Craig on Annihilationism

Posted: May 3, 2012 by Brett Kunkle in Choosing My Religion, God is Real

Annihilationism is proposed as an option to everlasting hell.  But does it match up with the teaching of Scripture?  In this video, a student poses the question to William Lane Craig (while Craig tries to sign his books!):

  1. comereason says:

    My favorite part of this video is at the very end when you hear the next guy in line say “I’m an atheist, but you’re a GENIUS…”

  2. Mark in Columbia, MO says:

    Two things are disappointing about Craig’s response (and I’m a HUGE fan of WBC’s work):

    1. His first reaction is to reject the view by projecting a motivation. Craig knows better as this tact is consistently taken against his views. The reason one might “want” to believe something does not bear on the truth of the thing. This dismissal is dis-respectful.

    2. I’m always struck how defenders of Craig’s view are so adamant about a plain reading of the text in so many other areas but then impose a presupposition on the text when it comes to this question — examples are redefining “death” to mean “a kind of life”, and “destruction” to mean “a kind of sustaining”.

    I recommend people take on a simple, straight forward reading of the Biblical text — from Genesis through Revelation — and study what the writers intended to mean by life, immortality, death, and destruction. If you don’t bring your extra-Biblical idea of Hell into the scripture, you get a very different picture of God’s coming new creation and what it means to be in the Body of Christ.

    • Ronnie says:

      Spot-on on both counts Mark. Regarding #2, I would go one step further. Traditionalists go beyond simply redefining words—they outright contradict straightforward and explicit Scriptural statements. For a number of outrageous examples, check out my blog post, “What Part of “Will Consume” Did You Not Understand?”

      Also, check out the opening of my debate where I quote numerous examples of traditionalists (including Greg Koukl) similarly contradicting Scripture on various points.

  3. sorentmd says:

    I don’t think this is nearly as important of an issue as we make it out to be. The part that I can’t get past are comparison’s of “eternal’s.” We have verses that speak of the eternality of both life with God and the punishment for those without. It’s the same word, same context. We have to take each word the same way and meaning. If one means “eternal” in the sense of degree, then is life with God not everlasting? If life with God is eternal in regards to time, that is, everlasting, then how can we say that the punishment is not the same? This is where I get caught up every time. It is one of the few cases where there can be no ambiguity and allow for different interpretations of Heaven and Hell. They are compared here, rather than contrasted. And because of that, I find it easier to assume that elsewhere the same is being said, but in different language, and maybe a different interpretation is needed. However, I like the distinction Craig made about life, and the two Greek words that can potentially be used. I don’t think it’s about reading into the text, it’s about translating and interpreting the words in their correct sense and context.

    • Ronnie says:

      This understanding of Matthew 25:46 simply assumes that the punishment is suffering or torment of some kind, but that’s not indicated in the text.

      If final punishment consists of death (and it certainly does), and that death lasts forever, then the punishment is everlasting, and Matthew 25:46 poses no challenge to conditionalism.

      Jim Wallace has also claimed that Matthew 25:46 does not allow for any interpretation other than the traditional view of hell. I’ve responded to his argumentation here:

  4. Chris Date says:

    Yeah, the thing to note is that we’re not suggesting a different meaning of “eternal.” We’re saying that the punishment IS eternal, we just think the punishment is death, not everlasting torment. For more on the meaning of the word “punishment,” see: