Weblog of a Christian philosophy student

Weblog of a Christian philosophy student. Please feel free to comment. All of my posts are public domain. Subscribe to posts [Atom]. Email me at countaltair [at] yahoo.com.au. I also run a Chinese to English translation business at www.willfanyi.com.

Location: Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Monday, December 17, 2007

Hell In Three Paragraphs

Hell In Three Paragraphs
Will G

As I've written about the doctrine of hell, and salvation and the need for it in Christian theology, I can't emphasise enough that there is one core concept, I (personally) think, that is the 'foundation of stone' for any defense of hell, both to others and to ourselves. It is that hell has to be based on free choice. So much does the Bible say. But I argue that it never works unless you fully take that concept of free choice to its extreme. That would mean people in hell get the choice to go to heaven, and that people going to hell who are alive today, if everyone knew the truth of Christianity, would still make the choice to go to hell. Otherwise what kind of choice is it? There should be no time limits and it should be a reasonable one, otherwise no one would freely choose hell.

This leads me inexorably to draw a conclusion about hell, that it has to be a reasonable choice. The best way of making it a reasonable choice is to redraw the boundaries of Christian theology so it's more of a 'fifty-fifty' thing and not so ridiculously unbalanced in favour of heaven. I say that hell is either a finite (because it's timeless) amount of suffering, or is more like limbo of no suffering and happiness over an eternity. Then I say that heaven, due to our necessary imperfection which not even God can fix by some other way, must involve a massive loss of individuality and autonomy, when we accept it, by the joining our spirits to the Holy Spirit. This makes the choice more difficult and hence reasonable someone might say no to heaven. Ah yes, but then you might say, it's still the case that no one would choose to go to hell despite that loss of individuality and autonomy, given that heaven still involves perfect happiness forever. Well, how far are you willing to go with me on the loss of autonomy and individuality to agree with my point? I say to you, however far it seems reasonable to you that the loss of autonomy and individuality is so great that it's a difficult choice to go to heaven or hell, that is how far we should go - however far it takes, although we can't be robots and have to have choice involved somewhere.

This is the only thing I can possibly think of to make heaven and hell possible, because it is the only thing I can think of that makes it a reasonable choice. But, it can make the doctrine *work*, along with an explanation of why this choice, salvation, heaven and hell, has to be this way. I encourage readers to take a look here and here to know why I think we do have to face this choice; why it's plausible that we do, and for other elements of such a theology.



Anonymous Publius2 said...

Hell is a real place. It is a place where the inhabitants will suffer in a burning unquenchable heat and experience such things as thirst with no relief. They will have awareness, be able to see, speak remember and experience remorse. [Luke 16:19-31] But it gets worse - hell itself will be cast into an eternal lake of fire.[Revelation 20:13-15] It's so terrifying that Jesus said it's better if your hand offends you to cut it off and cast it away or if your eye offends you to pluck it out. Better to enter life maimed than to be cast into hell.[Matthew 5:29-30].

"Everlasting fire" is a place that was created for the devil and his angels - but if man insists on following Satan, he will suffer the same fate.[Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels. Matthew 25:41]

Blogger Will G said...

It is possible to interpret hell though as not being literally fire and brimstone, Glenn Miller has a good article on this here:


It would not I think devalue any of those passages to say that hell is eternal exclusion from God and that those passages are describing this fate figuratively.


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