@anthony.costello Very good thoughts! I enjoy these types of conversations very much, so thank you for partaking. The Scriptures are truly beautiful!
(1) I do not think appealing to authority solves this issue because very intelligent people are on both sides of the fence. John Stott, a brilliant man and leader, was annihilationist. J. I. Packer, whose book on finding God’s will helped me a lot, holds eternal torment.
In addition, I never listen to experts who cannot explain to me ‘why’ or ‘how come’ their view is correct in words that I can understand. That means that either (a) they do not understand it themselves or (b) they do not have a good reason. Experts can be biased just as easily as the rest of us.
That said, the argument you listed from Gundry is quite common - that the juxtaposition of eternal torment / eternal life must mean that if the eternal life is eternal, so is the torment. I respect this argument as being one of the better arguments for the position of eternal torment. However, notable scholars have recognized that aionios can mean ‘of the age’ and the NT often refers to ‘the age to come’ - so that these phrases could mean ‘life of the age to come’ or ‘punishment of the age to come’.
Again - see Jude 1:7 for a case where ‘eternal fire’, if taken in context, would most naturally not be eternal. Of course there is an alternate interpretation, so I am not suggesting this is a nail in the coffin type argument for eternal torment - simply that it is worth marinating over.
(2) Regarding Revelation, what I feel is important is that historically, in the Church, there are 4 main interpretations. The futurist, preterist, historicist and allegorical. Out of those 4, only a subset strongly support that these verses point to eternal torment. So my point is simply that other views are possible - again, not a nail in the coffin for any position in my opinion.
(3) Very well put! I think your point about ‘sola’ vs ‘solo’ Scriptura is very helpful. My only comment would be that if it is not rooted in Scripture, it is not something that should be used as strong support for eternal torment in my opinion.
(4) I think the use of the word ‘cruel’ in reference to God’s judgment is begging the question. If God’s justice is truly just - then whatever punishment He met out before destroying them would not be cruel. The annihilationist is not arguing their position simply because they think all punishment is cruel - rather because they think annihilation is Biblical. In addition, eternal torment is easily the most cruel of all of the views if any of them are to be considered cruel (though I understand, as I said before, if God is just then His punishment is not cruelty).
(5) I actually don’t think people will repent posthumously either - but I was curious on your position. ‘It is appointed once for men to die and then the judgment’ (Hebrews 9:27). However, I think there is much about the afterlife the Bible simply does not address. As you said, speculation about the eschaton is ‘highly speculative’.
The main thrust of my position is not that annihilation is necessarily correct, but that it has at least as much Biblical weight as eternal torment and it is worth doing a deep dive into the Bible to understand both positions before selecting one.
Your Brother in Christ,