The Bible has a lot to say about the final end of both the redeemed and the lost. It’s often said that the Bible is extremely clear on eternal conscious punishment–as though this is just read of the pages of Scripture and delivered as a whole doctrine to us. I have taken the liberty here of looking at a number of well-loved and well-known passages (and some lesser loved and known) through the lens of eternal conscious punishment, editing them as needed to actually support the allegedly biblical doctrine of eternal conscious punishment. Edits to the verses are in italics, to make it clear where editing has occurred.
For God so loved the world, that he gave his one and only son, that whoever believed in him should not have eternal life[the bad kind], but have eternal life [good kind].
For the wages of sin is eternal life [bad kind], but the gift of God is eternal life.
Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot make eternal the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can make eternal both soul and body in hell.
The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what they had done. Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is eternal life.
The wicked go down to eternal life, all the nations that forget God.
Matthew 25:46 (The Sheep and the Goats)
“Then they will go away to eternal life, but the righteous to eternal life.”
2 Thessalonians 1:9
They will be punished with everlasting life and shut out from the presence of the LORD and from the glory of his might…
In a similar way, Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding towns gave themselves up to sexual immorality and perversion. They still stand today because they were not destroyed and serve as an example of those who suffer the punishment of eternal fire.
Refrain from anger and turn from wrath;
do not fret—it leads only to evil.
For those who are evil will live forever,
but those who hope in the Lord will inherit the land.
A little while, and the wicked will be still alive;
though you look for them, they will be found alive but suffering.
But the meek will inherit the land
and enjoy peace and prosperity.
Eternal conscious punishment is not a “literal” reading of Scripture, nor is it simply read off the pages of scripture. To affirm it, one has to effectively redefine the meaning of “death” and other words constantly throughout the Bible. Generally, this requires the one teaching eternal conscious punishment to turn the word “death” into “eternal life,” for they believe that the lost are given eternal life, just a kind that involves punishment.
I have more reading for you, dear readers, gathered from around the internet. This week’s topics are the doctrine of annihilationism (conditional immortality), Christian parenting, creationism, complementarian women, and the question of rape and abortion. Let me know what you think of the posts, and be sure to let the authors know as well. This is a snowy owl edition because it snowed here yesterday.
Death After Death– The concept of annihilationism, or, as its proponents prefer to call it: conditional immortality, is gaining more traction. It ought not be dismissed simply because it feels new or different. Here is a thoughtful post engaging with conditional immortality from a perspective of disagreement. What do you think about this issue?
Can We Tolerate Creationists?– Is it permissible to give a creationist a job anywhere? This might sound hyperbolic, but this post investigates a controversy that has surrounded the hiring of a young earth creationist for a BBC television spot. It ends with an insightful comment from the National Secular Society.
10 Ways to Get Your Kids More Interested in Their Faith– Developing faith is an important aspect of Christian parenting. Here’s a post that discusses how we might get kids interested in their faith.
Remember the Complementarian Woman– A call to egalitarians to not portray complementarian women in a way that isn’t true to their experiences and beliefs.
Responding to the Question of Rape with Wisdom and Compassion– “we should clearly express the genuine compassion we have for survivors of rape” [emphasis in the article]. These are words that pro-life people need to read and understand. Turning to an argument immediately is not always the best choice. If we don’t genuinely show compassion and care for those involved in making these horrific choices, then how can we truly call ourselves “pro-life”?