Friday, February 4, 2011

Reconciling the Reality of Hell and a God Who is Love

The Curt Jester calls our attention to an article called Debunking the Myth of Hell which has this basic premise.
I’m writing about hell because it is an unthinkable, horrible, destructive concept that can’t possibly be true.
My own personal comment about that is there are many people just don't have much imagination. This author seems to be one. God is so far outside our range of what could "possibly be true" that believing in anything else that goes along with Him should be a piece of cake. People who say that sort of thing just aren't trying hard enough. Or even looking into it much. More correctly, the statement should say, "I don't want to believe in it."
The first time I encountered the concept was from a high school English teacher and it affected me not at all since I cared nothing for God or Hell at the time other than to be surprised that someone would rather disappear ... that teacher's favored imagining of the punishment for not doing what one should ... than to just, well, go ahead and do what one should. She was kind of a ditzy hippy and we all knew it and that also took away all emphasis from what she was trying to "teach" that day, for me at any rate.

Anyway, The Curt Jester has his own comments which I liked very much and pithily sums up with the kicker which really sums up the concept which we should remember when faced with this statement from others.
She ends the article with the statement “God is Love.” So to reverse her question “Can a loving God force someone to Heaven who doesn’t want to be with him?


  1. Here I go again, speaking from my research into spiritual matters...

    One of the references I have read about exorcisms had a statement of one of the demons who possessed the person stating to the priest something to the effect of "Little do you know! God didn't create Hell, WE did!"

    Iris Celeste

  2. I'm in intellectual submission to the Church about Hell being eternal and irreversible. I do believe Hell exists, but I SO SO SO SO much wish that every hundred years or so, God would offer the damned an open enrollment period where they could reverse their decision. I wish they could still exercise their free will *after* that final decision-point.

    I accept that 2000 years of smarter people than myself found that not to be the case. It's clearly not an actionable thing, even if I were to believe the Church wrong. But like you said, I wish it weren't true.

  3. Now that ... makes sense! :-)

  4. Oops, Jane snuck in there ... I was talking to Iris in that previous comment.

    Jane, I know we've talked about that before and I admire that obedience even when you wish it weren't true. I can't remember if I mentioned this before but our priest has likened it to bringing one of those deep sea creatures that exist in deep pressure and no light up to the surface of the ocean. What we call a beautiful day they would call torture and they would choose to go back down. Which helps me to understand it more ...

  5. God doesn't send people to Hell. People choose to be parted from God. Eternal separation from God is HELL. And yes, that would have always existed because God has always existed. So a choice to be parted from that which has always existed is also eternal. What those in such a state then choose to do to each other is a different matter and in that sense you can say demons have created hell.

    Iris Celeste

  6. {What we call a beautiful day they would call torture and they would choose to go back down.}

    God is pretty smart and powerful and would be able to figure out how to make that separation non-painful. And yes, God set up healthy boundaries, but at some point it seems our free will is frozen (like spiritual rigor mortis) and it can't be exercised any longer. I'd like it to be that God would allow that free choice to be exercised even after the final tipping point.

    That's *me.* I trust that God knows more than I do. But no explanation can resolve all the variables for me, which are:
    1) free will is pointless if we have no ability to reject God
    2) rejecting God results in a lot of pain
    3) I do not like to think of people being in pain

    I understand that #3 does not trump #1 and #2. :-) Explaining to me why Hell isn't all that bad or is the best place for the people who reject God or whatever would in some extent reduce the "eternal torment" part of Hell, and that makes no intellectual sense either. You're just doing #3 differently, that's all.

  7. Definitely. I actually do not think about those people being in pain. I worry about keeping myself from becoming one of them. That's the best I can do and it does me no good to cry over the rest. For me it is enough to know that Hell is there, that I need to try to avoid it (which is the back side of saying that I should be loving God more than anything) and to try to get my husband to Heaven (while teaching my kids what they need to know too).

    I've got plenty on my plate without worrying about those who have made their decisions. I understand your POV on it. That's just mine.

  8. Hi Julie - one thing I mentioned in my fisking of the article is that the writer says there's no proof of the existence of Hell. By extension, she can't believe in Heaven either - because there is no proof of its existence.

    This, despite the scriptures, Jesus, the testimony of the saints - none of that is good enough for her. If Truth Incarnate can't convince her, then alas, I doubt anything can.

    It's a very sad state, isn't it, to be locked away inside one's own mind of limited possibilities, without even realizing it.