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In Christianity, annihilationism (also known as extinctionism or destructionism)[1] is the belief that after the Last Judgment, all unsaved human beings, all fallen angels (all of the damned) and Satan himself will be totally destroyed so as to not exist, or that their consciousness will be extinguished rather than suffer everlasting torment in Hell (often synonymized with the lake of fire). Annihilationism stands in contrast to both belief in eternal torture and suffering in the lake of fire and the belief that everyone will be saved (universal reconciliation or simply "universalism").

Annihilationism is directly related to the doctrine of Christian conditionalism, the idea that a human soul is not immortal unless it is given eternal life. Annihilationism asserts that God will eventually destroy the wicked, leaving only the righteous to live on in immortality. Thus those who do not repent of their sins are eternally destroyed because of the inherent incompatibility of sin with God's holy character. Seventh-day Adventists posit that living in eternal hell is a false doctrine of pagan origin, as the wicked will perish in the lake of fire.[2][3][4][5] Jehovah's Witnesses believe that there can be no punishment after death because the dead cease to exist.[6]

The belief in annihilationism has appeared throughout Christian history and was defended by several Church Fathers, but it has often been in the minority.[7][8] It experienced a resurgence in the 1980s when several prominent theologians including John Stott[9] were prepared to argue that it could be held sincerely as a legitimate interpretation of biblical texts by those who give supreme authority to scripture. Earlier in the 20th century, some theologians at the University of Cambridge including Basil Atkinson supported the belief. Twentieth-century English theologians who favor annihilation include Bishop Charles Gore (1916),[10] William Temple, 98th Archbishop of Canterbury (1924);[11] Oliver Chase Quick, Chaplain to the Archbishop of Canterbury (1933),[12] Ulrich Ernst Simon (1964),[13] and G. B. Caird (1966).[14]

Some Christian denominations that are annihilationist were influenced by the Millerite/Adventist movement of the mid-19th century. These include the Seventh-day Adventists, Bible Students, Christadelphians and various Advent Christian churches. Additionally, some Protestant and Anglican writers have also proposed annihilationist doctrines. The Church of England's Doctrine Commission reported in 1995 that Hell may be a state of "total non-being", not eternal torment.[15]

Annihilationists base the doctrine on their exegesis of scripture, some early church writing, historical criticism of the doctrine of Hell, and the concept of God as too loving to torment his creations forever. They claim that the popular conceptions of Hell stem from Jewish speculation during the intertestamental period,[16] belief in an immortal soul which originated in Greek philosophy and influenced Christian theologians, and also graphic and imaginative medieval art and poetry.


Bible references[edit]

Proponents of annihilationism agree that the Bible teaches that the wicked are punished eternally, but they believe that punishment is complete destruction for eternity as opposed to eternal life in torment. They see Old Testament passages referring to the finality of judgment, and not its duration (see Isaiah 66:24; cf. 2 Kings 22:17; Isaiah 17:2–7; 51:8; Jeremiah 4:4; 7:20; 21:12; Ezekiel 20:47–48; Malachi 4:1-3).[citation needed] Similarly, the New Testament teaches that the wicked will justly suffer for their sins, but the end result will be their destruction (cf. Luke 16:19–31; Romans 2:8; 2 Thessalonians 1:6).[17]

Other New Testament texts, including Matthew 10:28, where Christ speaks of the wicked being destroyed "both body and soul" in fiery hell, John 11:11 "our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep", 1 Thessalonians 4:15 "we shall not precede those who have fallen asleep" and John 3:36 "he that believeth not the Son shall not see life".

Church Fathers and later[edit]

Christian writers from Tertullian to Luther have held to traditional notions of Hell. However, the annihilationist position is not without some historical precedent. Early forms of annihilationism or conditional immortality are claimed to be found in the writings of Ignatius of Antioch[8][18] (d. 108/140), Justin Martyr[19][20] (d. 165), and Irenaeus[8][21] (d. 202), among others.[8][7] However, the teachings of Arnobius (d. 330) are often interpreted as the first to defend annihilationism explicitly.[8] One quote in particular stands out in Arnobius' second book of Against the Heathen:

Your interests are in jeopardy,—the salvation, I mean, of your souls; and unless you give yourselves to seek to know the Supreme God, a cruel death awaits you when freed from the bonds of body, not bringing sudden annihilation, but destroying by the bitterness of its grievous and long-protracted punishment.[22]

Eternal Hell/torment has been "the semiofficial position of the church since approximately the sixth century", according to Pinnock.[23]

Additionally, at least one of John Wesley's recorded sermons are often reluctantly understood as implying annihilationism. Contrarily, the denominations of Methodism which arose through his influence typically do not agree with annihilationism.[24]

Roman Catholicism[edit]

Much as certain Church Fathers and Catholic theologians have advocated qualified forms of universalism,[25][26] some Catholic theologians have advocated qualified forms of annihilationism as being in line with Catholic teaching.[27][28] Concerning the typical doctrinal presentation of Hell, the Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2nd Edition, states:[29]

1035 The teaching of the Church affirms the existence of hell and its eternity. Immediately after death the souls of those who die in a state of mortal sin descend into Hell, where they suffer the punishments of hell, "eternal fire". The chief punishment of hell is eternal separation from God, in whom alone man can possess the life and happiness for which he was created and for which he longs.

