This is the idea that those who die without Christ, will not suffer an eternity in hell, but instead they will be “burned up” and “destroyed” sometime after death. It’s kind of a more humane concept than an eternal torment. Those who ascribe to this view, say things like,”How can a loving God torture someone forever/infinitely when their sin was only temporary/finite?”
Here’s my answer:
God is infinitely holy, and therefore any sin we have (big or small) is infinitely punishable. That’s why He sent Jesus – He is the only infinite payment. He is the only one who could endure an infinite punishment. This is also why His gift is so amazing.
The annihilationists also like to use the image which Jesus Himself used of fire (Matthew 3:10, 12) or Gehenna (Matthew 5:22). This was the dump of Jesus day and there was a constant fire burning up the waste of Jerusalem. They argue that the waste was consumed and destroyed by this fire, but is that really true?
I’d say, “No, it was changed into ash and smoke, but still not completely gone.” The matter still exists – it has only been changed. Also, how do they answer the rest of scripture? What about Mark 9:48 and the “fire that is not quenched” or Revelation 20:10 which says, “They will be tormented day and night forever and ever.” What about all the “weeping and gnashing teeth” verses (Matthew 8:12; 13:42, 50; 22:13; 24:51) where there clearly is a conscious torment? or Daniel 12:2 which speaks of “everlasting shame and contempt.”
It seems clear to me that the whole of Scripture affirms the orthodox/normal view that there is a conscious eternal hell rather than this annihilationist view. Therefore, I will live as a man who has a healthy fear of an eternal hell and I will seek to save the lost from it. In light of this argument, I also recognize that seeking the whole counsel of the Word of God is vital in gaining a proper understanding of God and His ways. I’m amazed at how different verses can be used to support the craziest of ideas.