Annihilationism is the teaching that Hell does not last forever, that eventually unbelievers are annihilated, rather than suffering eternal conscious torment. Is this a bad teaching?
Of course it is. For at least four reasons:
- It is unbiblical- John 5.29 says there is a “resurrection of life” and a “resurrection of judgment.” Everyone knows that for the resurrection of life to be eternal it is only congruent that the resurrection of judgment is eternal. Annihilationism undermines the plain reading of texts like these, which ultimately undermines the authority of Scripture. You might not realize the damage undermining texts like these does until it is too late.
- It minimizes the holiness of God- People reject the eternality of hell because it seems unloving to them. But that fails to recognize that even one sin against an infinitely holy God is an infinitely horrible sin. The forever-ness of hell matches the holiness of God.
- It minimizes the goodness of God- God has been so patient with mankind. Adam broke God’s Law despite a perfect situation. Cain killed Abel. Everyone rebelled at Babel. Israel worshiped the golden calf before Moses even got down from the mountain. David killed Uriah. Years and years God was patient with Israel. God even sent His Son into the world to save sinners. But everyone rejected Him. He never sinned, yet all hated Him, and nailed Him to the cross. But God still created the church, and sent the gospel to the ends of the earth. And yet people still think God is too unloving. “Jesus is the only way to salvation” is so narrow-minded. “Homosexuality is a sin” is so bigoted. America is killing babies. And yet God has not flooded the earth or wiped out mankind in any way. He’s patient. He’s merciful. The gospel continues to go forth. And yet when people continue to reject God, you still think eternal hell is unjust?
- It minimizes the cross- Hell goes on forever because no one can fully repay the offense of their sin. Only Jesus satisfied God’s wrath fully on the cross (Romans 3.26). Only Jesus could absorb the full anger of God and satisfy divine justice. In that way, Jesus has experienced more wrath than all those in the Lake of Fire will ever experience combined.
I know some great Christians have believed in Annihilation, but that is no reason to be ok with wrong doctrine, especially one that gets closer to the heart of the gospel than almost anyone realizes.