6-10 (whose surface meaning is entirely annihilationist-friendly).

        Enough said, though. I don’t think you actually mean by this what I originally thought — your prose is actually tightly focused on their invalid prooftexting. Clearly what’s in your scope isn’t “Christian annihilationism”, but rather something else.

        Although… I’m still puzzled as to how anyone can think that annihilationism and universalism are compatible. Their own arguments make them impossible, because a soul that’s dissolved in the dirt and is impossible even for God to reassemble (as they erroneously claim) cannot possibly be saved (as a universalist would claim everyone will be). Are you sure you understood them?

        *: I always wanted to use that word. It means second-to-last.

      • Wm,

        I know of two Christian annihilationists (one is a personal friend) whose credibility with me allows me to soften (a little) my suspicions that annihilationism is a deception from Satan. However, I am not convinced altogether that it is not.

        Despite the protests to the contrary on this thread, I do plainly see annihilationism and universalism served in the SAME meal by certain Christians that I consider “Christians.” It’s a squishy theology in which there is no devine accountability for activity, lifestyles, and political activism that the Bible clearly calls sin. Again, these are people on the far Left who make no confession of Jesus Christ as the only way to God, and who make no defense of Israel as the Jewish homeland.

        To me, both these assertions are crucial. John 3:16 tells us who is saved spiritually, and Joel 3:2 tells us how we can see PHYSICALLY who is saved spiritually. If you advocate for a Palestinian state (i.e., to divide Israel), you are on the side of Satan and are going to hell (or to destruction, as some say the case is). Therefore, I look for both a confession of Jesus Christ as the only way to God, and I look for a confession of Israel as the Jewish homeland. If I see neither, or the absence of one. Red flags go up.

        To my eye, a preponderance of “traditionalists” make both confessions, and a preponderance of “annihilationists” make neither confession, or only one.

        Thank you for your well-thought comments, and your courtesy. I hope I have responded in kind. I hope to see you again on this blog.

        Take care, and God bless!

  4. APV, there are so many misunderstandings, misrepresentations, and mistakes here that I hesitate to engage you. But perhaps in a year or so when you have thought through this more seriously and honestly, you can republish your concerns in a more accurate manner.

    1. Starting with the title – actually, annihilationists (or those who believe in Conditional Immortality, henceforth CI) DO believe in hell, just not an ETERNAL hell.

    2. CI does not claim that people are annihilated on death, but during the judgment AFTER resurrection.

    3. Claiming that Conditionalists are not Christian or liberal is to show a vast ignorance of the movement. First, while some Conditionalists belong to cult fringe groups like the JW’s and SDAs, there are many of us who would consider ourselves otherwise Evangelical, holding the same high view of scripture that you do, and not holding to any other non-orthodox positions.

    If you say that we must hold to the traditional view of hell to be considered Christian, you have made the mistake of making a secondary doctrine primary. Do you hold that belief in this doctrine is necessary in order to call oneself a Christian?

    4. The claim that Conditionalists are merely liberal Christians who don’t like what the scriptures say is very far from the truth, though I’m sure that’s what an alarmist traditionalist would first think.

    In point of fact, like the Anabaptists who wanted to further the reformation by putting Baptism back into its biblical framework, so too do Conditionalists want us to use proper hermeneutics to understand this subject. Just as the paedobaptists inherited bad doctrine from their predecessors, traditionalists on hell have inherited such Platonic and unbiblical ideas such as the inherent immortality of the soul from non-biblical traditions.

    We boldly claim that our primary argument is exegetical, not liberal, and vastly superior to the generally sloppy work around the traditional view.

    5. Here’s my summary of the traditional view and its mistake.

    As you mentioned, there are some passages that seem to support the conditional view (uses of the word death, destruction, and perish), while some others seem to support the traditional view (eternal fire, eternal punishment, smoke of their torment going up forever).

