A quick word on “conditionalism” vs “annihilationism”
On this blog I will be using the terms synonymously to refer to the view that the impenitent will one day be completely destroyed. I prefer conditionalism over annihilationism, if you couldn’t tell already from the domain name. Here are a few reasons why:
1. Annihilationism is sometimes associated with a particular view that denies the resurrection of the lost. In other words, the unsaved are permanently and immediately destroyed at death.
2. Annihilate is not a biblical term. Scripture uses expressions such as perish or destroy to describe the fate of the lost. Most English translations use annihilate rarely, if at all. Now, while I do believe that the lost will one day cease to exist, I want to be able to avoid objections like, “perish doesn’t mean annihilate!” and focus on more substantive issues.
3. Annihilationism tends to open up my view to the caricature that the lost will simply “poof out of existence,” which seems to leave little room for penal suffering or degrees of punishment. This is possibly due to an association of the term with the view described above (in 1.) See, for instance, Alexander Pruss’s characterization of annihilationism here.
4. Conditional immortality (or, conditionalism) gets at the heart of what I think is the primary theological motivation behind the traditional view; mainly that all human beings are unconditionally immortal–either because immortality is an intrinsic attribute of the soul, or because God simply intends on sustaining all human beings forever.
None of this is to say that conditionalism is an ideal expression. If I could, I might coin my own term; “destructionism.” That, I think, would be an apt characterization of my view that could avoid a lot of the confusion caused by these other expressions.
[Edit: apparently, “destructionism” was a term that was in vogue in the 19th century 🙂 Nothing new under the sun..]