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The Doctrine of Eternal Torment (Updated)



"The Doctrine of Eternal Torment" or "The Doctrine of Endless Torment" as opposed to The Doctrine of Final Destruction

Keywords

anguish, contrapasso, endless, eternal, hellfire, torment, endless torment, eternal torment, everlasting punishment

Definition

"The doctrine of Eternal Torment is the historically pagan belief that following natural death and Particular Judgment, or the Resurrection of the Dead and Final Judgment, the lost will be consciously tormented in hell, day and night, endlessly for all eternity"

Proof-Texts and Cross-References

Ps. 51v4 [33]; Dan. 12v2 [33]; Mt. 3v12 [33], 19v16 [18], 25v31-46 [13|24|33|36|37]; Mk. 9v44-49 [33], 10v17 [18]; Lk. 10v25 [18], 16v19-31 [3|27|33], 18v18 [18], 23v42 [3]; Jn. 5v28-29 [13]; Acts 24v15 [13]; Rom. 2v7 [18], 3v23 [33], 6v23 [33]; 1 Cor. 15v51-53 [18]; 2 Cor. 5v8 [3]; Philip. 1v23 [3]; 2 Thess. 1v7-9 [3|24|33]; Tit. 3v7 [18]; 1 Jn. 2v25 [18], 3v15 [18]; Jude v6-7 [3|28]; Rev. 6v9-11, 14v10-11 [24|26|33], 20v10-15 [3|24|39]

Introduction

I grew up in the Dutch Reformed Church, transferred to an independent Church following my conversion, and later attended Miracle Bible College (MBC).

I was taught throughout my life, that following death and/or Final Judgment, the lost will be endlessly tormented in a fiery hell.

Unlike some of my annihilationist friends, however, I never had any problem with this believe. "Considering their evil disposition", I thought, "they probably deserve what they got".

Yet, as the years went by, and as my Bible Study skills developed, I discovered that this doctrine were nowhere to be found in Scripture, except in a handful of highly debatable proof-texts, which did not stand up under closer scrutiny.

Foundational Beliefs

The following is foundational to upholding and defending the Doctrine of Endless Torment.

THE BELIEF THAT THE BIBLE TEACHES EVERLASTING PUNISHMENT

Tormentists [those who defend the Doctrine of Eternal Torment] will often sight passages, like Daniel Chapter 12 Verse 2 [33], Matthew Chapter 3 Verse 12 [33], Matthew Chapter 25 Verses 46 [13|24|33|36|37], Mark Chapter 9 Verses 44 to 49 [33], Luke Chapter 16 Verses 19 to 31 [3|27|33], John Chapter 5 Verses 28 to 29 [13], Acts Chapter 24 Verse 15 [13], Second Thessalonians Chapter 1 Verse 9 [3|24|33], Jude Chapter 1 Verse 7 [3|28], Revelation Chapter 14 Verse 11 [24|26|33] and Revelation Chapter 20 Verse 10 [33|39], as confirming an endless torment in hell.

Is this true?

NO. Let me explain.

On closer inspection, none of the above-mentioned passages teach Eternal Torment [26|27|28|37|39], which would explain why:

Frederick W. Farrar (1831-1903) - Canon of Westminster Abbey and Dean of Canterbury - "could not find a single text in all Scripture that, when fairly interpreted, teaches the common views about endless torment." [7|8|9]

Dr. William Temple (1881-1944) - Archbishop of Canterbury and Primate of Great Britain - asks "Are there not, however, many passages which speak of the endless torment of the lost?" and then answers "No; as far as my knowledge goes, there is none at all." [7|10|11|12]

THE BELIEF THAT THE DOCTRINE OF ETERNAL TORMENT IS ORTHODOX

Tormentists, like Philip Schaff (1819–1893) and Jaco De Beer (1969-), often claims orthodoxy.

In the words of Philip Schaff (1819–1893):

"Everlasting punishment of the wicked always was ... the orthodox theory." [41|42]

In objection to the doctrines of Conditional Immortality and Final Destruction, Jaco De Beer (1969-) says:

"EJ, you can believe as you wish, Scripture disprove it. FULL STOP. It is also not a view which the orthodox true church held throughout history. This is a 'new' trend of the last few hundred years if so many." [42]

Is this true?

NO.

