A second alternative to the traditional view of hell is Annihilationism. Annihilationism is “the teaching that the postmortal punishment of unbelievers or the wicked will consist of their being blotted out of their existence so that they cease to be.” [1]

There are two versions of annihilationism. The first is immediate annihilationism. This is the view that “immortality in the next life is only given to the righteous. God’s judgement upon the wicked is death and so they are not resurrected.” [2] This view arose during the reformation period from Fautus Socinus. Some Anabaptists held this view and it has been adopted by the Jehovah’s Witnesses, but has not otherwise been broadly accepted.

The second version of annihilationism is ultimate annihilationism. This version is the largest challenge to the traditional understanding of hell among Christians who accept the authority of the scriptures. It states that “after an appropriate time of punishment for their sin, the wicked are destroyed or annihilated by God.” [3]

Leading proponents of ultimate annihilationism include the following:

  1. Isaac Watts
  2. Edward White
  3. Henry Hamlet Dobney
  4. George Storrs (Adventist)
  5. Joseph Arthur Baird
  6. George B. Caird
  7. Philip E Hughes
  8. Clark Pinnock
  9. John Stott
  10. John Wenhem

In the next post, I will note the general arguments for Annihilationism.

NOTES:
1. James Leo Garrett,Systematic Theology: Biblical Historical and Evangelical (Vol 2), 799.
2. Global Dictionary of Theology: A Resource for the Worldwide Church, 374.
3. Ibid.

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