    The question is, what hermeneutic do we use to correctly interpret these. As I’m sure you would agree, we use the clear passages to interpret the unclear – the more sure passages to interpret the less sure.

    What conditionalists do is take the clear passages in Jesus’ and Paul’s direct, didactic teaching (not parables), and see the use words like death, destruction, and perishing, then go to the HIGHLY SYMBOLIC passages in Revelation, where the FEW uses of words like eternal and ‘day and night’ are used, and attempt to understand them.

    And when you understand that those phrases are used in IMAGERY which, esp. when viewed in light of the OT passages they are directly quoting from, does NOT mean eternal process, but eternal result (the cities of the OT which were burned with eternal fire are no longer burning), the truth of the simple phrases like ‘shall not perish’ just fall into place.

    There are, of course, a few other passages that use the word eternal in the NT with regard to punishment (as well as with respect to salvation and redemption – are they ongoing processes also, or accomplished once for all time?), and we can show how those are better understood, both historically and gramatically, in the Conditionalist framework.

    6. I HIGHLY recommend you listen to podcasts #4 and #7 for the BIBLICAL case for Conditionalism and refuting the often sloppy interpretation and objections of traditionalists at rethinking hell.com. Here’s some direct links:

    Episode 4: The Case for Annihilationism with Glenn Peoples
    http://www.rethinkinghell.com/2012/09/episode-4-the-case-for-annihilationism-with-glenn-peoples

    Episode 7: Traditional Objections Answered with Chris Date
    http://www.rethinkinghell.com/2012/10/episode-7-traditional-objections-answered-with-chris-date

    • dg,

      You accuse me of “misunderstandings, misrepresentations, and mistakes,” yet you call me “APV.” This is a misunderstanding, misrepresentation, and mistake on your part. I am not “APV.” I am “APT.”

      Second, I never ever EVER stated that “we must hold to the traditional view of hell to be considered Christian.” One of the most zealous Christians I know does not believe in the traditional hell. However, the writers whose works set off my Christian red flags are not Christians. They are wolves in sheeps’ clothing. They are Leftists posing as Christians. Again, refer to the elusive confession of Jesus Christ as Lord, and as the only way to God, that I mention among these writers.

      Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father EXCEPT THROUGH ME.” ~ John 14:6

      Also note that support for God’s people (the Jewish people) as permanent owners of God’s land (Israel) was conspicuously absent from these writers’ repetoires. As the Bible states in Joel 3:2, the division of the land of Israel will be the litmus test Jesus uses to determine who is on his side.

      I will also gather all nations,
      And bring them down to the Valley of Jehoshaphat;
      And I will enter into judgment with them there
      On account of MY PEOPLE, MY HERITAGE ISRAEL,
      Whom they have scattered among the nations;
      They have also DIVIDED UP MY LAND. ~ Joel 3:2

      So, my article asserted that I found the most zealous support for annihilationism coming from people who confessed neither Jesus as the only way to God, nor Israel as the eternal possession of the Jewish people. This to me is very suspicious.

      Now, I have never heard of the people whose links you posted. However, I am sure that they would have nothing in common with the writers I mentioned. I am sure that I could easily find (from each of the people you mention) bold confessions that Jesus Christ is the ONLY way to God, and bold support for the land of Israel as the eternal possession of the Jewish people, right?

  5. I guess the question is, who have you been reading, can you cite sources? I doubt they are representative of the growing evangelical conditionalist movement. I would wager they are as liberal as you say, but rejecting their arguments is not the same as answering the serious exegesis given by the evangelical CI movement. I suspect you will find it significantly more challenging, perhaps even having merit as a valid biblical alternative, as John Stott did. Good luck in your pursuit of God’s truth, and keep fighting for the faith!

    • dg,

      I’m curious about the last point I made in my response to your last post. That is, do the people you cited confess Jesus Christ as the ONLY way to God, and do they defend the Jewish ownership and residency of the state of Israel?

