Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Hell

In light of recent controversies about hell, I found these words by C.S. Lewis, in his book, The Great Divorce, to be rather helpful.
There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, "Thy will be done," and those to whom God says, in the end, "Thy will be done." All that are in Hell, choose it. Without that self-choice there could be no Hell. No soul that seriously and constantly desires joy will ever miss it. Those who seek find. To those who knock it is opened.*
In another section of the book the author and his mentor are speaking of a woman, who, being in heaven, appears untouched by the misery of one left behind in hell. The author questions this and his mentor, the great Scottish writer, George MacDonald, responds:
'Would ye rather he still had the power of tormenting her? He did it many a year in their earthly life.'
'Well, no. I suppose I don't want that.'
'What then?'
'I hardly know, Sir. What some people say on earth is that the final loss of one soul gives the lie to all the joy of those who are saved.'
'Ye see it does not.'
'I feel that it ought to.'
'That sounds very merciful: but see what lurks behind it.'
'What?'
'The demand of the loveless and the self-imprisoned that they should be allowed to blackmail the universe: that till they consent to be happy (on their own terms) no one else shall taste joy: that theirs' should be the final power; that Hell should be able to veto Heaven.'
'I don't know what I want, Sir.'
'Son, son, it must be one way or the other. Either the day must come when joy prevails and all the makers of misery are no longer able to infect it: or else for ever and ever the makers of misery can destroy in others the happiness they reject for themselves. I know it has a grand sound to say ye'll accept no salvation which leaves even one creature in the dark outside. But watch that sophistry or ye'll make a Dog in the Manger the tyrant of the universe.'#

*Lewis, C.S. The Great Divorce (fourteenth edition). Glasgow: William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd., 1983, p. 66, 67.
#(Lewis 1983, 110, 111)

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