1038 The resurrection of all the dead, "of both the just and the unjust," (Acts 24:15) will precede the Last Judgment. This will be "the hour when all who are in the tombs will hear (the Son of man's) voice and come forth, those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of judgment." (Jn 5:28-29) Then Christ will come "in his glory, and all the angels with him. . . . Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate them one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, and he will place the sheep at his right hand, but the goats at the left. . . . And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life." (Mt 25:31,32,46)


Although the Church of England has through most of its history been closer to John Calvin's doctrine of conscious continuation of the immortal soul[citation needed], rather than Martin Luther's "soul sleep",[citation needed] the doctrine of annihilation of the "wicked" following a judgment day at a literal return of Christ has had a following in the Anglican Communion. In 1945 a report by the Archbishops' Commission on Evangelism, Towards the conversion of England, caused controversy with statements including that "Judgment is the ultimate separation of the evil from the good, with the consequent destruction of all that opposes itself to God's will."[30]

Millerite and Adventist movement[edit]

Recently the doctrine has been most often associated with groups descended from or with influences from the Millerite movement of the mid-19th century. These include the Seventh-day Adventist Church, the Church of God (7th day) - Salem Conference, the Bible Students, Jehovah's Witnesses, the Christadelphians, the followers of Herbert Armstrong, and the various Advent Christian churches. (The Millerite movement consisted of 50,000 to 100,000 people in the United States who eagerly expected the soon return of Jesus, and originated around William Miller).

George Storrs introduced the belief to the Millerites. He had been a Methodist minister and antislavery advocate. He was introduced to annihilationism when in 1837 he read a pamphlet by Henry Grew. He published tracts in 1841 and 1842 arguing for conditionalism and annihilation.[31] He became a Millerite, and started the Bible Examiner in 1843 to promote these doctrines.[32] However most leaders of the movement rejected these beliefs, other than Charles Fitch who accepted conditionalism.[33] Still, in 1844 the movement officially decided these issues were not essential points of belief.[34]

The Millerites expected Jesus to return around 1843 or 1844, based on Bible texts including Daniel 8:14, and one Hebrew calendar. When the most expected date of Jesus' return (October 22, 1844) passed uneventfully, the "Great Disappointment" resulted. Followers met in 1845 to discuss the future direction of the movement, and were henceforth known as "Adventists". However, they split on the issues of conditionalism and annihilation. The dominant group, which published the Advent Herald, adopted the traditional position of the immortal soul, and became the American Evangelical Adventist Conference. On the other hand, groups behind the Bible Advocate and Second Advent Watchman adopted conditionalism. Later, the main advocate of conditionalism became the World's Crisis publication, which started in the early 1850s, and played a key part in the origin of the Advent Christian Church. Storrs came to believe the wicked would never be resurrected. He and like-minded others formed the Life and Advent Union in 1863.[34]

Seventh-day Adventist Church[edit]

The Seventh-day Adventist Church view of Hell is held to be as annihilation rather than eternal burning of the wicked, and it is one of its distinctive tenets. They hold that the wicked will be lost eternally as they are consumed in the lake of fire rather than an eternal suffering, and they will perish and cease to exist in the fire. The church formed from a small group of Millerite Adventists who kept the Saturday Sabbath and today forms the most prominent "Adventist" group.

Ellen G. White rejected the immortal soul concept in 1843. Her husband James White, along with Joseph Bates, formerly belonged to the conditionalist Christian Connection, and hinted at this belief in early publications. Together, the three constitute the primary founders of this denomination.

Articles appeared in the primary magazine of the movement in the 1850s, and two books were published.[35] Annihilationism was apparently established in the church by the middle of that decade.[34] (In the 1860s, the group adopted the name "Seventh-day Adventist" and organized more formally.) D. M. Canright and Uriah Smith produced later books.[34][36][37]

A publication with noticeable impact in the wider Christian world was The Conditionalist Faith of our Fathers (2 vols, 1965–1966) by Le Roy Froom.[38] It has been described as "a classic defense of conditionalism" by Clark Pinnock.[39][40] It is a lengthy historical work, documenting the supporters throughout history.

Robert Brinsmead, an Australian and former Seventh-day Adventist best known for his Present Truth Magazine, originally sponsored Edward Fudge to write The Fire that Consumes.[41]

Samuele Bacchiocchi, best known for his study From Sabbath to Sunday, has defended annihilation.[42] Pinnock wrote the foreword.

The Seventh-day Adventist Church's official beliefs support annihilation.[43] They hold that the doctrine of Hell as defined by mainstream Christianity is incompatible with the concept that God is love.[44] They believe that God loves humans unconditionally, and has no destructive intentions for human beings. Seventh-day Adventists believe that the destructive force of Gehenna is eternal, rather than an indication of eternal conscious torment.[45]

Church of God (7th day) – Salem Conference[edit]

According to the Church of God (7th day) – Salem Conference, the dead are unconscious in their graves and immortality is conditional. when God formed Adam, out of the dust of the ground, and before Adam could live, God breathed the breath of life into his body: "And man became a living soul" (Genesis 2:7). See also Ezekiel 18:4, 20. Psalm 146:4 says, "His (man's) breath goeth forth, he returneth to his earth (dust); in that very day his thoughts perish." No man has ascended to heaven except Jesus Christ (John 3:13).[46]


Other supporters have included Charles Frederic Hudson (1860), Edward White (1878), Emmanuel Petavel-Olliff (1836–1910, in 1889) and others.[47] Early Pentecostal pioneer Charles Fox Parham taught annihilationism. [48]

1900s onwards[edit]

Annihilationism seems to be gaining as a legitimate minority opinion within modern, conservative Protestant theology since the 1960s, and particularly since the 1980s. It has found support and acceptance among some British evangelicals, although it is viewed with greater suspicion by their American counterparts. Recently, a handful of evangelical theologians, including the prominent evangelical Anglican author John Stott, have offered at least tentative support for the doctrine, touching off a heated debate within mainstream evangelical Christianity.[49]

