Is Annihilation Biblical?

Is Annihilationism Biblical? by Ron Rhodes   The doctrine of annihilationism teaches that man was created immortal. But those who continue in sin and reject Christ are by a positive act of God deprived of the gift of immortality and are ultimately destroyed. Another view, called “conditional immortality,” argues that immortality is not a natural endowment of man, but is rather a gift of God in Christ only to those who believe. The person that does not accept Christ is ultimately annihilated and loses all consciousness. Some of the advocates of these doctrines teach a limited duration of conscious suffering for the wicked after death, after which time they are annihilated. There are many passages that refute annihilationism. For illustration purposes, we will select only one primary passage–Matthew 25:46: “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.” By no stretch of the imagination can the punishment spoken of in Matthew 25:46 be defined as a nonsuffering extinction of consciousness. Indeed, if actual suffering is lacking, then so is punishment. Let us be clear on this: punishment entails suffering. And suffering necessarily entails consciousness. Bible scholar John Gerstner tells us that “one can exist and not be punished; but no one can be punished and not exist. Annihilation means the obliteration of existence and anything that pertains to existence, such as

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A Friendly Response to Hank Hanegraaff’s Book, The Last Disciple

Introduction There are many reasons I am writing this congenial response to Hank’s recent views expressed in The Last Disciple. First of all, Hank and I are long time friends and have discussed this topic many times. Second, we both agree that the issue here is not one of orthodoxy vs. unorthodoxy since no great fundamental of the Faith is being denied on either side. We are both fighting in the same orthodox trench against the same unorthodox enemies of the Faith. Third, I have been a faithful defender of Hank against the many false charges leveled against him and have thereby earned the right to offer some friendly criticism of his view. Fourth, Hank knows I have a strong commitment to the premillennial futurist view opposed in The Last Disciple. Indeed, the imminent premillennial view has been a treasured part of Southern Evangelical Seminary’s doctrinal statement from the very beginning. As president, I have been asked by numerous constituents whether I agree with Hank’s position. In brief, my answer is that we agree on all the essentials of the Faith, but on the question of the last days Hank knows I do not agree with his opposition to the futurist view. Hence, as long-time friends, we just agree to disagree agreeably. It is in this spirit that I offer

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Is God a Moral Monster?

Are the charges made by the New Atheists a distorted representation of Old Testament ethics or is God a moral monster, as the New Atheists says He is? Introduction The God of the Bible is a good God who demonstrates His love for people by giving His Son for the salvation of those who believe (John 3:16). The New Atheists, however, think differently. They question God’s goodness by raising abundant complaints about Old Testament (OT) ethics. Richard Dawkins thinks that Yahweh is a moral monster: “What makes my jaw drop is that people today should base their lives on such an appalling role model as Yahweh — and even worse, that they should bossily try to force the same evil monster (whether fact or fiction) on the rest of us.” Yahweh’s commanding Abraham to sacrifice Isaac is both “disgraceful” and tantamount to “child abuse and bullying.” Yahweh breaks into a “monumental rage whenever his chosen people flirted with a rival god,” resembling “nothing so much as sexual jealousy of the worst kind.” Add to this the killing of the Canaanites — an “ethnic cleansing” in which “bloodthirsty massacres” were carried out with “xenophobic relish.” Joshua’s destruction of Jericho is “morally indistinguishable from Hitler’s invasion of Poland,” or Saddam Hussein’s massacres of the Kurds and the Marsh Arabs.” Beside all this,

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Four Views of Revelation

The Debate One of the most intriguing books of the Bible is the book of Revelation. The imagery of the cosmic battle in heaven and on earth makes it a fascinating book to study. However, much debate surrounds the proper interpretation of this apocalyptic work. Is this book a prophecy of future events yet to take place, or have the prophecies of this book been fulfilled? Two popular authors highlight the debate that continues in our present time. In his hit series Left Behind Tim LaHaye writes a fictional account based on his theological position that the events of Revelation will occur in the future. Popular radio talk show host Hank Hannegraaff responded by attacking the theology of LaHaye. In his book The Apocalypse Code, Hanagraaff asserts that the events of Revelation were largely fulfilled in 70 A. D. with the fall of the Jerusalem Temple. He criticizes theologians like LaHaye for taking a hyper-literal approach to Revelation.1 The debate has raised some confusion among Christians as to why there is such a debate and how we should interpret the book of Revelation. The issues at the core of the debate between Hanagraaff and LaHaye are not new. Throughout church history, there have been four different views regarding the book of Revelation: the idealist, preterist, historicist, and futurist view. The

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Critique of The Preterist View of the Olivet Discourse

Introduction Preterist comes from the two Latin words — praeter, beyond, and ire, to go, and therefore comes to look at a past action or state. Webster defines preterist as “n. 1. one whose chief interest and pleasure is in the past, 2. in theology, one who believes that the prophecies of the Apocalypse have already been fulfilled.” Of course preterism is not confined to the Apocalypse; it also places a major emphasis on the Olivet discourse, particularly as it is recorded in Matthew 24-25. Thomas Ice sees three categories of preterists — mild, moderate and extreme. He states, “Mild preterism, unlike the other two forms, does not see prophecy concluding with the destruction of Jerusalem in A. D. 70.” Essentially it sees the Apocalypse fulfilled in the downfall of Israel as a nation and the overthrow of pagan Rome. Extreme preterists “. . . view themselves as ‘consistent preterists.” This “consistency” leads to the conclusion that the second coming occurred in A. D. 70. Therefore there will be no bodily resurrection; believers have already been spiritually resurrected and at death will go on to live eternally with spiritual bodies. Moderate preterism believes large blocks of New Testament prophecy were fulfilled in the siege and destruction of Jerusalem in A. D. 70, but they also hold to a future literal

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The World of Angels and Demons

Angels: Servants of Fire Powerful beings invisible to our eyes inhabit our universe and have played an important role in the history of human civilization. The Bible identifies these beings as angels. Paul writes in Ephesians 6:12, “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” Paul reminds us that we need to be well aware of the forces seen and unseen that war against us each day. Angels are fascinating creatures who have peaked our curiosity for ages. Unfortunately, there are many myths surrounding these servants of God that have been further perpetuated in several Hollywood movies. This article will present the Biblical teaching on angels and dispel truth from myth. Creation of Angels Angels are part of God’s creation. Some cult groups teach that Jesus is an angel but Hebrews 1 states that He is clearly a superior being to the angels. Colossians 1:16-17 asserts that Jesus created all things including the angels. Furthermore, according to Genesis 1:31 God declared His creation to be good. All the angels were once holy and good. Before Satan’s rebellion, they enjoyed being in the presence of God and were free from the effects of sin (Matthew

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God Wins: A Critique of Love Wins by Rob Bell

A New Kind of “Christianity” Will all people, regardless of their belief, enter heaven? In a new book, Love Wins, mega church pastor Rob Bell presents his case for universal salvation. Bell states that a Christianity that teaches many will spend eternity in hell while some go to heaven is “misguided and toxic.”1 Bell asserts that the message Christians have preached for centuries is actually a harmful message. Bell argues that God loves everyone and desires all people to be saved. However, if the majority of people never come to faith in Christ and spend eternity in hell, God fails to accomplish His will. Since this is not an acceptable conclusion, the only logical conclusion left is that in the end, all will eventually receive His love and enter into heaven. Bell begins by bombarding the reader with hundreds of questions. The questions are meant to challenge and expose the alleged inconsistencies of traditional teachings and prepare the reader for his case for universal salvation. On page one he writes: Will only a few select people make it to heaven, and will billions and billions of people burn forever in hell? And if that’s the case, how do you know? How do you become one of the few? Is it what you believe, or what you say, or what you do, or

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Heaven: Our Eternal Home

The Facts on Heaven “Heaven: Where is it and how do we get there?” That is a question Barbara Walters asked on a December 18, 2005 ABC News special. Walters stated in the program, “This is one of the most important pieces I’ve ever done.”1 Indeed, what happens after death is one of the most important questions every person must answer. What we believe about the afterlife affects the way we live and shapes our values. Barbara Walter’s statement reveals the importance and value of this subject. She also mentioned some significant statistics. She stated, “Nine out of ten Americans believe in an afterlife, and nearly as many believed a heaven exists.” She also states, “Here we are at a time when we are so technically oriented, and we have a bigger and bigger spiritual need. The popularity of books like Albom’s The Five People You Meet in Heaven indicates many people are searching for the purpose of life.” Why the interest in heaven and life after death? The author of Ecclesiastes writes that God “… has also set eternity in the hearts of men…” Our creator has created us with a consciousness that there is more to understanding life than what is in this temporal world. The ultimate meaning of life must be understood in light of eternity, the full comprehension of which

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Hell: The Horrible Choice

The Importance of Understanding the Doctrine of Hell Why study the doctrine of hell? Most Christians try to avoid the subject. However, this is an important doctrine for Christians to understand especially as we share our faith in a postmodern culture that disdains this teaching. Dr. Peter Kreeft and Ron Tacelli write: Of all the doctrines in Christianity, hell is probably the most difficult to defend, the most burdensome to believe and the first to be abandoned. The critic’s case against it seems very strong, and the believer’s duty to believe it seems unbearable…. Heaven is far more important than hell, we know much more about it, and it is meant to occupy our mind much more centrally. But in a battle an army must rush to defend that part of the line which is most attacked or which seems the weakest. Though other doctrines are more important than this one, this one is not unimportant or dispensable.1 Several critics of Christianity who grew up in the church eventually abandoned the faith. Many of them cite the teaching on hell as a key factor. Atheist philosopher Bertrand Russell wrote in his work, Why I am not a Christian: I do not myself feel that any person who is really profoundly humane can believe in everlasting punishment. …. I must say

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Critique of the Shack

Brief Overview The Shack by William Young has become a New York Times bestseller. Eugene Peterson, Professor Emeritus of Spiritual Theology at Regent College, Vancouver, B.C. writes, “The book has the potential to do for our generation what John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress did for his. It’s that good.” Many Christians say that the book has blessed them. However, others have said that this book presents false doctrines that are heretical and dangerous. The diversity of comments and questions about the book created a need to research and present a Biblical critique of this work. William Young creatively writes a fictional story which seeks to answer the difficult question of why God allows evil. In this story the main character, Mackenzie Allen Philips, a father of five children, experiences the unthinkably painful tragedy of losing his youngest daughter to a violent murder at the hands of a serial killer. Through his painful ordeal he asks the questions, “How could God allow something like this to happen?” and “Where was God in all this?” One day he receives an invitation to meet God at the shack where his daughter was molested and killed. There he meets God the Father who appears as a large African American woman named Papa, God the Son who appears as a Middle Eastern Man in a leather

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