Wednesday, March 16, 2011

"He's in hell." "No he's not." Same mistake.

There is a passionate and welcome argument about hell going 'round the Christian commentariat.

It's been generated by a popular Christian figure suggesting that if there is a hell, nobody stays in it because "Love Wins."

When someone says, "So-and-so is in hell," someone else will retort, "How do you know? Are you God?" It is a fair question. As Elizabeth I reportedly said, "I have no desire to make windows into men's souls." Judgement belongs to God - we can assert likelihoods based upon Biblical revelation, but when all is said and done we don't know everything about another person in the way that God knows them to assign their eternity.

This same reality, however, must apply should someone say, "Everybody goes to heaven." To say that is to assume the knowledge and authority of God. It is no less a mistake - and a mistake hazardous to the speaker's soul - than to go around declaring particular people damned.

Either position removes God's sovereign choice - "he has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills."


The Underground Pewster said...


I have been watching this discussion work its way throuh the web. I appreciate your concise and easy to understand argument.

TLF+ said...

Thanks, Pewster. I am glad the church is discussing things of this consequence... although we are as usual talking past one another in many cases.

The links at "Treading Grain" are pretty good - there's a Tim Keller piece in which he (Keller) gets and responds to the question. People want to know about God's personality. It is a great question, but we are tending to respond with a barrage of stuff that is unresponsive. Keller responds and shows how the "God who lets everybody in" is revealed to be profoundly UNcaring and impersonal. Good stuff.

Matt Perkins said...

Amen to this statement Fr. Fountain. I agree whole-heartedly.