Monday, March 16, 2015

The Eternity of Hell-Torments

By the late great evangelist:


  1. Very excellent, thanks for sharing.

  2. Annihilationists argue that when the Lord said the wicked (humans) are cast into everlasting fire and that the fire is unquenchable that the fire is not literally eternal. They say this because Jude 1:7 talks about how Sodom and Gomorrah were "set forth as an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire," yet Sodom and Gomorrah ceased burning. They argue that "eternal fire" merely means that the effects of the fire are eternal, and not the fire itself. They also argue that the fire being "unquenchable" doesn't mean it's eternal, but merely that nothing will prevent it from carrying out its work of thoroughly destroying the wicked.

    However, Matt. 25:41 states that the everlasting fire [was antecedently] prepared for the ***devil and his angels***. Since demons are not physical, we shouldn't assume that they can be consumed by something analogous to physical fire such that they cease to exist. We have no Biblical reason to think that. Our concept of human punishment in Gehenna should be modeled on how the fallen angels will be punished. Not the other way around since Gehenna is only ***secondarily*** for the punishment of wicked humans.

    If we do that, then the statement that the fallen angels will be punished everlastingly implies it will have no end for fallen angels AND unrepentant humans because the arguments annihilationists use to evade the plain meaning of "everlasting" applies only to the human condition of physical combustion; but doesn't apply to the fallen angels (or at least we have no reason to think so, as mentioned above).

    Besides, even assuming Gehenna for humans includes literal fire (which is questionable), why assume it's only fire? Even many annihilationists affirm degrees of punishment in Gehenna. But if its fires were only physical, there would be no possibility of degrees. Human bodies would be consumed at an equal rate irrespective how wicked a person was. Unless, their bodies are somehow divinely sustained so as to last longer than usual in the midst of fire. But that's the very thing many annihilationists want to deny. Since, if God can sustain their existence longer than normal fire would permit, why can't God do so indefinitely or eternally?

    Many annihilationists are also in disagreement (or individually inconsistent with themselves) as to whether the punishment is only death/extinction or whether it also includes the suffering prior to extinction. When they exegete Matt. 25:46 the "eternal punishment" mentioned there EXCLUDES the suffering and refers only to the consequence of eternal extinction. Yet, when the concept of degrees of punishment is brought up, they affirm it by INCLUDING suffering as part of the punishment.

    Also, fallen angels are spirits and cannot be harmed by physical fire, yet they too will be punished. It makes most sense therefore that there is a form of spiritual punishment demons (who are spirits) will endure which humans (who also have a spiritual aspect to them) will also have to endure. And so, there doesn't seem to be a stable and consistent form of annihilationism. Whereas traditionalism can makes sense of all of the Biblical data.

    1. I wrote above, "Human bodies would be consumed at an equal rate irrespective how wicked a person was." Technically, the combustion of human bodies could vary depending on how hot the fire is and how much is applied, the proximity to the fire (etc.). However, whatever physical variations that could be applied wouldn't be able to account for the wide range of degrees of guilt people would have (assuming the punishment would fit the crime, be proportionate and applied consistently to all individuals). So, it makes most sense that 1. the physical bodies will be divinely sustained somehow (temporarily, or eternally) and that 2. there's a spiritual aspect to the punishment since fallen angels will also endure it (which, by the way, counts against the physicalist/materialist forms of annihilationism).

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