Tuesday, November 28, 2006

c.s.lewis on hell

Last week I picked up C.S.Lewis's book The Problem of Pain. It deals with the great question of how God can allow human suffering. Lewis is better than almost anyone on calmly explaining the doctrine of hell:
In the long run the answer to all those who object to the doctrine of hell, is itself a question, 'What are you asking God to do?' To wipe out their past sins and, at all costs, to give them a fresh start, smoothing every difficulty and offering every miraculous help? But He has done so, on Calvary. To forgive them? They will not be forgiven. To leave them alone? Alas, I am afraid that is what He does. (130)
And he even readily admits the offensiveness of the doctrine:

I am not going to try to prove the doctrine tolerable. Let us make no mistake; it is not tolerable. But I think the doctrine can be shown to be moral, by a critique of the objections ordinarily made, or felt, against it. (121)

Another must-read Lewis book which deals more exclusively with the heaven and hell issue is The Great Divorce.


JD said...

Thanks for the insight. I have seen those books, but never picked them up. If they are anything like Mere Christianity, they will challenge every part of my being.


Larry B said...

Read them both - more than once and they are highly recommended.

I love the description, in the Great Divorce, of heaven as being more real. The blades of grass being so real they pierced the visitors feet.

Many many heavy theological points woven into an entertaining read.

Michael Noes said...

Hello Jason, thanks for the sobering words.

The Great Divorce and Till We Have Faces (also by Lewis) are a couple of my all time favorite works of fiction.

I've never seen so much truth in a fictional context as in Lewis' stories. =)