If you have any serious interest in the subject of hell, you will probably have either read or heard someone tell you that Jesus taught more about hell than anyone else in the Bible. In fact, you may also have read/heard people telling you that Jesus preached on the fearful idea of hell as a place of endless suffering far more than he talked about heaven. But if anyone says that this is true, then their problem isn’t theology. It’s maths.
Hank Hanegraaf is, among other things (such as a dead ringer for David Letterman, in the right lighting), one of the writers over at the Christian Research Institute. In his very brief article “Why Should I believe in Hell” there appears a section called “Is annihilationism biblical?” Hank presents three reasons to reject annihilationism. Unfortunately, his comments turn out to be a tour de force of fallacious reasoning.
For those readers not already familiar with the terminology, “annihilationism” is the name for the view that God will not eternally torment those who are not “saved,” but will instead end their life permanently. They will be gone. OK, on to Hanegraaf’s comments:
Does Norman Geisler’s view on hell make God into an abusive father?
Geisler wrote The Baker Encyclopedia of Apologetics. It’s basically an encyclopedia of Norman Geisler’s beliefs, in the sense that it offers Geisler’s perspective on the A-Z of Christian theology and philosophy (if you think that’s not a fair summary, have a look at the encyclopedia’s rather hostile and unfair treatment of Alvin Plantinga’s Reformed Epistemology. That is not a fair summary).
In the encyclopedia there’s an entry for “Annihilationism.” It’s a very short entry, just long enough for the author to tell us in several different ways that he doesn’t think annihilationism is true or biblical, but the exegetical issues aren’t unpacked in any detail. This, however, caught my eye under what Geisler calls the “philosophical arguments” against annihilationism (remember, Norman Geisler believes the traditional doctrine of the everlasting torment of the damned in hell): Continue reading “Norman Geisler on Annihilationism”
What? Jonathan Edwards comes to the aid of annihilationism? Why would I say that? We all know Jonathan Edwards didn’t believe annihilationism, right? Yes, we do all know that, but he gave us a helping hand anyway.
Some advocates of doctrine of eternal torment make the mistaken claim that just because the Bible uses the phrase “eternal punishment,” it must be taken to teach eternal torment. The falsehood of this assertion is fairly obvious and it’s not like a lengthy argument is needed to put it in its place. But what’s interesting is that Jonathan Edwards, one of the most memorable preachers on the lurid details of eternal torment and who emphatically rejected annihilationism, came to the aid of annihilationism just at this point in the argument, in a chapter entitled, “Concerning the Endless Punishment of those who Die Impenitent,” paragraph 31. Continue reading “Jonathan Edwards Comes to the Aid of Annihilationism”
And here it is, episode 7, the final part in the three part series on hell. This is the longest episode that I have ever done, and it is the longest I ever plan on doing. Don’t worry, this isn’t going to become a pattern, but I wasn’t about to do a fourth part, so I had to fit everything into this one.
As always, your comments and questions are welcome. Drop me a line – You can even send your comment or question as an audio clip, and I’ll play it on the show.
As this episode ended up being longer than expected (there are plenty of bad arguments to cover!), I’ve decided to present a third episode in this series, where I will cover the remainder of the main arguments for the traditional view. But at least this time I managed to squeeze in my regular “This Week in History” segment.
The next episode will be a little shorter.
We’ve made it to five episodes! This one is part one of a biblical and theological (mostly biblical) discussion about hell, the doctrine of eternal punishment in Christian theology. It’s a two part presentation. In this part, I present my position on the subject, a view called annihilationism. In the next show I’ll be looking at argument against my view and in favour of a more traditional view of hell as a place of the eternal torment of the damned.
As I promised in the Episode, here’s a list of some prominent Christian thinkers who hold (or held – some of them are dead) to an annihilationist point of view:
- John Stott
- Michael Green
- Clark Pinnock
- Philip Edgecumbe Hughes
- John Wenham
- Dale Moody
- Edward Fudge
- Graham Scroggie
- Edward White
- Basil Atkinson
- E. Earle Ellis
- Homer Hailey
That’s what I came up with in 2 minutes. Now, come on in, the water’s lovely!