According to Epicureans, anticipating one’s own annihilation ought not to be a frightening experience. Non-existence precludes the possibility of sensation. Consequently annihilation can be neither pleasant nor unpleasant. And that which cannot be felt as either pleasant or unpleasant should not be feared. Certain objectors to the doctines of Conditional Immortalty have suggested that these doctrines undermine the church’s mission and evangelism since we lose the power to “frighten sinners into heaven”. This is particularly true, they say, if, as has been asserted, one’s own annihilation is not really a terrifying prospect.
I want to suggest that this arguement is a “straw man.” First, we conditionalists do not argue that the fate of the wicked is “just annihilation.” All of us must one day stand before God and give account for our lives (Hebrews 4:13). Second, it is a dreadful thing for the sinner to “fall into the hands of the living God” (Hebrews 10:31). Third, the fear of death is simply the converse of the love of life, one cannot passively accepts one’s own extintion without at the same time realising that one has fallen short and failed to enter into the abundant and eternal life in the kingdom of God that Jesus offers to all who will repent and believe.
Those of us who work daily alongside those who are lost have more than enough motivation to share the gospel with those who need to hear it – add to all that I have said above, the desire to glorify God and to show forth the love of Christ. We do not need to manufacture a doctrine that dishonours God to find motivation enough to invite those that we love to repent and believe.