      • Chris Date and Glenn Peoples are the two authors of that. Everything I’ve seen that they publish is centered in the authority of Scripture and Jesus as the only Way to God (and, in addition, only through faith in His completed work — i.e. they’re not inclusivists). I’ve met Chris, but not Glenn, so I’ll speak to the one I know — Chris affirms that the Bible predicts that Israel would be restored, as a nation, to its land; and will come to the Lord. Clearly the current Israel is a partial fulfillment of that (although how tiny a part compared to the prophecies!).

        Chris goes into detail on that in one of his early podcasts on the topic of “Israelology” in his original podcast, “Theopologetics” (google if you want).

        I’m not saying that Glenn doesn’t believe the latter — I just haven’t talked to him about it, and his podcast happens not to mention eschatology aside from the Resurrection.

      • APT,

        Not sure I would make theology of modern day Israel as central, but you can see the statement of faith over at rethinkinghell.com, the increasing torch bearer for evangelical conditionalism (full disclosure: I am a contributor there):
        http://rethinkinghell.com/about/beliefs

        As that page says, we at RH agree entirely with the statement of faith of the World Evangelical Alliance (and by extension, the NAE), though not sure if you think those are good enough! 😀

        But yeah, of course, Jesus is the ONLY means of salvation for sinful mankind. Divinity of Jesus, trinity, virgin birth, atoning death, resurrection, judgement of the saved and damned, eternal life through Him, etc.

      • dg,

        Thank you for the link and the elaboration. I read the statement of faith at the link.

        You mention not being sure that one’s view on Israel is central. I disagree. As I included in my response to Wm a moment ago, John 3:16 tells us who will be saved, and Joel 3:2 tells us how we can PHYSICALLY identify them. That is, if a person advocates for a Palestinian state (i.e., to divide the land of Israel as mentioned in Joel 3:2), and/or advocates FOR people who want to kill Jews, then that person is going to hell (or annihilation as some claim), and I see their confession of Jesus as Lord as a fraudulent confession. One’s view of Israel and the Jewish people is the proof of their faith. It’s fascinating that so many people who advocate against Israel are the same people advocating against eternal punishment. Hmmm, I wonder why…

        Now, if I knew that a very prominent member of one or both of the “evangelical” organizations you mention would actually be willing to speak at the evil, heretical, and abominable “Christ at the Checkpoint” conference, I would have serious reservations about the credibility of that “Christian” organization.

        I am very sorry to say that you have confirmed my suspicions about annihilationism, rather than allayed them.

        Thank you for the comments, and God bless.

      • I’m not sure what the Checkpoint conference is, but making support for an Israeli homeland as a litmus test for faith, or a measure of Christian fidelity seems more like a parochial hobby horse than Biblical priority. MIght as well make YEC theology a requirement too, or Dispensationalism. I mean, they are all ‘taught in the bible,’ right?

        If you reject annihilationism based on the idea that *some* annihilationists don’t toe the line with Christian Zionism (which I am not saying is wrong), I’d say you are not being objective, but are guilty of the fallacy of guilt by association. It’s like saying “because Calvinists are wrong about limited atonement, they must also be wrong about other doctrines.” It makes no sense to the thinking person. The exegetical arguments for CI are, imo, vastly superior to the generally sloppy and weak traditional stance.

        That’s the bottom line. It matters not who makes the argument, the question is, is it sound?

  6. “I am very sorry to say that you have confirmed my suspicions about annihilationism, rather than allayed them. ”

    APT, I’d like you to consider the following:

    Annihilationism, in Evangelical circles, is promoted more by dispensationalists than by other people. It’s true. This may be because of the influence of Ethelbert Bullinger, who was a vocal advocate of both views.

    Secondly, the most vocal opposition to annihilationism, as far as I can tell, comes from conservative Reformed theologians. These are also theologians who do not believe that the nation of Israel has any place in future fulfillment of biblical prophecy.

