Knapp The Ethics of Eternal Punishment is a short 1 Chapter work on why God’s punishment on unsaved sinners must be eternal.
Excerpt from the Work
Our belief in eternal punishment is based on the Scriptures alone; it is the bed-rock foundation of our faith for this as for all other doctrine connected with our glorious Christianity — “the faith which was once for all delivered unto the saints.” In the words of Mr. F. W. Grant, in his well-known work, Facts and Theories as to a Future State, page 451: “It is the judgment of many that the ethical question should precede the exegetical, which seems as much as to say, that we must first decide what Scripture ought to say, before we ascertain what it does. We should certainly treat no other writings after such a fashion; and the claim of these to be divine does not affect their claim to be intelligible also. If God has spoken He is as well able to make Himself understood as another, and is as ready to assume the responsibility of His utterances. If it be God, we need not fear lest His word should be immoral, or that it will not approve itself to the consciences of men, His creatures. Judge Him too they will, no doubt: but He will be justified in His sayings, and clear when He is judged.”
To this we do most heartily and unreservedly agree. It is our very first business to learn what Scripture says on this, as on every other spiritual question; and having ascertained what “God’s word written” says, it is our bounden duty to believe, whether or not we understand it, and regardless altogether whether our natural conscience approves of it or not. “There is little doubt,” the above quoted writer says, “that the attempt to decide on moral grounds what Scripture must have said upon the subject before us (endless punishment) has destroyed with many the certainty of what it does say.” Natural conscience is no safe guide at all in such matters, for we are all fallen creatures, our God-given intelligence is impaired by sin, and our moral sense greatly blunted after almost two hundred generations of rebellion and alienation from God. So men who fear God and tremble at His word have wisely, and to their soul’s settled rest, allowed the Holy Scriptures to speak; and on its unimpeachable testimony they have held firmly to their verdict on this most stupendous subject of eternal punishment.
And if these Scriptures — these “oracles of God,” teach anything clearly, it is that the doom of the finally impenitent is conscious and endless punishment in outer darkness and banishment from God, beginning immediately after death. This has been proven over and over again, both from the common Authorized Version and by the closest scrutiny of the original languages, and that by men of deepest learning and amplest competence for such a task. We quote in this connection the weighty words of J. B. Remensnyder, D.D., author of Doom Eternal: “We have searched the Scriptures in their pure original; we have hearkened to the words which fell from the divine Teacher Himself; and to settle indisputably the force of their language, we have summoned to our aid the critical authority of the most eminent philologists and lexicographers.
We have cited individual confessions presented to the Roman emperors; we have called in review those ecumenical creeds whose universal authority is still the sublimest monument of Christian antiquity; we have had recourse to the particularistic creeds of the Reformation era (Protestant, Roman and Oriental); we have presented as witnesses the beliefs of the various branches of Christendom in the present day; we have sought out the light which Reason and Natural Religion cast upon the problem; and all concur in the one, unanimous, accordant, unequivocal testimony that the eternity of Future Punishment is a vital doctrine of the Bible, a tenet universally held and confessed by the evangelical church, and an article fundamental to the integrity of the Christian Faith.”
And to the above testimony we add the no less weighty, if less eloquent words of B. B. Warfield, D.D., LLD., Professor of Systematic Theology in Princeton Theological Seminary, N. Jersey “What God purposes to do with the incorrigible sinner He alone knows: and we are wholly shut up to what He tells us for our knowledge of His purpose. And speaking in His Son God tells us with perfect explicitness that He purposes that such sinners shall depart from Him to the quenchless fire, and the undying worm — into eternal punishment — into the eternal fire ‘prepared for the devil and his angels.’ It is a terrible doom only to be explained by the terrible wickedness of sin.”
But while all this is true, it is also and equally true that the orthodox doctrine of endless punishment is fully sustained by man’s judicial sense of the oughtness of things, and can be maintained on moral grounds, as well as by appeal to Scripture; in other words, it should be no strain on man’s natural conscience, nor should it shock his moral sense to believe the doctrine of future and unending retribution as taught in the book commonly called the Bible.
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Knapp The Ethics of Eternal Punishment
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