The subject really gained attention in the late 1980s, from publications by two evangelical Anglicans, John Stott and Philip Hughes.[50] Stott advocated annihilationism in the 1988 book Essentials: A Liberal–Evangelical Dialogue with liberal David Edwards, the first time he publicly did so.[51] However 5 years later he said that he had been an annihilationist for around fifty years.[52] Stott wrote, "Well, emotionally, I find the concept intolerable and do not understand how people can live with it without either cauterising their feelings or cracking under the strain."[53] Yet he considers emotions unreliable and affords supreme authority to the Bible.[54] Stott supports annihilation, yet he cautions, "I do not dogmatise about the position to which I have come. I hold it tentatively... I believe that the ultimate annihilation of the wicked should at least be accepted as a legitimate, biblically founded alternative to their eternal conscious torment."[55] Philip Hughes published The True Image in 1989, which has been called "[o]ne of the most significant books" in the debate.[41] A portion deals with this issue in particular.[56]

John Wenham's 1974 book The Goodness of God contained a chapter that challenged the traditional church doctrine, and it was the first book from an evangelical publishing house to do so.[41][57] It was republished later as The Enigma of Evil.[58] He contributed a chapter on conditionalism in the 1992 book Universalism and the Doctrine of Hell.[59] He later published Facing Hell: An Autobiography 1913–1996, which explores the doctrine through an autobiographical approach.[60] His interest in the topic stemmed from the 1930s as a student at the University of Cambridge, where he was influenced by Basil Atkinson. (Wenham is best known for his The Elements of New Testament Greek, which has been a standard textbook for students). He wrote:

I feel that the time has come when I must declare my mind honestly. I believe that endless torment is a hideous and unscriptural doctrine which has been a terrible burden on the mind of the church for many centuries and a terrible blot on her presentation of the gospel. I should indeed be happy if, before I die, I could help in sweeping it away. Most of all I should rejoice to see a number of theologians ... joining ... in researching this great topic with all its ramifications.[61]

The Fire that Consumes was published in 1982 by Edward Fudge of the Churches of Christ.[62] It was described as "the best book" by Clark Pinnock, as of a decade later.[63] John Gerstner called it "the ablest critique of hell by a believer in the inspiration of the Bible."[64] Clark Pinnock of McMaster Divinity College has defended annihilation.[65] Earlier, Atkinson had self-published the book Life and Immortality.[66] Theologians from Cambridge have been influential in supporting the annihilationist position, particularly Atkinson.[67]

Annihilationism is also the belief of some liberal Christians within mainstream denominations.

There have been individual supporters earlier. Pentecostal healing evangelist William Branham promoted annihilationism in the last few years before his death in 1965.[68]

The Church of England's Doctrine Commission reported in February 1995 that Hell is not eternal torment. The report, entitled "The Mystery of Salvation" states, "Christians have professed appalling theologies which made God into a sadistic monster. ... Hell is not eternal torment, but it is the final and irrevocable choosing of that which is opposed to God so completely and so absolutely that the only end is total non-being."[69] The British Evangelical Alliance ACUTE report (published in 2000) states the doctrine is a "significant minority evangelical view" that has "grown within evangelicalism in recent years".[70] A 2011 study of British evangelicals showed 19% disagreed a little or a lot with eternal conscious torment, and 31% were unsure.[71]

Several evangelical reactions to annihilationism were published.[72] Another critique was by Paul Helm in 1989.[73] In 1990, J. I. Packer delivered several lectures supporting the traditional doctrine of eternal suffering. The reluctance of many evangelicals is illustrated by the fact that proponents of annihilationism have had trouble publishing their doctrines with evangelical publishing houses, with Wenham's 1973 book being the first.[41][50]

Some well respected authors have remained neutral. F. F. Bruce wrote, "annihilation is certainly an acceptable interpretation of the relevant New Testament passages ... For myself, I remain agnostic."[74] Comparatively, C. S. Lewis did not systematize his own beliefs.[75] He rejected traditional pictures of the "tortures" of hell, as in The Great Divorce where he pictured it as a drab "grey town". Yet in The Problem of Pain, "Lewis sounds much like an annihilationist."[76] He wrote:

But I notice that Our Lord, while stressing the terror of hell with unsparing severity usually emphasises the idea not of duration but of finality. Consignment to the destroying fire is usually treated as the end of the story—not as the beginning of a new story. That the lost soul is eternally fixed in its diabolical attitude we cannot doubt: but whether this eternal fixity implies endless duration—or duration at all—we cannot say.[77]

The Catechism of the Catholic Church (1992) describes Hell as "eternal death" (para 1861) and elsewhere states that "the chief punishment of hell is that of eternal separation from God" (para 1035). The question is what "eternal" means in this context. Thomas Aquinas, following Boethius, states that "eternity is the full, perfect and simultaneous possession of unending life" (Summa Theologica I, question 10), so apparently eternal separation from God is a "negative eternity", a complete and permanent separation from God. In the Collect (opening prayer) for the eighth Sunday after Pentecost in the Tridentine missal, we find the words "qui sine te esse non possumus", meaning "we who without Thee cannot be (or exist)".

