My earlier post about Annihilationism and Universalism apparently ruffled some feathers. The discussion thread was spammed by responses from an annihilationist group that was begging responses to their arguments; since it was the weekend and I’m the sole moderator on this site, (I have help with content, but at present I am the only author and admin) I was unable to answer all of the posts (at one point there were 12 comments from these guys awaiting moderation, most over 1000 words and all of them begging responses to multiple objections).
Because I wasn’t responding fast enough for them (and their real intent wasn’t actually discussion, but rather to direct people to their website, where they hoped to promote this heresy), one of the annihilationists who had been responded to decided it would be a good idea to do an end-run around me by copying his comrades’ responses into his own.
As a result, I was forced to lock the thread and delete the discussion. I don’t have a problem with discussion, but there is a certain amount of etiquette that one can expect in a real debate, even on the internet.
As a matter of courtesy, and because I believe that this is an important issue that should be addressed, I have taken the time to respond to the most pressing of the annihilationist arguments; the responses will be posted as individual posts to each of the people involved.
These threads will not be open for discussion, as a result of what happened with the Annihilationism and Universalism article.
Tom McLean- “If you were to insert the word separation or transition into the vast majority of the places the word death is found in the bible, they simply would not make sense. The word “separation” is found in the bible 26 times and it has nothing to do with death. The word transitioned is not found in the bible.”
If you were to exchange the words in the English translation, this would most often be true. However, we aren’t talking about the English translation’s meaning; we are talking about what the text means in its original form. What might be nonsensical in English could very well have made perfect sense when used in the original language. One of the reasons that various translations disagree in the particular use of certain words and phrases is that the people doing the translation are trying to find what their idea of the best way to phrase the passage would be. For instance, the word “dog” may mean an animal, “to relentlessly pursue,” or “an unscrupulous or immoral man.” It all depends on the context; however, the same word, “dog,” is likely to have completely different connotations in Russian, aside from the original meaning of a four-legged animal of the canine species.
Attempting to force modern English context onto ancient Hebrew or Greek words in order to make them fit a desired meaning is just poor exegesis.
T.M.- “…in the New Testament the word death is found 124 times and again I found nowhere that it was called “separation”. The majority of the time the Greek word that is used is as follows:
From G2348; (properly an adjective used as a noun) death (literally or figuratively): – X deadly, (be . . .) death.
“First mention is important in the Bible;
Gen 21:16; Here we see the first mention in the Bible of the word death and following is the meaning in Hebrew –
From H4191; death (natural or violent); concretely the dead, their place or state (Hades); figuratively pestilence, ruin: – (be) dead ([-ly]), death, die (-d)
“As one can see there is no mention of the word separation in the Bible’s first mention.
Additionally, the majority of the time when death is used in the Old Testament it uses this word “maw’-veth”
Actually, the first use of the word “death” (mahwet) is in Genesis 2:17, in which God warns Adam not to eat from the Tree of Life; in this passage “death” is almost universally accepted to mean “spiritual death, separation from God,” as well as its standard meaning of man’s natural death on earth. In this case, “first use” actually illustrates that the word is used in both respects. Dependence on “first use” as an argument here fails to support the annihilationist argument.
T.M.- “Sometimes the word for death in Hebrew is
A primitive root; to die (literally or figuratively); causatively to kill: – X at all, X crying, (be) dead (body, man, one), (put to, worthy of) death, destroy (-er), (cause to, be like to, must) die, kill, necro [-mancer], X must needs, slay, X surely, X very suddenly, X in [no] wise. An example verse for this is Ex 21:12 Again we see no word “separation”.
This is a red herring. The use of the word in this context is clearly in reference to the physical, temporal death of humans in this life—the murder victim (murdered) and the murderer (executed by other men).
T.M.- “Maybe I was not clear when I listed Rom 2:7 etc, but five times God used the word “immortality” in scripture.”
Three of those five times in the New Testament (1 Timothy 1:17; 2 Timothy 1:10 and Romans 2:7), the word “aphthartos/aphthasia” is rendered in the KJV as “immortal;” in more modern translations it has been correctly rendered “incorruptible.”
T.M.- “I simply wanted to show that when God uses the word immortality in his holy word he never says the unsaved receive immortality… you will see I referenced all of chap 15, That is because the context of I Cor 15 clearly shows God is talking to Christians, and the context I Cor 15 in no way teaches that all men will receive immortality.”