    Now, it is a mistake to evaluate a person’s view of hell based on what they think of Israel. But since you seem to be doing that, and since you support Zionism, perhaps you should change your mind and support annihilationism.

    • Glenn,

      I question the whole idea of “Annihilationism in Evangelical circles” (TRUE Evangelical circles, that is). I move among those circles, and within those circles, I cannot name a single Annihilationist. In fact, when I bring up the idea among my Evangelical friends, it is unanimously rejected.

      Now, let’s talk about what has happened to Evangelicalism in the recent past. Not long ago, an “Evangelical” was almost certainly a political conservative, who supported Israel. This was a very powerful voting block in America– deciding more than one election in the past 30+ years. But then, Evangelicalism changed. The Left saw the value in this voting block and decided to co-opt it, not by becoming Evangelicals, but by ACTING like they had become Evangelicals.

      To wit, I’ll never forget the statement made by Howard Dean during his attempt to win the 2004 Democrat nomination for President. Dean stated that the Book of Job was his favorite book in the New Testament. Job is, of course, in the Old Testament, not the New. Today, the term “Evangelical” has become worthless (in my opinion).

      Your second point, about Reformed theologians is a good point. However, I know my share of true Reformed theologians, and not a single one of them is attending the Christ at the Checkpoint conference, or protesting outside Israeli embassies, or boycotting Israeli products, or calling for a Palestinian State. However, a large percentage of the Reformed churches in the West have taken a sharp Left turn in the past century. It is among these Left-leaning “Reformed” theologians that we find strong agitation for the demise of God’s people and the division of God’s land. Reformed denomination after Reformed denomination in the West have been torn apart by Leftists agitating for the acceptance of lifestyles and political activism that the Bible prohibits.

      So, I am still left with the Words of God in Joel 3:2. Words that tell me that nations will gather to annihilate Israel, and that God will judge them for it. As I see the storm of this “gathering” gaining energy with boycotts, flotillas, conferences, etc., I see that among the “Evangelicals” and “Reformed Theologians” who actively participate in this evil behavior, I find a disproportionately large number of Annihilationists. My premise is that if I knew I were going to suffer for all eternity for my decision to do that for which God says he will judge the nations – dividing the land of Israel (that is, one’s view of Israel and the Jewish people is the material indicator of his or her spiritual condition) – then I suppose I would be pretty motivated to convince myself and others that suffering for all eternity was not an option after all.

      Thank you for your comments. God bless.

  7. I see this is an old post, so excuse me if I’m commenting on views you might have changed or something like that. I just feel like engaging with the ideas you’ve shared. I’m going to make 4 points.

    1) I’m sure you’re aware that people can be right about some things even if they’re wrong about other things, and perhaps it’s better not to dismiss annihilationism merely by association.

    2) Looking at your red flags, I take it you would be open to annihilationism / conditionalism if it affirms key Christian doctrines like the atonement and doesn’t entail teachings on “universal salvation”. I’m happy to let you know that most conditionalists I’ve encountered do, in fact, meet these criteria.

    3) I’m also happy to let you know that most annihilationists do actually affirm “hell”. “Hell” is simply where the wicked will be “annihilated”. Or rather, it’s where they “will die”, which is probably a better description, since it’s the biblical one. I don’t think your description of the annihilationist view does justice to the most common forms of the view within evangelical protestantism. But I guess that’s merely my experience as compared with yours. 😉

    4) When you say “To Hell with Annihilationism”, does that mean you want “annihilationism” destroyed and gone for good? Or does it mean that you’d like the view to be consciously tormented eternally? You see, it’s interesting that you use the term much like an annihilationist would, yet you deny this as a legitimate way of interpreting “hell”.

  8. Lars,

    Thank you for your well-thought-out comments. Here are my responses:

    1) I lay out a meticulous argument against annihilationism over four parts of this series—an argument fully supported by Scriptural citation. My red flags went up because of the people marketing annihilationism, but they stayed up because annihilationism cannot be supported by scripture. I do not dismiss annihilationism merely by association.

