Jesus Christ Is Lord

That every knee should bow and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father!

Posts Tagged ‘John Stott’

The Substitutionary Atonement Disproves Annihilationism

Posted by Job on August 22, 2009

Concerning the final fate of those who die unreconciled to Jesus Christ and as a result whose names are not written in the Lamb’s book of life and suffer judgment, punishment, the lake of fire, the second death, the historic position based on the plain readings of scripture has been burning eternally in the lake of fire. However, this doctrine has been under attack at least since the time of Origen, who proposed that punishment in the lake of fire would be temporary and rehabilitative, and after the period of rehabilitation everyone – humans and demons – will be forgiven. A more recent doctrinal trend rejects Origen’s universalism (and his rehabilitative punishment idea, in which the roots of the Roman Catholic purgatory doctrine can be found) in favor of annhiliationaism, the idea that rather than burning for an eternity, human souls will simply be consumed.

Now of course, this ignores that the Bible explicitly states that both wicked and saints will be resurrected from the dead, and at that time both wicked and saints will receive bodies that are eternal and indestructible, and that their torment would last forever. However, the annihilationist view rejects those in favor of various scriptures cited out of context to support the idea that the wicked will simply be instantly consumed, and that the references to eternal punishment mean that the wicked will cease to exist forever.

First, we have to consider the motivations for adopting this doctrine. Its adherents plainly state that it is because an eternity in the lake of fire is too cruel a punishment and therefore unjustifiable. Of course, this is a direct attack against and outright denial of God’s sovereignty, not far removed from the universalist position that a loving God would not condemn anyone. Further, this doctrine appears to be gaining traction when those consider the plight of people who were never exposed to the gospel. Free will-Wesleyan-Arminian-”Biblicist” annihilationists take the position that God cannot impose so severe a punishment on those who by their time and place of birth never had the opportunity to be saved through the exercise of their free will decision for Jesus Christ. (The extreme position of this view is taken by Clark Pinnock, who states that it is unfair for God to so severely punish even those who use their free moral agency to REJECT Jesus Christ, because that would place God at fault for giving us free will and the opportunity to reject Him in the first place.)

Reformed-Calvinist annihilationists have problems with the opposite end of the soteriology question: they cannot reconcile eternal punishment with a God who elects and predestines people to avoid it. Again, God’s sovereignty is in view here. Stating that God does not have the right to deal with His creation in any way that He chooses so long as His dealings are consistent with His nature is tantamount to suggesting that God had no right to undertake and accomplish creation in the first place. Amazingly, both the free will and predestinarian annihilationists have no problem with God punishing demons, evil spirits, forever. If it the issue truly is how a loving God is obligated to behave towards His creation, fallen angels should be the first issue of concern, as no redemption plan exists for them. Instead, it is only God’s prerogative with humans that drives doctrines that attack His sovereignty, which shows that humanism – a manifestation of the pride of life – is what is truly behind them, not the honest pursuit of theology, doctrines or theodicy. So, these folks start with the perspective of humanistic philosophy, wrap it in scriptures, and come up with a pious and spiritual sounding but ultimately false theology

However, it is rather simple to oppose this humanistic philosophy masquerading as theology with, well, theistic philosophy. Where humanistic philosophy that leads to the position adopted by the Jehovah’s Witnesses, Seventh Day Adventists, and the Church of England (annihilationism), starting with the Person of Jesus Christ leads to a philosophically different viewpoint. Go right to the cross, and consider the doctrine of substitutionary atonement (which incidentally Roman Catholics reject). Substitutionary atonement is the Biblical truth that Jesus Christ died on the cross in our place, Himself taking the punishment of death for sin that God’s righteousness demands (Ezekiel 18) in our stead.

This is the rub: Jesus Christ was and is no mere man. Instead, He is the Word of God, the eternal second Person of the Holy Trinity! Meanwhile, humans are not eternal. We will exist forever FORWARD into eternity either in heaven or the lake of fire. But as creatures (created beings) we have no part in eternity PAST. Instead, we have a definite, finite point of origin. So, when Jesus Christ took the sins of the elect, the church on the cross and died, it was the ETERNAL Son of God dying. Metaphysically, cosmically, the punishment was ETERNAL, and Jesus Christ took an ETERNAL punishment in our place because God is ETERNAL.

And this is fitting the nature of sin. Sin is a crime against a holy ETERNAL God that has ETERNAL consequences. Paying those eternal consequences for a crime that offends an eternal God requires an eternal punishment, an eternal payment. Being eternal, Jesus Christ satisfied the consequences of this eternal punishment with His own death. So, the eternal punishment of sins, to be meted out to those who will exist forever, is paid. But for those who do not participate in the atoning redemption given by the eternal Son of God’s work still have to pay themselves.

