Life Worse than Hell: The Annihilationist Perspective

I made some new friends. I didn’t even really know they existed. They came in a flood. I found them over the concept of Hell; eternal punishment. They read a blog I wrote: Thank God for Hell. It described how essential Hell is. Since my new friends prefer annihilationism their complaints are understandable.

I’ve never really had to defend the doctrine of Hell. Well that isn’t wholly true. I have discussed it with the Judeo-Christian cults. Oops, I used the world cult. (PC’ers are everywhere you know, you gotta watch out.) I have found the word cult is not an approved word so I will change it to a new term; New Christian Type Religions. For those unfamiliar with this term annihilationism, it means that God punishes sinners by making them no longer exist. Simply horrifying, lol.

Unfortunately those who have rejected eternal punishment in Hell are immune to the scriptures. They turn direct comments by Jesus and others into figures of speech, metaphors and allegories. Nice exegetical magic tricks. So I won’t bother using the scriptures for the defense of Hell and eternal punishment since annihilationist so abuse them.

This annihilationism fetish is generated from a distaste for eternal punishment. It is a simple emotional response. I do not like the idea of Hell either but I’m not audacious enough to twist the scriptures to suit my preference. This is not very clear thinking.
Annihilationism leaves us to believe that the most evil oppressor will die and not exist for his earthly sins while enjoying the benefits of his sin on earth. In contrast many innocent people will suffer on earth. The suffering of those on earth will be worse than the judgment of God of the evil oppressor in the afterlife.

Life is difficult. Throughout time many have suffered. This suffering is so horrible. Decease, famine, war, rape and torture are part of a short list of sufferings. Mental and emotional strains by their many causes have affected multitudes also. Some of these are extended for years not merely moments. The number of people, over many centuries, and to a degree of suffering that is so deep it cannot be fully comprehended. These sufferings are generally caused by no fault of the sufferer.

Mao Tse-Tung was the communist revolutionary that took power in China. He was responsible for the starvation, murder and torture of over 45 million people. If judged by God for his sins and found guilty he will be sentenced to non-existence for eternity. He will have no pain, sorrow or shame for eternity for His crimes. Simply, “Zap!” and he evaporates.

In contrast those who suffered under his hand did so horribly. These people endured grotesque pain and hardship innocently. Their pain of loss of family, physical pain and starvation went on for days and years. Even in sleep it was hard to find rest. The innocent therefore will suffer more than Mao will for his crimes.

I do not expect to convince those emotionally bound to their preferred theology. It is just fun to point out their irrational emotional conclusions.

Haha, “I fart in your general direction.” Monte Python


17 thoughts on “Life Worse than Hell: The Annihilationist Perspective

  1. Scripture clearly teaches that the unrepentant will be destroyed. You clearly just like the idea of people being tortured forever and so you twist Scripture to suit your preference.

    I love how the only argument you give is based on your “emotions” about how it would be unfair to simply “Zap” Mao. Oh, I mean “Moa.”

    🙂

      1. Anytime buddy. In general, when you want to come off as smug, it’s a good idea to not repeatedly misspell three-letter names 🙂

  2. JESUS SPEAKING:

    Mat 25:46 “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”

    Mat 25:30 And throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’

    APOSTLE JOHN SPEAKING:

    Rev 20:10 And the devil, who deceived them, was thrown into the lake of burning sulfur, where the beast and the false prophet had been thrown. They will be tormented day and night for ever and ever.

    Rev 20:14-15 Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death. (15) If anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.

    This is just a few scriptures that talk about eternal judgment. If God is good and just, he has to send the guilty to hell otherwise he would be an evil judge.

  3. Only one of the four passages you cite says anything at all about everlasting torture, so right off the bat your attempt to quote texts in favor of your view has failed in a major way.

    Matthew 25:46. Of course everlasting death is an everlasting punishment. You’ll need to explain why you think this passage somehow rules out annihilationism. Interestingly, this passage explicitly teaches that only one group of people will live forever. You believe that everyone will live forever (only living people can be tortured, obviously). That means that you are contradicting your own verse. Strange!

    Matthew 25:30. This says nothing of being tortured forever. Moreover, “weeping” and “gnashing of teeth” are expressions that denote sadness and anger, not agony, as you seem to be assuming. Stop twisting Scripture.

    Revelation 20:14-15. Again, this says nothing of everlasting torture. Do you believe that death and Hades will be tortured forever? Why not?

