Today, hell is a front-burner topic, thanks to media attention stirred by mega-pastors Rob Bell, Francis Chan, and others. But, between the extremes of universal salvation and everlasting torment, there shines a third view, known as annihilationism or conditional immortality, claiming the most biblical support of all. While relating his own personal journey in understanding the nature of hell, Fudge leads the reder through the whole Bible to see what we have missed, then through church history to understand the origin of the other two views. Here are the basics: Life is short. Death is sure. Judgement is certain. Hell is real. And when John 3:16 says the options are eternal life or perish, we can take that at face value. At the end of the world, the good and bad aloke are raised to face judgement. The righteous enjoy eternal life with God; the lost are sentenced to hell. But the God who gave his Son to die for sinners does not keep them alive forever to torment them without end. Instead, those in hell suffer such precise pains as divine justice may require, in a process that ends in extinction. This is the second death, the wages of sin. Eternal punishment is eternal destruction.
“The problem is the traditional hell of everlasting conscious torment, an idea many find inconsistent with both the love and justice of God.” (source)
“Clark Pinnock, John McRay, Claude Mariottini, Christopher Marshall, Tom Robinson, Richard Bauckham, and N.T. Wright.” (source)
“In short, the doctrine of everlasting conscious torment strikes countless numbers of people, ranging from devout believers to militant atheists, as intuitively and irreconcilably inconsistent with fundamental justice and morality.” (source)
“If we ask what the Old Testament says about hell, meaning a place where people are kept alive to be tormented forever, the answer will be ‘nothing.” (source)
“At most, this story is set in hades, before the judgment, while life on earth continues with its usual covetous ways.” (source)