Eternal Conscious Punishment and Justice

Some contend that endless punishment for temporal sin is “intuitively and irreconcilably inconsistent with fundamental justice and morality.” Some contend right back that such a theological claim for that reason is arrogance , unsubmissive to God’s Word and rooting theology in our own moral perceptions. OK, I get that… but….

… anyone who claims humans don’t know justice and injustice, at some intuitive level, are standing on morally dangerous turf.

We are looking at Edward Fudge’s Hell: A Final Word, and Fudge (an annihilationist who wants above all to root his ideas in what the Bible teaches) contends that the pushback above fails to deal with some important themes taught in the Bible. What are they?

Here are our questions: Can we comprehend justice well enough to know when something is just or unjust? Is the accusation, rooted in our intuitive senses of justice, that eternal punishment does not square with temporal sin a good argument?

1. God’s laws to Israel assume Israelites and judges can determine the just from the unjust. Read Exodus or Leviticus or Deuteronomy and you will saw laws where God says the Israelite judges ought to know justice. Thus, “Do not injustice in judgment… but judge your neighbor in righteousness” (Lev 19:15).

2. Abraham bargained with God on the basis of God’s own theory of justice: “Far be it from you to slay the righteous with the wicked so that the righteous fare as the wicked!” (Gen 18:25). That is, it would be unfair, unjust, unrighteous. Abraham wins this argument because God is just.

3. Can God do whatever he wants? This is the cry from some today, and I’ve heard this more from the NeoPuritans than anyone else, but this makes God’s will, not God’s goodness or love or holiness or character, the ground of morality. God does not answer to creation; God is God. That God is God is what emerges, too, from Romans 9-11. Fudge admits that Paul’s argument in Romans 9-11 could suggest that God can do what God wants, and there is no one who can answer back — but “could” is not the same as “does.” The Bible, however, tells us that God will judge in righteousness and will do what is just (52; notice Acts 17:30-31).

At the bottom of this post is this question: Can we comprehend justice well enough to know when something is just or unjust? Is the accusation, rooted in our intuitive senses of justice, that eternal punishment does not square with temporal sin a good argument?

About Scot McKnight

Scot McKnight is a recognized authority on the New Testament, early Christianity, and the historical Jesus. McKnight, author of more than forty books, is the Professor of New Testament at Northern Seminary in Lombard, IL.

  • phil_style

    Can we comprehend justice well enough to know when something is just or unjust?
    Well, I’m not sure I can answer yes to this question. I think most people have a good sense of “fairness”, but is fairness the same as justice?
    My theory of justice starts with the assumption (assumed for reasons beyond this discussion) that retribution serves no good purpose. So, no matter how fair a measure might be (eye for an eye), if it involves retribution it cannot be just. But I know that many, many people do not accept this. Many folks truly consider that justice is equivalent to the metering out of equal actions (that is, pain for pain).

  • http://kenthaley.wordpress.com Kent Haley

    I supposed the reformed answer would be that total depravity has so affected our judgment that we cannot properly judge a sin against the infinite God, and we will always tend to minimize the nature of our sin. Eternal Conscience torment assumes that one, even seemingly small, sin is worthy of eternal torment. However, there does seem to be evidence in scripture that punishments should be based on the severity of the sin – in the OT law, some violations got the death sentence, and others did not.

    Humans perceived that they deserve to die, but humans do not perceive that they deserve eternal conscience torment. In the Romans 1, Paul says that humans “know God’s decree that those who practice such things deserve to die….” And in the following chapter he links this humanly perceived understanding of justice to the actual judgment of God upon sinners (2:1-11). Paul seems to be using what humans already know they deserve to teach about the future judgment. If Paul was trying to convey eternal conscience torment, then one would think he would attempt to show that mankind’s sense of justice (sin only results in death) is flawed. Instead, he uses mankind’s sense of justice as part of his argument.