It was, in fact, the Doctrine of Final Destruction, that the Apostolic Fathers, like Ignatius of Antioch (35/50-98/117), Polycarp (69–155 AD), Justin Martyr (100-165 A.D.) [31|43], Tatian the Assyrian (120-180 A.D.) [34|43], Theophilus of Antioch (died ±183-185 A.D.), Irenaeus of Lyons (115-202 AD) [38|43], Cyprian of Carthage (200–258) [43|45], Arnobius of Sicca (253-327 AD) and Lucius Caecilius Firmianus Lactantius (240-320), defended. [43]

The Doctrine of Eternal Torment might be "traditional", but it is certainly not "orthodox". And we know, that neither Jesus, nor His apostles, had anything good to say about the traditions of men. (Mt. 15v1-9; Mk. 7v1-13; Col. 2v8; 1 Pt. 1v18)

"THUS YOU NULLIFY THE WORD OF GOD BY YOUR TRADITION that you have handed down. And you do many things like that." (Mk. 7v13, NIV)

Did the Apostle Paul not warn us against this very thing?!

"Beware lest any man spoil you through PHILOSOPHY AND VAIN DECEIT, AFTER THE TRADITION OF MEN, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ." (Col. 2v8, KJV)

And is it not ironic then, that this very doctrinal tradition, has it's very roots in the Egyptian and Greek Philosophy of Plato (428/427–348/347 BC)?! [44]

THE BELIEF THAT MAN'S SOUL IS INNATELY AND UNIVERSALLY IMMORTAL

The Doctrine of Universal Immortality is foundational to the Doctrine of Eternal Torment. If the first is true, so are the latter. If the first is false, so are the latter.

➢ On the one hand, if the souls of all mankind are created, by default, universally and innately immortal; it would follow logically that they will [being indestructible] remain in eternal torment in unquenchable fire. See, The Doctrine of Universal Immortality.

➢ On the other hand, if the souls of all mankind are created, by default, universally and innately mortal; it would follow logically that they will [being destructible] perish for ever in unquenchable fire, unless immortalized by God's Grace. See, The Doctrine of Conditional Immortality.

Scripture, however, is very clear that immortality [eternal life] (Rom. 2v7) is not universal to all (1 Jn. 3v15), but promised to those that would be saved (1 Jn. 2v25), as an inheritance (Mt. 19v16; Mk. 10v17; Lk. 10v25, 18v18; Tit. 3v7), to be sought (Mk. 10v17; Rom. 2v7), and granted only at Christ's Second Coming (1 Cor. 15v51-53).

THE BELIEF THAT SIN AGAINST AN INFINITE ETERNAL GOD DESERVES INFINITE ETERNAL PUNISHMENT

In the words of Thomas Aquinas (1225–1274):

"Further, the magnitude of the punishment matches the magnitude of the sin; According to the measure of the sin, shall the measure of the stripes also be. Now a sin that is against God is infinite; the higher the person against whom it is committed, the graver the sin - it is more criminal to strike a head of state than a private citizen - and God is of infinite greatness. Therefore an infinite punishment is deserved for a sin committed against Him." [40|42]

In the words of Got Questions:

"We have all sinned against God (Romans 3:23). The just punishment for that sin is death (Romans 6:23). Since all of our sin is ultimately against God (Psalm 51:4), and since God is an infinite and eternal Being, the punishment for sin, death, must also be infinite and eternal. Hell is this infinite and eternal death which we have earned because of our sin." [33]

Is this true?

YES and NO. Let me explain.

I agree, that "We have all sinned against God" [33]. I agree, that "The just punishment for that sin is death" [33]. And, I agree, that "Since all of our sin is ultimately against God, and since God is an infinite and eternal Being, the punishment for sin, death, must also be infinite and eternal" [33].

But, I do NOT agree, that endless torment in "Hell IS THIS INFINITE AND ETERNAL DEATH" [33].

To the contrary, the argument does nothing, but to strengthen the case for Final Destruction [Annihilationism], since only complete and utter annihilation could ever truly equate to an "INFINITE AND ETERNAL DEATH" [33].

The choice has always been, life or death; that is, Eternal Life or Eternal Death. (Deut. 30v15-19; Prov. 11v19; Jn. 3v16; Rom. 5v21, 6v23, 7v10; 2 Cor. 2v16, 4v12; 1 Jn. 3v14)

Our tormentist friends, however, would have us believe, that the wicked can be both, alive in 'endless conscious torment', yet simultaneously, dead in the Second Death (Rev. 2v11, 20v6, v14, 21v8).

