There are certain attributes we like to extend throughout eternity. Perhaps the greatest of these is love. Most great acts of self-surrender and heroism are perceived as “Godlike.” The implication is that if there is a God he must be a God of love. Those who believe the Bible concur, “Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love” – 1 John 4:8.
But what about those attributes we don’t like to extend throughout eternity? Who are we to say that we get the full picture here but only a half picture there? The whole notion rings hollow.
In his book, the Problem of Pain, C. S. Lewis entitles chapter 8 simply “Hell.” He addresses the topic with some reluctance,
“There is no doctrine which I would more willingly remove from Christianity than this, if it lay in my power. But it has the full support of Scripture and, specially, of Our Lord’s own words; it has always been held by Christendom; and it has the support of reason. If a game is played, it must be possible to lose it. If the happiness of a creature lies in self-surrender, no one can make that surrender but himself (though many can help him to make it) and he may refuse. I would pay any price to be able to say truthfully ‘All will be saved.’ But my reason retorts, ‘Without their will, or with it?’ If I say ‘Without their will’ I at once perceive a contradiction; how can the supreme voluntary act of self-surrender be involuntary? If I say ‘With their will,’ my reason replies “How if they will not give in?’”1
A lot of people don’t believe in Hell and gosh, I can’t blame them. Thinking about it, even for a few minutes, is unsettling. If I had a choice between believing in just Heaven or just Hell, I would take Heaven. I just don’t think we have the choice in making reality.
“Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.’” – Matthew 25:41.
- C. S. Lewis. The Problem of Pain. New York: HarperCollinsPublisher, 1996, 119-120.