  • http://www.mannsword.blogspot.com Daniel Mann

    I don’t think that there is any Biblical evidence that God’s will – what He wants – ever opposes His character (justice). When He says, “I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy,” this isn’t in opposition to His just character which does not allow for double-standards. Instead, justice is not view in this statement but mercy, which is discriminate.

  • phil_style

    @Daniel Mann,

    Nice contrast between the indiscriminate nature of “justice” and the discriminating nature of “Mercy”. Al thought I don;t think that distinction really resolves the tension. It is precisely because of describing biblical mercy as discriminate that we have a conflict, because now we over-ride what should be indiscriminate – justice.

    For me, the issue need not even be framed in those terms. Biblical mercy is a counterpoint not to “justice” but to “sacrifice” – “I desire mercy not sacrifice” (Hosea 6:6). The use of Mercy to overcome sacrifice IS justice.

  • http://www.ill-legalism.com rick

    But the very first peccadillo of stealing fruit from a tree was punished by consigning the whole human race to death, destruction, enslavement to labor, pain in childbirth, and estrangement from God. How does the punishment of Adam for his sin square with our intuitive understanding of justice?

    Just wondering. If we go down this rabbit hole, do we find God intuitively just in the Fall?

  • adam

    The comparison is wrong natured I think. That is, looking at the relationship between “temporal sinning” and “eternal punishment” to see how they justly correspond as though one calls for the other is wrong. One is not being “punished” eternally in light of a temporal transgression. This looks at the transgression as though it is simply an act “in time” against creatures “in time.” Thus, the corresponding punishment should be bound to some sense of time also.
    Principally, an act against creatures bound in time is not what calls forth eternal punishment. The principal nature of any sin is a transgression against God who is eternal. Thus, (as Edwards would point out), the justice of eternal punishment is fitting to the crime due to the sin being against an eternally holy God who upholds his law eternally as a standard of righteousness. This is where the definition of sin as “cosmic treason” comes in.

  • phil_style

    @Rick #5,

    Excellent questions – and ones I’d not considered before….
    Is it telling that, in this case, there is no mention of hell as punishment? Presumably (if you buy into original sin) this was the foundation event that kicked it all off. It’s a little bit remiss of god, is it not, to not mention to Adam and Eve that their punishment actually was going to be an eternity of pain and suffering, and not just a temporal one?

    Is the Genesis 3 narrative supposed to be normative with respect to God and Justice?
    I would certainly argue that the god portrayed in that particular story can be seen as retributive. But then in Genesis 4 we see a god who is considerably more lenient on Cain when he commits murder (v8) AND lies to (v9) God. God carries out a second expulsion from “the land”.. however god shows mercy on Cain – giving him a kind of protection from the mob (v15). God restricts the punishment considerably.

  • scotmcknight

    adam, I wonder if a finite human can ever comprehend what it means to sin against infinitude? I know this argument against the view what temporal sins do not warrant eternal punishment but I really do wonder if is semantically meaningful but ontologically incomprehensible. Do not get me wrong, humans — at least those who comprehend that there is an eternal God and Someone who is wholly Other — can comprehend the immensity of their act, but can humans comprehend infinitude in such a way that they become culpable for an eternal sin?

    Others suggest that in hell humans will continue endlessly — because they are locked in to sinfulness by character formation — to sin and rebel against God.

  • phil_style

    @ Adam, #6

    Principally, an act against creatures bound in time is not what calls forth eternal punishment. The principal nature of any sin is a transgression against God who is eternal. Thus, (as Edwards would point out), the justice of eternal punishment is fitting to the crime due to the sin being against an eternally holy God who upholds his law eternally as a standard of righteousness
    This is the standard, and as far as I have read, the only answer that is given to explain how a single act can result in eternal punishment. It seems to formula goes like this:
    Magnitude of Sin X Value of Victim = Punishment.
    When the Value of the Victim equals infinity (i.e. God), the punishment equals infinity.