But, how could that be? For death is the absence of life, and life the absence of death. (1 Cor. 15v51-55; 1 Jn. 3v14)

Frequently Asked Questions

Did Justin Martyr believe in Universal Immortality and Eternal Torment? [31]
Did Tatian believe in Universal Immortality and Eternal Torment? [34]
Did Irenaeus of Lyons believe in Universal Immortality and Eternal Torment? [38]
Did Cyprian believe in Universal Immortality and Eternal Torment? [45]

Adherents

Individuals
known as "Tormentists"

Thomas Aquinas (1225–1274) - Italian Theologian, Roman Catholic Priest, Dominican Friar and Author - defended the Doctrine of Eternal Torment in his "Summa Theologiae" [40].

Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758) - defended the Doctrine of Eternal Torment in an "Ordination Sermon" [32], wherein he referred to the punishment of the wicked as "extreme and unutterable torments, throughout all eternity" [32].

Charles G. Finney (1792-1875) - defended the Doctrine of Eternal Torment in an essay on "The Rich Man and Lazarus" [1], wherein he stated "that the state into which both good and bad men pass at death is one of real and intense consciousness ... that at death the righteous go immediately to a state of bliss and the wicked to a place of torment.... that saints at death pass into a state all joyful, but the wicked into one of unutterable torment!" [1].

Philip Schaff (1819–1893) - Swiss/German Theologian, Church Historian and Author - defended the Doctrine of Eternal Torment in on pages 273 and 274 of his book "History of the Christian Church" [41].

Dr. John F. MacArthur, Jr. (1939-) - defended the Doctrine of Eternal Torment in a YouTube video, entitled The Rich Man and Lazarus [15], stating that God "sends the soul [of the lost] to eternal hell" [15].

Tom Lessing (1944-) - South African Theologian and Blogger at Discerning The World - defended the Doctrine of Eternal Torment in a number of essays, including "E.J. Hill – Cataleptic Parables" [29] and "E.J. Hill – The Strange, Strange World of Calvinism" [30].

Jaco De Beer (1969-) [36] - South African Theologian - defended the Doctrine of Eternal Torment in a debate on the 9th and 10th of October, 2013, with EJ Hill (1977-).

Aaron Maners* - of Canvas Church - defended the Doctrine of Eternal Torment in a "Mission Statement" [5], that speaks of an "eternal destination of either heaven or hell" [5].

Erwin McManus* - of Mosaic Church - defended the Doctrine of Eternal Torment, referring to the "1963 Baptist Faith and Message" [6], which concludes that "The unrighteous will be consigned to Hell, the place of everlasting punishment." [17]

Mike Adant - Senior Pastor of Live The Life Church in Hermanus, South Africa - defended the Doctrine of Eternal Torment in a "Doctrinal Statement" [13], stating that "Those who have not trusted in Jesus Christ will be raised to eternal punishment" [13].

Randy Alcorn - Founder of Eternal Perspective Ministries - defended the Doctrine of Eternal Torment in an essay, entitled "Our Beliefs" [3], stating that "The souls of unbelievers remain after death in conscious misery until the final judgment of the great white throne at the close of the millennium when soul and body reunited shall be cast into the lake of fire, not to be annihilated, but to be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power." [3]

Institutions

Got Questions Ministries - a ministry of S. Michael Houdmann - defended the Doctrine of Eternal Torment in a number of essays, including "Is hell real? Is hell eternal?" [33], stating that "hell is a place of torment and punishment that lasts forever and ever, with no end." [33]

World Religions

Islam - defends a Doctrine of Endless Torment. [25]



Videos

IF you are reading this off-line, please visit us on-line to view the embedded videos.



Footnotes

* All part of the Emergent Church Movement.

