This is a short reply to Walt Hibbard's diatribe against Annihilationism and Universalism entitled:

Crucial Thoughts about Annihilationism & Universalism

The original text can be found here



In the short essay, Crucial Thoughts About Annihilationism and Universalism, Walt Hibbard writes:

I am neither an annihilationist nor a universalist. Nor am I a comprehensive grace (the term Tim King uses for universalism) proponent either. I do not think there is biblical justification for either view. In fact, I think both of these ideas are contrary to and militate against the Gospel.

The first term, annihilationism has the effect of toning down the importance of accepting the Gospel message. “If I reject the Gospel, surely I'll be punished for doing so, but this punishment won't last too long or not at all and then I'm zapped, with no more consciousness of anything, no never! I guess I'll take my chances,” people will say.

Rev. 14:11 says, "And the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever. And those worshiping the beast and its image have no rest night and day...." (Also refer to Rev. 19:3)

Just suppose the Lord really DID mean everlasting (that lasts forever), how could he in words have said it any more plain than what he did say in this Revelation passage?

How about "And the torment of each and every man and angel who dies without Christ will continue for ever and ever, with no end, nor any hope of mitigation or rescue." Now, that would be much clearer, don't you think? But, it doesn't say their torment is forever, rather, it says that THE SMOKE of their torment goes up forever. It is a visual image of an eternally buring pyre that will serve as an eternal rememberance of God's complete and utter distain for all sin.

Now that could simply mean that the pyre upon which the Devil and the false prophet and the beast were burned and tormented and upon which their punishment was meted out will never be put out. It does NOT say they will continue to be burned on it forever.

Secondly, this text is found in a book which was written in the apocalypctic genre. Why should we then take it literally. Is it a literal fire? Or does it symbolize the final defeat of evil. Does it refer to evil beings or the utlimate irradication of evil as a general concept? Not a very good text to be the only one we use to prove such a doctrine as endless conscious torment, ecspecially since, even taken literally, it doesn't actually say that.

Take the words of Jesus in Mt 8:12; 13:42, 50; 22:13; 24:51; 25:30 or Lk 13:28. This is described with horror and is something to be dreaded and turned away from at any cost!

Both universalists and annihilationists believe that the punishment for sin is very severe. Evangelical universalists believe that no one gets out of hell as a sinner. They go in a sinner and come out redeemed! Thus, in a certain sense, they are visited with permanent, or eternal, punishment as reprobatre sinners, but once converted they are a new creation and the old sentence of writing on the wall agaist them that could never be erased has been wiped away by the blood of Christ and is no longer against them.

The writer to the Hebrews tells his readers that "It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God (10:31).

And both universlists and annihilationsist agree.

Certainly the language that Jesus uses to express the certainty and horror of the punishment meted out to the unsaved is language of unimaginable judgment and terror. To attempt to resort to a philosophical meaning of such words as mortal or immortal, or to argue whether man has immortality or not and whether this applies to his body and soul or both, seems to me to be just an exercise in hermeneutic gymnastics calculated to lessen the reality that God would punish anyone forever for just committing sins. It waters down the heinousness of sin and how God hates anything that violates His holiness.

A circular ad hominum agrument built on nothing.

No, I think it is a mistake to think like an annihilationist. If there are any arguments that would seem at first glance to support this view, I still want to stay away from it as it can do me no good, and believing it should not be an excuse for denying that God has every holy right to punish His creatures for ever and ever. After all, eternal life is forever and ever, is it not? Well, if annihilationism is true, then I will have to say that the saved people of God will also one day arrive at the place in time when God will say to them, "That's all the glory in heaven you are going to get -- NO MORE -- since when I said 'everlasting' I didn't really mean that at all. It was meant to be just for a limited time only. Sorry, Bud!"

Both annihilationism and universalism deny the biblical doctrine of “eternal conscious punishment” for the unbeliever and are therefore very dangerous because of that denial.

But Walt, where does the bible teach such a doctrine? Give us just one verse!

Yet the two views are very different in several ways, even contradictory. Let’s now talk about universalism. Universalism strikes at the very heart of the whole Christian revelation and the need for a saving Gospel message! Why seek to obey God's Law?
because that is what a christian does.

Why bow to Jesus Christ?
because that is what a christian does.

Why try to do good to my fellow men?
because that is what a christian does.