    But there is a major Christological problem with that formula. It requires an infinite amount of mercy to overcome or forgive even the tiniest infraction. Therefore all the mercy that could ever have been metered out was done when the tiniest sin was first forgiven.

    Most folks seem to assume substitutionary atonement as the solution to the above book of balances.
    If the forgiveness arrived at on the basis of the cross was the event which forgave ALL sins at one time, then we have a god who used significantly more punishment than was necessary to achieve it. If Jesus’ value is also infinite, then god need only have called him a “fool” and that, multiplied by his infinite value would have been equivalent punishment.

  • Chad Richard Bresson

    Per what Kent has said… is sin “temporal”?

    The question itself, from the Reformed perspective, is faulty. It presumes sin is temporal. The question anticipates its own answer and therefore skews the subsequent dialogue.

    While it may be morally dangerous turf to suggest humans have an inherent inability to know justice and injustice, the debate will always be about the extent of that knowledge (because of depravity). It’s as dangerous, or even more so, to presume humans can know morality to the extent that allows them to make judgments on God’s revealed morality in the Scriptures. Too often, in these kinds of discussions, God is placed in the docket. Such questions begin as “What kind of a God would…?” That’s a dangerous kind of reasoning. At the end of the day, the human sense of morality is in a position to trump God’s revealed morality in the Scriptures.

  • adam

    Scot,
    Once the issue of understanding/comprehension is raised does it then become more of an issue of faith rather than an issue of creaturely philosophy or reason? Not to suggest that those in complete contradiction, but obviously they are not equal. That is, if this is God’s truth for mankind revealed in special revelation, does it now become an issue of faith and reception rather than mere perception from a kind of “raw” creaturely standpoint?
    Don’t get me wrong here, I am not saying that God’s justice is not revealed in general revelation (including moral law), but I am wondering if, by asking of perceivability, are we asking another kind of question now?

    Phil_style:
    I am unclear of the Christological explanation exactly? But I would suggest that mercy is not a heavenly commodity to be dispensed as if it were in a jar (“metered out”). Neither would I think of mercy as “an event” as in the cross. I would suggest that mercy is found in God, expressed now through the risen Christ who ministers eternally as the Mediator between God and man. He precisely administers a merciful covenant eternally for all he came to save.

  • phil_style

    @ adam,

    Sorry for being unclear.
    If the offence is unlimited and requires unlimited punishment , then equally, any forgiveness or mercy shown which alleviates (i.e. makes finite) that punishment is also unlimited.
    If we’re going to turn God into a book-keeper when it comes to punishment, let’s at least be consistent.

  • scotmcknight

    adam, can you think of one text that says anything about sinning against an ontologically eternal God means our sins earn an endless punishment? What I’m wondering then is if that idea is a construct — our construct, a reasonable construct — that we make in order to make sense of the facts in the Bible?

  • Mark Edward

    The idea that a temporal sin against an eternal God warrants an unending punishment is an explicitly medieval concept. It comes right from feudalism, in which offenses against a person of higher class required a higher punishment (i.e. an offense of a serf against a noble is worse than an offense against a serf, hence an offense against God, who is of an infinitely higher class, is an offense of infinite degree and so requires an infinite punishment).

    I would say this is COMPLETELY contrary to how God revealed his sense of justice via the Law, because he forbids exactly this idea of weighted ‘justice’ on the basis of any party’s standing. The punishment must be of equal measure to the crime, or else it is a perversion of justice. And it just cannot be demonstrated scripturally that sin measures infinitely.

  • Kenton

    Can we comprehend justice well enough? Really? When my son was about 3, he started up the “that’s not fair” rhetoric. I think everyone comprehends justice well enough.

    Wright talks about how the concept of justice in scripture is less about punishment and more about setting things aright. I think as we mature from “that’s not fair” talk, that understanding starts to make more sense. At least it makes more sense to me that a divine mathematical function calculating punishment from the input parameters of “magnitude of sin” and “value of the victims”.

