Monday, June 20, 2005

Annihilationism

Another astonishing theological (not!) morsel from (some of) our more conservative sistern and brethren in Christ:

A couple days ago I was searching for something theological and though I can't recall my quest, I'll never forget one of the pages it turned up, but first I need to ask where have I been? I've been concerned about Purpose-Drivenism and Dispensationalism and Consumerism in the mainline churches?!

Again today I searched for the single word, Annihilationism, and got 72 hits. Here's a passage from an article I found—please note how my denying Annihilationism puts me in historically illustrious company:

Flaws in the Arguments for Annihilationism
by Stephen E. Alexander no longer is online where I originally found it

11 July 2004
Beginning in the 4th century, some Christian theologians argued that when non-believers die, their souls disappear into nothingness. Several prominent evangelicals today subscribe to this doctrine of annihilationism, and their numbers are growing. Why is this doctrine so flawed, and why should we be concerned about its prevalence?

The origins of the doctrine known as "annihilationism" go all the way back to the 4th-century when a man named Arnobius first propagated a doctrine that unbelievers passed into "nonexistence" either at death or at the time of resurrection. ...It was condemned as heresy at the Second Council of Constantinople in 553 A.D. The doctrine did not reappear again in church history until at least the 12th century. Throughout church history, leading church fathers have taken a strong stand against annihilationism ... A few of the more famous figures of Christ's church who have given whole-hearted support to the traditional doctrine include: Tertullian, Augustine, Thomas Aquinas, Martin Luther, John Calvin, Jonathan Edwards, John Wesley, George Whitefield, Charles Haddon Spurgeon, and Dwight L. Moody. The Westminster Confession of Faith was very clear in its affirming of hell as eternal punishment.

This past generation has experienced the movement of men believed to be stalwart evangelicals reaching to defend annihilationism. The well-known ones include John Stott, Clark Pinnock, John Wenham, Philip E. Hughes, Steven Travis, and their numbers (those advocating "annihilationism") appear to be growing. Why should this be so, and what is the Biblical "weight" to be given their arguments? Can it be possible that evangelicalism is being attacked from within by a low view of God and His inspired, infallible, and inerrant word?
No further comment on the afore-cited tidbit; later today I'll probably post something of my own.

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