Micah Redding — faith in humanity's future

In this series:

There Is No Hell (part 6), Conclusion


That’s my viewpoint.

I’ve established that Hades and Sheol and Tartarus were places for the dead to wait for judgment. I’ve established that Hades is only temporary, and so the Rich man’s torments in Hades were not eternal, but would end in Gehenna. I’ve established that Gehenna and the Lake of Fire are intended to be understood as complete destruction, the full and final death that only God can deliver.

I’ve established that Outer Darkness, whatever it might be, is not eternal either. There is room for the idea of specific punishments for wicked people (either in life, or after death) prior to their complete destruction. But complete destruction is always the end.

There are many other ways we could approach this, from the biblical teaching that man is NOT naturally immortal, to the lack of “hell” in early Christian teaching, to the tons of other verses that state strongly that evil people are not tortured, but destroyed.

Although I’ve given only a cursory look at the subject, I am confident that the more in-depth your study goes, the more this view will be confirmed.

Rather than holding on to the idea that everyone is immortal, and some get tortured for all eternity, we should follow the bible in affirming that “the wages of sin is DEATH, but the GIFT of God is eternal life”. Only God’s people get eternal life. Only God’s people get immortality.


As biblical scholarship has grown during the past decades, this viewpoint has become increasingly well-accepted within Christianity at large.

The reason for this is that the traditional arguments in favor of hell just haven’t held up under scrutiny, and trying to ward off biblical arguments by accusing people of being Jehovah’s Witnesses just isn’t a good long-term way to prove your point.

With the freedom from historic Christian creeds that exists in the Churches of Christ, this viewpoint has been embraced in recent years by many conservative Church of Christ scholars.

F. LaGard Smith is one very conservative author whose book, “Afterlife”, is intended to prove this “annihilationist” belief system. He references other Church of Christ authors who have taught the same thing.

When I met him while attending Freed-Hardeman University, he had just published “Radical Restoration”, in line with much of my thinking. When he later published “Afterlife”, I had the odd sensation of feeling like we were tracking down the same biblical lines of thought.

John Bland, a former Church of Christ preacher, wrote an in-depth paper on the topic, entitled Hell? No!

Homer Hailey from Florida College taught this belief.

Most notably, Edward Fudge from the Bering Drive Church of Christ in Houston, wrote a book in the early 1990s entitled “The Fire That Consumes”.

“The Fire That Consumes” is recognized among biblical scholars to be the most comprehensive and authoritative book on the subject of “annihilationism” or “conditionalism” ever written.

Here is a summary of his belief. Part 1, Part 2.

Where I am only able to deal with some of the issues in a very cursory fashion, Edward Fudge deals with it all in an extremely nuanced and comprehensive way.


Amy Karns:

There is actually strong theology behind your stance. The modern concept of hell has more to do with Greek Mythology promoted by Danté than it does with the Bible. Have you ever looked a the website: what-the-hell-is-hell.com/

Bridgette Budig Blumenthal:

Wow you took so long to prove your point... Here is something by AW Pink..not nearly so long... Yes, many turn away from a vision of God’s wrath as though they were called to look upon some blotch in the divine character, or some blot upon the divine government. But what says the Scriptures? As we turn to them we find that God has made no attempt to conceal the fact of His wrath. He is not ashamed to make it known that vengeance and fury belong to Him. His own challenge is, "See now that I, even I, am he, and there is no God with me: I kill, and I make alive: I wound, and I heal: neither is there any that can deliver out of my hand. For I lift up my hand to heaven, and say, I live for ever. If I whet my glittering sword, and mine hand take hold on judgment; I will render vengeance to mine enemies, and will reward them that hate me" (Deut. 32:39-41). A study of the concordance shows that there are more references in Scripture to the anger, fury, and wrath of God, than there are to His love and tenderness. Because God is holy, He hates all sin; because He hates all sin, His anger bums against the sinner (Ps. 7:11). The wrath of God is eternal detestation of all unrighteousness. It is the displeasure and indignation of divine equity against evil. It is the holiness of God stirred into activity against sin. It is the moving cause of that just sentence which He passes upon evil doers. God is angry against sin because it is a rebelling against His authority, a wrong done to His inviolable sovereignty. Insurrectionists against God’s government shall be made to know that God is the Lord. They shall be made to feel how great that Majesty is which they despise, and how dreadful is that threatened wrath which they so little regarded. Not that God’s anger is a malignant and malicious retaliation, inflicting injury for the sake of it, or in return for injury received. No. While God will vindicate His dominion as the Governor of the universe, He will not be vindictive. Psalm 95:11, "Unto whom I sware in my wrath." There are two occasions of God "swearing": in making promises (Gen. 22:16), and in denouncing threatening (Deut. 1:34). In the former, He swears in mercy to His children; in the latter, He swears to terrify the wicked. An oath is for solemn confirmation (Heb. 6:16). In Genesis 22:16, God said, "By myself have I sworn." In Psalm 89:35, He declares, "Once have I sworn by my holiness"; while in Psalm 95:11 He affirmed, "I swear in My wrath." Thus the great Jehovah Himself appeals to His wrath as a perfection equal to His holiness: He swears by the one as much as by the other. Again; as in Christ "dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily" (Col. 2:9), and as all the divine perfections are illustriously displayed by Him (John 1:18), therefore we read of "the wrath of the Lamb" (Rev. 6:16). The wrath of God is a perfection of the divine character upon which we need to frequently meditate. First, so that our hearts may be duly impressed by God’s detestation of sin. We are prone to regard sin lightly, to gloss over its hideousness, to make excuses for it. But the more we study and ponder God’s abhorrence of sin and His frightful vengeance upon it, the more likely we are to realize its heinousness. "Let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear: For our God is a consuming fire" (Heb. 12:28-29). We cannot serve Him acceptably unless there is due reverence for His awful Majesty and godly fear of His righteous anger; these are best promoted by frequently calling to mind that "our God is a consuming fire." Third, to draw out our souls in fervent praise for having delivered us from "the wrath to come" (1 Thess. 1:10).

