>Annihilation And Universalism
>I have been reading the book, Two Views of Hell, by Edward Fudge and Robert Peterson that one commenter suggested for me to read and I must admit that I am enjoying this book. Some theology books, I must confess, are boring. I read a book recently on the doctrine of the Holy Spirit and while the biblical content was sound, the book itself was a chore to read. It took discipline for me just to finish the book and even then I found myself skimming the last few pages trying to get done. Not so with this book on hell. I am enjoying the book tremendously.
The question I want to propose is can one hold to annihilation and reject universalism? Yes! I would say that this is the case of many who do hold to the doctrine. Even the Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that only faithful JW’s will inherit a restored planet Earth while the 144,000 will be in heaven with Jehovah. Edward Fudge rejects the notion that all will be saved. He believes that we should even warn people that they will be cast into hell when they die if they don’t repent of their sins. He rejects the notion that hell is not real. This stands in contrast to Rob Bell who believes that most (if not all) will be in heaven. I think this is an important point.
There are other theologians who reject the traditional view of hell including John Stott, Dale Moody, Michael Green, Richard Rice, and Greg Boyd just to name a few. Dr. Douglas Jacoby also rejects the traditional view of hell. He agrees with Fudge that while we should warn people that they will be destroyed in hell, he agrees with Fudge that hell is not an eternal torture of the lost but is the complete destruction of them. When a person is cast into hell, the cease to exist (Luke 12:5; 2 Thessalonians 1:9).
I don’t want to give away all that the book says and will possibly post on the subject in the future but for now I do believe that we can have an honest debate over hell. What we can’t do is accept universalism. This would destroy the purpose of the cross, the death of Jesus as our sacrifice for our sins, and would ignore the holiness of God and His judgment against sin. Furthermore, it would allow evil to go unchecked and would allow that a holy God would not punish sin. According to Fudge and Peterson, God will punish sin and He will judge those not found in the book of life (Revelation 20:15). While these men disagree over the length of that punishment, both agree that hell is a reality that awaits all those not found in Jesus.