  • phil_style

    @Kenton Can we comprehend justice well enough? Really? When my son was about 3, he started up the “that’s not fair” rhetoric. I think everyone comprehends justice well enough

    Keton, refer to my comment at number 2.
    I’m not convinced (and I don;t think you are either) that “fairness” and “justice” are equivalent concepts. Fairness is a much more limited notion, I would suggest, and more open to abuses.

  • Percival

    Can we comprehend justice well enough to know when something is just or unjust?

    We have to assume that words actually mean something. When God tells us to seek justice, He does not expect us to reply, ‘What’s that? Does it look like a platypus?’ The fact that He reveals His will in human language assumes that human language is an adequate medium for carrying His message. Of course, it is not the perfect medium, but it is adequate when enlivened by the Holy Spirit.

    Is the accusation, rooted in our intuitive senses of justice, that eternal punishment does not square with temporal sin a good argument?

    I don’t think it qualifies as a good ‘argument’ per se, but it is enough to provide direction for where to seek the truth. If our sanctified conscious is uneasy with the idea, there could be a reason. I believe that if we cannot fully embrace with joy the idea that God will punish the unbeliever with unending torment, then we should not preach it until we are fully satisfied with it. It is like saying, I don’t think Christ’s death on the cross is all that great, but I have to preach it because it’s in the Bible. No. If God’s plan does not seem perfect to us, it is because either we have failed to comprehend its beauty or because we have misunderstood it.

    Furthermore, the idea that the severity of sin is measured by who is sinned against has no Biblical basis as far as I can see. Rather, the severity of the sin is measured by the level of accountability of the one who commits the sin. The level of knowledge, the intention, the circumstances all have a part to play in the severity of the judgement against the sin. We see that over and over in the scriptures.

  • adam

    @Phil-style:
    I wrote a response that has been declined by the site apparently. At posting a page appeared saying, “you are responding too quickly. slow down” and my post is now gone. I’m lack the energy to rewrite. Sorry.

    @Scott:
    I would say, “yes and no.” to your question. No, I, as you obviously know, cannot find a text where God is explicitly referred to as “ontologically eternal.” Yet, “yes” I can say there are texts that suggest that God is eternal and other texts that speak on punishment and they do correspond. Consider, and I know many won’t, the apocalypse. The “Woman” symbolic of culture, economically, sociologically, politically etc. composed of people, receives just punishment for her crimes against “the earth” and for her crimes against God’s people (his servants). Her crimes, committed in time, receive a punishment to be experienced “forever and ever” (Rev.17, 19:1-3; 14:10-11; 20:11-15; cf 20:10-”day and night forever and ever”).
    This is not a simple stating of “facts” it is even committed to us in symbols and images which correspond to reality. Sin in time correspond to eternity and find their fulfillment there at resurrection.

  • Jeremy

    I don’t think a conversation about justice and punishment is complete without considering MacDonald’s unspoken sermon titled “Justice”. If you’re at all interested in this topic, and haven’t read this, please go read it.

    http://www.ccel.org/ccel/macdonald/unspoken3.viii.html

  • Percival

    Adam #18,
    So Death and Hades will be tormented forever and ever? First, we should acknowledge that these aren’t people. As for people who are punished, it says the smoke rises forever and ever, which is a Biblical image from the OT of complete destruction. All these verses that you assume could only mean one thing are addressed over and over by Fudge and other Conditionalists. However, it seems that you may not be familiar with their arguments. Conditionalists are very familiar with these verses and have reasonable alternative explanations for them. In contrast, it seems sometimes that Traditionalists can’t be bothered to even read the opposing side with any kind of seriousness. This kind of laziness will soon catch up with Traditionalists. If their arguments continue to rely on the momentum of the majority to continue their predominance, they may soon find themselves to be a minority instead.

  • http://thebookofdavis.blogspot.com/ Michael Davis

    Nice post and discussion. Thanks for sharing!