With this one may compare the Anglican prayer-book, as the collect for the ninth Sunday after Trinity, but stating "we who cannot do anything that is good without Thee". In the modern ordinary form of the Mass of the Catholic Church, in the collect is included again, used on Thursday in the first week of Lent.[original research?][78]

Conditional immortality[edit]

The doctrine is often, although not always, bound up with the notion of "conditional immortality", a belief that the soul is not innately immortal. They are related yet distinct.[79] God, who alone is immortal, passes on the gift of immortality to the righteous, who will live forever in Heaven or on an idyllic Earth or World to Come, while the wicked will ultimately face a second death.[Rev 2:11][20:6][20:14][21:8]

Those who describe or believe in this doctrine may not use "annihilationist" to define the belief, and the terms "mortalist" and "conditionalist" are often used. Edward Fudge (1982)[80] uses "annihilationist" to refer to both the "mortalists" and "conditionalists" who believe in a universal resurrection, as well as those groups which hold that not all the wicked will rise to face the New Testament's "resurrection of the dead, both of the just and unjust".


Interpretation of scripture[edit]

Some annihilationists insist that words like "destroy, destruction, perish, death" must refer to "non-existence". While this interpretation of those terms does not imply the non-existence of Hades or the lake of fire, this interpretation does require that the suffering of the souls that inhabit it, is terminated by their reduction to non-existence. Adventists, and perhaps others, then understand the term "Hell" (Hades or lake of fire) to refer to the process of destruction, not a permanently existing process.[citation needed]

Some annihilationists understand there will be suffering in the death process, but ultimately the wages of sin is death, not eternal existence.[citation needed] Some affirm that Jesus taught limited conscious physical sufferings upon the guilty:

That servant who knows his master's will and does not get ready or does not do what his master wants will be beaten with many blows. But the one who does not know and does things deserving punishment will be beaten with few blows.

— Luke 12:47–48

Other annihilationists, who understand that a loving God would not gratuitously cause the dead to suffer, believe this verse refers to those living through the tribulation([2]).

The adjectives "many" and "few" in Luke 12 could not be used if eternal conscious torment was what Jesus was teaching. He would have used "heavier" and "lighter" if the duration of conscious sufferings were eternal because when the "few" stripes were over there could be no more suffering. By very definition "few" and "many" declare not unlimited (or eternal) sufferings.[citation needed]

Annihilationists declare eternal existence and life is a gift gotten only from believing the gospel; (John 3:16) Paul calls this gift (immortality) an integral part of the gospel message: "who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and 'immortality' to light through the gospel." (2 Timothy 1:10). If all souls are born immortal, then why is humanity encouraged to seek it by Paul? "To them who by patient continuance in well doing 'seek' for glory and honour and immortality, eternal life:" (Romans 2:7) And also, why would Jesus offer humanity an opportunity to "live forever", if all live forever? "If any man eat of this bread, he shall live forever:" (John 6:51).[citation needed]

Annihilationism is based on passages that speak of the unsaved as perishing (John 3:16) or being destroyed (Matthew 10:28). Annihilationists believe that verses speaking of the second death refer to ceasing to exist. Opponents of annihilationism argue that the second death is the spiritual death (separation from God) that occurs after physical death (separation of soul and body). Annihilationists are quick to point out that spiritual death happens the moment one sins and that it is illogical to believe further separation from God can take place. In addition, annihilationists claim that complete separation from God conflicts the doctrine of omnipresence in which God is present everywhere, including Hell. Some annihilationists accept the position that Hell is a separation from God by taking the position that God sustains the life of his creations: when separated from God, one simply ceases to exist.[citation needed]

Cited texts[edit]

  • James 4:12 "God alone, who gave the law, is the Judge. He alone has the power to save or to destroy."
  • Hebrews 10:39 " But we are not like those who turn away from God to their own destruction..."
  • Philippians 3:18-19 "For I have told you often before, and I say it again with tears in my eyes, that there are many whose conduct shows they are really enemies of the cross of Christ. 19 They are headed for destruction."
  • Psalm 92:7 "Though the wicked sprout like weeds and evildoers flourish they will be destroyed forever."
  • Psalm 37:20 "But the wicked will die... they will disappear like smoke."
  • Psalm 1:6: "... For the Lord watches over the path of the godly, but the path of the wicked leads to destruction."
  • Hebrews 10:26-27 NLT "There is only the terrible expectation of God's judgment and the raging fire that will consume his enemies."
  • 2 Peter 3:7 "...for the day of judgment, when ungodly people will be destroyed."
  • Romans 2:7 "He will give eternal life to those who keep on doing good, seeking after the glory and honor and immortality that God offers."
  • Genesis 3:19 " For you were made from dust, and to dust you will return."
  • Psalm 146:4 "When they breathe their last, they return to the earth, and all their plans die with them."
  • Ecclesiastes 9:5 "For the living know that they shall die: but the dead know not any thing, neither have they any more a reward; for the memory of them is forgotten."
  • Ezekiel 18:20 "The person who sins is the one who will die."
  • 2 Chronicles 28:3 " He burned incense in the Valley of the Son of Hinnom, and burned his children in the fire, according to the abominations of the nations whom the Lord had cast out before the children of Israel." (the Valley of Ben Hinnom is where the concept of Gehenna or Hell comes from)[81]
  • Jeremiah 19:5 "They have built pagan shrines to Baal, and there they burn their sons as sacrifices to Baal. I have never commanded such a horrible deed; it never even crossed my mind to command such a thing!" (the Valley of Ben Hinnom is where the concept of Gehenna or Hell comes from)[81]
  • Malachi 4:1, 4:3 "The day of judgment is coming, burning like a furnace. On that day the arrogant and the wicked will be burned up like straw. They will be consumed—roots, branches, and all... On the day when I act, you will tread upon the wicked as if they were dust under your feet," says the Lord of Heaven's Armies."
  • Matthew 10:28 "And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell."
  • John 3:16 "For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life."
  • John 6:51 "I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Anyone who eats this bread will live forever" (the offer to live forever only makes sense if it were possible to not live forever.)
  • 2 Thessalonians 1:9 "They will be punished with eternal destruction, forever separated from the Lord and from his glorious power."
  • Romans 6:23 "For the wages of sin is death."
  • 2 Peter 2:6 "and turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah into ashes condemned them with an overthrow, having made them an example unto those that should live ungodly"
  • Revelation 20:14-15 "And death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death, even the lake of fire. And if any was not found written in the book of life, he was cast into the lake of fire."