    2) My red flags have to do with the people aboard the annihilationism train. They are lopsidedly Anti-Jesus-as-the-only-way-to-the-Father and Anti-Israel. I’m sure that some pro-Jesus-as-the-only-way-to-the-Father and Pro-Israel people are aboard the annihilationism train too. In fact, I know some. However, it’s the disproportionate number of the former that concerns me, not the small number of the latter. If I announced that a Pro-Jesus-as-the-only-way-to-the-Father and Pro-Israel train were boarding, precious few annihilationists would get aboard. THAT is the problem.

    3) Unsaved souls go to a place of eternal torment, not an execution chamber. If we remove the word “hell” from the conversation, the spirits of both our arguments remain unchanged. If you want to say that hell exists, but it is merely an annihilation chamber, okay, no problem. I too say that hell exists, but it is a place of eternal torment.

    4) When someone in Western (i.e., Christian) culture says “to hell” with something, they want two things. They want the thing gone from in front of them, and they want the thing to be consciously tormented eternally.

    Thank you very much for your comments, and God bless you!

  9. It is SO important to interpret scripture in the context it was written and not with our own preconceived notions. I’ve heard no objective evidence for the eternal nature of the torment. The fire is eternal, yes, the scriptures say so. There will be gnashing of teeth, the scripture says so…. but where does it say WHOSE teeth? This is not concrete evidence against annihilationism. And as for the verse from Samuel with water spilling on the ground… I can’t make sense of that, one way or the other.

    The following scriptures are compelling for me… John 3:16, Hebrews 10:26-27, Romans 8:13, James 5:20, Romans 6:23, John 6:48-50. I would not yet call myself an annihilationist, but I am looking into it and it’s starting to make a lot of sense. It makes sense with respect to what we know about our Holy yet Merciful God.

    As for annihilationists being universalists… I can’t agree… the whole point is to differentiate between the fate of those who accept the redemption of Yahshua, and those who don’t.

    Look into the history of the church. The roman catholic church has introduced a lot of pagan and hellinistic ideas into the church… ideas that are not any part of the gospel. I’m starting to think that eternal torment is one of these ideas. Hell is referenced in the Bible. Eternal torment is not.

    I believe what the scriptures say… I will continue to study… I won’t let tradition and preconceived notions interfere with finding the truth.

    • Julia,

      You are correct about the Catholic Church introducing much heresy into Christianity. In fact, the only church that has introduced more heresy into Christianity than the Catholic Church is the Protestant Church. And yes, Annihilationists are overwhelmingly Universalists. It’s a very convenient (and very blasphemous) paradigm that asserts no consequence for sin. Party on!

      And as to your question about whose teeth will be gnashing, the answer is very plainly written in the Bible for anyone truly seeking to find the truth, as you claim to be doing.

      “But when the king came in to see the guests, he noticed a man there who was not wearing wedding clothes. ‘Friend,’ he asked, ‘how did you get in here without wedding clothes?’

      The man [certainly a Universalist, and probably an Annhihilationist] was speechless. “Then the king told the attendants, ‘Tie him hand and foot, and throw him outside [so much for Universalism!], into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth [so much for Annihilationism!].’

      14 “For many are invited, but few are chosen.” [As opposed to the Universalist heresy of “all are invited, and all are chosen.”] ~ Matthew 22:11-14

      Not everyone gets to come to the wedding banquet. We must clothe ourselves with the righteousness of Christ by accepting that he is the Son of God, and the ONLY way to Father. Those trying to crash the wedding banquet will be thrown outside. They will weep and their teeth will gnash. Dead people don’t weep, and dead peoples’ teeth don’t gnash. These people are alive (not annihilated) as they weep and gnash their teeth.

      Thank you for your comment.

      Tom

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