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.
FOR FURTHER STUDY
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.
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.