The Doctrine of Eternal Punishment

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What follows is a dialogue between Ron Beaulieu and an atheist by the name of Mark:


The doctrine of eternal punishment has served the cause of Satan well in turning men to infidelity. No benevolent god would do such a thing, and eternal hell can be easily interpreted to mean burning up until all sin is consumed for eternity, just as Sodom and Gomorah were to burn eternally. God has shown me that this means until completely consumed for eternity. Relax, you will not burn for eternity. This would serve no purpose of God. I would not accept such a god. This is one of, if not THE most Satanic doctrines taught by professing, mainline Christianity, which I do not identify with in any wise. Most of professing Christianity is comprised of harlot daughters of Mother Rome. However, God has a bride who comes out and is separate from Rome and her fallen daughters. It is unfortunate that many atheists have not studied their Bibles sufficiently to discern this.


Well, that paragraph is certainly interesting. Please explain how the following verses support your position. Please pay careful attention to words such as "everlasting," "eternal," and "never."

Matt 25:46: And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.

Mark 3:29: But he that shall blaspheme against the Holy Ghost hath never forgiveness, but is in danger of eternal damnation.

Mark 9:43: And if thy hand offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter into life maimed, than having two hands to go into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched:

Jude 1:7: Even as Sodom and Gomorrha, and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire.


Your reference to Jude 1:7, might have given you clue as to the true meaning of eternal fire. For example, are Sodom and Gomorrha still burning today? Seventh-day Adventists is the only church I know of that gives a true, reasonable and rational explanation of this issue of eternal punishment. Here is their rendering from their Bible Commentary, commenting on Matt. 5:41, and I think this is very good. I said to your e-group that even the SDA Bible Commentary satisfactorily answers some of your so-called incongruities, and here is a classic example of my contention:

"Matt. 5:41. Everlasting fire. Described elsewhere as 'unquenchable fire' (see on ch. 3:12) and 'hell fire' (see on ch. 5:22). All three refer to the fires of the last day that will devour the wicked and all their works (2 Peter 3:10-12; Rev. 20:10, 14, 15).

The word aionios, translated 'everlasting,' or 'eternal,' once, 'for ever,' means literally, 'lasting for an age,' in the sense of being continuous and not subject to capricious change. The ancient Greek papri contain numerous examples of Roman emperors being described as aionios. The reference is to the continuous nature of their tenure--they held office for life. It is thus clear that the English words 'everlasting' and 'eternal' do not accurately reflect the meaning of aionios. Aionios, literally, 'age lasting,' expresses permanence or perpetuity within limits; 'everlasting' and 'eternal' imply duration unlimited. The duration signified by aionios must, in each case, be deternined by the nature of the person or thing it describes. In the case of Tiberius Caesar, for instance, aionios describes a period of 23 years, that is, the time from his ascent to the throne until his death.

In the NT aionios is used to describe both the fate of the wicked and the future state of the righteous. Following the principle stated above, that the durative quality of aionios is to be determined by the person or thing of which it is used, we find that the reward of the righteous is life to which there is no end; the reward of the wicked is death to which there is no end (John 3:17; Rom. 6:23; etc.). In John 3:16 'everlasting life' is contrasted with 'perish.' In 2 Thess. 1:9 the wicked are said to be 'punished with everlasting destruction.' The expression does not signify a process that goes on forever, but an act whose results are permanent.

'Fire' is the means by which punishment for sin is inflicted (Matt. 18:8; 25:41). That 'fire' is 'everlasting,' aionios, does not signify that it is of endless duration. This is clear from Jude 78. Obviously the 'eternal fire' that destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah burned for a time and then went out. Elsewhere, the Scriptures refer to the fires of the last day as 'unquenchable' (Matt. 3:12), meaning that they will not be extinguished until they have burned up the last vestiges of sin and sinners (see on v. 12). For 'olam, the OT equivalent of aionios, see on Ex. 21:6." SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 5, 512, 513.

I share the view of Atheists that any notion of everlasting torment is not an attribute of a loving God. I believe mainline "christianity" (small c intended) is all wrong on this crucial issue, which has been the partial cause of many not embracing true Christianity.