After my recent appearance on the Unbelievable? radio program with Justin Brierley, a listener of Justin’s, named Paul, wrote a blog post entitled “Clutching at Straws,” arguing against the case I made. I responded to his blog post in one of my recent episodes, as well as via email. He wrote me back, to which I am presently working on a response. But in a more recent post, I think this blogger demonstrates that it is he (and fellow traditionalists) who are the ones clutching at straws.
In this recent blog post, Paul writes,
It is important to notice that the Lord actually, consciously suffered for our sins – it is another proof that annihilation is a wrong doctrine. The Lord went to the cross to take the place of the guilty, and He suffered. He was not annihilated on the cross – He experienced the agony of being abandoned by God, and being put to grief as He was made a guilt offering (see Psalm 22 v 1 & Isaiah 53 v 10).
How is Jesus’ conscious suffering on the cross “proof that annihilation is a wrong doctrine?” It’s obviously not, since what we propose will happen to the unsaved is a violent and painful death, just as the Lord experienced! Paul goes on,
Furthermore, the Lord wasn’t annihilated after His death. Scripture is perfectly clear that the thief was with Him in Paradise that day (Luke 23 v 39-43)…The Lord told us on other occasions He would be conscious between His death and resurrection, because He was actually personally and actively involved in His own resurrection! (See John 2 v 19-22; 10 v 17-18).
Again, how is this a challenge to annihilationism? Even if Paul is right about these verses, the Lord didn’t remain bodily alive after His suffering, either; nor did He continue to suffer after dying. Following Paul’s logic, his own view of hell, then, cannot be true, either.
What’s amazing about this is that I had pointed this out in the very episode of Unbelievable? on which Paul originally commented! That is, neither traditionalists, nor dualist annihilationists who think Jesus’ immaterial soul lived consciously after death, think that the punishment Jesus bore on behalf of the elect is identical to the punishment awaiting the unsaved. Paul and other traditionalists can’t object to annihilationism on the grounds that Jesus wasn’t annihilated, and then turn around and say Jesus’ body died and that He ceased to suffer, while maintaining that the bodies of the unsaved will be alive and suffering forever.
Clutching at straws, indeed! Anyway, back to work on my response to his most recent email to me.