Why thank God for His grace?
because that is what a christian does. and without it there can be no salvation!

Why have the mind of Christ in you?
because that is what a christian does.

It doesn't matter, for the very same people who spurn all of the above, are going to be saved anyway.
Just like every saved christian does before they are converted. Do we say christian can sin all they want because they are saved? No, they cease sinning because they are saved.

And what is there to actually be saved FROM? Likely nothing at all.
There is no difference betwen the universalist and you on this issue Walt. We all agree that we are saved from the just wrath of God because of our sin.

The whole Bible is a farce and a myth with no substance in it of any value.
Why? beccause more people are saved it is a farce? How many are allowed to be saved before it becomes a farce? 2, 3, 2 million or all?

Jesus Christ is a fraud!
Why because he paid for everyone's sin? How is that fraud?

God is pulling a cruel joke on mankind when He gave them the Bible and just wanted to see how many suckers would be naive enough to believe it.

Why do you say that. The bible tells us what we need to be saved and to conform to the image of Christ apart from whom there is no salvation.

God stinks! So do Christians!
We don't think so, do you Walt?

All that stuff about suffering torment forever is just a bunch of hogwash!
Well you have that last part right. It's unbiblical.

Those students of Scripture, who have problems with passages where it says that in Adam ALL DIE, but in Christ ALL SHALL BE MADE ALIVE, miss completely the context and how the Bible uses words to convey meaning.

Do tell! We have no problem with those verses, Walt. You do!

They try to tell us that since all of us were at one time in Adam (the all, you know), now that Christ has come, the same ALL word is used, so this means that EVERYONE is now in Christ and is therefore saved.
Don't believe it! It is really very plain and simple to understand. Those people WHO NOW ARE IN CHRIST (this doesn't mean everybody but just those who ARE believers) shall be made alive. The "universal sounding passages" can not honestly be used to teach the eventual salvation of all men.
We could say the same about the eternal torment passages, (and we do.)

It would be abhorrent to the holiness and justice of God. Why in the world would Christ be sent by the Father to "die for the sins of His people" if He really died not only for His people but for everyone on the face of the earth?

If everyone is saved then everyone IS his people. But there is a difference between the elect ( or fiorst fruits) and the rest of humanity which will be saved later due to the testimony of the first fruits.

Changed lives influenced by the Gospel message and Holy Spirit don't matter.

The universalist believes salvation happens the same way as the non-universalist. We simply disagree on how many will be saved, not how they are saved. Obviously you don't understant that, Walt.

Look at Hitler, Stalin and Mao -- no holiness there! Yet they made it to heaven same as us believers.

Look at Saul and the thief on the cross! No righteouslsness there but they made it to heaven. what is the difference? DOn't you see Walt, salvation is by grace foe all that believe, including Saul, the chief of sinners, and Hitler (everyone's favorite villian.) Universalists don't teach that peopel get saved apart from faith and repentance. That includes Saul and it includes Hilter.

What is somewhat disturbing here is the implicite aquiesence to salvation by works. As though very wicked people can't be saved! Only godly people. That is NOT the gospel at all, and you know that, Walt!

Wow! Imagine just how ridiculous something called the Gospel message really is after all -- after we all have been enlightened to reject all of that outmoded Christianity stuff. Live it up now! Do anything that feels good! And do it now! Why wait? Just gratify the flesh! The name of the game is indulge...and do it BIG! Why not? When it is all over, we all go to HEAVEN!!

Not the doctrine of the universalist at all. we do not teach salvation apart from repentence. We simply believe that ultimately, the Holy Spirit will convert and redeem all sinnder by bringing them to faith in Christ.


Tim King may call it "comprehensive grace" (because he wants to suck in people who would be shocked if he used the "u" word) but don't be fooled. Don't turn away from God's message of hope that He has given to a sinful and needy people! There is surely a heaven to be yearned for and there is a hell to be shunned. Why? Because God said so!

Universalists agree. we simply disagree that hell is everlasting torment with no hope of salvation.

We understand that many do not agree with us these days, and the majority hasn't held our view for over a millenuim. But majority consensus does not make something true. If it did we'd all be Roman Catholics, wouldn't we?

Sorry you don't agree with us, but if you want to critique our doctrine at least first find out what we really believe and stop knocking over straw men.

- Bill Brennan