Sheol & Hell & Dear Ol’ Rob Bell (Pt. 4)

(based on my post on John Shore’s blog)

I believe whatever happens after this life is permanent.  I believe this life is a filtering stage, a purification stage (in the metallurgical sense).  Those of us who truly desire to be refined & made better will get the chance to progress.  Those who reject it, those who worship the Self...well, they get what they want, too.

I believe Hell is real, though whether Hell could better be described as a condition, an attitude, or some location outside of Time & Space as we understand is beyond me at this point.

I believe the human concept of Eternity, particularly the Christian concept of Eternity being a Very Very VERY Long Time is wrong.

I believe Eternity is always Now.  An endless Now.  An infinite Now.

I believe that John 3:16-17 reflect very real consequences to choices we make as human beings in this life.

Those choices have less to do with specific actions than the attitudes behind the actions.

I don't believe Christ would have preached on the danger of making unwise choices & being excluded from God's grace if it was not a very real consequence.

I look at the parables Christ used and as often as not the characters excluded from God's grace are those who were not ready & willing to accept it when offered (the 10 foolish virgins, the wedding guests, etc.).  Indeed, in the wedding guest parable, one of the people invited after the original guests refused to attend was ejected from the feast for not being properly attired.  I believe this reflects an attitude problem -- that he treated the invitation with contempt even though he accepted it -- rather than the result of a specific act.

I believe God is quick to forgive, eager to forgive.  I believe as we forgive, we are forgiven, and not because God is keeping score but rather because until we purge / refine our hearts / minds / souls of the selfish desire for retribution we cannot be truly free.

I believe there is no justice, not in the retributive / restorative sense.  I believe justice occurs before the act, when we decide to behave justly no matter what.  Nothing done after an act can ever truly restore to victim to their state before the offense occurred; at the very least the memory of having been victimized, the emotional shock will remain with that person no matter how well they cope.

As such, punishment is useless & futile; it serves only the worse nature of the victim, a thirst for retribution / revenge.  It does not change the heart of the offender.  (That being said, I have absolutely no problem with locking up people who commit harmful / violent acts against innocent victims; that's isolating a danger, not punishing a wrong doer.)

I believe 99.99% of what we "know" about Hell is derived from Dante, who in turn got it from folk religion & pagan sources.  As a work of phantasmagorical allegory, The Divine Comedy is genuinely inspired literature; as a textbook / guide book, it's no more real than a map of Dogpatch USA.

I believe it is possible to be both too fascinated by the concept of Hell & to be too dismissive of it.  I even think it's possible to be both simultaneously (i.e., not really believing in it while dwelling on the more lurid aspects of depictions of it).




Previous posts: What The Hell Is C.S. Lewis Talking About? Crime vs. Sin The Paradox Of Punishment Sheol & Hell & Dear Ol' Rob Bell (Pt. 1) Sheol & Hell & Dear Ol' Rob Bell (Pt. 2) Sheol & Hell & Dear Ol' Rob Bell (Pt. 3)


As If To Prove My Point...

Sheol & Hell & Dear Ol’ Rob Bell (Pt. 3) [updated]

Sheol & Hell & Dear Ol’ Rob Bell (Pt. 3) [updated]