Suggesting otherwise ignores the eternal consequences of sin and its affront to the holiness of God. So, in addition to being an attack against God’s sovereignty, annihilationism denies His holiness.

Posted in Christianity, Jesus Christ | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Annihilationism And The Christian Metaphysic

Posted by Job on February 18, 2008

Not long after I began this site, a fellow objected to my brazen emphasis on two foundational Christian doctrines: the Holy Trinity and eternal suffering in the lake of fire for sinners that die without accepting the resurrection and Lordship of Jesus Christ. The man dismissed by being “hatefully intolerant and unnecessarily divisive” on the Trinity issue, and further insisted that the doctrine of eternal suffering in the lake of fire was of pagan in origin and made God appear both overly cruel to sinners and choosing to allow evil to exist for eternity rather than causing sinners and fallen angels to simply be consumed and cease to exist, hence annihiliationism.

Now my first impulse was to simply dismiss this fellow, sincere as he was, as someone with marginal views. Now I see how wrong I am. As for modalism, while the number of those that OFFICIALLY align themselves with this heretical doctrine through membership of varied oneness pentecostal denominations is small, 17 million, they exert influence on the rest of Christianity in a manner far greater than their numbers. Apart from them is also the increasing number of liberal and emergent Christians that really see no need for particulars concerning the Godhead because their doctrines do not require Trinity or for that matter even a truly divine Jesus Christ to begin with, for they have centered their beliefs around the false god of manhood anyway.

But it has recently come to my attention that annihiliationism is also gaining traction in evangelical circles, and among its adherents is evangelical giant John Stott. And just like evangelical Christianity did absolutely nothing regarding T. D. Jakes or the many other oneness preachers, it has refused to rise up and discredit Stott and the annihilationist preachers. Why? Because modern evangelicalism hates Christian fundamentalism worse than Christian heresy. Now is it possible to hold certain heretical or blasphemous views without being a heretic on his way to the lake of fire? I myself believe that to be the case, primarily because of my notion there are degrees of seriousness of doctrinal deviation, and also the hearer is only responsible for the portion of sound doctrine that he has been exposed to. But whatever the implications that a particular doctrine might have on the eternal salvation or damnation of its holder, certain views are still quite simply deviate from scripture, and those that preach them are not to be accepted or tolerated because of their standing or of some misguided desire not to be a Pharisee or cause of disunity, and that goes for John Stott and annihilationism, Billy Graham and universalism, or R. C. Sproul and infant baptism.

Now most of the justifications for this doctrine is typical man – centered doctrine, both the notion that God has no right to treat their exalted notion of mankind in such a way (don’t Christians read the Old Testament anymore?) and that having to publicly espouse the doctrine in the presence of those that reject it make them uncomfortable. But there is one legitimate issue that they have raised that I wish to deal with according to my limited ability to do so: the idea advanced by annihiliationists that the eternal punishment cannot be because eternal existence is a gift from God that will be granted only to those that make a decision for Jesus Christ. In other words, in the view of evangelical scholars like Clark Pinnock, Edward Fudge, John Sanders, Philip Hughes eternal existence is conditional. Some, but not all, evangelicals that hold this view are open theists, those who hold a doctrine that teaches that God changes His Will in response to man’s actions in history (consider it process theology – lite).

To further make this point, Pinnock for example ultimately denies the reality of the existence of the created spirit – man as described by Numbers 27:16, Job 32:8, Job 34:14, Proverbs 18:14, Ecclesiastes 3:21 to claim for all intents and purposes that man only has a body, and that to support the hellenistic belief of eternal punishment Christian tradition rejected the biblical doctrine of the resurrection of the body in favor of a focus on man’s eternal spirit. It is not so much that Pinnock or other such people deny the existence of the spirit man, but rather they view that the physical human existence as the ultimate reality – this is humanist evangelical Christianity after all, a fact of which they are very proud! – and as a result the spirit man would obviously share the same fate as the natural body.

I suppose that in a different era, we might have had to give this notion some serious consideration. But thanks to the discoveries of one Albert Einstein, we no longer have to. Not that Einstein was much of an innovator, as he merely proved with his theory of relativity what the Bible already said: that time was part of creation along with space. Three – dimensional space and time are not separate entities, but rather creation consists of four – dimensional space – time. And my King James Version says in Revelation 10:6 that on the day of the Lord, time will cease to exist along with the rest of the cosmos, the created order of space, matter, and TIME. “And sware by him that liveth for ever and ever, who created heaven, and the things that therein are, and the earth, and the things that therein are, and the sea, and the things which are therein, that there should be time no longer.” Please note what the next verse says for reference:
But in the days of the voice of the seventh angel, when he shall begin to sound, the mystery of God should be finished, as he hath declared to his servants the prophets.”