This argument is specious; in the same way that annihilationists would claim that this chapter provides no evidence of immortality for all of the risen dead, there is absolutely nothing in the chapter that indicates that the risen wicked are annihilated—it’s an argument from silence. Taken as a whole, the text (in context with both Paul’s discussion, and the rest of Scripture) supports the orthodox view of the wicked being raised to immortal, ever-lasting shame and contempt.
T.M.- “Destroy – Strongs – apollumi
From G575 and the base of G3639; to destroy fully (reflexively to perish, or lose), literally or figuratively: – destroy, die, lose, mar, perish. The complete Word Study Dictionary – Spiros Zodhiates Th.D.
Spoken of eternal death, i.e., future punishment, exclusion from the Messiah’s kingdom. In this sense it has the same meaning as apothnesko (599), to die (Matt 10:28)
Young’s Analytical Concordance to the Bible – Matt 10:28 Destroy = to lose off or away, destroy
“Here we have 3 different Greek renderings, and in addition to Vine’s we have 4 that do not completely agree on everything. The point is, as it is with various Bible translations and Bible scholars so it is with the Greek, there are various translations and various scholars and they don’t always agree.”
However, all 4 also have points of agreement, which annihilationists would appear to have ignored.
T.M.- “Vine has one view, but there are also Greek scholars who support the Conditionalist view.”
As well as secular Greek scholars that define the word as: “leave behind, abandon; leave over; lose a possession; kill (a man); destroy; be killed (of an animal); perish; ruin, undo a person” (Enoch, “Lexicon to Herodotus;” emphasis mine). Here you can see that “separation” is in fact a very plausible meaning to extract from the word.
T.M- “The context of Matthew 10:28 indicates a soul can be killed by God and destroyed in hell.”
However, in the original text, Christ uses two different words for “death” within the same verse: “And do not fear those who kill (apokteino) the body, but are unable to kill (apokteino) the soul; but rather fear Him who has the power to destroy (apollumi) both body and soul in hell.” It doesn’t stand that Christ would use the separate words—each of which carries its own connotations—unless He meant to make the distinction.
T.M.- “See also Ezek 18:4 & 20,”
As I pointed out in the “first use” argument: either meaning of the word “death” (physical or spiritual [in the sense of separation from God]) can be applied.
T.M.- “…James 5:20″
And again, the implied meaning is open to interpretation, although on balance the similarities in various translations (in regards to their points of agreement, and the overall context of Scripture) lean heavily in favor of the traditionalist view.
Of course, if one is unwilling to deal with the semantics of arguing over which translation should be more authoritative, we can always go back to the original church fathers; until Arnobius, 200 years after the Crucifixion, they were in complete agreement with an eternal hell.
T.M.- “Souls are not inherently immortal and not all souls live forever, some die the 2nd death. Rom 6:23”
Again, this doesn’t support the annihilationist claims based on both the translations and the “first use” argument, and the nearly universal recognition that the “second death” refers to eternal separation of the soul from God. “Separation” requires “being;” annihilation posits that souls are not separated, but cease to be. Something cannot be separated from nothing.
T.M- “…Rev 21:8”
This verse fails the annihilationist test because it specifically references the lake of fire, in which the condemned will be tormented “forever and ever.”
T.M.- “Yes it [the crucifixion of Christ] was horrid and terrible, beatings, whippings, humiliation, and excruciating crucifixion. The worst death one could die, however the actual duration of his suffering was but a very short time compared to say – eternity.”
This is a category mistake. It isn’t the duration of suffering; it’s the quality of the person doing the suffering. In the Old Testament, we see God refuse the sacrifices of the Israelites because they have stopped offering Him the best of what they have– lame lambs, sickly oxen, etc. (Mal. 1:6-14). Jesus, being perfect in every respect, shed His blood for the redemption of all sinners. It is an individual decision to accept or reject this gift of forgiveness, but it is through this sacrifice that Death and Sin have both been defeated; and both will be cast into the lake of fire before the White Throne judgment. This being the case, the annihilationist argument that “death” refers to “annihilation” at the Second Ressurrection ignores the fact that there will be no more physical death— it will be consigned to the lake of fire, where it no longer has any power over men.
This argument also misses the point of the sacrifice by substituting the duration of the suffering for its magnitude. Jesus bore the penalty for every sin ever committed and ever to be committed until the end of the current earth in one single act, and was forsaken by the Father (“ELI, ELI, LAMA SABACHTHANI?”) in retributive justice, which Jesus bore in Himself all at once as a substitution on our behalf. It was through the quality of the sacrifice and the magnitude of the penalty borne that we are saved. Trying to tie salvation and punishment to the duration of the sacrificial act is degrading to the sacrifice made and denigrates Christ’s love and actions for us.