I recently started listening to a podcast called Theology in the Raw. It is a daily radio show hosted by Preston Sprinkle. He is a professor at Eternity Bible College in Boise, Idaho. Each weekday he does his best to take a fresh look at what the Bible really says. Putting down his own opinions and traditions, Preston tries to address each issue by looking at what scripture truly has to say about each topic.
In talking about his teaching style he says, “rather than telling students what to believe, I point them to study scripture to form their beliefs. I mean, really comb through the text and soak themselves in the biblical narrative to gain the massive view of God that Scripture beautifully sets forth.”
For several weeks the podcast has been doing an in depth study on the doctrine of hell. The majority of the time has been spent looking into the question, is annihilation a biblical view of hell?
After reading the statement of belief I was surprised by the recurring theme of the podcasts on hell: Without a doubt the annihilation view of hell is an evangelical option.
One comment you made in the podcast was that our emotions shouldn't come into play when we study the topic of hell. I would like to respectfully disagree. The subject of Eternal Torment is also wrapped up into the character of God. We all have slightly different views on the character of God depending on our background and our experience but my view of His character does affect how I discern scripture. Eternal Torment doesn't fit with my view of God's character and I think that if most Christians really thought about their view of His character they would realize that Eternal Torment isn't compatible with their view of God either.
I appreciate a fresh voice that actually studies the scriptures instead of totally relying in thus says church tradition.”
He stated, “The reason why I try to stay clear from emotions when interpreting the text is primarily because the annihilation view often gets accused of being built on emotional arguments only. I’ve seen a lot of people say, ‘well it's obviously not in the Bible, people just want that view because they can't stomach eternal conscious torment.’ Let’s try to set our emotions aside and look at what the biblical text says apart from emotions. I don't like the fact that people write off annihilation without even looking at the Bible. So that's my main point in saying that it shouldn’t be based on emotions. I do agree though that whether you like it or not your emotions do play a role in interpreting scripture. That’s just a fact. Human emotions and background and baggage and culture and gender; all these things go into interpretation. They shouldn't dictate your interpretation but they do contribute to it and shape it. I don't want to say that no, we just read the Bible with no emotions. I don't think that’s possible. We're human beings that have emotions. I just don’t think our views should be dictated purely by emotions.
I would put the burden of proof on those who would say that the character of God in the Bible, the character of God revealed in Jesus Christ, necessitates that He would keep people alive for billions and billions and billions and billions and billions and billions of years so that He can torment them and then He is just getting started. That doesn't make sense to me when I look at the character of God. But again I need biblical support specifically for why the view is or isn't correct."