I've searched somewhat through your writings, but either haven't seen the obvious, or haven't seen what's not there.
I realize that I don't come right out with certain conclusions surrounding the matter of hell and/or the after-life (as well as other controversial topics), and I actually do that on purpose. Of course, as you have been searching - while pondering it all for yourself - you may not realize that you have seen more than you think.
The fact is that many are looking for "concrete" answers to replace the remnants of past religious beliefs. I would rather challenge false perceptions so that people will be left to consider the many ramifications of their displaced beliefs before trying to rebuild a new structure containing modified beliefs. I think that's how so many have been able to jump on the "grace" bandwagon without any real understanding of grace as being life itself. I desire that the whole concept of building a belief structure will be trashed in the process! :)
...what is your view on immortality for those outside of Christ? My impression is that those outside are not only positionally dead (ie. eternal existence but apart from Christ) but actually dead (sins no longer held against them, but no existence beyond the grave, or at least after the second death).
I pretty much agree with what you've written here and think that this is also what Paul had in mind when he wrote things like that in 2 Thess 1. In 2 Corinthians 5 Paul describes what it is to view no man after the flesh. Contrary to the idea that we are supposed to, in effect, "pretend" that everybody is a new creature in Christ Paul presents a reality in which out of the graveyard of humanity a new creation has arisen, so that any who are in Christ have been made new. His description fits with the whole of both letters to the Corinthians. >From the start of 1 Corinthians Paul demanded that they were not of the world but had been separated from the world by the doing of Christ, so that the message of the cross was power to them even though it could be nothing but absurdity to "those who are perishing".
I know there's a lot of contention on this whole issue. It seems that on the one side it has been demanded that the mentioned "eternal destruction" means endless suffering in the pit of hell for all outside of Christ, while on the other there seems to be this need to "reverse" the fallacies of those who seem to glory in the very idea of damnation by coming up with counter-measures to portray the opposite picture. I think the reality lies outside the very framework of the thing we keep trying to understand. :)
Also, if so, how would you reconcile the above with Jesus' parable of Lazarus and the rich man (ie. a story for illustration purposes only, aka truth revealed through fiction, or an actual historical account)?
Consider that the story of Lazarus and the rich man was told to do a flip-flop to the natural religious mind of those who heard it. From everything they understood, the "rich man" had been so obviously blessed by God simply by virtue of the easily seen blessings, while Lazarus was the perfect picture of one abandoned by God. Jesus turned their perceptions upside down by depicting the earthly-blessed man in torment and the earthly-condemned man in paradise. And he does it in such a way as to bring their highest "man of God authority figure" (Moses) into the picture to validate their obvious judgment from God. Truth is their judgment was all too plain to see, though few dared say it (just like those who sat quietly by out of fear in the "Emperor's New Clothes").
Very likely, the people who heard this story were able to relate a few different people to either character ... and they possibly even knew a Lazarus who begged at the table of a rich man. Those who love to use this story to tell about the damnation of the outcasts need to realize that it was the religious "men of God" (the insiders) who were being pictured in "torment", the same torment probably preached by such men; while it was the "outcast" that is pictured in paradise. The story makes some very clear points using possible historical characters, but to suggest that it was validation of our whacked out modern versions of the place of eternal suffering only misses their real impact, and even reinterprets the story so that self-righteous Pharisees feel quite comfortable in using it to pass judgment upon others.
Any thoughts? :)