I’ve lately been bothered by the idea of Hell quite a bit.
My generic view of Hell is this: a place/existence of separation from God, the source of all that is good, peaceful, joyful, etc. It is painful in the deep, soul-torment type of pain that is of an entirely different and worse order than physical pain, like when you wished your parents would spank you for your misbehavior but instead they just looked at you and you felt very distant from them.
The question, “How can a loving God send people to Hell?” does not seem unreasonable question. It is a question that bothers me. I do not like to think of people — any people — in eternal torment because they are separated from God forever.
In “The Great Divorce,” C.S. Lewis concocted a story wherein people in Hell can get to heaven but, often as not, choose Hell. This is where the idea of Hell really begins to bother me.
I see two options:
1. Whether or not I go to Hell is completely up to God.
2. Whether or not I go to Hell is a result of my decisions.
I don’t like either choice.
If I my eternal destiny is entirely in the hands of God then it is out of my control. I like to be in control of things. I like to steer the ship of my life. To think that the most serious event of my existence — my eternal destination — is completely out of my control is not a happy thought.
On the other hand, having my eternal destiny be up to my choice doesn’t seem so great either. I make poor choices all the time. I just ate 1/2 box of Fudge Grahams even though I know they are bad for me. If the Bible’s presupposition of Heaven is true (that we enter by grace as a free gift), that puts a stumbling block in my way. I must check my pride at the door. There’s no room left for, “Isn’t John great?!!” If I must drop my pride and humbly accept a gift I can never repay in order to enter heaven, I’m afraid that in some moments I would choose Hell and keep my pride.
To be continued…