  • Joe Canner

    Percival #17: “I believe that if we cannot fully embrace with joy the idea that God will punish the unbeliever with unending torment, then we should not preach it until we are fully satisfied with it.”

    I like this approach a lot. While I am certainly comforted by the idea that God will judge evil, I am not as comfortable with the idea that even the worst sinner should be tormented forever as part of that judgement, even if s/he eventually repented. I am not real thrilled with annihilation either, but I do trust that the God who created a life can justly determine whether or not it is in everyone’s best interests to extinguish that life.

  • D. Foster

    Here is an insightful take on the Greek word AIONION (translated “eternal”/”everlasting” in our bibles) from a linguist:

    http://evangelicaluniversalist.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=29&t=1999

    –Derek

  • D. Foster
  • D. Foster

    Jeremy #19,

    I had the exact same sermon in mind. “Unspoken Sermons” profoundly shifted my view of God, and has impacted me spiritually more than any single book outside the Bible.

    –Derek

  • http://derekzrishmawy.com Derek Rishmawy

    25 comments in I’m not sure this will do anything but here are a few thoughts:

    1. You can always counts on someone to present the “Reformed” view even when we’re not around. Now, whether there happens to be a distinctly-Reformed view or just one that any Reformed people use, that’s another question.

    2. “Can we comprehend justice well enough to know when something is just or unjust?” I think the biblical answer is yes and no. We can generally know basic right from wrong. Even the unregenerate have consciences that simultaneous accuse and defend them. And, with respect to God, that holds to some degree. At the same time, given the Creator/creature gap, there is bound to be an epistemic gap between our knowledge and God’s such that we should expect some slippage. Given sin and the distortion of our reason and will, we often find that our judgments about right and wrong are a bit self-serving. This is why we must constantly have our innate sense of justice corrected by the revealed Word and conform our distorted sense with God’s perfect sense.

    3. “Is the accusation, rooted in our intuitive senses of justice, that eternal punishment does not square with temporal sin a good argument?” There are a number of things to say, some of which have been said, but I think it’s important to get away from the image of a tally and weights system where one, “teensy weensy” sin ends up weighing infinitely by some quirk, or because it’s directed at a very large personage. I mean, that last part has something to do with it, but the question reveals a shallow view of sin as simple acts. It’s always important to bear in mind Luther’s point in his larger catechism that you can’t break any of the other commandments without breaking the first. Every individual, tiny sin is only ever a symptom of the great, massive, heinous sin of idolatry, the violent, rebellious rejection of the Lord of the universe, Creator of all that is. What should violent rejection, unwilling to repent, be met with? Rejection and damnation. (Now, the details of that rejection and damnation are unclear.) The point is our sin isn’t simply a set of punctiliar acts, “temporal” sins, but rather manifestations of an attitude, a rebellious, treasonous, idolatrous life-stance of rejection that continues on into eternity and is continually damnable at each moment.

    At that point the question is, does God continue to maintain the persons in existence and I don’t have an answer for that except that some verses seem to make it seem that way. And if that’s the case, then throughout eternity that person continues to be the kind of person who is deserving of rejection.

    Well, now that I’ve solved that long-standing theological thorn, it’s time for a sandwich.

  • Matt Edwards

    1. I think our understanding of justice has been marred, but not completely destroyed, by sin. So I think we CAN evaluate a theology of hell based on our sense of justice, as long as we acknowledge that God understands justice in a way that we don’t.

    2. I don’t know about the logic of infinite punishment for a finite act (it takes a second to murder someone and you are punished for longer than that), but I do question the justice of eternal conscious torment. Rob Bell’s critique in Love Wins really did it for me. I don’t remember it word-for-word, but it was something to the extent that if we found out that someone was burning their children as a form of punishment (even for a few seconds), we would rescue those children from that abusive situation and never allow them to return. And yet, Christians believe that this is how God will punish people for eternity. It’s not just the eternal aspect of it (annihilation is eternal, too), it’s the torture. I don’t see how torturing someone forever is a just punishment for crimes committed on earth.

