I have recently been forced to carefully evaluate my position on hell.
This analysis has left me with the continued belief in the thesis known as 'annihilationism' or 'conditional unorthodoxy' (that those in hell do not have an eternal conscious existence). This is not the traditional view (eternal conscious punishment), but it does appear to be a view gaining in strength within the evangelical community. I think this view is supported on several bases (both scriptural and philosophical).
1. Talk of the wicked dying [Rom. 6:23; Jn. 3:16; Rev. 20:14; . . .] or being destroyed [Mt. 7:13; Gal. 6:8; 2 Th. 1:9; . . .].
2. Talk of the righteous gaining eternal life [Jn. 3:15; Jn. 3:36; Jn. 5:24; Jn. 20:31; Rom. 6:23; . . ].
3. The justice of God: How can finite sins be justly punished with an infinite punishment?
4. 'Cosmological Dualism': God's justice is never fully satisfied on the traditional view since there is always those that are still paying their penalty -- there are always those that are rebelling against God. This doesn't seem to square with our picture of what things will be like then.
So why is the traditional view the traditional view? Some have suggested that it is due to the Hellenistic philosophical influence on the early church. With the idea that people are unconitionally immortal (Greek philosophy), the traditional view follows. Yet this is a philosophical thesis open to debate. Scripture does speak of the fires of hell being eternal, and if this is coupled with the thesis that people are immortal the traditional view follows. There is, however, good reason to doubt the thesis that people are unconditionally immortal. As such, the annihilationist thesis seems to me to be a scripturally tenable thesis. It certainly offers a less problematic outlook on hell with regard to the problem of evil. As of now anyway, this seems to me to be the best understanding of the matter.