The Watchtower calls the concept of conscious everlasting punishment of unrepentant human beings a “God-dishonoring doctrine” originated by Satan as a slander on God.[i]
What are some good ways to answer this claim?
In order to affirmatively present the biblical teaching, you can point out that in Revelation 20:2-3, Satan is bound and sealed into the abyss for 1000 years.
Then have the Witnesses read aloud Revelation 20:10, which states that at the end of the 1000 years, ‘… the devil, who deceived them, was thrown into the lake of burning sulfur, where the beast and the false prophet had been thrown. They will be tormented day and night for ever and ever.’”
You can ask this question: “How is it that if the beast and false prophet went out of existence in the lake of fire, they are still there 1000 years later and still capable of being tormented?”
Most likely, the Witnesses will tell you that in this context, “tormented” means “restrained” or “imprisoned.”[ii]
To such a claim, I recommend that you reply: “If a person is completely gone and annihilated, in what sense is he being restrained and imprisoned? How can even God restrain or imprison someone who doesn’t exist?”
You can sum up your position with this soundbite:
“When the Bible says ‘they will be tormented day and night for ever and ever, is it wrong and God-dishonoring for me to conclude that they will be tormented day and night forever and ever?’”
(This article has been adapted from my upcoming book, Getting Through to Jehovah’s Witnesses).
Have Jehovah’s Witnesses ever put you on the defensive regarding the concept of everlasting punishment? Do you find these ideas helpful?
Share your thoughts in the comments.
[i] Reasoning from the Scriptures, p. 17
[ii] Footnote to Revelation 20:10 in the New World Translation (2013 edition)
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1 Comment on "Discussing Everlasting Punishment"
“The Watchtower calls the concept of conscious everlasting punishment of unrepentant human beings”
Most JW’s I meet play the semantics of distinguishing between ‘everlasting punishment’ and everlasting punishing.’
Annihilation (JW position) can be equated with “punishment” as it is final and terminal; the idea of “punishing” – for JW’s – is eternally continual, constant, without end, and this is what they object to. To them, it is too cruel, doesn’t resolve the Paradise on Earth idea and still leaves issues for them in the afterlife.