In the last post we looked at the first argument for the biblical texts ‘supporting’ annihilationism. In this post we’ll look at the last three.
The second is that of the inconsistency that an eternal hell is to the love of God. That for God to be truly loving then he would not damn any person to an eternity in hell. However the same problem arises for the annihilationists. In other words this is really a non-argument. It would be unloving for God to damn anyone to hell forever, but it would be loving for God to damn anyone to hell for a set time in such a way so as to annihilate them. Do you see? On one hand it’s unloving to damn and on the other hand it’s loving to damn is essentially the argument. (There is also another type of annihilationism, called annihilationism proper or immediate annihilationism, that is that upon death those unsaved completely cease to be and do not enter hell at all. But this cannot properly be called punishment. Therefore it’s not right because there would be no ultimate justice in the universe.)
Third is the inconsistency between the punishment and the grievance, the sin committed. “The argument that eternal punishment is unfair wrongly assumes that we know the extent of the evil done when sinners rebel against God. (Grudem)”, “Sin against the Creator is heinous to a degree utterly beyond our sin warped imaginations to conceive of….Who would have the temerity to suggest to God what the punishment … should be. (Kingdon).”
Along this point it should be asked of the annihilationist if once a person has entered hell and has served its ‘time’ is it then justified to be annihilated? If the sin that was committed by this person is now dealt with in their ‘time’ in hell, then why not let that person go to heaven? What is the reason or point of annihilationism whatsoever if that person’s sins have been dealt with fully in hell? (Grudem)
Fourth, that allowing evil to persist would be a corruption in God’s perfect universe he creates after the Judgment Day. That hell exists in eternity does not detract from the perfections of God’s universe, in fact it enhances it. It forces us to realize that God has triumphed over sin perfectly and, as Edwards said, to the uttermost revealing the glory of his justice and the perfection of his wrath. That for all time his people will behold God’s triumph over all evil.
On a side note before I end this particular post Grudem brought up an interesting thing, one which I’ll post here as a warning – a shot across the bow, if you will – of where, the dangers of fighting against the eternality of hell could lead. “Because the doctrine of eternal conscious punishment is so foreign to the thought patterns of our culture, and, on a deeper level, to our instinctive and God-given sense of love and desire for redemption for ever human being created in God’s image, this doctrine is emotionally one of the most difficult doctrines for Christians to affirm today. It also tends to be one of the first doctrines given up by those who are moving away from commitment to the Bible as absolutely truthful in all that it affirms…”
We must believe that eternal punishment is true and just even though it does hurt us to believe that there is a place that offers eternal punishment. Even though the prospects of people going there is devastating. This doctrine gives literal fire to our message of redemption.