…The Hard Truth with Dr. Kennedy Musonda
THE topic of heaven and hell belongs to a theological study called eschatology. Eschatology is a compound word from two Greek words, eschatos, “an adjective that means ‘farthest’ or ‘last,’ and logos, a noun meaning ‘word’ or ‘study.’ Eschatology, therefore, is the study of what is ultimate or last, that is, what is final in the program of God.
Eschatology as a field of theological study is divided into two parts: cosmic eschatology and individual eschatology.
While cosmic eschatology refers to the second coming of Christ and the end of all things as we know them, individual eschatology refers to what happens to a person when he or she dies. The question of hell is a critical component of individual eschatology. It is therefore important that we delve into its intricacies.
There are several theological positions that were expressed in the responses to my article. The first one is universalism. Universalism is the belief that all humanity will be saved in the end regardless of how they lived. This notion does not believe in hell. The second one is inclusivism, which is the belief that the saving work of Christ encompasses all people of sincerity and goodwill regardless of their religious faith and irrespective of their awareness of Christ’s death on the cross.
Some people argue that because Christ died for the sins of all people, no one will go to hell. The third view is known as extended probation. Extended probation states that a person is given a second chance to repent and have faith and be converted for a limited time after death.
Others still believe that the actions of the living here on earth can shorten the period of the probation. The most prominent view that came out of readers’ responses was annihilationism. Annihilationism is a belief that the conscious existence of the unsaved ceases at the time of death. This view denies the eternal lostness of the sinners, denying an everlasting conscious punishment apart from Christ.
We need to look at scripture. Several scriptures show the conscious existence of dead sinners. Jesus said, “depart from me, ye cursed into everlasting fire (Matthew 25:41). Revelation 14:11 says, “the smoke of their torment ascends up forever and ever, and they have no rest day and night.” If the fire is only symbolic, what does not having rest mean if the dead are destroyed?
Next week, I will be discussing specific issues raised by readers in response to my last article. Once more continue providing feedback on this discourse.
Author: Dr. Kennedy Musonda holds a Bachelor and Master of Social Work, a Postgraduate Diploma in Management Studies, a Master of Business Administration (MBA) and a Ph.D. in Business Administration. Dr. Musonda, who is an international development consultant, is set to complete his Bachelor of Arts in Theology mid-year.
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