National Association of Christian Ministers Summary Series: Theology

Summary of the theology of Annihilationism -along with scripture that both validates and invalidates this position.

Annihilationism is a theological belief within some branches of Christianity that suggests that the ultimate fate of the wicked (those who do not accept Christ) is not eternal torment in hell but rather annihilation or the complete destruction of their existence. Proponents of Annihilationism argue that this view is more in line with a loving and just God. However, it’s important to note that Annihilationism is a minority position within Christianity, and there are differing viewpoints.

Here are some scriptures that are often cited to support Annihilationism:

Matthew 10:28 (Validating)

      • “And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.”

Proponents of Annihilationism interpret this verse to mean that the wicked will be completely destroyed in hell, including both body and soul.

Romans 6:23 (Validating)

      • “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Annihilationists argue that the “death” mentioned here refers to the annihilation of the wicked, not eternal conscious torment.

Malachi 4:1 (Validating Annihilationism)

      • “For behold, the day is coming, burning like an oven, when all the arrogant and all evildoers will be stubble. The day that is coming shall set them ablaze, says the Lord of hosts, so that it will leave them neither root nor branch.”

This verse is often cited to support the idea that the wicked will be consumed and left with nothing, which aligns with Annihilationism.

However, it’s important to note that there are also scriptures that are used to challenge the Annihilationist viewpoint:

Revelation 14:11 (Invalidating Annihilationism)

    • “And the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever, and they have no rest, day or night, these worshipers of the beast and its image, and whoever receives the mark of its name.”

This verse is often cited by opponents of Annihilationism as evidence for the eternal nature of torment for the wicked.  Although, this passage is from the Book of Revelation which is filled with vivid imagery which is often not considered to be interpreted literally.

Matthew 25:46 (Invalidating Annihilationism)

    • “And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

This verse is seen by many as indicating that the punishment of the wicked is eternal, just as the reward of the righteous is eternal life.

Annihilationism is a matter of interpretation, and there are scriptures both supporting and challenging this perspective. Different Christian denominations and theologians hold varying views on this topic, so it’s essential to consider multiple passages and engage in theological discussions to gain a comprehensive understanding of the debate surrounding this theological belief.