See the article to which I am responding here.
Annihilationism is the view that whoever and whatever cannot be redeemed by God is ultimately put out of existence.
In the very first sentence of this article, there are already philosophical issues. This statement presupposes that certain individuals cannot be redeemed by God. Many Christians will not see anything wrong with such a statement because that very thing must be presupposed in order to arrive at the prevalent doctrine of hell (ECT) or Annihilationism. This is precisely why many have not tested this presupposition.
Granted, it is not unthinkable to state that God cannot do some things because it is unanimously accepted by Christians that God does no wrong. However, it may be more appropriate to state that God will not do some things because they are against his nature. God will do no wrong.
So, lets put the premise stated above in this context. Can some people not be redeemed by God? Is he simply unable to redeem some people? Is it beyond his ability? If so, why is that? Is it against his nature to redeem some people? “Oh, but we have free will!” is the usual reaction to questions which point out the weak points of others’ presuppositions. Is God’s greater will for our lives limited by our will? To some extent, perhaps. But, since he sees the end from the beginning, would he will that which he knew he could not achieve?
Scripture assures us that he cares for our ultimate good. Perhaps this is why Scripture states that he works out evil for good. Seeing the end from the beginning, “In the beginning…” he declared creation good. No, he declared it “very good” with a full knowledge of what was to come. If he foreknew that a single person would be in torments forever and ever, could he truly state that Creation was “very good”? Annihilation may be one step up from the pits of hell, but it is not “very good.” Jesus is the Lamb of God who was slain from the foundation of the world so that it could be stated that he would reconcile all things in heaven and below.
If a Christian starts off with a faulty premise, the point of view which follows is bound to be faulty as well. ECT and CI both assume that there is some point in time that a person is deemed nonredeemable. (Seeing the end from the beginning, God knew who would be unredeemable long before the first beat of their hearts. Is it “very good” to will a single unredeemable soul into existence?) From the point of view of many Christians, it is the physical death of a person that deems them unredeemable. If this is true, what is it about the death that makes someone unredeemable? Has Jesus not defeated death? In one sense he has… Will he never defeat it to the full? If so, how is it that many believe so strongly that death will hold eternal power over the uncommitted? God either cannot save our souls after the death of our bodies or he will not save us hereafter. There is an all-too-obvious better option before us- God desires to save all; he is able to do so; therefore he will not fail in with this endeavor.
Throughout the Old Testament the Lord threatens the wicked with annihilation. To all who refused to comply with the covenant God had established, for example, the Lord vowed to “blot out their names from under heaven.”
Again, much is assumed. The natural reading of this passage suggests that this passage is referring to physical death. “The dead know nothing” passage is best interpreted likewise. The dead know nothing of earthly events. The only way we can honestly assume they were talking about annihilation is to assume they had a developed understanding of the concept. If I remember correctly, some idea of an underworld was much more prevalent during this age… Not to mention that CI fails to ask much about God’s nature beyond some end to suffering.
If I know anything about Christ, it is that he desires much more than an end to suffering for those who did not know God. Rather, he desires for humanity to have life and to have it abundantly. (Eternal life is to know God through Christ.) Divine Love wishes the best for the objects of his love; not the second best; with God, there is no “this is the best that you can get.” Is he who fathered creation unable to reconcile and restore his handiwork in accordance with God-given free will? If this is truly the desire of his heart, why would he limit his love, grace, and mercy to the span of our physical life?
At the end of the day, I reject CI for the same reason I reject ECT; it is not consistent with God’s grace, mercy, love, and justice to the full. In one way or another, each view places a bit more emphasis on at least one of those attributes.
Since CI admits that heaven could not be heaven when there is a torture pit in its basement, in closing, I would like to say that heaven could not be heaven without universal reconciliation. While I agree with its statement about ECT, it does not offer much of a solution. To annihilate someone I know and love would be to annihilate a part of myself… a part of my memory and maybe even a part of my very being. We are who we are because of the effect others have had on us. To truly annihilate someone would require God to wipe them out of our memories as well… and to do that would be to alter the very fiber of our being.
I can only hope that God is victorious to the full. Otherwise, we are in for a world of contradictions.
If you’d like to read more about the doctrine of Universal Reconciliation, I have written a book on this topic. Click here!