What is the current status of a traditional, never-ending, conscious eternal punishment in contemporary theology and religious philosophy? While many conservative, evangelical Christian Believers continue to adhere to such a position, it is also easily detected that many others do not. While fifty to sixty years ago, it may have been more common to hear that annihilationism was adhered to by members of various cults or heterodox groups, belief in annihilationism—or at least a preference toward annihilationism—can now be found among many (professing) evangelicals. And, this same sentiment can also be definitely found in various sectors of the Messianic community.
The topic of eternal punishment is one of the most unpleasant and least desirable that any Bible teacher will ever have to discuss. I myself get no sense of enthusiasm, excitement, anticipation—and certainly no joy—out of the requirement that any discussion on death, the afterlife, and human destiny requires an analysis of what happens to the unredeemed. This is something that simply has to be addressed, and one which the author of Hebrews actually considers to be elementary to people of faith (Hebrews 6:2). To only address the positive side of human destiny, and not the negative side, would be a dereliction of a responsible teacher’s duty to the Biblical message and story.