Good Example Of Research Paper On The Hell Debate

Type of paper: Research Paper

Topic: Soul, Life, Evil, Death, Jesus Christ, Polycarp, God, Forever

Pages: 7

Words: 1925

Published: 2020/12/10

Religious Studies

The Hell Debate is between the major arguments of the Classical View who believe the wicked will be tormented in hell forever and ever and the Annihilationist View who believe the wicked will be destroyed and not tormented or tortured in hell forever and ever. The wicked will not be tormented and tortured in hell forever because their souls will be destroyed. The argument is between Evangelical Christians. The basis of the argument about hell is on two main issues.
The first issue is for how long a person’s soul can be in hell. Can the soul reach hell and then be destroyed? Or is the soul immortal and lives over all eternity so that the wicked suffer forever in great pain after death? The first question is answered ‘yes’ by the Annihilationist View; the flesh of a person dies on earth, but the soul remains. The soul of the evil people is then destroyed so that eternal life is not they experience they will ever have. They soul of the evil people will be destroyed so that they cannot taste immortality whether it is experienced in pain or in pleasure. The second question is answered ‘yes’ by the Classic View because evangelicals who hold the classic view believe the soul is immortal. Therefore, the soul cannot be destroyed, but will remain in Hell forever suffering God’s punishment.
The duration of hell is the idea that the soul is not immortal, at least not for wicked people. On the other hand, the consequence for being wicked on earth is to exist in the form of one’s soul in a place of torture for all of eternity. The two views do have in common the belief that not accepting Jesus Christ as their personal savior is certainly not going to allow a person into heaven. The classical view considers hell as the eternal and conscious torment of “rebels.” The annihilationist view is based on the belief that a wicked person’s soul must be destroyed as a sign of God’s punishment. And that even though the soul exists after the body dies the soul of rebels will be destroyed.
The view of the annihilationist insists that no immortal soul can exist without a belief in Jesus Christ. Annihilationism pronounces that hell does not exist anywhere, it is not a place or a location but instead, Hell is a state of the mortal soul with the status of non-existence. The soul is not considered immortal based on a state of nature, but on the annihilation perspective of the soul can be destroyed after death. Conditional immortality means that God grants immortality after death only if an individual believes that their personal Savior is Jesus Christ.
The argument for the annihilationist perspective from scripture is that evil people are not punished by “enduring” eternal punishment, but by receiving “eternal punishment, judgment and destruction.” The argument is based upon verses from Matt. 25, Heb. 6, 2 Thess. 1, and Heb. 5. The opposite of eternal annihilation is eternal redemption for those who are not wicked. In the annihilation argument the fires of Hell and other references to suffering in Hell are the terrible consequence of Hell, instead of the belief that Hell is a place. The wicked will not burn in Hell forever, instead they will suffer for their wickedness and then their souls be destroyed.
On the other hand, the classic view that the wicked will be tortured forever due to their wickedness. Hell is eternal and cruel. The main objection to this view is that if God is all-loving, then how is he so cruel as to leave someone in a place of never ending pain and torture. The response is that since God is just, when he decides punishment is necessary, the punishment must be necessary. The people ending up in Hell according to the classic view do so because that is their choice. They had the opportunity to choose God’s love and to “submit to God’s will throughout eternity.” For example, the book of John makes it clear that everyone has an opportunity to accept Jesus Christ as Savior.
John writes that “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” And John also writes that the people who love darkness do not accept the light. In that verse, John is talking about the people who are given the chance to follow the light of Jesus Christ, but instead they chose to stay in the darkness. Also scripture insists that people must avoid receiving God’s punishment because hell is a terrible place especially compared to haven. There is nothing worse in the world then missing the chance of reaching heaven and living there for eternity.
Billy Graham is a famous evangelist, a minister that uses the television to preach and counsels Presidents of the USA. In his book, Peace with God: The Secret Happiness, the secret happiness is that we, human beings, are going to live forever. Graham bases his truism on messages from the Bible “The Bible teaches that you are an immortal soul. Your soul is eternal and will live forever. In other words, the real you -- the part of you that thinks, feels, dreams, aspires; the ego, the personality -- will never die. The Bible teaches that your soul will live forever in one of two places -- heaven or hell.” Roller points out that Billy Graham’s explanation of after the death experience is part of the argument of believers in the punishment of the soul after death. The modern evangelicals base their beliefs on Graham’s teachings about punishing the soul. Graham’s interpretation is the argument for the eternal punishment of the soul after death for wicked individuals. Graham taught that since a person’s soul cannot die, the soul must live on, even if the person has accepted Jesus Christ as their Savior or not. The major difference between Graham and some contemporary evangelists is that Graham believed that heaven and hell are real locations therefore he took the Classic view.
A preacher who pushed theological thinking towards the annihilation the soul in the afterlife is David A Dean. The idea that the wicked can be given the experience of living eternally is not acceptable to Dean and Griswold. Their teaching presentation title Resurrection Hope is a platform for stating Dean’s belief that “nothing in the Bible teaches that the wicked are immortal.” Dean argues that when some action or experience is not covered in the Bible then it absolutely cannot happen. The argument is that if the soul of evil people was discussed in terms of immortality and eternal life the situation would be very different.
Dean explains that the phrases describing immortality are not used to describe the nature of the wicked soul. The only time, according to Dean, that the immortality of souls is discussed is in reference to “the Righteous.” Not only that, he argues, that Death is the punishment for sin, so immortality cannot be a rightfully given to the sinful. He teaches that the annihilation of the soul is a second death. The second death will take place after a sinner’s bodily death, and the second death is the destruction of the soul. Ahern refers to Matthew chapter 10, verse 8 “. . . be afraid of the One (God) who can destroy both soul and body in hell . . . one’s (the sinner’s) life is taken away and eternal life is withheld.”
The annihilation of the soul or the soul living in eternal torture must be avoided at all costs. That is why death is so important to contemplate during life. By contemplating death and the choice between living an evil life compared to living a righteous life is the most important choice a person must make during their lifetime. The rewards of living in heaven after death are something that both views have in common. The other choice living in hell is forever if a person is sinful in life according to the Classic View. The soil of the sinful will go to hell metaphorically according to the Annihilationist View, but the duration of time the soul of an evil person exists after death is very short. The soul will be destroyed so that nothing is left of the person. Billy Graham described the soul as the most essential part of the person. Therefore, it is understandable that the judgment of God will come down heavily on the soul of an unrighteous person after death. People while alive on earth must believe in Jesus Christ as their personal Savior in order to avoid total destruction after death in the Annihilationist View.
The Annihilationist View indicates that even living forever being tortured and punished is better than having your soul destroyed. That is the Classic view, that even wicked people have immortal souls, but the soul of the good and righteous will go to heaven and live there for eternity. The wicked cannot have their souls destroyed as the Annihilationist View believes because; in the Classic view both the wicked and the good have the right to an eternal life. The people living on earth have a chance to a wonderful eternal life in heaven or a terrible eternal life in hell.
In Biblical times Polycarp of Smyrna learned by Gospel from Apostle John. As an adult Polycarp was burned at the stake as a Martyr by the Roman proconsul. The proconsul warned Polycarp he would be burned to death if he did not agree with the proconsul. Therefore, we can see the comparison between how the body is punished in life is similar to how the soul will be punished after death. Polycarp told the proconsul that physical death did not frighten him. Polycarp, like Graham believed in the immortality of the soul. And unlike Polycarp’s enemies, Polycarp planned to live eternally after death, so death did not frighten him. Polycarp explained to the proconsul that ignorance did not allow the proconsul to understand that burning of the flesh is only momentary, but afterwards the life of the soul is eternal. Polycarp took the classic view. He died by burning at the stake about 163 CE.
Polycarp told those listening, the proconsul and the other “heathens” that the burning flesh that would happen to him at the stake was not something he feared. Strangely, Polycarp burning at the stake was like the smell of fresh bake bread. The example shows how Polycarp’s strong faith and living a righteous life on earth was rewarded. His soul will live in heaven throughout eternity. On the other hand, because Polycarp took the Classic View, his enemies who were wicked and cruel will spend eternity in hell; and that eternity will be filled with pain and suffering.
The question remains on who wins the debate on the nature of Hell. Is the winner the Classic View or is the Annihilationist View? Their arguments are based on their interpretation of the descriptions of the soul, hell and immortality in the Bible. The annihilationist cannot recognize metaphor; the interpretations they share on the issue of the nature of Hell are based on reading the Bible as a true history of the Lord’s teachings. The problem is that a literal reading ignores context and paradoxes in the teachings as discussed above. For example, I believe Billy Graham was a very wise minister. Graham’s books teach the lessons from the Bible in a very clear way. The lessons are taken from the text in the Bible but Graham related them to real life and real worries. The immortality of the soul was not questioned whether or not the soul belonged to an evil person who faced hell or to a righteous person who faced heaven after death. I believe that Graham is more convincing in his descriptions of the eternal life of the soul.
Therefore, I cannot easily accept the idea that the soul of the wicked will be destroyed after the physical body is dead. The idea that a person’s soul can be annihilated is very foreign to me and I cannot believe it, even after reading the arguments pro- Annihilationist View. The arguments do not convince me that the soul does not live eternally either in heaven or in hell. The way that a soul can be destroyed is something that I cannot comprehend. In my opinion, the Hell Debate is won by the Classic View

