In a certain book I possess (I have since forgotten which book that is) the author quotes the God-hater John R.W. Stott’s reply to a theological liberal named David L. Edwards in a book called,
Evangelical Essentials: A Liberal-Evangelical Dialogue.
Pause for a few moments to thoughtfully consider the title of the book. Consider the word “evangelical” (as in Evangelion?). Also consider the word “essential” — as in essential to the gospel (i.e., an essential gospel doctrine). Using the inductive method, and knowing some of the history of tolerant religion, what is the probability that one will come away from this book with the head-scratching conclusion that there aren’t any “essentials”?
[NOTE: I don’t necessarily recommend this Stott-Edwards book as an efficient resource for locating damnable heresy in history; in my opinion, Gresham Machen’s Christianity & Liberalism is a more efficient resource for this (since much more influential) on the subject of “Christianity vs Liberalism”). This book details Gresham Machen’s damnable selling of essential gospel doctrines down the optional gospel doctrine river.]
Here is the aforementioned author quoting John Stott’s reply to David L. Edwards:
“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 author citing John R.W. Stott; ellipses are the author’s]
Stott is quoted as desiring “frank dialogue” and believing that “the ultimate annihilation of the wicked should at least be accepted as a legitimate, biblically founded alternative to their eternal conscious torment.” So according to Stott, a doctrine which puts forth the reprobate (non-elect) as making satisfaction for their own sins is a “legitimate, biblically-founded alternative.”
In one of the (two total) reviews over at the Amazon website, the reviewer writes:
“Of course, the BIG controversy about this book was Stott’s startling admission that ‘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.’ (Pg. 320) He states: ‘So both the language of destruction and the imagery of fire seem to point to annihilation.’ (Pg. 318) ‘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.’ (Pg. 319) ‘I have never been able to conjure up (as some great Evangelical missionaries have) the appalling vision of the millions who are not only perishing but will inevitably perish. On the other hand, I am not and cannot be a universalist. Between these extremes I cherish the hope that the majority of the human race will be saved. And I have a solid biblical basis for this belief.’ (Pg. 327)”
Appalling vision, Stott says. With these somewhat prefatory comments, here is Herman Witsius engaging in seemingly less emotive, yet wicked comments in his Economy of the Covenants:
“But I know not if it can be determined, whether this eternity ought necessarily to consist in the punishment of sense, or whether the justice of God may be satisfied by the eternal punishment of loss, in the annihilation of the sinful creature.”
Here Witsius speculates concerning whether or not the Holy, Righteous, and Just God of Scripture may satisfy His justice “by the eternal punishment of loss, in the annihilation of the sinful creature.”
Witsius does not soberly consider that if the reprobate (non-elect) are annihilated, then the reprobate have made satisfaction for their own sins. Since the reprobate CANNOT make satisfaction for their own sins, then they must be punished forever.
“This, I apprehend, may be said with sufficient probability and sobriety: if God shall be pleased to continue for ever in existence the sinner, it is necessary (without a satisfaction) that He for ever inflict punishment on him, not only the punishment of loss, but likewise that of sense. The reason is, because not only the guilt of sin always remains, but also the stain with which sin, once committed, infects the soul, and which can never be purged out but by the blood of Christ.”
Witsius’ non-agnostic conjecture concerning the possibility that God’s justice might be “satisfied” by annihilation of the sinful creature, IS to posit the possibility of purging out sin by means of the creature’s annihilation. This speculative figment of Herman Witsius, proceeds NOT from the Spirit of God, but the spirit of antichrist.
“Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world. Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God: And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that [spirit] of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world. Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world. They are of the world: therefore speak they of the world, and the world heareth them. We are of God: he that knoweth God heareth us; he that is not of God heareth not us. Hereby know we the spirit of truth, and the spirit of error” (1 John 4:1-6).
The spirit of antichrist places the work and effort of the sinner IN THE STEAD of Christ as SOLE satisfier, condition-meeter, and fulfiller of the Law (Romans 10:1-5; Galatians 3:10-14).
More audacity from Witsius:
“But whether it is necessary that God should continue forever the sinful creature in a state of existence, I own I am ignorant.”
Ignorant, he says. But Witsius is apparently NOT so ignorant as to make that statement.
“May it not, in its measure, be reckoned an infinite punishment, should God please to doom man, who was by nature a candidate for eternity, to total annihilation, from whence he should never be suffered to return to life? I know God has now determined otherwise, and that with the highest justice.
But it is queried, whether, agreeably to His justice, He might not have settled it in this manner: If thou, O man, sinnest, I will frustrate thy desire of eternal happiness, and of a blessed eternity, and, on the contrary, give thee up to eternal annihilation. Here at least let us hesitate, and suspend our judgment” (Herman Witsius, The Economy of the Covenants; underlining mine).
Yeah, okay, Witsius — it is obvious that you were not sufficiently hesitant in your wicked and vain speculative judgments concerning the justice of God.
Herman Witsius does not realize that the annihilation of the reprobate necessarily implies that the wondrous saying “It is finished” is not unique to Jesus Christ. This is clearly from the spirit of antichrist since it puts the reprobate wicked in the same position as Christ as being a satisfying savor unto God (cf. Ephesians 5:2).
The Bible teaches that Jesus Christ put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself (Hebrews 9:26). The antichristian doctrine of annihilationism puts the reprobate sinner on equal footing with Jesus Christ. In the annihilationist scheme the reprobates’ sin is also “put away” upon cessation of existence.
To close with an answer to this wicked fool according to his folly:
May [the annihilation of the wicked], in its measure, be reckoned an infinite punishment, propitiation, satisfaction, an odor of a sweet smell (Ephesians 5:2)?