    Revelation 20:10. You’ll need to explain why you take this symbolic vision literally. Even if we should take it literally (and we shouldn’t), it says nothing about human beings.

    If God is good and just, he has to send the guilty to hell otherwise he would be an evil judge.

    “Hell” is a translation of the Greek gehenna. In Scripture, gehenna is a place of utter death and destruction (Matthew 10:28). It’s not a place of endless torture. So what you said above is actually correct; just not for the reason you think it is 🙂

    The following are a few passages that clearly teach the ultimate death and destruction of the unrepentant (unfortunately, the cultic eternal torture fetishists are immune to Scripture and will turn these simple and clear statements into figures of speech, metaphors and allegories):

    Hebrews 10:26-27: 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.

    Matthew 10:28: And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in Gehenna.

    Matthew 7:13: Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.

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

    Romans 2:2: For all who have sinned without the law will also perish without the law.

    Romans 8:13: 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 6:23: For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

    Romans 9:22: What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction.

    Philippians 3:19: Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame.

    Acts 3:23: The Lord God will raise up for you a prophet like me from your brothers. You shall listen to him in whatever he tells you. And it shall be that every soul who does not listen to that prophet shall be destroyed from the people.

    James 1:14: But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.

    James 5:19-20: My brothers, if anyone among you wanders from the truth and someone brings him back, let him know that whoever brings back a sinner from his wandering will save his soul from death.

    2 Peter 2:6: by turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to ashes [God] condemned them to extinction, making them an example of what is going to happen to the ungodly.

    Pretty straightforward stuff. Of course, I do not expect to convince those emotionally bound to the idea of people being tortured by God forever (especially those who have already admitted that the fear of being tortured by God is the only thing keeping them in the faith).

  4. I have turned this idea over several times. It has some merit. The ‘absence’ of sinners would seem to make an unending existence far more acceptable to us now than having sinners burning in hell. There is to me a hang-up that robs it of its appeal. I will be making an argument of qualities, not of evidence, for those who seem to favor the forensic approach.

    God made man ‘in his image.’ Since ‘God is spirit’, we may deduce that the similarity is in Man’s spiritual likeness (in form and structure, not in moral quality) to the divine nature. Chip Ingram in his series “God: As He Longs for You to See Him” ( http://store.livingontheedge.org/store/product/god-as-he-longs-for-you-to-see-him ) forwards an argument that God is Sovereign, and man’s free will is derived from that sovereignty, because God bears too much respect for individual personhood to violate that ultimate choice (concerning spiritual destiny; temporal choices are a whole different argument). I further argue that it is because God has respect for his own ‘image’, that Man’s sinful state is tolerated. If this is to be believed, then it is not unreasonable to suggest that God, while despising the warped state of his chief creation, is unwilling to destroy or disfigure it, because it is a representation of his own nature.
    But that is an argument towards man’s temporal state. To address the ‘eternal’ issue (if one can even do so properly), I take this notion in a different direction. If Man is meant to reflect God’s likeness and nature, then it would reasonably follow that Man had an unending existence. Perhaps that is not true, but if we consider the thought that all men were ‘created’, then if some move into eternal perfection and some simply cease, then not all men are destined for eternity. That would prove to be the supreme inequity, that those who choose God inherit eternal glory, and those who persist in wickedness simply cease, as though God, disapproving of their choice, nullifies instead of honoring it.
    I find C.S. Lewis’ ‘Mere Christianity’ to be interestingly illuminating on this topic. What he says on hell and divine justice is available for anyone with a few dollars to spend on the book.
    And after all that, I will turn, finally, to scripture itself. I presume that previous posters will be familiar with the Parable of the Sheep and the Goats (Matthew 25:46), and argue about the imagery of ‘punishment’. In context, I would like to refer to the two preceding parables; that of the bridegroom and virgins, and that of the lord and his servants. Each of the parables ends, not with scenes of fiery destruction, but of exile. The foolish virgins return to a locked door; the wicked servant is thrown out “outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
    In a recent radio broadcast, Charles Swindoll made a remarkable observation about the story of the rich man and Lazarus, in Luke 16; there is a name in this story, that of Lazarus, and as such it is not a parable; No story identified as a parable has a named character in it, but this one does. Therefore, he believes that it is not an anecdotal story, but an actual account.
    Now it is probably impossible to tell whether this story was told before or after the raising of Lazarus in John 11, because each story occurs only once, in different books, and one of them is not in chronological order. But I take Chuck’s point, and do believe that this, more likely than not, an actual experiential account from beyond the point of death.
    That does not, for me, close the case, but it does seem to cinch it up tightly. I will not digress into the appeal to divine Justice; that is found in ‘Mere Christianity’, mentioned above. I try not to hate anyone, and whether I ‘want’ people to ‘burn in hell’ is not at all relevant to the argument; what is being considered is not how we would have the universe if we could; it is how God has actually ordered creation.
    May the grace and peace of Christ extend to you all.