Now this is very destructive to many open theists because their doctrines make God a function and servant of time in some respects. (More accurately, this theology views God as not so much dependent on time but rather in bondage to the free will decisions of man made in time.) But the truth is that God will do away with time when He ends creation, because time is part of that creation. Before creation there was no time, and after creation there will be no time. And that is the problem with the anniliationist view: they see evil spirits – which includes the spirits of men – as needing to be sustained by God for eternity, which in their view is time running forever, a view that comes from math (and physics) class of eternity consisting of infinite time, with that infinity being able to exist in three ways: from yesterday to infinity (negative infinity), from tomorrow to infinity (positive infinity), and from today to infinity in both directions (total infinity).

But math class does not describe the spiritual realm that God inhabits, only the natural realm. In truth, it does not even accurately describe the natural realm, for astrophysics does not regard negative infinity of time – space but rather it having a definite beginning (the Big Bang!) that confirms the creation of both in Genesis 1 (and John 1), and as just stated Revelation depicts the ending of space – time (as do the Old Testament prophets and Jesus Christ also).

Though spirits may appear in the time – space limitations of creation for a time as do angels in their appearances, as did God in Old Testament theophanies, and Jesus Christ in the incarnation, the true abode for spirits is the spiritual realm where time is nonexistent. That is eternity, that is forever, that is the final state. Each human has a spirit man that will have a final existence, a final status, in the spirit realm where time will not exist. Cessation of existence will not be a factor, because cessation requires TIME which is part of CREATION. Instead, spirits of men – in addition to angels whether fallen or not – will simply exist. The only question is where this existence will be. Those that rebelled against God within the time – space of creation will exist in the lake of fire. Those that obeyed God during the time – space of creation will exist with Him.

Despite the scriptures that the annihilationists use out of context (literary context, the context of the audience to whom the scriptures were first given, and the context of the totality of scripture) that they use to build their case, rest assured that their motivation in applying them is borne of a prior conviction that man is too important and precious for God to treat – and in their opinion mistreat! – in such a fashion. “God cannot do this to me because He has no right to!” is the mindset that motivates this doctrine, and that is primarily why it must be rejected.

Please note that some of the more radical exponents of this doctrine, which does not appear to include Stott, state that the reason why eternal punishment cannot exist is because of the implications of free will. God cannot compel us to serve or love Him, but can only accept our decisions to do so arising from ourselves. Now while in their estimation God can and should bestow limitless blessings on those that accept Him, by that same estimation God simply has no right to make the punishment of those that freely choose to reject Him particularly onerous. Their belief: “it is my choice out of my free will, God, and your only choice is to accept my free will, give me a punishment that I decide to be appropriate, and go on about your business and leave the matter be!” I cannot help but considering it to be the “it is my body, my choice, and my life!” humanistic philosophy of the pro – abortion movement applied to Christian theology. At the very minimum, the very same lying evil spirits are at the root of it, seducing the desperately wicked deceitful hearts of man (Jeremiah 17:9)that harbor imaginations and high things that exalt themselves against God (2 Corinthians 10:5).

The final insult is that annihilationism advocates promote their position as the solution to the problem that evangelical pastors are increasingly uncomfortable about the topic of the lake of fire and now rarely mention it, and as a result the doctrine may soon vanish from mainstream respectable Christianity. They propose their view as a way to make divine punishment acceptable enough to the world that evangelical pastors will again start preaching it, and thereby save the doctrine of divine punishment from extinction, making them the TRUE defenders of the orthodox notions of the sovereignty and holiness of God (at least with regards to how those notions relate to the inherent great value of man and his free will). Both the trends of Christian pastors refusing to tread on the topic because of their own cowardice before worldly opinion and the willingness to embrace heretical doctrines to please this same world that rejected and murdered God on the cross is evidence that the great apostasy, the great falling away, is indeed nigh upon us. Sadly, the oneness annihilationist (Laymond was his screen name) was not someone with marginal views, but rather represented one that was on the cutting edge. Instead, the biblical view is the one that is fast becoming marginal.

Posted in apostasy, Bible, blasphemy, Christianity, endtimes, eschatology, evangelical christian, heresy, humanism, prophecy, salvation | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

 
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