Jeff Slenker:

I just received this from a Presbyterian minister. And we are called the frozen chosen? "And if anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire." - Revelation 20:15 My friend, if you die without being a Christian, without being born again through the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit, then upon your death your soul will immediately go to hell, a place of conscious, eternal torment, where the fire is never quenched and the worm never dies. On the day of Christ's return, all the dead, great and small will stand before God and give account of the deeds they have done, according to the things written in the book. Daniel says, "Many of those who sleep in the dust of the ground will awake, these to everlasting life; but the others to disgrace and everlasting contempt," (Daniel 12:2). Jesus tells us not to fear man who can kill the body. Rather we are to fear God who can destroy both the body and soul in hell (Matthew 10:28). And the parable of the rich man in hell makes clear that he possessed a body. He was asking that Lazarus could put a drop of water on his tongue to quench his thirst (Luke 16:24). If you are a hell bound sinner, why should you fear the great white throne judgment? Because you will stand before King Jesus to witness the charges against you. As you stand before the Holy God, your thoughts will be judged (Romans 2:16). Jesus will summon every thought you ever had-your lusts, anger, bitterness, bigotry, jealousy, envy-and place them alongside His holy law. You will be speechless (Romans 3:19). You will have no defense. You are doomed and you know it. Then your words will be summoned (Matthew 12:36). All those harsh, vile, blasphemous, lying, manipulating words you spoke throughout your life will be placed alongside the purity of God. No defense here, either. Finally, your every action will be judged (2 Corinthians 5:10, Revelation 20:12, Matthew 16:27). All of the millions of times you disobeyed God, in what we might call small or large ways, will be evaluated in light of His perfect law. Every selfish, idolatrous act you ever did, will be judged. Not only your sins of commission, but perhaps even more dreadfully, your sins of omission will be judged. You will remember the times you passed by a needy man on the street and did nothing to help him. You will remember the many times you neglected to care for your spouse, children, parents, or close friends. You will remember the times you hated instead of loved your enemy. You will also be unable to make a defense before God for your actions. With all of this evidence now displayed before you and the Holy One, you will hear those words you knew were coming but have long dreaded, the most awful words which could ever be uttered, "Depart from Me, you workers of iniquity, into the everlasting fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels," (Matthew 25:41). And as you are being led from the great white throne of God to be thrown in the lake of fire, you will know for certain, without the slightest equivocation, that you are receiving the exact judgment you deserve. The lake of fire is the second death. What will you do in the lake of fire? Presumably the same thing you have been doing in hell from the moment you arrived there, but now, due to the union of body and soul, the pain, horror, and awareness will be infinitely magnified. As in hell, there will be weeping, wailing and gnashing of teeth. I have heard the anguish and grief of wailing coming from one who has suddenly lost a child or a spouse. The wailing in the lake of fire will be infinitely worse. Every sense will be heightened there. Though you are alone in darkness, you will hear the hopeless wailing of the damned. With your eyes which on earth looked at pornography, you will look on untold, unimaginable horror. With your ears which took in licentious ideas, you will hear the cries of the condemned. With your mouth, which uttered vile speech, you will curse God with hatred. Your hands, which were engaged in all manner of creative sinning, will now reach up to heaven, begging for a touch from the God you rejected, but there is no reciprocation from the Holy One. Your feet, swift to run to shed innocent blood and to take you to places of debauchery, will then seek to run for refuge but they will be like feet stuck in cement. There is no movement from judgment. There will be no hope. But there is hope now. There is always hope in Jesus. He can save you. He can deliver you from the wrath which is surely coming. He took hell and the lake of fire in His own fleshly body through death that He might bring you back to God. Turn, my friend, from your sin lest you burn in the lake of fire forever. Jesus offers a way out of hell and the lake of fire. He is the only remedy. Flee to Him today. Say to Him, "God be merciful to me a sinner." Seek Him until you find Him, until He gives you His peace.