Do Annihilationists Believe that People Cease to Exist? (It Depends – and That’s Okay)

Does annihilationism mean that people cease to exist?

The fact is, there are often two different meanings of existence and the ceasing thereof at play when this question arises. For that reason, it is important that we define our terms and not equivocate.

The First Definition

The first idea involves a sort of brute, cosmic obliteration that destroys even the atoms a person was made of. Annihilationism does not necessarily deny this sort of ceasing to exist per se, but at the very least, this sense of complete annihilation is not necessary for evangelical conditionalism or annihilationism to be true.

Continue reading “Do Annihilationists Believe that People Cease to Exist? (It Depends – and That’s Okay)”

Annihilation in 2 Thessalonians 1:9 (Part 2): Separation or Obliteration?—The Present Controversy

Note: This article is part of a series. Part 1 presented a clear and consistent understanding of 2 Thessalonians 1:9 based on relevant context. Here, Part 2 justifies that reading by dealing with more complex matters of translation and interpretation, interacting with respected critics.

Around the middle of the first century, the apostle Paul wrote the following to the church in Thessalonica:

…which is manifest evidence of the righteous judgment of God, that you may be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you also suffer; it is a righteous thing with God to repay with tribulation those who trouble you, and to give you who are troubled rest with us when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. These shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power, when He comes, in that Day, to be glorified in His saints and to be admired among all those who believe…

This is how the NKJV renders 2 Thessalonians 1:5-10 (note in particular verse 9, in bold). Some other translations render this passage a little differently, so you might be surprised to learn that it is often touted as a text which speaks in favor of traditionalism. On its face, “affliction” leading to “everlasting destruction” at the revealing of Christ from heaven sounds a lot like the punishment that conditionalists believe will befall God’s enemies. And as the previous article in this series shows, a simple yet thorough reading of the text in its context does indeed support conditionalism.

Despite this, some traditionalists well-versed in the biblical languages have raised arguments suggesting we should look beyond the apparent meaning of this passage. We will now consider their arguments, as we study this passage more closely. What we will discover will add nuance to our understanding, but it will also confirm that the simple, obvious reading is just what Paul intended.

Continue reading “Annihilation in 2 Thessalonians 1:9 (Part 2): Separation or Obliteration?—The Present Controversy”

Frequency of the phrases describing hell published over time

Today, I was playing around with Google’s Ngram viewer, which allows you to see the frequency of use of various words in books that Google has digitized. I ran a search on the following terms, and got the graph below (click graph to enlarge).

  • Annihilationism
  • Conditionalism
  • Conditional Immortality
  • Universal Reconciliation
  • Eternal Torment

Continue reading “Frequency of the phrases describing hell published over time”