I'm one of the ones that ET ALWAYS DID AND STILL makes perfect sense to, [because it's carnal thinking; annihilationism even works with my carnal mind,] but what TOTALLY MATTERS ISN'T what makes sense but what the Scriptures CLEARLY teach, and the Scriptures clearly declare something much more glorious -- the summation of all of Creation in Christ Jesus, and God ultimately being all in all -- rather than all in most or all in some or all in a few -- is the clear teaching of Scripture. I would encourage you to get a book by Dr Harold Lovelace that I wish I'd had my 42 month very thorough investigation of UR because it lists in KJV about 350 passages of Scripture that either support UR or that clearly establish the Scriptural vocabulary that the Bible is emphatically teaching UR. His book is attainable through his website at: http://www.haroldlovelace.com
In fact, never ending "punishment" is extinction .... with no recourse .... ever .... as the scriptures clearly convey
Annihilationism was actually the perspective of the gnostics who believed that those that didn't attain to this hidden knowledge outside of Christ Jesus would perish utterly, and usually identifies someone as having the other heresies of either the JWs or the 7th Days that deny quite a few cardinal doctrines of the New Testament. For your reconsideration of annihilation, have a look at a brief exchange between Russell Miller and A.E. Knoch at this link:http://www.geocities.com/kencallen/russell.html
Furthermore, with regards to what you've said:
The opinion of the annihilation of the wicked, which has at different times been held by some, as a refuge from the doctrine of never-ending punishment, is not only opposed to the whole analogy of our regeneration, which shews how death and judgment are the only way of life and deliverance for a fallen creature, but also so directly contradicts what is said of "death" in Scripture, that it is difficult to conceive how it could ever have been accepted by believers. Even before the reason of the Cross is seen, the very letter of Scripture, one might have thought, would have kept men from concluding that the "death," "destruction," and "perishing," of the wicked means their non-existence or annihilation. For what is "death"? What is "destruction"? How are these words invariably used in Holy Scripture?
First, as to "death," are any of the varied deaths, which Scripture speaks of as incident to man, his non-existence or annihilation? Take as examples the deaths referred to by St. Paul , in the sixth, seventh, and eighth chapters of the Epistle to the Romans. We read, (chapt. vi. 7,) "He that is dead is freed from sin." Is this "death," which is freedom from sin, non-existence or annihilation? Again, where the Apostle says, (chapt. vii. 9,) "I was alive without the law once, but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died,"—was this "death," wrought in him by the law, annihilation? Again, where he says, (chapt. viii. 6,) "To be carnally minded is death," is this death non-existence or annihilation? And again, when he says (chapt. viii. 38,) "Neither death nor life shall separate us," is the "death" here referred to annihilation? When Adam died on the day he sinned, (Gen. ii. 17,) was this annihilation? When his body died, and turned to dust, (Gen. v. 5,) was this annihilation? Is our "death in trespasses and sins," (Eph. ii. 1, 2,) annihilation? Is our "death to sin," (Rom. vi. 11,) annihilation? When the "corn of wheat falls into the ground and dies," (S. John xii. 24,) is it annihilated; or is St. Paul right in saying, (1 Cor. xv. 37,) "That which thou sowest is not quickened except it die?" Do not these and similar uses of the word prove beyond all question, that whatever else these deaths may be, not one of them is non-existence or annihilation? On what grounds, I ask, are we to assign a sense to this particular death which confessedly the word "death" has not and cannot have elsewhere? Where is the proof that there is and can be no resurrection from the second death?
The truth is, death for man is simply an end to, and separation from, some given form of life which he has lived in. Death to God is separation from His world of light, by the destruction, through the lie of the serpent, of the divine life of light and love in us. Death to sin, the exact converse of this, is the separation from the world of darkness, by the destruction, through the truth, of the dark life of unbelief and self-love. The death wrought by the law is the end of, and separation from, our fallen carnal life of self-sufficiency; while what is commonly called death, namely the death of the body, is simply our separation from the outward world, in which we live, as partakers of its outward life, while we are in the body.
Once let us see that there are three worlds, each having its own life,--a light world, a dark world, and this outward seen world,--and then what is said in Scripture of the new birth, or of the varied deaths we pass through, becomes at once self-evident. For the only way into any world is by a birth into it, even as the only way out of any world is by a death to it. We have by sin died to God's light-world, to fall into and live in a spirit-world of darkness. We must by the truth, that is by Christ, die to this dark spirit-world, to return to live in God's light-world. The outward birth and death of the body, and its life, have only to do with the outward seen world.
