Monday, June 22, 2015

Hell

Jerry L. Walls, a professor at Houston Baptist University, "has written a book defending eternal hell...." He writes "I will be most delighted if one of the things I have spent a lot of time and energy in my career defending turns out to be wrong." From his "10 Things I Wish Everyone Knew About Hell":
.... The Christian hope is not defined in terms of a lifetime of happiness that lasts 80 or so years and is at best partial, intermittent, and hit or miss. Rather, the Christian hope is for nothing short of perfect happiness that literally lasts forever and answers our deepest longings for satisfaction and joy.

No sane person can be indifferent to such a prospect. You may doubt that it is possible, but you cannot rationally be indifferent. Not to care is not to understand. And that is why every sane person cares about hell. ....

God wants to elicit our love and he has gone to the extreme length to demonstrate the depth of his love for us by sending his Son to die and save us from our sins though we turned our backs on him. Amazing as it is, we can resist his love and continue to go our own way.

If we persist in doing so, hell is the natural result. God certainly does not want anyone to go to hell, but precisely because he is love, we are free to walk away, and if we really want hell instead of love, we can have it. ....

[In that view] God does not lock sinners into hell against their will, but rather, they are in hell because they have locked God out of their lives. C.S Lewis famously put it this way: “I willingly believe that the damned are, in one sense, successful, rebels to the end; that the doors of hell and locked on the inside.”

The notion that anyone would freely lock themselves in hell sounds incredible. Why would anyone do that? This is one of the most puzzling things about hell. Lewis attempted to answer that question in a little book called The Great Divorce.

If you want to read one book on heaven and hell, I would recommend this one. The premise is that a group of the denizens of hell take a bus ride to heaven and are given every opportunity to stay. Indeed, they are implored to do so.

As surprising as it may seem, almost all of them choose to go back to hell. Why? Because they need to make some profound changes in their lives in order to enjoy the heavenly society of perfect love and joy. In particular, they need to give up various resentments, jealousies, attitudes of self-righteousness, and so on that they have been clinging to.

When faced with this reality, they choose to go back to hell. .... [more]