|It is sad to see that there are a few evangelicals who hold to the doctrine of annihilation-ism, that is, they believe that the lost spend some time in the pains of hell but then are simply "poofed" and completely disappear. Annihilation-ism is a doctrine sometimes taught by the cults but almost never by biblical evangelicals. |
I recently examined a chapter on this subject by one who is an evangelical but who holds to the doctrine of the poof! In fact the article taught a new view that I had never seen before, and that sounds very close to Catholicism. The article said that the lost do indeed go to hell and are punished for a period, but then just disappear after a season of torment. The author implied that the length of time for the punishment can vary, and I guess by how bad the person was on earth. This sounds close to Catholic purgatory to me.
The real reason why this author holds to this view is stated by him. And clearly what he is doing is questioning the justice and purposes of God. The author becomes the judge and juror of God's ways. He writes:
"I have never been able to fully embrace the traditional viewpoint of conscious, eternal punishment. My first difficulty with the traditional view is that it seems to impugn the character of God."
I found something interesting in this seventeen page chapter written against eternal punishment. The word "traditional" view is used twenty times and the word "annihilation-ism" is not used at all, though the word "annihilate" is used once! By this, I would say he is trying to argue that those who hold to eternal punishment are simply traditional but are not actually biblical or doctrinal. And as well, he seems to be avoiding the word "annihilation-ism" because this smacks of heresy!
The author does not explain the two most important passages of Scripture on the subject: Matthew 25:46 and Revelation 14:10-11.
Matthew 25:46 reads: "And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life." The Greek word for "eternal" is "aionos" and it is used to describe the punishment of the lost, and the [forever] life of the righteous. If we received "eternal life," and that lasts forever, then so is the punishment of the lost—it lasts forever. The same word is used to describe punishment and spiritual life. If the life we receive lasts forever then so does the punishment—it goes on and lasts forever.
Revelation 14:11 speaks of "the smoke of their torment going up forever and ever." The annihilationist would say "Well, the smoke lasts forever but the lost do not last forever experiencing this punishment." Note the possessive pronoun "Their." It is the torment that belongs to them and its smoke goes on and on!
But the next line reads: "And they have no rest day and night, those who worship the beast and his image ..." These two lines are tied together. They have no rest because they exist forever and the smoke of their torment continues to rise because of the flames of punishment.
Christ quotes Isaiah 66:24 in Mark 9:48 that reads: "In hell, where their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched." Notice again the possessive pronoun: "Their" worm. This means the worm that does not die and is eating on the lost. It is "their" worm! Also, the fire does not go out. Now what is the implication being put forth: to speak of a forever-burning fire? This passage is a kind of poetic statement in that the body turns to dust, but the picture is vivid in implying that a judgment continues forever on those who have died without Christ.
What good news for the lost if the pains of hell only last for a short period and then they are just poofed away! Many who deny Christ would then say, "Oh well, I can take the pain for awhile and then I will just disappear!"
Do not listen to those who wish to tamper with the teachings of Scripture, even with a very unpleasant truth about the eternality of hell. –Dr. Mal Couch (8/10)