Wednesday, June 24, 2009


from The Problem of Pain by C.S. Lewis

If a game is played, it must be possible to lose it.

If winning is possible only through self-surrender, and self surrender can only be chosen by the individual, then every man has the choice to refuse.

I would love to believe everyone will win, but therein lies the problem. If it requires an act of their own wills, what if they will not give in?

This is the primary attack on Christianity: how barbarous to suggest those who reject Christ will spend eternity apart from God! Who wants a God like that?

The complexity of Christianity lies in the fact of a God so full of mercy that He takes on a human life and lays it down through the most unimaginable torture in order to avert our final ruin but then seems unwilling to offer another remedy when his creatures refuse the sacrifice.

"And here is the real problem: so much mercy, yet still there is Hell" (121).

If a man wishes to refuse, by rights his will must be respected. Hell is simply the fulfillment of that choice: he is wholly his own and God will not bother him any more.

What of second chances, then? "I believe that if a million chances were likely to do good, they would be given . . . . Finality must come some time, and it does not require a very robust faith to believe that omniscience knows when" (126).

The Scriptures speak of Hell as destruction, punishment, and exclusion. We try to imagine human beings in hell. But they are not. To enter heaven is to put on what it means to be completely human, far more than we ever knew on earth; to enter hell is to leave behind what little we knew of being human, to be banished from humanity entirely.

The remains of that man can enjoy forever the horrible freedom he has demanded, enslaved only to himself. As the full humanity of the man in heaven will become, throughout eternity, more and more free.


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