Short Essay #4
Eschatology: The Destiny of the Unsaved
My friend Steve was very unsettled after reading the following quote from Clark Pinnock: "How can Christians possibly project a deity of such cruelty and vindictiveness whose ways include inflicting everlasting torture upon His creatures, however sinful they may have been? Surely a God who would do such a thing is more nearly like Satan than like God, at least by any ordinary moral standards, and by the gospel itself." I told Steve to calm down and allow me to explain why the premise of the quote was flawed.
I began by sharing with Steve 3 differing views on life after death for those who reject Jesus. The first view I discussed was annihilationalism. Annihilationism expresses the position that some, if not all, human souls will cease to exist after death. Next I explained that universalism asserts that all men will eventually be reconciled to God because of the belief the efficiency of the Atonement is not limited and therefore extends to all. Then I told Steve the Biblical view that I held to – eternal punishment. Eternal punishment is the doctrine that sin will be punished and the duration of the punishment will be forever.
Next, I briefly discussed hell with Steve. I told Steve no one really wants to talk about hell, but it exists as a definite part of the eternal plan of God. God created hell, a real place where real people will suffer real punishment for a real eternity. I informed Steve that the words sheol, hades, and gehenna are most commonly translated “hell” in the Bible. Sheol, I explained, is a Hebrew term used in the Old Testament to describe the after-death home of both the saved and unsaved. Hades is a virtually synonymous Greek term used in the New Testament. I informed Steve that gehenna was the strongest of the 3 words, though. Gehenna’s original reference was to a valley southwest of Jerusalem which was an early site of Baal...