  • http://derekzrishmawy.com Derek Rishmawy

    @Matt- I appreciate your concerns, but your comment demonstrates exactly why so many thoughtful Christians were annoyed by Rob Bell’s Love Wins–it was filled with ridiculous caricatures of doctrines instead of its most nuanced and thoughtful forms. Certainly some have painted the “traditional” doctrine of eternal conscious torment that way, but that picture is not truely an accurate representation of that teaching.

  • NateW

    Eternity as we conceive it is an imaginary concept. Yup, it simply does not exist. Just stop reading, relax in your chair, take a deep breath, and look around. This present moment is all there is. There is no future, extending into infinity. There is no past, regressing to infinity. All that “is” is RIGHT NOW. God is not “forever” God “IS.” That’s his self-given name for crying out loud!

    In the ancient mind “eternity” was a way of describing the way things appear, not the way things actually are. “Eternity” (Olam, Aionion) implies the experience of not being able to see what lies beyond the horizon. It would make no sense to an ancient person to talk about “eternity” as an actually existing progression of events “forever”. To even presume to know that “forever” exists beyond what we can see from our desk chairs demonstrates a lack of necessary humility.

    Eternal Life is life lived in the only thing that we know will always be available to us: This present moment. Eternal suffering is suffering in This Present Moment with no end IN SIGHT and no HOPE. We should not presume to know what lies beyond the edges of our vision.

  • TJJ

    For me the takeaway from the gospels regarding the “consequences” for sin is that the consequences are at least potentially very serious, very serious indeed. He language of torment and eternallness may not be literal, and to me at least, probably not literal, but none the less the language used is expressive of something extrememly sobering in magnitude. To the degree Rob Bell and his tribe lose that, that is a road I cannot travel. Also, I find relying on current 21 st century senability and understanding of “what is just” to be a most unstable and slippery of rocks to stand on.

  • kierkegaard71

    Can we comprehend justice well enough to know when something is just or unjust? Romans 2 says that the work of the law is written on the hearts of the Gentiles (those without direct revelation from God). Based on this, I would conclude that there is enough of a linkage between the human conscience and the divine for us to comprehend justice to a significant degree. Fully comprehend justice? No…God’s call for Abraham to sacrifice Isaac is enough for me to say that, if God is just, then there are aspects of justice that I do not fully understand.

  • PaulE

    A quick aside to begin: It’s funny how similar Fudge’s first argument looks to Erasumus’ argument against free will in Luther’s Bondage of the Will. (i.e. “It says “Do not covet.” Therefore it assumes that it is possible not to covet.”)

    Also, the third argument is really a different framing of the Euthyphro dilemma in that it pits God’s will against his goodness. How I understand it 1) God can do and in fact does whatever he pleases, and 2) God can do and in fact does whatever is just and right and fair. The argument seeks to reconcile what does not need reconciling.

    Some other thoughts:
    If we widen our gaze of the Bible a little further, we see also that Solomon prays for a discerning heart so that he can administer justly, we find that neither Job’s friends nor Jesus’ disciples seem particularly adept at discerning justice, and and we are invited to read Proverbs and learn “what is right and just and fair.” We even find Elihu’s challenge to Job: “Tell us what we should say to him; we cannot draw up our case because of our darkness.” So I’m not so sure the Bible shows us having an innate and infallible sense or even enough of a sense to draw up a case against God.

    And anyway, isn’t this borne out by experience: While some people think ECT is unjust, others think it just, so who are the ones who know right and wrong? It seems like there is no singular human idea of what is just in this case; so whose sense of justice will we appeal to? Even if there were a human consensus, I would still defer to God.

  • http://www.wanderprone.com Nate

    #30 TJJ: very well said…you gave clarity and substance to a few thoughts floating around my head.

