A some point several weeks ago, I remember reading a comment (I believe made by Bill Schmalfeldt) that expressed a disbelief in Hell but that assigned some particular person to a special spot in the Inferno because of some annoying behavior. This brings up an important difference between at least some of the members of Team Kimberlin and me.
You see, I believe in Hell. Bear with me for a few paragraphs while I explain.
First of all, I believe in God and that He is loving. One of the consequences of His love for us is His respect for our autonomy in the choices we make. In the end, we are left with choosing to be one of only two types of people. There are those of us who will say to God, “Thy will be done,” and there are those of us to whom God will say in sorrow, “Thy will be done.” That second group will have chosen to be apart from God, and He will not force them to draw near.
The Polish poet Czeslaw Milosz wrote an essay called “The Discrete Charms of Nihilism” in which he dealt with Marx’s idea that religion was the opiate of the masses.
A true opium of the people is a belief in nothingness after death—the huge solace of thinking that our betrayals, greed, cowardice, murders are not going to be judged … [but] all religions recognize that our deeds are imperishable.
In his fantasy, The Great Divorce, C. S. Lewis paints an allegorical picture of a mundane, boring Hell that may be far more accurate than Dante’s. Lewis notes that we are free to chose to move away from God but that freedom from God has a consequence.
Hell begins with a grumbling mood, always complaining, always blaming others … but you are still distinct from it. You may even criticize it in yourself and wish you could stop it. But there may come a day when you can no longer. Then there will be no you left to criticize the mood or even enjoy it, but just the grumble itself, going on forever like a machine. It is not a question of God “sending us” to hell. In each of us there is something growing, which will BE Hell unless it is nipped in the bud.
We choose our path. We can take the one offered by Satan in Genesis 3 or the one that leads us to draw nearer to God.
Here endeth the lesson.