My “Answer” to Annihilationism

Below you will find my response to a friendly comment from an annihilationist – who stated:

“Steve is right in presenting annihilationism and universalism as the two alternatives. Even though of the two annihilationism seems to have more biblical support. ECT is definitely false and I would even say impossible.”

My reply:
“Thanks for your comment! May I ask (in “good faith”):
why do you think that annihilationism has more biblical support?

As I understand it (and please correct me if I am wrong) the main argument for EA (eternal annihilation) is the finality of what could be called “Biblical destruction” (and the conditional mortality of the soul).

But there are many reasons that arise from Scripture that should (in my opinion, of course) make us see that “destruction” is often used in a way that is clearly not “the final word”, one might say, of the object of destruction (whether groups or individuals).

These things should be kept in mind:
While there IS a “finality” to what is destroyed (e.g. “the flesh”) – there is the possibility that there is also something that is redeemed and remains beyond that destruction. To me – that “something” IS the image of God indelibly stamped on the very being of every human (“lost” and “saved”) created (and that “image“ is of inestimable value to God – because it “looks like” THE “Image”: Jesus Christ!)
Is “destruction” the final word?

Remember this – the very word “lost” (as with the lost sheep, coin and prodigal son) comes from the exact same Greek word for “destruction” (ἀπόλλυμι -apollumi). I cannot explain this – but it is a fact of the Greek language – and should give us pause when trying to wrestle with the full implications of what “destruction” means.

Then also consider that, for instance, in the Old Testament entire people groups were “destroyed” – and yet there was the prophetic promise of their restoration – e.g. Jeremiah 48:42, 47 – and 49:37-39 – and Zephaniah 3:8-9.

Even Jesus himself said (of his body) “Destroy this temple – and in three days I will raise it up again” (John 2:19) In some ways this is the most critical counter argument to EA: for “all things” exist for, by and through Him – and there is a profound and mysterious connection between His “body” and the whole of the created world – such that what happens to Him is a foreshadowing and promise of what God purposes to do for the entirety of His creation – especially manikind. He is the firstborn of a “new creation” that comes out of the redemption of the “old” – “Behold – I am making ALL things new” (not all new things). In other words, Jesus IS “the final Word” (the Logos) – and not even “destruction” will prevent Him from doing the “impossible” – for “with God ALL things are possible” – including the restoration of what has been “destroyed”.

A few other examples speak of destruction as not the final end of what God purposes to do:
1 Peter 4 speaks (at least implicitly) of the destruction of the flesh – that the spirit might live before God (and it seems to me echoes back to the previous chapter and Christ’s descent into “hell” – as expressed in the ancient Apostles creed).
“For this is the reason the gospel was preached even to those who are now dead, so that they might be judged according to human standards in regard to the body, but live according to God in regard to the spirit.”
This is in agreement with Paul’s words:
“hand this man over to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved on the day of the Lord.” 1 Cor. 5:5
The point of these two verses is not their eschatological specifics – but just one thing: “destruction” is not “the end of the matter”.

On the other hand, what makes the hope of universal salvation more compelling to me is that the “last Adam” will do no less (in terms of salvation) than the first did in bringing condemnation, sin and death “to all people”. And what I think is perhaps most critical here is that – just as is the case of the first Adam’s destructive influence on the entire human race (“just as one trespass resulted in condemnation for all people”) – our “free will” was never consulted. So [by logically parallel comparison] with the “last Adam” our ultimate salvation is secured by His far greater influence and overflowing power – resulting in “justification and life for all people” such that, truly, “where sin increased, grace increased all the more”!
Is this not a far more compelling picture of the utter, unilateral victory and triumph of Jesus Christ? Is it not God’s ultimate purpose to bring about the restoration, recapitulation and reconciliation of “ALL things” (and not “some” – even “most” things?) For, “just as in Adam all die – so in Christ all will be made alive.”
With EA God loses some – indeed perhaps “many” or “most” – that He genuinely loved. Will He really give up when for Him all things are possible (even the salvation of all who bear His image – who are “His offspring”) – even doing the “impossible” of insuring the salvation of all without a violation of their “free will”?

God is Love – and Love endures all things – Love never fails… and the very gates of hell shall not prevail against this Love so supremely expressed on that first Easter morning – the beginning of a NEW Creation – recovering the entirety – the “ALL things” – of the “old”…

Yes – there is “conditional immortality” – BUT, there is NO condition on Christ the Victor!
By the power and supremacy of the “last” Adam, it will be finally said:

54 “when… this mortal has put on immortality,
then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written:
‘Death is swallowed up in VICTORY.’
55 ‘Where, O death, is your victory?’”

Richest Blessing On You and Yours, my friend!

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