  • http://jacksonwu.wordpress.com Jackson Wu

    Scot,

    You say, “… this makes God’s will, not God’s goodness or love or holiness or character, the ground of morality.” Isn’t this a false dichotomy? After all, his will flows out of his character, love, holiness, goodness, etc.

    If God’s own infinite worth is the standard of value/rightness, wouldn’t this in principle open the door for comprehending justice well enough to at least affirm “eternal” (infinite) punishment?

    Thanks for your reply

  • http://www.nateweatherly.com Nate W.

    TJJ #30 – Just curious, but have you read Rob Bell? He is not out to diminish the horror of Hell, but is doing his best to scream WAKE UP to Christians who’s belief in Hell “later” blinds them to the horror and suffering of neighbors in Hell NOW. Something is seriously wrong when the hell we see someone going through NOW–under the crushing weight of shame, anxiety, and oppression– is not enough to motivate us to share the good news of Christ’s love with them.

    Hell is real, but it is a spiritual reality, not a temporal one. Hell is the experience of distance from God, now and for as long as we refuse to believe that the distance has already been crossed.

  • scotmcknight

    Jackson, I do believe — with you — that will is shaped by character, but some have made ethics dependent solely on will (and not character). This way of framing things is a famous problem from Plato, of course.

  • TJJ

    Nate, #35, yes, I read the book and followed Scot’s discussion of it here. I think get what he is saying. And I get the concern about eternal punishment, or torture, as some seem to see it. The picture of Hell in the Gospels is quite horrifying. I understand the impulse to tone it down, or redefine it, or otherwise deconstruct it. But while I am willing to hedge on the edges, as to whether it is really eternal, whether it is really pain, etc., I am not willing to redefine the fact that Jesus was teaching about something real, really terrifying, and a consequence of substantial magnitude in terms of time and magnitude.

  • Sherman

    “Can we comprehend justice well enough to know when something is just or unjust?” — I believe we can, especially those of us who have given our lives to love God and love people.

    “Is the accusation, rooted in our intuitive senses of justice, that eternal punishment does not square with temporal sin a good argument?” — Imo, it is a substantial argument, but one that is quickly dismissed by most Protestants, especially Evangelicals, because of the doctrine of sola scriptura. For most Christians it is believed that scripture affims the certainty of Hell, ECT for at least some of humanity; thus they quickly dismiss any arguments against the certainty of Hell no matter how logical they are.

    For me though, having come to believe that Jesus does not fail to save anyone, that He really is the Savior of all, in deed not in title only, I have come to realize just how illogical the doctrine of ECT is. To think that the God revealed in scripture, the God of all mercy whose love never fails could either torture or allow anything to be tortured endlessly is ludicrous. I mean, even I have enough mercy to put out of his misery a rabid dog whom I cannot heal. “If” God cannot save a person from his sins, cannot heal him of the iniquity, sickness of his soul, cannot free him from his slavery in/to evil, cannot raise him to life from the dead, then the merciful thing to do would be for God to annihilate him – “if” God is merciful!

    I accept as true that might does not necessarily make right!

  • Sherman

    P.S. I do not believe scripture affirms Hell or the concept of ECT. Moses did not warn of Hell. Paul did not once warn of Hell. And Jesus warned of being cast into Hinnom Valley (Gehenna) which I think metaphorically spoke of the judgment of God and destruction in this life with the potentiality of shame, reproach, and possibly even punishment in the life to come. It seems to me that if there was a Hell it would have been specifically and repeatedly named, described, and warned of in scripture, especially the OT; but it’s not. (I’ve noted this before in other threads but just did so here in case someone hasn’t been following them.)

  • http://Leadme.org Cal

    Let me first say that I am some kind of Annihilationist.

    Why are we abstracting judgment beyond the realm of the judgment first given to Adam. Death has come upon Adam and his race, hopeless bound to its chains. Those who reject the Lord’s mercy face the Wrath of the Lamb. Which is the closure of the first judgment, absorbed in Christ. In Adam, death; in Christ, life.


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