Recently, I’ve been asked to consider some arguments against the conferred immortality view. Specifically, arguments from the reformed (or Calvinist) camp. I had never really thought about a distinction between arguments coming from one side or another. Anyhow, trying to decide where exactly to begin, I had phoned a friend. He had directed me to a particular site where someone was condemning another friend of mine because of his adherence to conferred immortality. I was reminded of an instance on Facebook that occurred months ago when someone else was condemning this same friend for the same thing. This man had proudly proclaimed, “If I want to know about Annihilationism, I’ll ask a Seventh Day Adventist!” Needless to say, this argumentation is stupid. I could easily say, “If I want to know about the incarnation, I’ll ask a Roman Catholic!” Or, I could say, “If I want to know about conscious torment, I’ll ask a Mormon!” It’s just an ad hominem.
This condemnation toward others because of their eschatological view is particularly bothersome to me. See, condemning someone because they believe that hell entails the permanent end of a person is to add to the gospel. I’ll be the first one to cut out a precise gospel – one that properly defines the atonement, the incarnation, etc. and consequently name any other gospel a false one. But to add something like an eschatological position to the gospel means you have a false one. Don’t get me wrong, your eschatology could have damning implications – purgatory, for instance would pervert the sufficiency of Christ, making Him subservient to humanity’s efforts. This is a false gospel. I also can’t speak for every single person that identifies themself as an annihilationist.
One thing that has become so glaringly obvious from the moment I’ve started studying this topic is that the traditionalists are just plain ignorant of the annihilationist position. And I certainly was too. This undoubtedly has led to very poor arguments. It has also led folks to get so hot (no pun intended) over the issue that some throw a heretic blanket over anyone who calls themself an annihilationist. Well, that isn’t fair. And as Christians, we shouldn’t treat anyone like this. We certainly don’t like it when the media either portrays Christianity as Roman Catholic or the weirdness you see on TBN, painting with big fat brush strokes. People should be approached individually, and not just categorized and discarded.
Maybe I’m just too ignorant, but I don’t see how someone is not a brother who believes that Jesus Christ, God incarnate, born of a virgin, the second person of the triune nature of God, came to this earth to satisfy the wrath of God against His elect people, crucified for sin – cancelling their debt, resurrected 3 days later for their justification… and that the non-elect will be cast into a permanent destruction. Makes no sense. It’s similar to Westboro, I think, who thinks that even though only their congregation will be saved, you can still be part of their congregation, get hit by a car and go to hell. Makes no sense. The question is, “Is Christ your righteousness?” How do you know? Because you believe the gospel. That’s it. Not a gospel of “Jesus tries! Jesus fails!” But one of “Jesus saves! Jesus saves!” This nonsense of annihilationism + gospel seems like just another Christian cult.