A while ago I was tagged in a note on Facebook about why we should give annihilationism (the teaching that hell is ending) a chance. The essay used was written by well-known Open-Theist Greg Boyd (Here 'tis), who tries to support his position biblically for an ending hell.
However there are several things (there's accutally more than 'several' but for the sake of time and a blog post this only has 6), which must be dealt with when considering the ending of hell. These problems are listed below:
1) Misunderstanding of the word "immortal"
2) Time-centric view of eternity
- Immortal means having no beginning AND no end. As created souls we distinctly have a beginning and therefore it is right to assume only God is immortal (1 Tim 6:16). We are just eternal beings, i.e. souls.
3) To say, "The wicked are “destroyed forever” (Ps 92:7), but they are not forever being destroyed." Is to miss the point of language and words entirely.
- God being outside of space and time as its Creator is therefore not subject to time and by placing a capstone of time on the eternality of God and/or his creation outside of time is to limit the understanding and depth of eternity into base numbers. In other words you attempt to confound the wisdom of God by using his creation.
- In the punishment of unbelievers in 2 Thessalonians 1, “They,” means those, “… who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. (2 Thess 1:8)” Inside this punishment is the constant continual action of, “eternal destruction” (2 Thess 1:9). Which means it goes on for eternity (true story). This is not unclear; this is not guesswork on the meaning of words. ‘Eternal’ means eternal (with a beginning but without an end) and ‘destruction’ means frick-this-is-hell. In modern vernacular, it’ll freaking suck. So arguing the semantics of the ‘end of hell’ is about as illogical as wondering if McDonalds is healthy for every meal.
4) If hell is ending then so to must heaven be ending.
5) If hell is ending then why was Jesus' death necessary?
- If hell is ending so to must heaven be ending. If the destruction of the wicked is ending then so to must the redemption of the saved. However we talk and read of salvation being a constant thing, “We were redeemed (Ephesians 2:1-10), we are being redeemed (1 Cor 15:1-2), and we are not yet fully redeemed (Matt 24:13).” If redemption were to have an end then in the midst of eternity would come a time when our salvation is no longer effective and the casting out of heaven would come for Christians and then to be annihilated, but this is simply not taught in Scripture.
6) If hell was ending then why do we worry about evangelization?
- If hell is ending then what is Jesus saving us from, annihilation? No. Jesus isn’t saving us from annihilation; he is saving us from the just wrath of God stored up for our personal sins. Therefore when God saves us he is saving individual people. Annihilationism takes the personal love of God and makes it an abstract teaching. God loves – in annihilationism – humanity, not individual people, but the whole humanity, and therefore when Jesus dies on the cross in the annihilationist’s view he is dying, not for you specifically or for me specifically, but he is dying for all in the abstract sense. But God’s love is personal and as such must move our hearts away from annihilationism
- Still more on this point is the simple fact that annihilationism takes the gospel and tries to bury it in the dirt. What is the point of Jesus attempting at saving souls when the unsaved will just cease to be? Why not let them go away and be full in the Trinity as God once was before creation?
- Annihilationism attempts at making God dependent on man, on his creation. Rather than God loving man so much that he gave his Son to give us Himself and show us his unfiltered glory, annihilationism would say that God’s love hinges on man, not God.
- Lastly, if annihilationism is true then why worry about telling people about Jesus? What’s the hurry in telling others about Jesus’ redemptive work if they’ll just cease to be and not endure eternal suffering?
Hell is eternal and will be endured forever and therefore Jesus’ redemption is of eternal significance and damnation is of eternal potency. Thus evangelization is of eternal weightiness and who we worship is of eternal importance. Either we worship God to our joy or we worship self (especially in annihilationism) to our destruction – God is the centerpiece of all eternity (because he defines eternity) and as such we must have eternal worship and eternal damnation.