Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Love Wins – Does It?

Love Wins: A book about heaven, hell and the fate of every person that livedis causing a big stir, especially among biblical fundamentalists. Rob Bell, a pastor of Mars Hill Bible Church in Michigan, a church of 7,000 worshippers, has generated a heated discussion about heaven, hell and universal salvation. Bell raises the possibility that "every person who ever lived" may have a place in heaven. Many Christians may be surprised to learn that this view isn't new within Christianity.

Origen of Alexandria (3rd century) believed "that not a single rational being will be lost to the darkness. … Even the most recalcitrant sinner will eventually attain salvation." For him, punishment after death is "not an instrument of eternal torment, but of divine instruction and correction ... and since the soul is essentially rational, it will eventually be convinced of the truth, and salvation will follow" (www.romancatholicism.org/origen-apokatastasis.htm). Gregory of Nyssa speculated about this possibility as well, and in our time, Karl Rahner, SJ, came very close to that belief.

 The Church hasn't accepted their position; however, its teaching on purgatory and hell has been open to considerable development. There are significant issues here: the extent of free will, how grace interacts with and respects free will, the seriousness of the most heinous evil, the nature of God as just as well as loving and merciful. Many theologians, from Patristic times to the present "have interpreted the fire of hell in a symbolic sense," as a metaphor describing spiritual torment, and not to be understood literally. (The New Dictionary of Theology, ed. Joseph Komonchak, p. 458)

What do you think?


1 comment:

  1. Makes my mind wander in so many directions. Personally I think we need the "fear" in order to
    travel the correct road...or at least make that our goal.