Thursday, June 4, 2015

On the necessity of hell

Cranmer has a great article on hell. Here is but one paragraph as a taster:

"‘Universalism’ is a sincere attempt to reconcile God’s love and mercy with His justice and holiness, but it fails to take account of the scriptural realities: that one solitary sin is sufficient to drive us from God’s presence; that God’s authority can extend even to Hell (indeed, there is no scriptural warrant that Satan rules there); and that Jesus Himself taught an eternal punishment (Mt 25:31ff; Mk 3:29). The fact that the Son of God – God’s love incarnate – says more about Hell than any other individual in the Bible is certainly worthy of reflection. The notion that everyone ultimately makes it to Heaven is difficult to substantiate from Scripture. In addition, the Bible teaches that punishment will be by degrees (Lk 12:48), and St Paul’s reasoning in Romans 2 is a clear indication that punishment exists and will be meted out appropriately."


Father Ron Smith said...

I don't think sacramentalist Christians need worry too much about the Hell prospect you have put before us here Peter. In Saint john's Gospel, today - the Feast of Corpus Christi - Jesus says: "Anyone who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life". For the true believer in salvation through the death and rising of Jesus, the Eucharist is our guarantee.

Whomever else God is determined to save - through the redeeming sacrifice of Christ is really up to God - not us Christians - to determine.

Jean said...

Well that's deep!

I have never perceived Paul as being influenced by Hellenistic views due to his references of Christian's being given a new body in heaven although we may not at present know what that looks like; which sits alongside the Jewish holistic understanding of there being no separation between body and soul. The idea of just being spirit or soul has never really appealed.

If man was created to live with God in the garden of Eden with the tree of life, although not immortal separate from God, I think he was created to live eternally. I think in some sense we are hot wired in this way, can you ever imagine someone you love not existing? And from this God did not 'create death' - he is the author of life. Satan created death when he enticed Adam and Eve to disobey and become separate from God as he himself did, and thereby instituting mortality in man. While other disobedience or sins followed, I think it is safe to say the original sin adds a major component to the consequential ones as the main reason for death - for through Adam all died. The final enemy is death itself.

As for hell while I do not like to dwell on it no doubt it exists and recognising this is a motivation to continue and reach as many people with the way God has provided through Jesus to reconcile to him and again inherit the eternal life. It is I believe the reason God is so patient with us despite the evil in the world, desiring no one to perish, he waits to come again so many more people can be saved.

I will leave others to ponder if God created hell and what hades is. Although it is hard to imagine if the 'gates of Hades will not prevail against his church' that something God created is in battle with His church. A bit like Jesus being accused of casting out demons by being possessed by one.

Bryden Black said...

“For the true believer in salvation through the death and rising of Jesus, the Eucharist is our guarantee.” Fr Ron.

One of the real reasons, Ron, for my suspicion of the view you express here, regarding “the Eucharist” as “guarantee” (despite possible interpretations of Jn 6), is simply the clear teaching from 1 Cor 10 (given debates surrounding the symbolism of the FG are notably legion). For we need to note well the literary parallels between 10:2-4 and 12:13, and so the way ch.10 progresses (let alone Paul’s critique of much of the Corinthians’ spirituality throughout the letter). For in between we have furthermore all the teaching also on the Lord’s Supper, in which participation in and of itself would appear to be no “guarantee”.

True enough; there is the possible push-back in the way you begin: “the true believer ...” Yet in and of itself “the death and rising of Jesus” is actually the real guarantee; it is the gracious objectivity of the Person of Jesus, Word made flesh, who is Himself our Salvation - where Mediator and Mediation are one, as TF Torrance would express it.

One last thing. I don’t sense this is that old hoary chestnut, a debate between two wings of the Anglican Church, sacramentalists versus evangelicals. The issue is deeper than that. It is about the sheer objectivity of God’s own salvation, rather than any human subjectivity, either individual or collective, sacramental or evangelical - which is why I invoke TFT.

Bryden Black said...

As for this thread’s topic, hell and/or apokatastasis, of all those who have tried to get their heads around it - including this post’s reference to “Cranmer” - personally, I’d draw readers’ attention to Von Balthasar’s work, both Mysterium Paschale and vol.5 of Theo-drama, especially pp.269ff.