Don’t only cults believe in annihilation and destruction in hell?

Cults Teach Everlasting Destruction—It Just Doesn’t Look Good

Some have opposed the view of literal everlasting destruction on the grounds that it is adhered to (in one form or another) by various cult/borderline cult groups like the Jehovah’s Witnesses, the Seventh-Day Adventists, Christadelphians and the Armstrongite sects.

NOTE 1: Although the Seventh-Day Adventists are an evangelical sect, many consider them a “borderline cult” because of their legalistic views regarding the Saturday Sabbath and Old Testament dietary laws, as well as their rigid allegiance to the prophetess Ellen White and their “all or nothing” mentality.

NOTE 2: Herbert W. Armstrong founded the Worldwide Church of God, a sect that was legalistic, exclusive and adhered to various strange doctrines (like Anglo-Israelism). In the mid-90’s, about ten years after Armstrong’s death, this group reformed to a more orthodox perspective, but there are numerous groups that splintered off—some adhering to Armstrong’s teachings (e.g. the Philadelphia Church of God) and some not (e.g. the United Church of God). The reformed group (the one that puts out The Plain Truth) decided not to officially adapt the eternal torture doctrine; they instead left the issue open, urging Christians to Biblically seek the matter out for themselves and draw their own conclusion.

Some of my Christian friends, who openly admit that literal everlasting destruction seems to be Biblical, have pointed out that this “just doesn’t look good.”

I would counter that the view of everlasting destruction is so blatantly obvious in Scripture that anyone who has a high regard for God’s Word and is not blinded by religious tradition is able to plainly see it. In other words, these groups adhere to everlasting destruction simply because they know how to read.

God is not prejudiced with knowledge and truth. Whoever humbly, honestly and diligently seeks knowledge and truth will find it, regardless of what sectarian tag they choose to go by. Such groups as these have been able to clearly see the biblical validity of literal everlasting destruction because they have decided to step outside the blinding influence of religious tradition. Once this is done, the truth is plain to see for anyone who is literate.

The bottom line is that it is not a fair or valid argument to oppose a view simply because it is adhered to by a group that one objects to. The groups mentioned above, and similar such sects, have a high regard for Scripture. Consequently, we all naturally agree with them on some things (e.g. adultery is a sin, etc.). Are we wrong on these issues simply because these objectionable groups adhere to them too? Should we reject what the Bible clearly teaches on these issues merely because these objectionable groups agree? Of course not. The argument simply holds no water.

Adherents of never-ending conscious torture obviously resort to such weak arguments because of the abysmal lack of biblical support for their position. Their goal is to divert attention from the scriptural facts. The argument is therefore nothing more than an avoidance tactic with the implication that people who believe in literal destruction are “guilty by association.” This is fine as long as we understand that guilt by association works both ways. We could ludicrously argue, for instance, that since adherents of eternal torture believe in the immortality of human souls, and pagan religions and philosophies believe the same thing, then supporters of eternal torture are pagans. Or we could argue that since false religions like Islam believe in eternal torture, then Christians who believe in eternal torture are false religionists as well. Need I go on?

Furthermore, we lose credibility with members of cultic organizations like the Jehovah’s Witnesses and Christadelphians because of our official adherence to such doctrines as the immortality of the soul and eternal torture. Since members of such groups usually know the Bible fairly well, it is impossible to ever convince them of these doctrines because they’re not taught in the Bible. These people naturally reason that if we are wrong on these important issues, we’re likely wrong on other doctrinal matters as well. We thus close the door on rescuing them from the cults (or borderline cults) they’re trapped in.

It goes without saying that members of cultic or borderline cultic organizations will be more open to authentic Christianity if we humbly admit that Christian tradition has grievously erred in regards to the immortality of the soul and eternal torture.

3 Comments

  1. Samual Yoder
    Feb 16, 2018

    All organized religion has some truth mixed with error. Christ is the head of the assembly so we follow him not man. Those who put their trust in man are fools.
    This thing with eternal torment is that it’s a man-made doctrine and can not be supported by scripture without taking scripture out of context or changing the definitions of the Greek and Hebrew words. Death does not really mean death, perish does not really mean perish, destroy does not really mean destroy, etc. Start down that road of redefining words and the words of scripture becomes worthless because you can make the meanings of words mean anything you want. Which is exactly what the majority of Clergy do: reassign new meaning to the words instead of keeping the meaning that the author of the text meant.

  2. Joshua David La Russa
    Oct 7, 2015

    This is from a converstion I had with a good friend of mine. He is JT and I am JL. Here goes:

    JT: Annilationism is a heresy.

    JL: No it isn’t. It has nothing to do with salvation, as in affecting it, and besides, I do not believe in the annihilation topic that teaches soul sleep. I just simply believe that perish means perish, death means death, destruction means destruction. I don’t equivocate the word of God. If he says that He can kill both BODY and SOUL in hell, then I belive it. I am not convinced of the eternal conscious torment theory, and not because I believe that God couldn’t do it, or that He is heartless, or as some even state, “that there is no way a good God could do that and therefore who could worship such a God…”. No sir, no matter what God says and does I will always follow. So I have not erroneously happened upon this doctrine out of sheer emotion, but of reason and the clear teaching of scripture. So, my version, or the biblical version of annihilationism, is not a excommunicating heretical offense.

    Isn’t burning in hell forever, eternal life? Yes. You are eternally alive. But the promise of eternal life is only for the saved, not the damned. God says that He can KILL both body and soul. I believe Him. If you never die, you live, and therefore are NOT killed, body OR soul. Everlasting destruction is the length of time that something or someone is, or had been, destroyed. Destruction. What does it mean? Or do we equivocate, based on tradition or bias?

    And I am not being rude or arrogant. You called the doctrine “heresy”, and basically strawmanned me, not knowing my position from my own studies, nor did you offer to hear my arguments, as a brother should. I believe that I have good arguments, even to come, that support my position, and if I am wrong, I will concede and beg God’s mercy. Either way, He is glorified, and that is my goal, whether I am proved wrong or right. It’s about truth, and not a competition to see who or how many have/has the most correct doctrines, not that I think that is your MO, I am just stating it for statement sake.

    JL (cont.) Everlasting destruction or everlasting conscious torment does not affect me in any way, for I am saved. I believe that when the living die, one goes to hell and one goes to Abrahams Bosom. In the end, death AND hell are both thrown into the lake.

    Lastly, the doctrines, both of them, affect not even the lost, for whether or not they live or die as enemies, they will suffer and KNOW that God is God.

    JL (cont.) So, therefore, it is NOT heresy. I have not separated, divided, nor have I caused anyone to be damned by this doctrine, because it matters not towards salvation or damnation, as far as destiny is concerned.

    *He hasn’t responded.

    • D Barry
      Oct 7, 2015

      Hi Josh,

      Sounds like you have a good understanding that if traditionalism is true – then the lost actually DO live forever and have eternal life.

      Actually the Biblical doctrine of Conditional Immortality is more about the nature of the unsaved soul. We do believe in hell (as many falsely accuse us of not believing), but the difference is – we believe the human unsaved soul is not immortal and can be destroyed by God.

      And the whole website is specifically out to prove that BIBLICALLY.

      Bless you,
      D.

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