Friday, August 19, 2011

Possibly heretical Speculations on Hell

Hell is the grace and horror of a constantly thwarted suicide.

It is the hatred of the thankless self in the light of the goodness and graciousness of God revealed in Jesus Christ.

In it, the continuing gracious and abundant 'Let there be.." is experienced as limit, as enemy, as a light and fire from which there is no escape. Its goodness merely heightens the shame and hatred of self. Hell is grace unaccepted.

Any thoughts on my speculation? Heresy or no?


byron smith said...


Theologically, it makes me think you've been reading Lewis (or his disciple NTW).

kristan said...

"Let there be's" limit reminds me of Barth on suicide and hell and the small no inside a yes.

Anonymous said...

Really interesting and beautiful writing Mike, but in the context of hell, where is the grace in a constantly thwarted suicide? I found that description the most unsettling.


Mike W said...

@ byron.
hehe you think I read! More likely I've stolen it from someone who has been reading Lewis and NTW

yep, have been reading Barth, but not that bit.

@ Daniel
Well, talking about hell should be a bit unsettling. I guess the grace in a thwarted suicide is the thwarted bit. Thinking that life is a good, even if the person doesn't recognize it as such.
These thoughts came (I think) from hearing a college lecturer say he doesn't believe in annihilation because of God's grace. That is because existence is a grace of God, the original grace.

These thoughts (not that well thought through) are trying to reconcile the grace and mercy of God winning, and yet those who reject Jesus experiencing that as torment.
I guess most theories of hell have God doing something significantly different to the saved and to the damned.
I'm pushed by the dangerousness of God's presence, his fire, his holiness, which is also his redeeming love in the OT, to wonder whether the presence of God is experienced differently by those in Jesus and those outside of Christ.

It also allows the 'damned' to be making a true and right confession of the goodness of God in Christ.
God will have his praise.
I don't know that hatred of his revealed goodness and mercy will be possible.
And yet intense hatred of the evil self might be.
Dunno, just thughts, not entirely committed to them

Mike W said...

I'm eagerly anticipating a David Hohne book on eschatology. (his lectures at college on eschatology were the absolute highlight of the four years for me).
I may have imbibed these kinds of views from him too (can't speak for him though, I'm just remembering vibes). He wasn't the lecturer who made the comment though.

I think the statements are different from the good Bishop, in that he seems to see the damned losing their humanity, which is kind of terrifying now, but somehow lessons the terror then. I guess the similarity is seeing a continuity in peoples response to Jesus now and then.
Daniel raises an interesting question, is grace gracious if it isn't received as grace? My vibe is, yes. Good is good, even when it is poorly recognised.
the only downside from this is that it makes the difference between those who are 'saved' and those 'not saved' one of merely perception. Then again, being able to receive and perceive God's goodness as good is pretty darn good given the opposite.
Anyone want to throw up some other proposals?

byron smith said...

You are right about the bishop. To be honest, I was more thinking of Lewis himself. Your comments about grace being experienced as enemy is clearly illustrated in The Great Divorce, where the image of the grass that cuts the feet of those who have not yet become sufficiently "real" to walk on it is getting at this idea (within the confines of a Platonist ontology).

"it makes the difference between those who are 'saved' and those 'not saved' one of merely perception"
And this is precisely what The Last Battle imagines: the Dwarven stubbornness to the reality of paradise (the renewed Narnia) in insisting that it is a prison.

Anonymous said...

thanks Byron, that's really helpful.
I must rad 'The Great Divorce' sometime. I never got into cs Lewis (or, to the shock of friends, John Stott)
so much to read and enjoy