Bibliography

1. Charles G. Finney. The Rich Man and Lazarus (The Gospel Truth; 9 November 1853)
2. L. Ray Smith. Lazarus and the Rich Man (Exposing Those Who Contradict; 29 September 2010)
3. Our Beliefs (Eternal Perspective Ministries; 11 October 2010) ✔
4. Contrapasso (Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia; 22 October 2010)
5. Mission Statement (Canvas Church; 9 November 2010) ✔
6. F.A.Q. (Mosaic Church; 9 November 2010) ✔
7. Champions of Conditional Immortality in History (Specialty Interests; 15 March 2008)
8. Frederick W. Farrar. Eternal Hope (1877)
9. Frederick W. Farrar. Faith and Mercy, Mercy and Judgment (1881)
10. William Temple. Christian Faith and Life ([1931] 1954); p.81, 464, 472.
11. William Temple. Drew Lecture on Immortality (1931)
12. William Temple. Nature, Man and God (1953) p.460
13. Mike Adant. Doctrinal Statement (Live The Life; 10 December 2010) ✔
14. Protestant Realizes There Is No Eternal Torment (Church of God News; 12 July 2007)
15. John MacArthur. VIDEO: The Rich Man and Lazarus (YouTube; 21 October 2009)
16. Thirty Questions for Teachers of Eternal Torment (The Harvest Herald; 26 October 2011)
17. 1963 Baptist Faith and Message (The Baptist Start Page; 9 May 1963) ✔
18. EJ Hill. The Doctrine of Conditional Immortality (Hillside; 7 November 2011) ✔
19. Tim Barnett. Endless Hell Ended (1987)
20. Doug Smith. A Christian’s Apology To Atheists (Afterlife; 8 November 2011)
21. Samuel M. Ohmart. Facts About Hell.
22. Silas P. Whitney. Future Punishment (Walton, West Virginia)
23. R. Leon Custer, Jr. Is Hell Where Lost Souls Suffer Forever?... all of them? (Kernersville, NC: 216 Cokesbury Street, 27284)
24. Eternal Torment or Annihilation? (The Interactive Bible; 23 November 2011)
25. VIDEO: Three things you (probably) don't know about islam (YouTube; 4 September 2010) ✔
26. EJ Hill. Revelation Chapter 14 Verse 11 (Hillside; 16 October 2013) ✔
27. EJ Hill. Luke Chapter 16 Verses 19 To 31 - The Parable of Lazarus and the Rich Man (Hillside; 16 October 2013) ✔
28. EJ Hill. Jude Chapter 1 Verse 7 (Hillside; 16 October 2013) ✔
29. Thomas Lessing. E.J. Hill – Cataleptic Parables (Discerning The World; 17 October 2013)
30. Thomas Lessing. E.J. Hill – The Strange, Strange World of Calvinism (Discerning The World; 15 October 2013)
31. EJ Hill. Did Justin Martyr believe in Universal Immortality and Eternal Torment? (Hillside; 18 October 2013) ✔
32. Jonathan Edwards. Ordination Sermon (The Baptist Magazine; May 1815) p.177-178 ✔
33. Is hell real? Is hell eternal? (Got Questions?; 19 October 2013) ✔
34. EJ Hill. Did Tatian believe in Universal Immortality and Eternal Torment? (Hillside; 19 October 2013) ✔
35. What does it mean that hell is eternal separation from God? (Got Questions; 19 October 2013)
36. EJ Hill. Jaco De Beer (1969-) (Hillside; 19 October 2013) ✔
37. EJ Hill. Matthew Chapter 25 Verse 46 (Hillside; 20 October 2013) ✔
38. EJ Hill. Did Irenaeus of Lyons believe in Universal Immortality and Eternal Torment? (Hillside; 26 October 2013) ✔
39. EJ Hill. Revelation Chapter 20 Verse 10 (Hillside; 29 October 2013) ✔
40. Thomas Aquinas. Summa Theologiae: Volume 27, Effects of Sin, Stain and Guilt p.25 ✔
41. Phillip Schaff. History of the Christian Church p.273–74 ✔
42. Jaco De Beer. In kommentaar op 'n Facebook Muurpos van Somerset Morkel (Facebook; 8-9 Oktober 2013) ✔
43. EJ Hill. Annihilationism Throughout History (Hillside; 31 October 2013) ✔
44. EJ Hill. Conditional Immortality Throughout History (Hillside; 13 October 2013) ✔
45. EJ Hill. Did Cyprian believe in Universal Immortality and Eternal Torment? (Hillside; 4 November 2013) ✔

For more information on the Doctrine of Eternal Torment, please visit Consuming Fire, Jewish Not Greek, Rethinking Hell and The Conditional Immortality Association of New Zealand.

Revisions

29-30.09.2010 / 11.10.2010 / 22.10.2010 / 09.11.2010 / 29.11.2010 / 07-08.12.2010 / 10.12.2010 / 21.12.2010 / 26.10.2011 / 07.11.2011 / 12-13.11.2011 / 23-24.11.2011 / 06.12.2011 / 21.07.2013 / 16.10.2013 / 18-20.10.2013 / 26.10.2013 / 29-31.10.2013 / 04.11.2013
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