Just now seeing the excellent theological discussion that began on my lonely little Christmas post. Billy asked me,
I know you, WORM, believe and in God and Jesus (Christian God).
And so I can assume you believe in Heaven.
What about Hell?
If so, is Hell that place where non-believers and unrepentant sinners go upon death; for their souls to be tormented and tortured for eternity?
If so, what will You do to end that torture once you reach Heaven?
God does not have any desire to torture the wicked. You can point to Old Testament verses where He waxes awfully “wroth”, and his hatred of sin is no less in the New Testament. But God has nothing to do with Hell. That’s why it’s Hell. All the lurid descriptions of torment are pitiful attempts at describing eternal spirits existing in a a Godless realm.
While earthbound, we can play musical chairs between God and sin, choosing and rechoosing any number of times. But eventually the music stops…
I know that God is loving and merciful beyond imagination. I also know that He does not override our free wills. Ever. Which means we can cast Him away. The Bible describes a single “unforgivable sin”: blasphemy of the Holy Spirit.
Whut? How can rape and torture and murder of children be forgivable, but blasphemy isn’t? It’s not like we can damage God!
The answer, of course, is that the Holy Spirit is the part of God that convinces and convicts us of our sins. Your conscience is your connection to the Divine. You can’t harm God, but you can kill your link to Him, “searing it with a hot iron”. And what then can still reach you? Nothing good.
At that point the concept of free will becomes meaningless, but you arrived there by the exercise of free will. The best secular example is playing chicken with a black hole. Above the event horizon you can skirt as close to oblivion as you like, with escape still possible. But within it? Your fate is now inescapable.
For me, the contemplation of singularities hints at the horrors of Hell. Beginning with, obviously, who would choose that place?
Well, no one. Consciously.
In practice, all event horizons appear to be some distance away from any observer…
If you’re playing peek-a-boo with a black hole you won’t even notice crossing the point of no return. Not until you crash into the singularity (assuming the subjective time span is not “infinite”.) So, how deep in sin are you?
Deeper than you think.
Spiritually, there’s no standing still. Imagine the human race all in space, the billions of us each in an individual spaceship. We’re all free to pilot solo paths, though most “fleet up” with others, from two-person marriages up to ponderous million-member ideologies.
Most of us drift, most of the time. We make course corrections only when we feel we must. “Below” us is the abyssal, inescapable singularity. “Above” us is…We Know Not What. We rarely accelerate upward…it’s such hard work, and so self-sacrificial! But nor do we knowingly dive for the depths. That is terrifying and obviously dangerous.
Mostly we drift. In fact, we usually don’t even think about the movement. People accelerating up or down the gravity well disturb us. Those who violently accelerate disturb us profoundly. I don’t like in-your-face Godliness any more than anyone else, especially if I know they’re right (Not that that really happens. Humility is the mark of people arising.) Seeing a crack addict diving straight into oblivion is infinitely worse.
And speaking of time and distance stretching to subjective infinity…look at the size of this post!
So I’ll end with noting admonishments regarding Christian freedom, which is great indeed. Specifically, to “avoid even the appearance of evil”, not to do that which could “cause thy neighbor to stumble”. Why?
Because in our movement through this life, very few travellers cast their gaze straight up at Heaven or straight down down to Hell. Mostly people look side-to-side, or a bit up or down. They look back-and-forth between themselves and other folks. They make adjustments to their course to draw nearer to some, or distance themselves from others. You can cross paths with anyone, but you can’t keep company without matching courses. And if you’re not consciously striving upward, even a little bit, you are unconsciously drifting down.
So my quick answer to Billy would be, I can no more reach a spirit in Hell than I could pluck their body from within a singularity. I believe that all who seek God will find Him, however near that horizon they are. And I can recommend a lifeline that will rescue anyone whose conscience yet lives. If you are at the last moment of your life, grasp for love and a “peace that passeth understanding”. There’s a good chance you’ve had such a spiritual experience, regardless of your mental beliefs. But even that isn’t necessary. I’d never known love before, when I laid down to die rather than go on as the thing I was. And then love lifted me.
Of course, I’d been barrelling straight down the gravity well for quite some time, at quite some speed, before I saw what I was approaching. And so my course correction was…wrenching. Excruciating, even.
I could have kept soaring up. Instead I got enough distance between me and the abyss to feel safe. Comfortable.
And now I mostly drift.
Nice post! At least from my admittedly biased point of view! The musical chairs and singularity metaphors are really good, and the explanation of the “unforgivable sin” (in Catholic lingo, the sin of “final impenitence”) is really sharp.
I was reviewing C.S. Lewis’ The Great Divorce, or actually, snippets of it online since I don’t have a copy anymore, and in it there was this quote from George MacDonald (one of Lewis’ heros and a great spiritual writer):
“No, there is no escape. There is no heaven with a little of hell in it – no plan to
retain this or that of the devil in our hearts or our pockets. Out Satan must go,
every hair and feather.”
Why do you suppose, then, that mere mortals who claim to have a relationship with God deem it okay to be the judge of another? I can surmise your journey into “drifting” was a difficult one, but then you would not be who you are!! 🙂 Would that all people could understand what you have said. Truly. Happy New Year!
Not sure I understand…are you asking how it’s possible that people can be hypocritical about God? Is there anything people don’t lie about? That’s why (in theory) I’m all for the persecution of Christians. (In practice I’m a bit…torturephobic? I need to get over that.) When someone being put to death cries out for mercy…for her murderers…it’s the sort of thing that tends to linger in one’s thoughts.
So Christianity flourishes, becomes the establishment, gets secular benefits from “the world”…and starts attracting folks like the ones you mention. Repeat ad nausuem.
Yes, people lie. I guess I speak from personal experience about those who claim to be “better” Christians than myself, so they rail my practice and put themselves on a pedestal…Specifically, the BGF. We were both raised Catholic. When I married, I chose to baptize my children Lutheran. According to her, I “jumped ship” and she “at least” was in good standing with the church because two of my kids were not baptized until they were older than 6 months!! Bwahahahaha! She even made fun of the fact that I went to the 8/28 Restoring Honor Rally and said it was just a bunch of rich people who claimed to be Christian. She has no idea…and it would suck to be her. We are not friends any longer, but I thought you would get a chuckle out of that.
Pingback: Sorry for the lousy answer, Billy. | World's Only Rational Man
“You know who” informed me of this blog. Thank you for the tractor beam, hermano! Dead on. “God is willing that none should perish”. May we reach His gravitational pull like two ships that run somewhat parallel in the night. Until then? Your “drifting” has had moments of nice rocket boosts. Reminds me of Apollo 13 when they were all over the place manually for about 15 seconds … terrifying… but Earth brought them home 🙂