(Note: this is wink writing this, not Jeremy. I know I haven't written a post in forever, so I'm warning you up front who I am.)
I'm currently writing (or more accurately, procrastinating from writing) a five page paper. The assignment is to take an issue about which Evangelicals might disagree, lay out both positions, and show why you take the position you do.
My plan is to discuss Hell: Annihilationism vs Eternal Conscious Suffering, and then conclude with an edited version of this post.
As is my habit, I've done far too much research for a short paper, and therefore have too much to say. Since I can't cram it all into the paper, some of it is going to come out here. Sorry.
The first thing I noticed about the debate was how shoddy it is, especially from the traditionalist side. Now, I think both sides have strong arguments and a few of the principals involved are terrific. But the average (mode) argument is pathetic.
Probably the most frustrating argument was when traditionalist would "refute" annihilationism by listing off a long string of verses that discuss hell. They would conclude that:
1) hell exists
2) annihilationism is therefore wrong
3) therefore, hell = eternal conscious suffering.
Now, while they do a pretty good job of proving (1), they don't do a thing to prove (2). It is as if (2) is a logical consequence of (1). Which it isn't.
Annihilationists don't dispute the existence of hell--they dispute the nature of hell. The argument above might work against most versions of Universalism, but it doesn't prove a thing against annihilationism.
The other majorly annoying thing about the average (mode) traditionalist argument was the assumption that annihilationists all gave up on inerrency. While that is certainly true of some, their assumption that you can't make a biblical argument for annihilationism was pretty maddening.
Really, the only traditionalist arguments that I found to be solid were the ones that were directly refuting John Stott. The rest were largely not worth reading. So if you want to read up on the subject, make sure that "John Stott" is one of your keywords or you may just end up pulling your hair out in frustration.