Over against the traditional belief that hell means eternal torment, John Stott and Clark Pinnock believe that hell is in fact an annihilation of the soul after the Last Judgment. The following table compares the Bible verses about hell.
Eternal Torment
Annihilation of Soul
  • On the day of judgment, some will be condemned; there is going to be "weeping and gnashing of teeth" (Mt 8:12, 22:13, 24:51, 25:30, Lk 13:28).
  • Hell is a lake of fire and is the outer darkness.
  • Fire and darkness exclude each other.
  • Hell is the second death.
  • Death is termination of life and consciousness.
  • Hell is "eternal separation from God" (Lausanne Covenant); based on Jesus' words "depart from me" (Mt 7:23, 25:41) and Paul's "shut out from the presence of the Lord (2Th 1:9). This banishment will be real, terrible, and eternal. ["eternal judgment" (Heb 6:2), "everlasting contempt" (Da 12:2), "eternal punishment" (Mt 25:46), "everlasting destruction" (2Th 1:9), "eternal fire" (Mt 18:8, 25:41)]
1. Language 
  • "destruction" often used as the final state of perdition; "destroy both body and soul" (Mt 10:28, Jas 4:12) means extinction of being 
  • "to perish": eternally in hell (Jn 3:16, 10:28, 17:12, Ro 2:12, 1Co 15:8, 2Pe 3:9) 
  • "those who are perishing" (1Co 1:18, 2Co 2:15, 4:3, 2Th 2:10) 
  • "destruction" (Mt 7:13, cf. Ro 9:22, Php 1:28, 3:19, Heb 10:39, 2Pe 3:7, Rev 17:8,11) 
  • "ruin" or "destruction" (1Th 5:3, 2Th 1:9) 
  • It would be difficult to imagine a perpetually inconclusive process of perishing.
  • The human soul is indestructible.
  • The immortality of sould is a Greek not a biblical concept. 
  • Only God possesses immortality in Himself (1Ti 1:17, 6:16); he reveals and gives it to us through the gospel (2Ti 1:10).
2. Imagery 
  • "the fire of hell" (Mt 5:22, 18:9), "eternal fire" (Mt 18:8, 25:41), and "lake of fire" (Rev 20:14-15). The main function of fire is not to cause pain, but to secure destruction. 
  • "burning up the chaff with unquenchable fire" (Mt 3:12, cf. Lk 3:17) 
  • "smoke rises for ever and ever" (Rev 14:11, cf.19:3): evidence that the fire has done its work
  • "their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched" (Mk 9:48, Is 66:24) 
  • Judith 16:17 "they shall weep and feel their pain for ever"
  • The verses do not mention everlasting pain. 
  • The worm will not die and the fire will not be quenched until presumably their work of destruction is done. 
  • Judith is not part of the canon.
  • "eternal punishment" at the end of the parable of the sheep and goats
  • Jesus only said that both the life and the punishment would be eternal. 
  • While Jesus spoke of eternal life as a conscious enjoyment of God (Jn 17:3), it does not follow that eternal punishment must be a conscious experience of pain.
  • Dives cry out because he was "in agony in this fire" (Lk 16:23-24,28)
  • figurative in parables such as "Abraham's bosom" and "hell fire" 
  • It is the intermediate state after death and before final judgment. 
  • "torment" in Rev 14:10 will be experienced "in the presence of the holy angels and of the Lamb", referring to the moment of judgment but not to the eternal state. It is not the torment but its smoke (symbol of the completed burning) which will be "for ever and ever".
  • In the lake of fire, "they will be tormented day and night for ever and ever". (Rev 20:10)
  • It refers not only to the devil, but to "the beast and the false prophet" and also "the harlot Babylon" (Rev 18:7,10,15) but the latter without the words "for ever and ever". 
  • The best, the false prophet and the harlot, however, are not individual people but symbols of the world in its varied hostility to God. They cannot experience pain, nor can "Death and Hades" which follow them into the lake of fire (Rev 20:13) 
  • The imagery is that ultimately all enmity and resistance to God will be destroyed.
  • Some argue that the lost will continue to be impenitent through eternity.
3. Justice 
  • God will judge people "according to what they have done" (Rev 20:12) which implies that the penalty inflicted will be commensurate with the evil done. 
  • Eternal torment will be disproportionate to sins committed in temporal time.
4. Universalism Verses 
  • Eternal existence of the impenitent in hell would be hard to reconcile with the promises of God's final victory over evil. 
  • Christ will draw all men to Himself (Jn 12:32) 
  • God will unite all things under Christ's leadership (Eph 1:10) 
  • God will reconcile all things to Himself through Christ (Col 1:20) 
  • God will bring every knee to bow to Christ and every tongue to confess His lordship (Php 2:10-11) 
  • God will be "all in all" or "everything to everybody" (1Co 15:28)
  • The above exposition is not dogma, should be held tentatively, and be accepted as a legitimate, biblically founded alternative to the belief of eternal conscious torment.