Annihilationism bills itself as a superior alternative to what’s unacceptable in the traditional doctrine of hell, viz. hell is sadistic, hell is disproportionate.
For reasons I’ve given elsewhere, I don’t think that survives scrutiny. But now I want to examine annihilationism from another angle.
Annihilationism typically concentrates on the fate of the damned. But that is not the only objection to the traditional doctrine of hell. Let’s assume, for the sake of argument, that annihilationism does present a superior alternative regarding the fate of the damned. Even if this were the case, that would be insufficient to make it succeed on its own terms. For it overlooks another leading objection to the traditional doctrine of hell.
Objections to hell aren’t confined to the fate of the damned. Objections to hell also concern the fate of survivors. One stock objection to hell is the issue of how the saints in glory can still enjoy heaven when they know their lost loved ones will never share with them the glories of heaven. How can the saints still rejoice in heaven knowing all the while that some of their loved ones are missing out on heaven?
Annihilationism does nothing to address this issue. It has a myopic focus on the fate of the damned to the exclusion of their loved ones. But eternal separation from loved ones cuts both ways.
So annihilationism fails on its own terms. It was put forward as a superior alternative to what is allegedly unacceptable in the traditional doctrine of hell, yet it evades a major objection to the traditional doctrine of hell. Even on its own terms, it only gets the job half done.