When one understands “eternal destruction” in qualitative terms of the TOTALITY of devastation, then annihilation can rightly be understood biblically as referring solely to the “physical demise” of one’s being – nothing more and nothing less; that is – annihilation has absolutely NOTHING to do with mankind’s post-mortem condition. Such destruction in scriptural terms is relative to temporal and corporeal judgement and in most cases pertinent to God’s covenant people. This is seen either in terms of punishment for disobedience, or punishment befalling those who mistreated God’s covenant people. Thus when it comes to annihilation a “post-mortem” application is invariably read into the text – and yet there no texts of Scripture actually showing this to be the case.
It should further be noted that the New Testament writers when using the word “hell” [gehenna] do so to describe the fate of the lost only in the Gospels, and only in speaking to Jews, and thus only when addressing such people as are familiar with the topography of Jerusalem. James’ epistle may be the only exception to this, but even then his audience is also wholly “Jewish”.
“Annihilationism” as a doctrine fails to explain HOW it is ultimately any different from the “endless torment” dogma. Typically used, “annihilationism” fails just as miserably as “eternal conscious torment” to identify any purposeful meaning to life for the vast bulk of humanity, in that most do not or cannot come to a deeper or richer understanding of life as found in Christ. Both views ultimately and utterly being bereft of reason are as pointless as each other.
Example: a small child grows up struggling in a poor destitute dirt-swept village somewhere on the backside of the planet. She is ravaged with hunger and choked by thirst. Those around her are similarly plagued with pestilence, pain and starvation. Eventually this little one succumbs to the claws of death and dies. Then finally when Jesus returns from Heaven [assuming popular futurism] Jesus raises her up only to then set her ablaze, and with the most cavalier of waves from the royal hand dismisses her to a final oblivion…
What then was the point and purpose of such a pained and pathetic life and that of countless millions just like hers? The answer – NOTHING!! Her torturous and meaningless existence becomes nothing but an absurd tragedy starved of any purposeful value, save that of satisfying the whims and wants of some supposedly “angry God”. What a cruel hoax of a “gospel” if that is what you could call it – this is no good news at all. Fortunately however such is NOT the case at all for all are embraced by grace regardless of circumstance or knowledge for all are God’s children.
IF your own children whom you love have come to a place where they hold you in contempt and so reject you, will their rejection of you override your love and acceptance towards them? – how is it then that we could possibly conceive that we have more love and acceptance in our hearts than does God?