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Discussion Forum : Scriptures and Doctrine : Question For Those Who Believe In Eternal Conscious Punishment

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Oracio
Member



Joined: 2007/6/26
Posts: 1994
Whittier CA USA

 Question For Those Who Believe In Eternal Conscious Punishment

Throughout my Christian walk I've always held firmly that the doctrine of eternal conscious punishment is an essential Christian belief, as essential as belief in the Trinity, the Deity of Christ, the virgin birth, the resurrection, etc.

However, recently I've become aware that there are and were certain highly esteemed leaders who do not or did not believe in eternal punishment. Some names are John Stott, FF Bruce, and David Servant.

Recently I was looking into C.S. Lewis' writings and found certain things I thought were of serious concern, one of which is his disbelief in eternal conscious punishment. He also held to inclusivism regarding other religions. But discussing C.S. Lewis and inclusivism would be another thread I suppose.

So my question basically is, do you believe the doctrine of eternal conscious punishment is essential to the Christian faith just like other essentials of the faith? And why or why not?

Sincerely,
Oracio

Edit: Later on in this thread I explain that upon further examination it is not that clear to me if C.S. Lewis believed in annihalationism. This is the link to that portion of this thread:
http://www.sermonindex.net/modules/newbb/viewtopic.php?mode=viewtopic&topic_id=52175&forum=36&start=130&viewmode=flat&order=0


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Oracio

 2014/4/21 16:10Profile
Oracio
Member



Joined: 2007/6/26
Posts: 1994
Whittier CA USA

 Re: Question For Those Who Believe In Eternal Conscious Punishment

And just to clarify, I'm not trying to get into a heated debate here on this topic. I'm asking that question because I've been struggling with it, as far as whether or not we should consider it an essential. So I was just curious to see what others here believe regarding it.

And if you believe it is or isn't essential but don't feel you have a detailed answer as to why you believe that, feel free to just state your belief without giving a detailed explanation. You can state something as simple as, "because I believe the Bible clearly teaches it", or, "because I don't believe it is that clear-cut in Scripture".


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Oracio

 2014/4/21 16:45Profile
flameoffire
Member



Joined: 2008/1/3
Posts: 189
Michigan

 Re: Question For Those Who Believe In Eternal Conscious Punishment

I do believe in Eternal Conscious Punishment, but "essential to the Christian faith" is a difficult label to parse. I definitely view Annihilationism as "within the pale" of Christianity and Evangelicalism. I suppose I would say "conscious punishment" is an essential, in other words they must believe in Hell. I wouldn't be a regular part of an Annihilationist organization or assembly without direct divine mandate.

I don't post here often, and am probably the odd man out.

(Lewis's inclusivism is something of a speculation from what I understand. What he wrote in Narnia SEEMS to teach inclusivism, but it is fiction.)


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Jonathan

 2014/4/21 17:03Profile
Heydave
Member



Joined: 2008/4/12
Posts: 1306
Hampshire, UK

Online!
 Re:

Depends on what you mean by essential. Essential to salvation? No.
Essentials for savation would be things like Jesus is the only way to eternal life, Accepting I am a sinner, etc. But you can have your theology wrong on eternal punishment and still be saved.

Everthing that the bible teaches as truth is 'essential' for us to agree with, because to do otherwise would be rejecting God's word. So the question should be, is this clearly taught in the bible. If so it is essential we believe it. I think it is and therefore it is essential for me to accept it and not try and reason it away.


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Dave

 2014/4/21 17:16Profile
narrowpath
Member



Joined: 2005/1/9
Posts: 1010
Germany NRW

 Re:

Jesus talked a lot about Hell.

Only a conscious act of wilful ignorance towards scripture can lead to the view that hell is not eternal.

If hell is not eternal, salvation is no longer of ultimate importance,
sin is not so serious anymore, God's love no longer boundless and his wrath no longer that dreadful, the cross and resurrection no longer the ultimate redemptive act towards man and the rest of creation, but a mere "highlight" in Jesus life.
Evangelisation and discipleship is no longer a great commission but a mere noble act.

As Jesus is the word of God, any attempted alteration to the word of God challenges in fact God's character.


 2014/4/21 17:24Profile
flameoffire
Member



Joined: 2008/1/3
Posts: 189
Michigan

 Re:

"Only a conscious act of willful ignorance towards scripture can lead to the view that hell is not eternal."

This would be an important point. Annihilationists believe "eternal destruction" and "eternal punishment" means a punishment that results in a destruction that can never be undone and lasts forever. One must make a judgment as to whether this interpretation is possible without "a conscious act of willful ignorance" or rebellion.


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Jonathan

 2014/4/21 17:33Profile
flameoffire
Member



Joined: 2008/1/3
Posts: 189
Michigan

 Re:

A couple more interesting points:

Annihilationists take the words "destruction" and "perish" literally. We believe they are used figuratively to describe eternal punishment, whereas Annihilationists believe Jesus was using the literal denotation of the word.

Annihilationists believe God is immortal and that no being can be immortal apart from Him. Union with God is, in fact, what gives us immortality and separation from God means losing one's immortality. Therefore someone who is not in union with God cannot exist forever.


It is vital to understand a belief and its interpretation of Scripture before denouncing it as heretical or unchristian.

Eternal relationship with God, who is love, is certainly an inconceivably awesome motivation for the cross, evangelism and discipleship. It would be evil to keep that from someone whether punishment was eternal or not.


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Jonathan

 2014/4/21 17:59Profile
ADisciple
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Joined: 2007/2/3
Posts: 835
Alberta, Canada

 Re:

Narrowpath said: "Only a conscious act of wilful ignorance towards scripture can lead to the view that hell is not eternal."

"And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death" (Rev. 20:14).


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Allan Halton

 2014/4/21 18:12Profile
flameoffire
Member



Joined: 2008/1/3
Posts: 189
Michigan

 Re:

Excellent point, ADisciple.


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Jonathan

 2014/4/21 18:14Profile
Sidewalk
Member



Joined: 2011/11/11
Posts: 702
San Diego

 Re: The eternal rule of 50%.

No man in his right mind puts 3 rounds into a six-shot revolver, spins it, and pulls the trigger pointing at his head.

Those who carefully parse scripture looking for reasons to declare that eternal punishment is really only temporary or non-existant have joined forces with a long line of men whose first love is their title of Pharisee.

Perhaps our limited understanding of the justice and ways of God have failed to see some simple truth that disarms the threat of eternal... how was that, "eternal conscious punishment?"

But at best you have only a 50% chance. It seems to me men angry at God for a thousand reasons always miss the simplest truth that God is bending over backwards to save them from a destination He knows they will not like, from which there is no escape.

Whatever Hell is, people put themselves there, and will undoubtably know too late that they have made a terrible decision. Their knees will bow to One Whose love they spurned and mocked. It will be to no avail.


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Tom Cameron

 2014/4/21 18:21Profile





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