Evangelical Conditionalism and Degrees of Punishment In Hell – Part 2

Having examined the underwhelming biblical case for eternal torment over evangelical conditionalism based on degrees of punishment in Part 1, a number of philosophical questions about God’s justice remain.

In Light of Eternity, Few Christians See Final Punishment As Truly Proportional

The traditionalist case is that final punishment is really only just if a worse sinner has a worse fate than a less wicked sinner, and that worse fate continues to be worse throughout eternity. Annihilation, of course, does not meet that standard.

However, this standard is not nearly as strong as it may sound at first. It is not a biblical view, so it does not have the firm, objective basis of scripture. Beyond that, eternal torment, within the framework of a Christian worldview, must concede more to the annihilationist view than many traditionalists realize. The effects of eternity and the concept of infinity take a lot of the force out of the traditionalist case here.
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Evangelical Conditionalism and Degrees of Punishment In Hell – Part 1

A common argument against evangelical conditionalism, part biblical and part philosophical, is that the Bible and basic justice teach that not all sinners will be punished with the exact same severity. 1Harry Buis, The Doctrine of Eternal Punishment (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1957), 39. 2Robert Morey, Death and the Afterlife, (Bethany House, 1984), 154. 3John Walvoord, “The Literal View” in Four Views on Hell, eds. Stanley N. Gundry and William Crockett (Zondervan, 1996), 21.

From both the biblical and philosophical standpoints, I will say that the argument for eternal torment and against annihilationism, based on degrees of punishment, would have a lot more weight if:

  1. Evangelical conditionalism entailed that all the wicked were instantly annihilated at death without any conscious awareness of anything leading up to their final end, and:
  2. The traditional view did not, for the most part, entail the belief that even a single sin of any sort warrants infinite punishment and infinite pain and suffering. 4Regarding the view that a single sin only warrants finite punishment but the damned sin continually in hell, Part 2. 5 Portions adapted from Joseph Dear. The Bible Teaches Annihilationism (n.d.), Section XXIV, found at 3-Ring Binder, n.d., https://www.3ringbinder.org/uploads/1/9/1/0/1910989/the_bible_teaches_annihilationism__1st_edition_pdf_version__final.pdf (accessed on April 24, 2020).

Continue reading “Evangelical Conditionalism and Degrees of Punishment In Hell – Part 1”

1. Harry Buis, The Doctrine of Eternal Punishment (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1957), 39.
2. Robert Morey, Death and the Afterlife, (Bethany House, 1984), 154.
3. John Walvoord, “The Literal View” in Four Views on Hell, eds. Stanley N. Gundry and William Crockett (Zondervan, 1996), 21.
4. Regarding the view that a single sin only warrants finite punishment but the damned sin continually in hell, Part 2.
5. Portions adapted from Joseph Dear. The Bible Teaches Annihilationism (n.d.), Section XXIV, found at 3-Ring Binder, n.d., https://www.3ringbinder.org/uploads/1/9/1/0/1910989/the_bible_teaches_annihilationism__1st_edition_pdf_version__final.pdf (accessed on April 24, 2020).