I appreciate your willingness to continue the conversation, even though we don’t agree (yet?). I tend to avoid the word annihilationism – partly because it is too long (duh), and partly because it is an easy “write that off, it’s not in the Bible” kind of thought-stopper.
But first, let me tell you one of my reactions as a young atheist. It sounded to me like Christians were saying something like:
“God loves you, He sent His son to die for your sins, and if you don’t believe that, He is going to torture you for trillions and trillions of years, in a firey hell!”
Which is clearly not a portrayal of a perfectly loving God. On the other hand, if a Supreme Being exists, such that should i reject it/Him in the End, will cause me to experience all the negative effects of everything i have done to others, at one consecutive time period, and then separate me from the only Source of unending Life, well that sounds more like a love i can understand – it’s extremely fair.
Will the Judgemjent-Punishment-action for the lost be a “walk in the park”? No, not at all, it will cause much “wailing and gnashing of teeth”, for we do much more damage to others than we care to remember or accept responsibility for. But the ultimately-lost have no immortal existence, so the weeping and wailing cannot continue indefinitely, but will be in eternity, just a “drop in the bucket” of timelessness.
In order for anyone to be immortal, God would have to decide to give them non-stop existence, that is some life-form, or else they would not be eternal. But if they have an eternal form, then God would be approving of them, and their continued sinning (by rejecting God) for all eternity.
So without realizing it, most Believers are accusing God of maintaining sin and sinners into the Kingdom, when He has promised He will erradicate all sin and sinners. And there is great injustice in an infinite punishment for a finite amount of sin.
On the other hand, suppose God grants a temporary existence to the lost, for the Judgement/Punishment, so that they may feel and know all the consequences of their every thought/word/deed, in a relatively short period of “time”, and then in mercy, grants them absolute rest by withdrawing their temporary, mortal, life force.
Then our Heavenly Dad will show forth both His fairness (which is what justice is all about, isn’t it?) and His compassion. And this concept of God is consistent with His Law, and His compassion for even the most lost. Recall that His Law, which David, Paul and Jesus called perfect, never specified any long-term punishing, but the worst punishment was always death – cessation of life.
So before Christians just write off conditioned (or conditiional) immortality, with an End to the wicked, it would be wise to look closely at His Law, His death for all mankind, His compassion and mercy for His enemies (examples available), His desire and plan to eliminate all sin from the universe (not keep it alive and well in hell), and the exact words used by Jesus/Scripture to describe the fate of the finally lost. (I may look more closely at the latter soon.)
Well, i just got on a “rant” i suppose, but i’m glad we can discuss this controversial subject without a lot of heat and name-calling, which doesn’t do any good at all. Besides, we both agree that our Lord and Savior is perfectly fair, compassionate, just, merciful, loving and kind. So His treatment of His permanently rebellious offspring will reflect His character, perfectly. Right?
As an afterthought, i like the saying you quoted:
“He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose .”
My take on that:
He is no fool who gives up intense misery followed by full elimination to gain a joyful existence that cannot end.