Works Cited

Boyd, G. and Eddy, P. “The Hell Debate,” Chapt. 17. in Across the Spectrum by Gregory A. Boyd and Paul R. Eddy. 2nd Eds. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 280-292. 2009.
Brunner, E. Eternal Hope. Harold Knight, Trans. Philadelphia, PA: The Westminster Press, 1954. Accessed from Internet Archives,
Dean, D.A. and Griswold, M.H. Resurrection Hope. Leaders Guide, Advent Christian General Conference. 1992.
Graham, B. Peace With God: The Secret Happiness. Nashville, TN: W Publishing Group, 1984; 1953.
Buschmann, G. The Martyrdom of Polycarp. Chapter 6. in Wilhelm Pratscher The Apostolic Fathers: An Introduction. Waco, TX: Baylor University Press. 2010. 134 -158.
Moss, C.R. On the Dating of Polycarp: Rethinking the Place of the Martyrdom of Polycarp in the History of Christianity. Early Christianity, 4:1 (2010): 539-574.
Pratscher, Wilhelm. The Apostolic Fathers: An Introduction. Waco, TX: Baylor University Press. 2010. 134 -158.
Roller, J.H. The Doctrine of Immortality in the Early Church. [online] Truth According to Scripture, Book in Progress,
Shedd, W.T.G. and McKay, D. The Doctrine of Endless Punishment: Annotated and Contemporary Edition. 1rst Ed. Kindle, NYC: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 2014.
The Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011.

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