The title of this article says it all. I have heard many times, and perhaps you have too, that annihilationists fall to the side of annihilationism as an emotional response. In other words, they can’t imagine that a loving God would cause anyone to suffer torment for an eternity and so they read the Scriptures with that presupposition. The implication here is that annihilationism isn’t biblical. In fact they even quote John Stott to make this point. And this is how they quote him:
“I find the concept [of eternal conscious punishment in hell] intolerable and do not understand how people can live with it without either cauterising their feelings or cracking under the strain.”
Wrong. Well, sort of. Yes, John Stott said this. But this is only part of the quote. Here’s the rest:
“I find the concept [of eternal conscious punishment in hell] intolerable and do not understand how people can live with it without either cauterising their feelings or cracking under the strain. But our emotions are a fluctuating, unreliable guide to truth and must not be exalted to the place of supreme authority in determining it. As a committed Evangelical, my question must be — and is — not what does my heart tell me, but what does God’s word say?” And in order to answer this question, we need to survey the Biblical material afresh and to open our minds (not just our hearts) to the possibility that Scripture points in the direction of annihilationism, and that ‘eternal conscious torment’ is a tradition which has to yield to the supreme authority of Scripture.(John Stott, Essentials, 314-15)
And there it is. Quite possibly the shortest defense ever of John Stott. Hopefully, you will keep this in mind next time you hear someone, like Dr. Matt Waymeyer at the 2012 Shepherd’s Conference, say this to the public.