Annihilationism, Continuity, and The Cross
Christ died to pay the penalty for our sins. “Pay” is a good word to use for it– even the writers of the New Testament use accounting language to describe what took place. In fact, when Jesus cried “It is finished” the word he used was “tetelestai.” That’s an accounting term that means, “paid in full.” When ancient Greeks finished a business transaction, the account would have that word written on it. In this case, it was a divine transaction where we take on His righteousness and Christ takes on our sin.
If the penalty for our sins was annihilation instead of torment, then Christ would have to have been annihilated in order to pay for them. But he wasn’t annihilated, He was tormented. He endured a conscious awareness of his pain and separation from the Father…which is a good description He gives elsewhere of the fate those who die in their sins without his provision. [Luke 16]
Furthermore, it would be impossible to first exist, then be truly annihilated, and then return, as there would be no continuity of existence. That is, something that ceases to exist cannot return. It’s gone. The only thing that could “return” would be a copy, not the original. Otherwise the thing, or person, wouldn’t have been truly annihilated.
If I am right on this, it’s another reason to reject annihilationism.