B. W. wrote:Question is - can you and I take God at his word: the smoke of their torment arises forever and ever describes as much as the old saying - it is raining cats and dogs.
BW, I have dealt with the smoke verse already...and so you should be able to see that I am taking God at His word. Here is another example. Earlier (Oct 3) Byblos provided a list of proof texts for the eternal torment view and three of those verses are found in Jude. The passage reads as follows and I have placed in bold the bits that appeal to traditionalists.
5 But I want to remind you, though you once knew this, that the Lord, having saved the people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed those who did not believe. 6 And the angels who did not keep their proper domain, but left their own abode, He has reserved in everlasting chains
under darkness for the judgment of the great day; 7 as Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities around them in a similar manner to these, having given themselves over to sexual immorality and gone after strange flesh, are set forth as an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire.
8 Likewise also these dreamers defile the flesh, reject authority, and speak evil of dignitaries. 9 Yet Michael the archangel, in contending with the devil, when he disputed about the body of Moses, dared not bring against him a reviling accusation, but said, "The Lord rebuke you!" 10 But these speak evil of whatever they do not know; and whatever they know naturally, like brute beasts, in these things they corrupt themselves. 11 Woe to them! For they have gone in the way of Cain, have run greedily in the error of Balaam for profit, and perished in the rebellion of Korah. 12 These are spots in your love feasts, while they feast with you without fear, serving only themselves. They are clouds without water, carried about by the winds; late autumn trees without fruit, twice dead, pulled up by the roots; 13 raging waves of the sea, foaming up their own shame; wandering stars for whom is reserved the blackness of darkness forever.
In the first two cases (v6 & 7) the words "everlasting" and "eternal" appear to give the traditionalists reason to think that torment in hell must also be eternal. That, however, is an unwarranted assumption. In the first case it is chains that are said to be everlasting and in the second case it is fire that is said to be eternal. Neither uses "everlasting" to describe the duration of torment. On the contrary, I believe that both of these verses aid the annihilationist's position. Everlasting chains are used to hold angels for a non-everlasting period (until judgement). An eternal fire is used to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah in a short period of time. As such, clearly the use of an eternal thing does not mean that the use (holding of angels for judgment or destruction) goes on for all eternity.
In verse 13 we see the last two of four metaphors used by Jude to describe the wicked. The four metaphors are:
a) clouds without water, carried about by the winds;
b) late autumn trees without fruit, twice dead, pulled up by the roots;
c) raging waves of the sea, foaming up their own shame; and
d) wandering stars for whom is reserved the blackness of darkness forever.
So it seems what the traditionalist does is that 1)he seizes upon the last phrase of the fourth metaphor, 2)disregards whatever understanding should be gained by that phrase's connection to stars, 3) ignores the other three metaphors altogether, and 4) declares that b/c "forever" is used, the torment of the wicked in hell must continue forever. Why not focus on the 2nd metaphor and declare that the wicked die a natural (seasonal death) and then in hell are uprooted (twice killed) so that they will never come alive again?
Finally, in dealing with Jude one should note the similarity between it and the 2nd chapter of second Peter:
2 Peter 2:....4 For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but sent them to hell, putting them into gloomy dungeons to be held for judgment; 5 if he did not spare the ancient world when he brought the flood on its ungodly people, but protected Noah, a preacher of righteousness, and seven others; 6 if he condemned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah by burning them to ashes, and made them an example of what is going to happen to the ungodly;....12 But these men blaspheme in matters they do not understand. They are like brute beasts, creatures of instinct, born only to be caught and destroyed, and like beasts they too will perish.....15 They have left the straight way and wandered off to follow the way of Balaam son of Beor, who loved the wages of wickedness. 16 But he was rebuked for his wrongdoing by a donkey--a beast without speech--who spoke with a man's voice and restrained the prophet's madness. 17 These men are springs without water and mists driven by a storm. Blackest darkness is reserved for them.
In that passage being burnt to ashes in the manner of S & G is said to be an example of the fate of the wicked. "Destroy" and "perish like beasts" are also used. Now, does that sound more like annihilation or like eternal torment? Does the burning of Sodom go on forever?
BW, you have had your rants, so please allow me mine.
BW, you ask, "What would it take for them to believe as nothing from the bible will ever be proof enough to show that there is eternal recompense to those so inclined not to believe eternal recompense true."
By eternal recompense I know you mean eternal torment. The answer is that it would take a clear teaching. What is particularly frustrating is that you think this clear teaching exists when it doesn't. From this angle it seems that the traditionalists have had their view of eternal torment so thoroughly engrained within them that they never really look at the texts. If a verses uses "eternal" then that verse is seen to teach eternal torment, notwithstanding that torment is not mentioned, notwithstanding that the eternal thing is used for a non-eternal period of time and notwithstanding that the use is within a metaphor utilizing stars. The traditionalist insists that annihilation does not qualify as a punishment, yet no one would suggest that capital punishment is not a punishment. At times it seems like I am conversing with a character from Alice's Wonderland....death is not death, destruction is not destruction, annihilation is not punishment, and everything and anything can mean eternal torment.
Well, there's my rant and like Alice's rabbit ....I'm late, oh dear!