This is a thought I’ve had in embryo for a while, but a recent thread brought it back into my thoughts…

There is the ‘liberal’ notion that hell cannot/does not exist, as salvation is for all.  While this seems very open and inclusive on the surface, it seems to me to be underneath even more oppressive then the ‘traditional’ or ‘uninclusive’ ideas are.  (Let me explain…)

Just as extreme left and extreme right are practically the same in politics—the radical left becoming totalitarian in the enforcing of their policies, the idea of universal salvation seems to deny the reality of freedom of the will.  Because, if all are saved, then no one can actually choose to reject G-d; it also means that sin isn’t serious, and has no consequences.  It practically is the same as the doctrine of the Moonies (that all will be reincarnated until they recognize him as the messiah.)  Even if it has the ultimate happiness of the individual in mind, it rejects the idea of relational-love (If you love something, let it go…)

Of course, the idea of a ‘personalized torture chamber’ is quite repellent, though I don’t think the idea of hell is necessarily identical to that.  In this respect, I think Lewis’s thought as in the Great Divorce sums it up for me: the individual has the opportunity to make heaven or hell for themselves, both here and now, and in the life to come.

G-d desperately wants us to be with Him; but if we don’t desire it, even in the most embryonic way, then we won’t be able to accept the real, full-on deal.  If humans have will at all, then it seems to me that the existence of hell is the logical outcome of that, or at least the end of existence (which is worse—being away from G-d, or non-being?)  Salvation is open to all, and offered to all, but would the G-d who sacrificed Himself force salvation upon unwilling people?  Would that make him more merciful or more totalitarian?

 Jason M. Silverman
16 May 2007