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 (1) has a high regard for God’s Word and (2) 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, prayer is important, 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 holds no water.
Adherents of never-ending roasting 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 (apart from Christ) 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 separate from Christ and eternal torture.
This article was edited from Chapter Six of HELL KNOW.
14 Reasons Why the Traditional View of Hell Is Untrue
Explain free will.
The LORD is Almighty and indeed reigns supreme (Psalm 103:19, 93:1, Isaiah 37:16, Exodus 19:5 & Zechariah 6:5), but within God’s Sovereignty he allows humans (and angels) freedom of moral will. As such, although God could force us to make righteous choices, he instead grants us moral volition. This means our Creator won’t make us to do what’s wise or right even though he has the power to do so.
Think about it in terms of something as mundane as choosing your clothes for the day. Does the LORD force you to wear a certain shirt or pair of pants? Obviously not, although He certainly could. In short, you choose what you’re going to wear. That’s freewill.
Here are a few examples of moral freewill from both the Old Testament and the New Testament:
The LORD encouraged the Hebrews to make the right choice, but didn’t force them to do so. The point is, they had a choice.
People choose to receive Christ because they believe; they’re not forced to do so. It’s freewill.
People obviously have the choice to discern and carry out God’s will or not. No one is forced to damnation and no one is forced to eternal life (2 Peter 3:9).
However, freewill does not mean unaccountable. God’s sovereignty can be observed in the fact that everyone will stand before the Almighty and give an account of their lives, which includes answering for their impenitent choices, thoughts & actions – believers at the Judgment Seat of Christ and the unsaved at the Great White Throne Judgment (1 Corinthians 4:5, Romans 14:10-12 & Ecclesiastes 12:13-14). If the LORD didn’t reign supreme then we wouldn’t have to answer to our Creator. Even archangels and satan have to give account to the Almighty (Job 1:6 & 2:1).
Why does the Creator allow freedom of moral will? Obviously because God desires people (and angels) to serve & love their Maker because they want to rather than because they’re programmed to do so, like robots.
Cults calling Jesus a liar!!
Jesus considers hell to be a place of judgment (John 5:24, 29), of fire (Matt. 5:22; 13:40, 42; 18:9; John 15:6) that was originally prepared for the devil and his angels (Matthew 25:41). That fire is eternal (Matt. 18:8; 25:41). Jesus references the wicked descending into Hades (Matt. 11:23; Luke 10:15) who are in flame (Luke 16:24). This punishment occurs at the end of the age (Matt. 13:40). They are thrown into this place bodily (Matt. 5:29-30; Mark 9:45, 47). He says that people are destroyed there (Matt. 10:28) and perish there (John 3:16). They will experience torment (Luke 16:23-24, 28), agony (Luke 16:24-25), with weeping and gnashing of teeth (Matt. 13:42, 50). It is eternal punishment (Matt. 25:46) in a fire that is unquenchable (Mark 9:43, 47-48). Finally, there are also sons of hell (Matt. 23:15). Hell is a sentence (Matt. 23:33) and God ought to be feared since he sends people there (Luke 12:5).
Thanks for the feedback.
We are not a “cult,” but rather an Evangelical ministry. Secondly, we proclaim that Jesus Christ is the Truth and therefore the furthest thing from a liar (John 14:6).
Your post leaves out some important details on the subject of human damnation, not to mention you curiously mix-up two separate topics: 1. the nature of Sheol/Hades and 2. the nature of the “second death” in Gehenna, the lake of Fire.
Sheol (or Hades in the Greek) refers to the intermediate state of unredeemed souls between physical death and resurrection on the Day of Judgment (Revelation 20:11-15). When the unsaved are raised from Sheol on Judgment Day they will be evaluated and, if their names are not found in the Book of Life, discarded in the lake of fire where Christ plainly said that they will be destroyed, both body and soul (Matthew 10:28).
The book of Hebrews describes this destruction in terms of “raging fire that will consume the enemies of God” (Hebrews 10:27). The Lord leaves no doubt about what this destruction involves in one of the very verses you reference: “AS the weeds are pulled up and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of the age” (Matthew 13:40). What happens to weeds when they’re cast into fire? They burn for a little bit and then “burn up“, just as John the Baptist declared (Luke 3:17). Was Christ giving a proper illustration or was he lying?
The lake of fire is eternal because it is “the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels” (Matthew 25:41). This eternal fire was prepared for the devil & demons because they possess intrinsic immortality and can never die, even in their fallen state (Luke 20:34-36). However human beings only possess immortality through Jesus Christ (2 Timothy 1:10 & Romans 2:7). This is why the most famous passage of Scripture says “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).
Please observe that there are two possible destinies for people: To either perish — soul and body — when they’re cast into the lake of fire (Matthew 10:28) or accept the gospel of Christ and receive eternal life.
All of this explains why God’s Word proclaims: “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23) and “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on them” (John 3:36).
For important details on the nature of the “second death” in the lake of fire start with this chapter of HELL KNOW.
For a rightly-divided study from Genesis to Revelation on the nature of Sheol (Hades) — which, again, is a separate topic from the “second death” in the lake of fire — start with this chapter of SHEOL KNOW.
You evidently take the Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus as a literal account. It’s not, it’s a symbolic tale with important morals. See this chapter of SHEOL KNOW for scriptural insights.
As Jesus said, “the truth will set you free” (John 8:31-32). Amen.
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.
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.