Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Ask a Seventh-Day Adventist. . . (with brief thoughts on hell)

Rachel Held Evans interviewed a Seventh-Day Adventist named David Newman. He offers some brief thoughts on hell, where he (obviously) adopts an annihilationist perspective.

From Aubree: Can you explain "soul sleep," and the Seventh Day Adventist position on hell? 

When God created the first man, Adam, “the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul” (Genesis 2:7). We believe the breath of God and the body make a living being.  Without the life-giving breath of God, there is no life in the body.  The concept of an immortal soul came from Greek influence and not from the Bible. 

Very briefly, we believe that when a person dies, they sleep in the grave until the resurrection.  Sleep for death is a common metaphor in the New Testament.  When Jesus comes back the second time,  he raises to eternal life all who died trusting in Him. The Bible says that God is the only one who is immortal (1 Timothy 1:17).  There is no text that says that the soul is immortal. 

We believe in a hell as described in the book of Revelation that burns up Satan and all the wicked and cleanses this earth.  The results of the burning are everlasting.  We do not believe that for all eternity there is a portion of God’s universe where people are suffering forever and ever.  To pronounce an infinite torture for finite crimes is out of all proportion to the crimes. While God is merciful, he is also just. And He is also love.  As Rob Bell has so graphically illustrated in his book on hell, the love of God does not fit with a retributive God for all eternity.

I believe annihilationism is a strong position, and think Newman offers a brief but decent case. Some may disagree on his application and I would've liked a stronger exegetical argument but such as it is.

For the rest of the interview, which is great, check it out HERE.


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