I don’t believe that the terms “eternal punishment” and “eternal judgment” imply everlasting torment with no chance of liberation. Why should I think the term “eternal conscious torment” implies everlasting torment with no chance of liberation?
Simple. Because that’s what the term means! What right does anyone have to change the usual meaning of a term to suit his purposes? For example, suppose “freedom of speech” is in the constitution of a country. But I choose to understand the term to mean “restriction of speech” (in cases of those who disasgree with me). According to my personal definition, I can go around loudly proclaiming that I believe in freedom of speech, although everyone else would say I believe the opposite.
Welcome to the EU Forum Board.: )
On one hand, I agree that we need to understand the original context of all speech. On the other hand, people who coined the term “eternal conscious torment” assumed a misunderstanding of “eternal punishment” and “eternal judgment”.
Incidentally, I think James is making reference to a number of other discussions we’ve had elsewhere on how scriptural authors were making use of “eonian”, “into the eon”, “of the eon”, “for the eon(s) of the eon(s)”, etc.
That being said, the original post could stand some expansion, too. (But I get the impression James was writing a note down for future discussion later. Other things have happened since then.)