The Hell, You Say?

This is the latest in my series of blog entries taking a fresh look at a variety of topics over the year. I’ve set up a page on the blog explaining the project and linking to my entries. This post’s topic is “Hell.”

Dante's Gates of Hell

Image by Stuck in Customs via Flickr

Today’s post is going to deal with heresy that I think is actually a bit too far out there for me.

These are some things that I have trouble accepting myself, that I don’t see as being Bibically-consistent, but that raise some interesting questions or possibilities to use as diagnostic tools for examining what I do believe.

Because, you know, really, hell is a difficult subject.

I’m empathetic to the question of why a loving God would send people to hell. I disagree with it — I don’t believe God sends anyone to hell — but I’m empathetic to it. I believe He allows people to choose hell. He doesn’t want them to, but will let them if they’re so inclined. He throws us the rope to escape it, but won’t make us grab it.

But even then, I still struggle with it. People do stupid things. It’s in our nature. It’s unavoidable. And God, being omniscient, knows that. Free will is great and all, but eternal damnation is a high price to pay for making a stupid, human decision. How does a loving God allow us to bear so high a cost for a stupid and, in the context of eternity, momentary lapse? It’s not even, really, an informed decision; we’re called to make the choice without having experience with either heaven or hell or even the cognitive ability to truly understand them.

And I don’t claim to have the answer. Don’t claim to begin to understand. There are times when the most spiritually honest and mature answer you can give is “I don’t know,” and for me this is one of them.

But I’ll share three things I’m not ready to believe that do color my thinking; three fascinating bits of heresy to play with in your free time. Continue reading