Traditionalism as the Best View on the Doctrine of Hell
It is hard to explain what exact function the doctrine of hell fulfills in faith of people, but there is no doubt that this function is an important one. We need to understand the doctrine of hell in order to gauge its effect but that is not so unambiguous since there are at least three major views of hell – traditionalism, universalism and annihilationism which represent totally different scenarios of the sinners. This issue concerns me personally mainly because I see eternal punishment as a very important doctrine and I believe that theologians should agree on one theory so that believers were not misled and lost in a ...view middle of the document...
Therefore it looks that universalists’ view is most handy for the wicked ones and discourages obedient and rightful behavior because their sins will be forgiven anyway.
Annihilationists believe that in the end the wicked will simply cease to exist. Robert Peterson says that Annihilationists base their view by literary reading the Scripture which talks a lot about destruction of the wicked both in body and soul, who will experience the second death. It includes the idea that the fire imagery of hell is not as a mean to cause pain but as means of final destruction. R. Peterson also points out the problem of justice. Rev 20:12 says that people will be judged according to what they will have done and it is incompatible with the idea that every sinner will simply cease to exist, because it would be highly unjust and not according to what each person did. Another important point worth mentioning is that eternal destruction may be seen as even more severe punishment for human sins than traditionalists’ eternal hell. So annihilationism view has a great problem of disproportionality as finite sins obviously do not match eternal destruction.
As it has already been stated in the introduction, traditionalism is the view that is going to be defended in this paper. This view states that after the Day of Judgment the wicked will be sent to hell for eternal suffering. According to Shawn Bawulski there are two major points supporting the traditionalist view. Wilko van Holten argues against traditionalist viewpoint and the main point of his criticism is the idea that finite human sin cannot be punished infinitely and here Bawulski’s view of continuing sin comes in handy. The main idea of this point is that the wicked will continue to sin in hell and in this way will accumulate their punishment and this closed circle will enable the punishment to be infinite and still just. This point of view solves the problem of disproportionality since accumulation of sins to infinity earns infinite punishment in hell. One might say that the wicked ones might choose not to sin in hell, and ask what happens when a person does not sin anymore after he has been fully punished for his sins. Is he released from hell or kept there anyways? I admit this flaw of the continuing sin view yet I do not have enough competence with my current knowledge and limited resources to provide a fluent explanation and solution to this problem.
Another solution provided by Shawn Bawulsi that addresses Wilko van Holten’s problem of finite sin and infinite punishment is infinite seriousness view. This view states that infinite punishment is earned by offending the infinite glory, dignity and honor of God i.e. the offense is infinite in its seriousness therefore requires infinite punishment. Wilko van Holten calls the similar explanation the status principle and points out that the greater the status of the offended one, the more serious the punishment should be – the harm of an...