John Wenham, a prominent annihilationist, has classified the New Testament texts on the fate of the dead:[citation needed]

  • 10 texts (4%) "Gehenna"
  • 26 (10%) to "burning up"
  • 59 (22%) to "destruction, perdition, utter loss or ruin"
  • 20 (8%) to "separation from God"
  • 25 (10%) to "death in its finality" or "the second death"
  • 108 (41%) to "unforgiven sin", where the precise consequence is not stated
  • 15 (6%) to "anguish"

Wenham claims that just a single verse (Revelation 14:11) sounds like eternal torment to him. This is out of a total of 264 references.[82] Ralph Bowles argues the word order of the verse was chosen to fit a chiastic structure, and does not support eternal punishment.[83] Opponents of annihilationism, however, say that there are in fact many bible verses supporting their view.[84]

Opposing texts[edit]

Proponents of the traditional Christian doctrine of Hell, such as Millard Erickson,[85] identify the following biblical texts in support of their doctrine:

  • Psalm 52:5 "Surely God will bring you down to everlasting ruin: He will snatch you up and pluck you from your tent; he will uproot you from the land of the living."
  • Psalm 78:66 "He beat back his enemies; he put them to everlasting shame."
  • Isaiah 33:14 "The sinners in Zion are terrified; trembling grips the godless: 'Who of us can dwell with the consuming fire? Who of us can dwell with everlasting burning?'"
  • Isaiah 66:24 "And they will go out and look on the dead bodies of those who rebelled against me; the worms that eat them will not die, the fire that burns them will not be quenched, and they will be loathsome to all mankind."
  • Jeremiah 23:40 "I will bring on you everlasting disgrace—everlasting shame that will not be forgotten."
  • Jeremiah 25:9 "I will completely destroy them and make them an object of horror and scorn, and an everlasting ruin."
  • Daniel 12:2 "Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt."
  • Matthew 8:12 "... where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth." Beings that have been destroyed do not have teeth to gnash. Beings in the process of burning up in a fire, however, do.
  • Matthew 10:15 "... it will be more bearable for Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgment.."
  • Matthew 11:24 "... it will be more bearable for Sodom on the day of judgment than for you"
  • Matthew 18:8 "It is better for you to enter life maimed or crippled than to have two hands or two feet and be thrown into eternal fire."
  • Matthew 22:13 "... where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth." Same as Matt 8:12
  • Matthew 25:41 "Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.'"
  • Mark 9:46–48 "And if your eye causes you to stumble, pluck it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into hell, where 'the worms that eat them do not die, and the fire is not quenched.'"
  • Revelation 14:11 "And the smoke of their torment will rise for ever and ever. There will be no rest day or night for those who worship the beast and its image, or for anyone who receives the mark of its name."
  • Revelation 20:10 "And the devil, who deceived them, was thrown into the lake of burning sulfur, where the beast and the false prophet had been thrown. They will be tormented day and night for ever and ever."

These Christians point to biblical references to eternal punishment, as well as eternal elements of this punishment, such as the unquenchable fire, the everlasting shame, the "worm" that never dies, and the smoke that rises forever, as consistent with the traditional doctrine of eternal, conscious torment of the non-believers or sinners in Hell. An annihilationist response is that the eternal nature of the fire, worms, and disgrace do not imply eternal conscious torment, only that the punishment has eternal consequences.[86]

Christians who believe in universal reconciliation have also criticized annihilationism using Biblical references. Books of the Bible argued to possibly support the idea of full reconciliation include the First Epistle to the Corinthians. The sections of 1 Corinthians 15:22, "As all die in Adam, so all will be made alive in Christ", and 1 Corinthians 15:28, "God will be all in all", are cited.[87][88] Verses that seem to contradict the tradition of complete damnation and come up in arguments also include Lamentations 3:31–33 (NIV), "For no one is cast off by the Lord forever. Though he brings grief, he will show compassion, so great is his unfailing love",[89] and 1 Timothy 4:10 (NIV), "We have put our hope in the living God, who is the Savior of all people, and especially of those who believe."[90]


North American


Others have remained "agnostic", not taking a stand on the issue of hell. The two listed are also British:

  • F. F. Bruce, who described himself as "agnostic" on this issue
  • N. T. Wright rejects eternal torment, universalism, and apparently also annihilation; but believes those who reject God will become dehumanized, and no longer be in the image of God[93]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ Christian faith and life, Volumes 16–17, 1913 (Google eBook) p. 118
  2. ^ "In Defense of the Faith".
  3. ^ "Punishment of the Wicked in Light of the Cross". 6 June 2013.
  4. ^ "Signs of the Times".
  5. ^ "Seventh-day Adventists Believe... The Millenium and the End of Sin: 27-26.HTM".
  6. ^ David A. Reed, Answering Jehovah's Witnesses: Subject by Subject, electronic ed. (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1997).
  7. ^ a b L. E. Froom, The Condionalist Faith of our Fathers (Washington, DC: Review and Herald, 1965–1966). PART IV.
  8. ^ a b c d e Glenn Peoples. "History of Hell: Hell before Augustine".
  9. ^ Edwards, D. L. & Stott, J. Essentials : A Liberal–Evangelical Dialogue London : Hodder & Stoughton, 1988, pp. 313–320.
  10. ^ Gore, The Religion of the Church Oxford: Mowbray, 1916, pp. 91f.
  11. ^ Temple, W., Christus Veritas London: Macmillan, 1924, p. 209
  12. ^ Quick O.C., Doctrines of the Creed London: Nisbet, 1933, pp. 257f.
  13. ^ Simon U., The End is Not Yet Welwyn: Nisbet, 1964, pp. 206f.
  14. ^ Caird G. B., The Revelation of St John the Divine London: A. and C. Black., 1966, pp. 186f., 260
  15. ^ "England: Doctrine Commission Report on the Mystery of Salvation". Retrieved 2021-09-15.
  16. ^ Crockett, Four Views on Hell, p52–53 (he accepts the traditional view)[page needed]
  17. ^ Gregory A. Boyd and Paul R. Eddy, Across the Spectrum: Understanding Issues in Evangelical Theology, 2nd ed. (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2009), 286-287.
  18. ^ St. Ignatius. Epistle to the Magnesians. Chapter 10: "For were He to reward us according to our works, we should cease to be."
  19. ^ "Justin Martyr and the Immortality of the Soul".
  20. ^ St. Justin Martyr. Dialogue with Trypho. Chapter V: "some which have appeared worthy of God never die; but others are punished so long as God wills them to exist and to be punished." Chapter VI: "Now the soul partakes of life, since God wills it to live. Thus, then, it will not even partake [of life] when God does not will it to live. For to live is not its attribute, as it is God's; but as a man does not live always, and the soul is not for ever conjoined with the body, since, whenever this harmony must be broken up, the soul leaves the body, and the man exists no longer; even so, whenever the soul must cease to exist, the spirit of life is removed from it, and there is no more soul, but it goes back to the place from whence it was taken."
  21. ^ St. Irenaeus. Against Heresies: Book II, Chapter 34. 3. paragraph: "he who shall preserve the life bestowed upon him, and give thanks to Him who imparted it, shall receive also length of days for ever and ever. But he who shall reject it, and prove himself ungrateful to his Maker, inasmuch as he has been created, and has not recognised Him who bestowed [the gift upon him], deprives himself of [the privilege of] continuance for ever and ever. And, for this reason, the Lord declared to those who showed themselves ungrateful towards Him: If you have not been faithful in that which is little, who will give you that which is great? indicating that those who, in this brief temporal life, have shown themselves ungrateful to Him who bestowed it, shall justly not receive from Him length of days for ever and ever."
  22. ^ Arnobius, Against the Heathen: Book II, paragraph 61, last sentence.
  23. ^ Pinnock, "Fire then Nothing", p40
  24. ^ This comment was made in regard to Calvinism and their insistence that some were pre-destined to receive Christ, and others to be eternally punished. How much weight this statement of Wesley's should be placed on his idea of eternal condemnation remains debated. Actually, the terminology "being destroyed body and soul in hell" is from the lips of Jesus. Matthew 10:28 "And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell." SERMON 128, Preached at Bristol, in the year 1740 – "John Wesley, Sermon 128: FREE GRACE". Archived from the original on 2000-11-15. Retrieved 2014-11-26.
  25. ^ Wild, Robert (2015). A Catholic Reading Guide to Universalism. Wipf and Stock Publishers. ISBN 9781498223188.
  26. ^ von Balthasar, Hans Urs (1988). Dare We Hope: "that All Men be Saved"? ; With, A Short Discourse on Hell. Ignatius Press. ISBN 9780898702071.
  27. ^ Wild, Robert (2016). A Catholic Reading Guide to Conditional Immortality - The Third Alternative to Hell and Universalism. Wipf and Stock Publishers. ISBN 9781498297271.
  28. ^ Griffiths, Paul (2014). Decreation: The Last Things of All Creatures. Baylor University Press. ISBN 9781481302296.
  29. ^ United States Catholic Conference (2000). Catechism of the Catholic Church. Libreria Editrice Vaticana.
  30. ^ Towards the conversion of England Church of England Commission on evangelism – 1946 "... but gives the idea that 'everyone goes to heaven when he dies'. 198 During their earlier years children have to learn how to discriminate between the world of experience and the world of imagination."
  31. ^ An Inquiry; Are the Souls of the Wicked Immortal? In Three Letters, 1841. Six Sermons on the Inquiry: Is there Immortality in Sin and Suffering?, 1842; followed by several later versions; reprint Archived 2010-10-07 at the Wayback Machine
