Annihilationism Briefly Examined
Annihilationism Briefly Examined
Annihilationism is an unbiblical belief
those who go to hell will not suffer eternal punishment, but will one day
cease to exist. We will examine some of the main biblical passages used
to support this view and then the Bible's teachings on the eternity of
Vocabulary of destruction
The biblical words "perish" and "destruction" do not refer to
extinction, but to a wretched and ruined existence, cut off from all good
and everything that makes life valuable. It is the eternal ruin of all
that is worthwhile in human existence. C.S. Lewis makes a good point
when he says that even when something is destroyed, it still leaves
remains. So even when annihilationists understand perish and
in a strictly literal sense, it still doesn't prove their case because
that would not
support extinction at all, since there are still remains when something
Annihilationists also appeal to the Bible's use of the imagery of
fire to describe God's judgement on the wicked. They say that the
purpose of fire is to consume and eliminate. However, the Bible uses
fire-imagery to refer to the great pain and suffering of the wicked. It speaks of anguish, not extinction.
Some argue that it is against God's justice to punish eternally.
However, this is a human-centered perspective. Sins against us would not
warrant eternal punishment, but the Bible views sin as an attack on God's
character. Since God is of infinite value, then sins against him are of
infinite seriousness and therefore are deserving of eternal punishment.
If the wicked were only extinguished from existence, justice
not be complete. They would not be getting what they deserve, because
there punishment would not be in proportion to the infinte severity of
attacking God's glory. What
motivation would it be for sinners to change if they only had extinction
ahead, and not punishment? And if the wicked are only annihilated,
why did Jesus warn about hell so much while He was on earth. Why didn't
He warn about extinction for those who refuse His grace?
"All in all"
What about the passages that say God will be "all in all"? If we
look at 1 Cor. 15:24-28, we see that God will be all in all because His
enemies will be "under His feet" and no longer free to wantonly disregard
and assault God's holiness. They will
be subject to Him and judged, not annihilated. It means that God will
reign over the just and just, not that only the just remain. The final
three chapters of the Bible bear out that the eternal punishment of the
wicked is not considered by God to be in
compatible with His being all in all.
Hell is eternal
Matthew 24:46 is one of the clearest testimonies that people who are
in hell will suffer eternally: "And these [the wicked] will go away into
eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life" (NASB). Jesus is drawing
a parallel between the destinies of
the wicked and the righteous. Since both destinies are said to be
eternal, "it follows necessarily that either both are to be taken as
long-lasting but finite, or both as endless and perpetual. The phrases
`eternal punishment' and `eternal life' are parallel and it would be
absurd to use them in one and the same sentence to mean: `eternal life
will be infinite, while eternal punishment will have an end.' Hence,
because the eternal life of the saint swill be endless, the eternal
punishment also..." (Augustine, The City of God, 1001-2 (21.23)).
Jesus also asserts that in hell "the fire is not quenched" (Mark
When a fire consumes its fuel, it goes out. The fire of hell never goes
out because its work is never done. Thus, the fire never goes out
because the wicked suffer eternal torment
in hell, not eventual extinction.
Go back to Contend for the Faith.
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