    1. Scripture is abundantly clear that humans are by nature mortal, and that only by faith in Christ can they gain immortality. We are dust and even the redeemed only obtain immortality through the resurrections of the their bodies.

      It doesn’t at all follow that because we are made in God’s image that we therefore have “an unending existence.” Are we omnipotent? Are we omniscient?

      Luke 16:19-31 is clearly a parable. Why would the use of a name indicate that it is actual history? Does Swindoll believe that everyone in the bad of Hades will be able to see everyone in the good part? Will people have bosoms and fingers and tongues? Will people in the bad part be able to pass the time by conversing with angels? Just compare Luke 16:19 with Luke 16:1 and Luke 15:11. In any event, Luke 16:19-31 is about the intermediate state. The topic being considered here is the final state.

      Rather than speculating about how things like God’s image and God’s respect for human choice work with regards to final punishment, it’s probably better to just read what all of the straightforward passages say about the issue. I listed around 15 of them in my post above. The unredeemed will die, perish, be destroyed, consumed and abolished. There is nothing mysterious or confusing about it, Scripture could not be more plain. Perish does not, cannot and will never mean “living forever in torment.”

      And you’re exactly right; whether or not you want people to suffer is not relevant to the argument. That’s why cliffrad needs to grow up a bit and learn how to properly address arguments, rather than immaturely suspecting the motives of those who disagree with him.

      1. 1. Your dogmatism reminds me of a mutual enemy, Richard Dawkins. Heard of him?

        2. I made no motion to defend or exhonorate Cliff, I simply wanted to forward the discussion, since this is an important issue that should be discussed, but since it is generally not understood by those outside the church, should not be a cause for division and bad attitudes.

        3. Aside from the danger of being a literalist in interpreting the word, I remember something that Michael Crichton wrote in his non-fiction book, ‘Travels’. In his father’s family, there would often be dinner-table discussions about various topics and issues, and some of these would be intense and heated. His father forbade the use of the word ‘obvious’ in all its forms, for this reason: “If a thing was obvious, one should not need to point out the fact. And if it wasn’t, it was insulting to say that it was.”

        4. I have refrained from using the book of Revalation, since I find great danger in making doctrinal arguments from visions and unfulfilled prophecy. however I would forward the question; “Why would the bible spell out things one way, and then depict them in a different, incompatible way?”

  5. Hilarious: http://www.christianblog.com/blog/clifrad/life-worse-than-the-hell-the-annihilationist-perspective/

    “It is hard to discus it with them using scripture because of their desire driven mishandling of them. Therefore I work from reason to try to help…well that isn’t the whole truth I’m actually trying to annoy and provoke them.”

    You’re definitely annoying, so on that level I suppose you’ve succeeded. That said, it is you who are clearly annoyed and provoked by the fact that you are unable to give a reasoned answer to anything we’ve said here. This is evidenced by the fact that you mention the commenters like three times in your own comments on the christianblog site:

    “I have a blog on wordpress and I’ve been getting a lot of argument over Hell.”
    “Those who have commented on my wordpress blog are pretty ardent.”
    “Interestingly, the comments made on my wordpress blog are from Christians.”

    We sure seem to be on your mind a lot! 🙂

    I also love how you changed “fart” to “laugh”! Hilarious.

  6. I just wanted to point some important things to remember that weren’t discussed.

    God is just and holy. He must punish sin to the uttermost in line with that justice and holiness. To annihilate would do harm to His very nature. In fact His punishing of sin eternally makes His saving of His elect in Christ even more glorious, and magnifies the work of Christ to the uttermost.

    Man became a living BEING at creation when God breathed into him the breath of life. Wildtarg brought this up. Man is not just a body but also a spirit, death is not just physical but also spiritual in being separated from God forevermore.

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