  32. ^ It had the motto "No immortality, or endless life except through Jesus Christ alone." Sources: Lest We Forget 1:4 (1991). "George Storrs: 1796–1879: A Biographical Sketch Archived 2010-10-09 at the Wayback Machine". Retrieved June 2010.
  33. ^ Letter from Fitch to Storrs, January 25, 1844
  34. ^ a b c d Gary Land, "Conditional Immortality" entry in Historical Dictionary of the Seventh-day Adventists. Scarecrow, 2005, p68–69
  35. ^ Roswell F. Cottrell, Review and Herald 1853 – the first clear statement. James White, "Destruction of the Wicked" series, Review and Herald 1854 [1]?. D. P. Hall, articles in 1854, republished as the book Man Not Immortal, 1854. J. N. Loughborough series; republished as Is the Soul Immortal?, 1856
  36. ^ D. M. Canright, History of the Doctrine of the Immortality of the Soul, 1871.[page needed]
  37. ^ Uriah Smith, Man's Nature and Destiny, 1884[page needed]
  38. ^ Le Roy Froom [and team], The Conditionalist Faith of our Fathers, 2 vols. Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald, 1965–66; online link. See also article series in the Review. One pair of reviews is Alfred-Félix Vaucher, "The History of Conditionalism". Andrews University Seminary Studies 4:2 (July 1966), p193–200 [Vol. II]. He considers it of "greatest use" to theologians and other readers, and presents only "few reservations" for such a "voluminous work". It is aimed at English readers, and thus focuses on Great Britain and America; Vaucher expounds on continental European supporters. He disagrees with the inclusion of the Waldenses as conditionalists, and other descriptions of their history. Vaucher, review in Andrews University Seminary Studies 5 (1967), p202–204 [Vol. I]. Vaucher praises Froom's "erudition"; a "monumental work" without "rival". He questions whether several individuals should be claimed for conditionalism, or that the Pharisees taught an immortal soul. He challenged the preaching tone of books, and related artwork
  39. ^ Clark Pinnock, "The Conditional View", p147 footnote 21; in William Crockett, ed., Four Views on Hell. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 1992
  40. ^ Vaucher, Alfred-Félix (1966). "The History of Conditionalism". Andrews University Seminary Studies. 4: 193–200. ISSN 0003-2980. Archived from the original on 2011-07-21. Retrieved 2010-06-23.
  41. ^ a b c d Brian P. Phillips, "Annihilation or endless torment?". Ministry 69:8 (August 1996), p15,17–18
  42. ^ Samuele Bacchiocchi, "Hell: Eternal Torment or Annihilation? Archived 2015-02-16 at the Wayback Machine" chapter 6 in Immortality Or Resurrection?. Biblical Perspectives, 1997; ISBN 1-930987-12-9, ISBN 978-1-930987-12-8[page needed]
  43. ^ "Fundamental Beliefs Archived 2006-03-10 at the Wayback Machine" (1980) webpage from the official church website. See "25. Second Coming of Christ", "26. Death and Resurrection", "27. Millennium and the End of Sin", and "28. New Earth". The earlier 1872 and 1931 statements also support conditionalism
  44. ^ 1 John 4:8; 1 John 4:16
  45. ^ The Handbook of Seventh-day Adventist Theology (2000) from the Commentary Reference Series[page needed]
  46. ^[full citation needed][permanent dead link]
  47. ^ White, Edward (1878). Life in Christ: A Study of the Scripture Doctrine On the Nature of Man, the Object of the Divine Incarnation, and the Conditions of Human Immortality. E. Stock. edward white life in christ.. White does posit an intermediate conscious state of the soul pace the standard conditional immortality belief that the dead are unconscious. Petavel, Emmanuel (1892). The Problem of Immortality. E. Stock. petavel immortality. Petavel, Emmanuel (1889). The Extinction of Evil: Three Theological Essays. C. H. Woodman. Emmanuel Pétavel-Olliff. Three early essays from one of the classical advocates of conditional immortality, a French author. See especially "Appendix 1: Answers to Objections Urged Against the Doctrine of the Gradual Extinction of Obdurate Sinners," beginning on page 147 of the book. Hudson, Charles Frederic (1857). Debt and Grace as Related to a Doctrine of the Future Life. See Hudson's book Christ Our Life below for an expanded biblical defense. Hudson, Charles Frederic (1860). Christ Our Life: The Scriptural Argument for Immortality Through Christ Alone. J.P. Jewett. charles frederic hudson debt.
  48. ^ Howell, Greg A. "CHARLES FOX PARHAM'S THEOLOGICAL UNDERBELLY: ANNIHILATIONISM, 8 TH -DAY CREATIONISM AND PRE-MILLENIAL ZIONISM". {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  49. ^ John Stott: A Global Ministry by Timothy Dudley-Smith, p353
  50. ^ a b J. I. Packer (Spring 1997). Evangelical Annihilationism in Review (PDF). Reformation & Revival. Vol. 6. pp. 37–51.
  51. ^ Essentials: A Liberal-Evangelical Dialogue by David L. Edwards with a response from John Stott. 1988, p314 [313–320]
  52. ^ In 1993. John Stott: A Global Ministry, 354
  53. ^ Essentials, p314
  54. ^ Essentials, p314–15
  55. ^ Essentials, p320
  56. ^ Philip Edgcumbe Hughes, The True Image: The Origin and Destiny of Man in Christ. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans; and Leicester, United Kingdom: Inter-Varsity Press, 1989, p398-407. As cited by Packer (and Pinnock)
  57. ^ John Wenham, The Goodness of God. London: InterVarsity Press, 1974
  58. ^ John Wenham, The Enigma of Evil, Britain: InterVarsity Press, 1985; a 2nd edition. A new edition with an extended chapter on the debate was published by Eagle books in 1994, from Guilford, England. As cited by Phillips
  59. ^ Wenham, "The Case for Conditional Immortality" in N. M. S. Cameron, ed., Universalism and the Doctrine of Hell. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1992. A report on the Fourth Edinburgh Conference on Christian Dogmatics
