May 10, 2005

Beyond the Shadowlands Part 2: Myths about Hell

In the next section I want to discuss (though it's chapter 8 in the book), Martindale (and C.S. Lewis) take on the various myths that we have constructed concerning Hell. We don't like to think about Hell. We don't like to talk about it. It's politically incorrect to tell other people that they might be going there (unless you're using profanity). But the fact is that Hell is a reality, and it is a severe, final punishment to all who persist in their rebellion against God. Lewis once said that there are two people in the world: those who say to God, "Thy will be done" and those to whom God says, "Thy will be done."
Martindale goes into a lot of depth discussing Lewis' feelings towards Hell. In most of the writings he cites, it's clear that Lewis is writing as a lay person (though a very gifted and intelligent one), not a theologian. Theological purists will cringe at Lewis' tale of Susan and Frank in The Great Divorce, where Frank is taken from Hell to the gate of Heaven and allowed to talk to Susan (his wife) who is in Heaven -- and is given an opportunity to turn from his sin and enter heaven, even though he is already in Hell. Lewis is trying to illustrate the idea that people in Heaven will not be sad or depressed about their loved ones in Hell, because of the fullness of the love of Christ they experience in Heaven. This is true, but I think the method that Lewis uses is not the best. Martindale attempts to defend Lewis' language, to some success, but ultimately falls short, IMHO.

Lewis does take great pains to show that Hell is NOT a place to be desired ("all the cool people will be there," "non-stop party in Hell," etc.). It is a place of eternal physical and mental torment. Sometimes, in our desire to emphasize the goodness and love of God, we forget about the reality of eternal punishment in Hell. When we do this, we leave out an important part of the Gospel.

Posted by: Warren Kelly at 09:56 PM | No Comments | Add Comment
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