In May of 2011, I posted this:
John R.W. Stott is very much respected among many professing Christians (I think Calvinists as well as Arminians). Despite Stott’s damnable doctrine of annihilationism he STILL remains highly revered.
Stott supports annihilation, yet cautions, “I do not dogmatise about the position to which I have come. I hold it tentatively… I believe that the ultimate annihilation of the wicked should at least be accepted as a legitimate, biblically founded alternative to their eternal conscious torment” (Essentials: A Liberal-Evangelical Dialogue by David L. Edwards with a response from John Stott, p. 320).
A book I have quotes Stott’s reply to a liberal theologian named David L. Edwards in a book titled, Evangelical Essentials: A Liberal-Evangelical Dialogue. Given the title, it is likely that one will come away with the correct conclusion that there aren’t any “essentials.”
So, in the book I have, the author quotes Stott’s reply to Edwards thusly (ellipses author’s):
“It would be easier to hold together the awful reality of hell and the universal reign of God if hell means destruction and the impenitent are no more. I am hesitant to have written these things, partly because I have a great respect for longstanding tradition which claims to be a true interpretation of Scripture [eternal punishment in hell], and do not lightly set it aside, and partly because the unity of the worldwide Evangelical constituency has always meant much to me…I do plead for frank dialogue among Evangelicals on the basis of Scripture. I also believe that the ultimate annihilation of the wicked should at least be accepted as a legitimate, biblically founded alternative to their eternal conscious torment” (319-20). [the aforementioned author citing John R.W. Stott–CD]
The God-hater John Stott heaps scorn and contempt upon Jesus Christ, who delivers His people from the coming wrath (1 Thessalonians 1:10). Romans 8:32 says that God did not spare His own Son in giving Him up for His elect; and yet Stott is “tentatively hopeful” that God will spare the non-elect (reprobate). Romans 3:25 says that Christ was set forth as a propitiation.
Essentially, Stott finds the penalty for sin (which is death), “easier” to stomach if “death” is defined as cessation of conscious existence. So, this view has Christ (supposedly) delivering His people from non-existence. Stott does not believe sin is THAT SEVERE, nor that sin against the Creator is THAT ENORMOUS.
This view despises and spits on the glory of God. It also makes the snuffed-out-of-existence, reprobate, to be their own saviors since existential cessation is satisfaction. Jesus Christ delivers His people who were under the same wrath as the rest (Ephesians 2:3). If “the rest” (those for whom Christ did not die for in any sense) are “delivered” by “virtue” of existential cessation, then that necessarily implies that God has been propitiated; He has been satisfied by the reprobates’ nonexistence. These reprobate will have, in effect, put themselves in the place of Christ. This is another example of the spirit of antichrist. As genuine believers know, the true Christ is One; the antichrists are many.
“Little children, it is a last hour, and as you heard that the antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have risen up, from which you know that it is a last hour. They went out from us, but they were not of us. For if they were of us, they would have remained with us; but [they left] so that it might be revealed that they all are not of us. And you have an anointing from the Holy One, and you know all things. I did not write to you because you do not know the truth, but because you know it, and because every lie is not of the truth. Who is the liar, except the [one] denying, [saying] that Jesus is not the Christ? This is the antichrist, the [one] denying the Father and the Son. Everyone denying the Son does not have the Father. The [one] confessing the Son also has the Father. (1 John 2:18-23; underlining mine).
John Stott is one “denying, [saying] that Jesus is not the Christ.” Only those who have been regenerated by God the Holy Spirit can truly say that “Jesus is the Christ.” The phrase “Jesus is the Christ” is not void of doctrinal content; nor is it filled full with heretical content. To believe that Jesus is the Christ is to believe in His Person and Work. Jesus Christ came in the flesh to “receive the power and riches and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and blessing.”
“And I saw, and I heard a sound of many angels around the throne, and the living creatures, and the elders, and their number was myriads of myriads, and thousands of thousands, saying with a great voice, Worthy is the Lamb having been slain to receive the power and riches and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and blessing. And every creature which is in Heaven, and in the earth, and underneath the earth, and the things that are on the sea, and the things in all of them, I heard saying: To Him sitting on the throne, and to the Lamb be the blessing and the honor and the glory and the might forever and ever” (Revelation 5:11-13).
“And [the] heaven departed like a scroll being rolled up. And every mountain and island were moved out of their places. And the kings of the earth, and the great ones, and the rich ones, and the commanders, and the powerful ones, and every slave, and every freeman hid themselves in the caves and in the rocks of the mountains. And they said to the mountains and to the rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from [the] face of the [One] sitting on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb, because the great day of His wrath has come; and who is able to stand?” (Revelation 6:14-17)
Many (most?) Calvinists would not judge John Stott lost for his treating the eternal-wrath-delivering-blood-of-Christ with everlasting scorn and contempt. Stott was more concerned for the reprobate than for Christ. Stott was troubled by the doctrine of eternal wrath poured out upon the reprobate, but not for the eternal wrath poured out upon Christ. John Stott presumably believed that Christ suffered and propitiated the equivalent of God’s eternal wrath for His people. But what of those that Christ didn’t die for, according to Stott?
For the Calvinists I mentioned previously, I suppose it’s just another one of those “felicitous inconsistencies” when their “muddled brother” Stott affirms propitiation for Christ, but only passing out of existence for the reprobate wicked. To close, here is one verse that succinctly states why Stott believed what he believed, and also why certain Calvinists would show hatred to Stott by speaking peace to him apart from the only ground of peace:
“For they loved the glory of men more than the glory of God” (John 12:43).