  60. ^ John Wenham, Facing Hell: An Autobiography 1913–1996. Paternoster Press: 1998
  61. ^ Wenham in Universalism and the Doctrine of Hell, p190,191; as quoted by Phillips
  62. ^ Edward W. Fudge, The Fire that Consumes: A Biblical and Historical Study of Final Punishment. Houston: Providential, 1982. Author's webpage Archived March 25, 2010, at the Wayback Machine. Fudge is a member of the Churches of Christ
  63. ^ Four Views on Hell, p137 footnote 5
  64. ^ As cited by Phillips
  65. ^ An early article was Pinnock, "Fire, then Nothing". Christianity Today (March 20, 1987), p40–41. He lists the evangelical authors who persuaded him as: Stott, Fudge, Hughes, and Green (as cited elsewhere in this article), and Stephen Travis, I Believe in the Second Coming of Christ. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1982, p196–199. Listed in Four Views on Hell, p137 footnote 5
  66. ^ Basil F. C. Atkinson, Life and Immortality: An Examination of the Nature and Meaning of Life and Death as They Are Revealed in the Scriptures. Taunton, England: printed by E. Goodman, 196–?. As cited by Phillips, and WorldCat
  67. ^ John Stott: A Global Ministry, p353
  68. ^ An Exposition of the Seven Church Ages (1965), 133–135; The Revelation of the Seven Seals (1967), 487
  69. ^ Church of England, "The Mystery of Salvation: The Doctrine Commission of the General Synod" (1995), p199; published by Church House Publishing, London, 1995; copyrighted by The Central Board of Finance of the Church of England, 1995, ISBN 0-7151-3778-6
  70. ^ Evangelical Alliance; Alliance Commission on Unity and Truth among Evangelicals (2000). "Conclusions and Recommendations". In Hilborn, David (ed.). The Nature of Hell. London: Paternoster Publishing. pp. 130–5. ISBN 978-0-9532992-2-5.
  71. ^ 21st Century Evangelicals: A snapshot of the beliefs and habits of evangelical Christians in the UK Archived 2011-01-16 at the Wayback Machine. Evangelical Alliance and Christian Research, 2011, p9
  72. ^ Eryl Davies, The Wrath of God, Evangelical Movement of Wales.W. G. T. Shedd, The Doctrine of Endless Punishment, was reissued by Banner of Truth Trust. As cited by Phillips
  73. ^ Paul Helm, The Last Things: Death, Judgment, Heaven and Hell. Banner of Truth, 1989
  74. ^ Letter from F. F. Bruce to John Stott in 1989, as quoted in John Stott: A Global Ministry, 354
  75. ^ According to F. F. Bruce, in his foreword to Edward Fudge, The Fire That Consumes, p.viii
  76. ^ Pinnock, "The Conditional View", in Crockett; p150 incl. footnote 28
  77. ^ C. S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain. London and Glasgow: Collins, 1940, p114–115; emphasis in original
  78. ^ Zühlsdorf, Fr. John. WDTPRS: Thursday in the 1st Week of Lent. Posted on 17 March 2011.
  79. ^ Essentials, p316
  80. ^ Edward Fudge, The Fire That Consumes: A Biblical and Historical Study of Final Punishment (Houston: Providential Press, 1982).
  81. ^ a b Crockett, William V. (1992). Four Views on Hell. Grand Rapids, Mich: Zondervan. ISBN 9780310533115.
  82. ^ chapter 6, "Hell: Not Endless" in The Enigma of Evil by John Wenham, p68–92; esp. 81–83. Quotations are Wenham's terms, not the Bible's necessarily. The first edition of the book was titled, The Goodness of God, but contained little or none of this discussion
  83. ^ Bowles, Ralph G. (2000). "Does Revelation 14:11 Teach Eternal Torment? Examining a Proof-text on Hell" (PDF). Evangelical Quarterly. 73 (1): 21–36. doi:10.1163/27725472-07301004. S2CID 252293448.
  84. ^ Ortlund, Gavin. "J. I. Packer on Why Annihilationism Is Wrong". The Gospel Coalition. Retrieved 2020-11-10.
  85. ^ Millard Erickson, Christian Theology, 2nd Ed. (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 1998), pp1242–1244.
  86. ^ Sotak, Max H. (1996). "Damning assumptions: What advocates of endless torment take for granted". ProQuest 304282290. {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  87. ^ Richard Bauckham, "Universalism: a historical survey", Themelios 4.2 (September 1978): 47–54.
  88. ^ Fisher, David A. (December 2011). "The Question of Universal Salvation: Will All Be Saved?" (PDF). The Maronite Voice, Volume VII, Issue No. XI. Archived from the original (PDF) on May 8, 2013. Retrieved July 2, 2014.
  89. ^ "Lamentations 3:31-33 NIV - - Bible Gateway".
  90. ^ "1 Timothy 4:10 NIV - - Bible Gateway".
  91. ^ Edwards, David Lawrence; Stott, John R. W. (1989). Evangelical Essentials: A Liberal-evangelical Dialogue. InterVarsity Press. ISBN 978-0-8308-1285-1. Retrieved 24 October 2022.
  92. ^ Michael Green, Evangelism Through the Local Church. London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1990, p69–70
  93. ^ N. T. Wright, Surprised by Hope, chapter 11 "Purgatory, Paradise, Hell"; preview Archived 2008-03-04 at the Wayback Machine; as cited elsewhere
  94. ^ Ortlund, Gavin. "J. I. Packer on Why Annihilationism Is Wrong". The Gospel Coalition. Retrieved 24 October 2022.

Further reading[edit]

Various doctrines about hell:

Advocates of Annihilationism:

Critics of Annihilationism:

External links[edit]

  • Exploring evangelical conditionalism
  • The Conditional Immortality Association of New Zealand Inc. is a non-profit organization established to promote a Biblical understanding of human nature, life, death and eternity as taught throughout Scripture.
  • Jewish not Greek Shows how Biblical hermeneutics proves "annihilationism" and not the Greek philosophical belief in innate immortality.