Thursday, October 10, 2013

Additional Arguments in Favor of the Traditionalist View of Hell

originally posted 1/27/15

The following will be an assortment of arguments in favor of the traditionalist understanding of hell. I will be adding new arguments and evidences as I find them (from other writers) or come up with them.

See also my blog:

Resources Arguing for the Traditionalist Understanding of Hell

I've mentioned some arguments in my YouTube comments in a debate between Chris Date and Phil Fernandes. I've collected my side of the comments in this blog:

Chris Date and Phil Fernandes Debate on Hell

I now realize the weaknesses of some of the arguments I offered Chris.

The following are some blogs where I commented on annihilationism vs. traditionalism:

A Fudgesicle's chance in hell

Hell under fire  

Steve Hays rhetorically asked,
 And when Jn 3:36 says "Whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him," is that synonymous with annihilation?
Steve's point is that Jesus' statement about God's wrath "remaining" on the lost is more consistent with traditionalism than with annihilationism.

Steve made another good point when he wrote:

ii) Moreover, what about statements in Revelation which indicate the continued existence of the damned after the dust settles: 
27 But nothing unclean will ever enter it, nor anyone who does what is detestable or false, but only those who are written in the Lamb's book of life (Rev 21:27). 
14 Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they may have the right to the tree of life and that they may enter the city by the gates. 15 Outside are the dogs and sorcerers and the sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices falsehood (Rev 22:14).
You have two groups: the saints who dwell in the New Jerusalem, and the damned who are barred from the New Jerusalem.
Steve's point is that these passages in Revelation suggest the the continued existence of the lost and their (eternal) separation from the blessedness of the saved.

The following are comments I left at another blog HERE

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.

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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