I’m still turning over some CS Lewis, and I have another thought experiment. How can the idea of Hell be reconciled with Christian theology?
After death comes an afterlife. The veils pull aside, and you meet God. He gives you 100% of joy. All the euphoria, all the happiness, all of all good feelings are yours forever. You get Heaven, and all sins forgiven, all mistakes pardoned, all failings blessed. You get it.
And so does everyone else.
There is no judgement, no condemnation, and no ruin. Everyone meets the same end on the other side of the veil: Heaven. All the good people, all the bad people, everyone is given the glory of a kind and purely munificent God.
For eternity, you will see everyone granted the same euphoria you have. Everyone who’s ever done you wrong, hurt you, or disregarded you through callous feelings is given the exact same euphoria as yourself, and you get to witness it forever. Every vile human being, every murderer, rapist, abuser, Nazi, everyone is given the same joy. And you will witness it forever. Hell is thus your own jealousy and ill feeling, not lakes of fire or tormenting demons.
I see only two choices. The first is that you delight in Heaven, delight that suffering has been wiped away from everyone, and rejoice. Forever is a long time, and it’s full of joy.
Or the fury that those people who don’t deserve it are in Heaven too will eat you, forever, and you’ll never be free of them. Because God gave you nothing but happiness, and the only limit is what you bring with you. I think that would destroy many people, and they would make for themselves Hell in Heaven.
The counter argument is that for all the supposed kindness involved, this afterlife does indeed incorporate many people who will suffer forever. Regardless of whether or not it’s their fault, the people who won’t forgive others with still suffer in agony. Sure, for the sake of argument, they’re suffering because of their own jealousy, pride, or what have you. But that is no less suffering. Why would a kind and loving God, the fundamental basis of any Christian belief, allow for such a thing to happen?
Which returns us to the initial question, though perhaps a more simplified version of it. How can any idea of Hell be reconciled with Christian theology? If the failing is not in the mechanics but in the end result, then can any suffering coexist with Christianity?
That’s really my problem with suffering and Christianity as a whole. Sophistry aside, people do suffer, and Christianity postulates a kind, loving God. I don’t see how that could ever be combined.