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IS PUNISHMENT IN HELL TEMPORARY OR ETERNAL?

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Overview:

Many Christians, particularly those from the conservative wing, interpret the biblical descriptions of Hell literally. They believe in a literal punishment in a actual Hell. They see this as the final destination for the vast majority of humans -- i.e. all who who are "unsaved" at the time of their death.

According to an estimate by the Southern Baptists, 70% of American adults are in this state. Because of the larger number of Roman Catholics in Canada, probably about 80% of Canadians are unsaved by their definition. Perhaps 90% of people worldwide are unsaved according to conservative Protestant criteria, and are thus believed by them to be headed for Hell. This very high number is caused by the relatively small percentage of Christians in most countries outside of the Western hemisphere.

Within this conservative Protestant belief system, there are many views about the nature of Hell. Two common views are annihilationism and traditionalism. Both beliefs are held by leading and respected Christian theologians, who are absolutely convinced that theirs is the true Biblical position and that all other beliefs are false: 

bulletAnnihilationism is the belief that the unsaved (a.k.a. the lost) will be tortured in Hell for a limited interval, and then totally destroyed. Afterwards, they would cease to exist in any form.
bulletTraditionalism is the belief that the lost will be tortured in Hell -- not just for a year, or century, or millennium, but for all eternity.

Unfortunately, there does not appear to be any mechanism for harmonizing these conflicting beliefs. The obvious way would be to assess the will of God through prayer. But, this appears to be impossible, at least according to a small-scale pilot study that we have conducted.

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Topics discussed in this section include:

bulletDescription of traditionalism and annihilationism
 
bulletBiblical support for the concept of annihilationism (being written)
 
bulletBiblical support for the concept of traditionalism (being written)

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 Home > Christianity > History.. .> Specific beliefs > Afterlife > here

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Copyright © 2001 to 2006 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 2001-APR-5
Latest update: 2006-MAY-15
Author: B.A. Robinson

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