For this reason it is that the word "destruction," as used in Scripture, never means annihilation. Take for instance the words of the xcth Psalm, "Thou turnest man to destruction: again Thou sayest, Come again, ye children of men." Can "destruction" here be annihilation? Is it not rather that dissolution which must take place if fallen creatures are ever to be brought back perfectly to God's kingdom. So again, Job says, (chapt. xix. 10,) "He hath destroyed me on every side, and I am gone"; and again, (chapt. ix. 22,) "This one thing I said, He destroyeth the perfect and the wicked." But does he mean to say that he is brought to non-existence, or that the "perfect" will be so destroyed, that they will exist no longer? So, again, St. Peter says, (2 Ep. iii. 6,) "The world that then was perished." So, again, of the present heavens and earth it is said, (Heb. i. 11, 12,) "They shall perish, . . . and be changed." So, again, both of Israel and Jerusalem it is said, (Deut. xxx. 18; Jer. xii. 17; xv. 6;) that they shall be "destroyed" and "perish." But does any one suppose that therefore they will be annihilated? So, again, as to the expression, "them that perish," sometimes translated "the lost"; (see 2 Cor. iv. 3; 1 Cor. i. 18; 2 Cor. ii. 15;) do we not know that these "lost," though they "perish," still exist, and exist both as "lost" ones and "saved" ones, as text on text will testify abundantly. So as to the righteous, in the well-known passage of Isaiah; (chapt. lvii, 1;) "The righteous "perisheth, and no man layeth it to heart";--is this "perishing" non-existence? So, again, where we read, in Psalm lxxxiii. 16-18, "Fill their faces with shame, that they may seek thy name, O Lord: let them be confounded and troubled for ever; yea, let them be put to shame and perish; that men " (literally " they ," for the word " men " is not in the Original,) "may know that Thou, whose name is Jehovah, art the Most High over all the earth;"—men are to be "confounded for ever and perish, that they may know Jehovah."
So as to the question, "Wilt Thou shew wonders to the dead? Shall the dead arise and praise Thee? Shall thy loving-kindness be declared in the grave, or they faithfulness in destruction?"—is the true answer, Yes, or No? Is not the "losing" or "destruction" of our fallen life the only way to a better one? Does not our Lord Himself say more than once, (S. Matt. x. 39; xvi. 25; S. John xii. 25;) that the way to "save our life," or "soul," is to "lose it," or "have it destroyed," in its fallen form, that it may be re-created?
These last words should of themselves settle this question, for in one place, (S. Matt. x. 39,) they occur in immediate connexion (see verse 28,) with those other well-known words, as to "fearing him who can destroy both body and soul in hell," which are constantly quoted by some to prove, as they think, that "destruction" must be non-existence. And yet, in the very closest connexion with these words, our Lord repeats the self-same word, "destroy," (in our Authorized Version translated "lose"—it is the word apollumi, on which some build so much,) to express that death and dissolution of the soul, which, so far from bringing it to non-existence, is the appointed way to save it. Christ saves it, as we have seen, by death; for being fallen into sin, what is needed is "that the body of sin should be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin." (Rom. vi. 6.) The elect, that is the first-fruits, are the living proof of this. A "new man" is created in them, and the "old man" dies and is destroyed, while yet he in whom all this is done remains through all the same person. It may be, and is, a riddle, like "dying, and behold we live: having nothing, and yet possessing all things"; yet it is only the riddle of the Cross, that "by death God destroys him that has the power of death." Therefore, though destruction, like death, may be, and is, a ceasing from some particular form of life which has been lived in by man, yet it is never non-existence absolutely; rather it is the means to bring the fallen creature into a new life, a chaos being ever the necessary condition for a new creation.
As for the argument, founded by some on the word apollumi , that because it is one of the strongest in the Greek language to express destruction, therefore that destruction must be irremediable, the simple answer is, that the question is not whether the destruction is great, but whether God is not still greater, and therefore whether He is not able even out of the destruction to bring forth better things. This at least is certain, that both in the New Testament and in the Classical Greek, the word in question is used of those who though "destroyed" are yet "saved." To the passages already quoted from the New Testament I will only add one more:--"The Son of Man is come to seek and to save that which was lost :" (S. Luke xix. 10.)