...the ultimate destiny of humanity finds verses in Scripture which, at least on the face of a straightforward and/or naive reading of the English translations, seem to support their framework.
The Eternal, Conscious Torment view starts off with the hell and judgement texts and tries to view or explain the more universalist 'problem' texts through that prism.
Universalists start off with the verses talking about all things being reconciled (Colossians 1, etc.) and look at the general flow of covenant, broken covenant, exile, restoration in Scripture, and then try to view the 'problem' hell texts, etc. through THAT prism.
Annihilationists start off with the verses that seem to indicate drastic finality to the judgement in the context of souls, etc. and view the other 'eternal' hell texts and the universalist texts through THAT prism.
I believe many in each camp are genuinely trying to base their theological framework on a solid, Scriptural foundation, but the effort of working with 'problem' texts is unavoidable in each case. That's where the 'devil is in the details' and where we need to get beyond surface readings of English translations to really be able to discern things. Not that I'm an expert in that, but I do find it interesting that the Greek phrases for 'eternal' or 'everlasting' can actually mean 'of the age to come', specifying not necessarily duration, but in what age it occurs. If that is the case, then you have to look to other areas of Scripture to fill in what the nature of the 'death of the age to come' and the 'life of the age to come' entail.
It is kind of sad, though, if you consider the Eternal, Conscious Torment and the Annihilationist views: Creation is eternally scarred by some pocket of sin and death...evil is never truly conquered in ALL of creation...AND God's will is mostly frustrated (since He does not desire any to be lost...I disagree very strongly with the Calvinists.)
I think the universalist view is a higher view of not only God's Love as truly never failing (I Cor 13), but also of God's will to redeem and reconcile us being ultimately fulfilled and not frustrated (His sovereignty). Plus, it is also compatible with free will/libertarian views, in that as a patient God allows people to repent into eternity, hell would eventually empty out as more and more people freely chose that route. So you might even end up with an 'eternal hell' burning away, with all of our old selves under eternal destruction, but with fewer and fewer in it, as they are transformed out of the old, into the new. Again...Colossians 1...ALL THINGS will be reconciled, whether in heaven or on earth! The end of the story is good! :)
Want DP delivered to your inbox daily? Subscribe here: