i know i say this every once in a while, when the bro in me wants to warn you, readers, that we’re about to dive into something not suited for a first date discussion…but this time i mean it:
it’s about to get real.
drew and i had a nice little chat about Hell before bed the other night. (nothing like some light pillow talk…)
i’ve been thinking about it ever since.
i took an apologetics class in high school, which is where we were basically taught to ‘defend’ our faith against those vicious non-believers who would start attacking us just the second we graduated. (and it always seemed a little ironic to me to believe that something is absolute truth but then learn to defend it with my stupid human words.) one question they taught us we would be asked is this:
why would a good God send good people to Hell?
and in some ways, it’s a perfectly logical question, given the depictions of Hell most of us are raised on. the movies, the christian conversion pamphlets, Dante, etc. if that was all i had to go on then, yeah- i might ask the same question.
why would a good God turn Gamemaker (couldn’t help myself with the Hunger Games reference) and mastermind a torturous prison for people who don’t profess faith? if satan is His enemy, why could He build him a volcanic playground and give him people to torture?
in short, why would He use His good powers to create evil?
and in my almost 10 years since high school, out here in the real world, i have yet to be asked that question. and maybe that just means i am not out among the people i should be out among. or maybe my friends just don’t care.
but i’ve personally never had a problem explaining this to the imaginary people who ask me this from time to time.
if you take out all of the cliched images and corresponding assumptions, it really is quite simple.
at least i think so.
then again, i always tend to oversimplify things.
if we believe in a perfect God, then He would necessarily be perfectly just, perfectly peaceful, perfectly loving, perfectly kind, perfectly fulfilling, etc etc etc. if this good, perfect God creates us with free will and asks that we love Him and choose to be with Him eternally and we-by profession or action-reject Him, we would be rejecting all of the things He is.
do you follow me?
that means that Hell is not a place He masterminded to punish people who don’t like Him. that would just be so silly and petty and…human. Hell is the perfectly logical outcome of our rejection of His invite. it’s a vacuum created when Love, Peace and Kindness are removed. it’s what we’re left with when we opt out of The Giver of every good thing. and that makes perfect sense to me.
so no, i don’t think Hell is a parallel dimension that also somehow exists at the molten core of Earth. i don’t think demons will poke us with their forks and toast us over fires. i think Hell is what a soul feels when it’s left with its choice and that choice is the absence of God. when the Mercy and Goodness woven throughout our broken world is lifted and the soul is crushed with the weight of everything imperfect. everything unGod.
yes, the Bible says that there will be groaning and gnashing of teeth and burning fire. but, in the same way that Heaven is not really a wedding, something tells me that Hell is not really a lake of fire. but really, how else would you find the human words to describe the harrowing sorrow of an existence without Goodness. we humans, by sheer Grace, have never known that feeling. we’ve never been touched by that white-hot anguish. it’s hard to even imagine, much less capture in our helplessly small words.
so, why WOULD a good God send good people to hell?
and He doesn’t.
more to come.