I have discovered yet another in an increasing number of good writers who continue to challenge the idea of God as Monster, the Roman Medieval conception which remains startlingly acceptable among Western Christians in their love of hell and their desire to see sinners fried in it for all eternity.
Fr. Ted Bobosh has an interesting series of blogs here on WordPress, beginning with his blog Hell-no and ending with this page, God’s Judgment Does not End Free Will. It is to this last page that I address my question, the one question that no one really has a clear answer for:
Can the soul experience a change of its feeling towards God in the next life?
I agree with everything in Fr. Ted’s post God’s Judgment Does not End Free Will, but here is the catch – many, many people have an utterly false vision/idea of God. They are not rejecting God, they are rejecting a caricature, a false image, an idol, if you please, of the true and living God. They see the hatred and bitterness of those who profess to be Christian, they see a Church full of corruption and evils, they see nothing of Christ – and they hate what they think is Christ because we have not given them a real, full experience of God’s love, have we?
What image of Jesus as love did Mahatma Ghandi see when a church elder threatened to throw him down the steps , called him a “kafir” and told him to beat it? What of Jesus did the Native America Indian tribes see when they saw our “Christian nation” break its treaties with them and kill their women and children? How is the love of Christ shown to the poor nations of the world when our “Christian nation” bombs the hell out of their women and children to get to their oil and other resources? One wonders if the worst thing that could have happened for evangelism of non-Christian peoples was to take this pagan nation – founded upon enslavement of blacks and persecution of anyone not a Calvinist Puritan – and give it the title “A Christian Nation?” I certainly wouldn’t want anything to do with such a “Jesus.”
One wonders if Christ is seen in all His glory – that glory being His utter and complete love in all its beauty – if any soul would not say, “I repent! Scourge me with the cords of love for a million years if only I can be allowed into this love.” I think that it would have to be the hardest of hearts – perhaps along the lines of those evil leaders who without any regret or compassion for their victims, murdered their “enemies” by the millions – that would say to such love, “Away with you. I am the lord of my own self.” Such would be insanity, but then again, sin makes us crazy, does it not?
The desire for this love is the deep yearning we all feel in varying degrees. We are so separated from God by these coarse bodies of flesh that we do not understand that when we see a beautiful sunset of varying colors, and our hearts stretch towards it, wishing it would stay there forever and enchant us with its beauty, that it is the Creator of this beauty, Who is beauty itself, that we are longing for.
I believe I remember reading Peter Kreeft talking about heaven as “that enchanting kiss which never ends, that friendship that never parts, that joy which has no abatement, it is all the best things of this world which we wish would never end, going on eternally.” (If this is not Peter Kreeft, I apologize, but it is a saying worthy of him).
Would then any but the hardest of hearts not repent in the presence of the very thing it has been seeking in the darkness, confusion, and chaos of this life into which we have been thrust by the action of our forefather long ago in a garden?
As Fr. Ted says in his blog, Hell-yes
“It seems that once the idea of eternal judgment came to be accepted by God’s people, there was an ever increasing enthusiasm to impose that judgment on non-believers and sinners. God’s people also became increasingly desirous of delineating those who were “outside” of God’s people (first, the non-Jews, and later the non-Christians) and ever consigning these outsiders to eternal torment.”
Indeed, it is we humans who have a stronger desire to eternally punish (torture) our enemies and those whom we just don’t like than God Himself does. A mere glance at the many ingeniously evil devices for torture dreamed up by mankind over the millennia of history should suffice as proof of this. For so many, mere death itself is not enough of a punishment – no, skin must be flayed off, bones broken, the Rack, the Iron Maiden, sharp implements of various kinds inserted into the openings of the body, the body itself left to die in agony for days rather than being quickly dispatched. The apex of torture of mankind would be the Crucifixion itself, for as anyone who is a student of history knows, it was a punishment of singular cruelty. How ironic that our God, who would not treat men in such manner, would subject Himself to such barbarism. And then we make Him into a Roman Legionaire, complete with an eternal torture chamber which would make crucifixion seem merciful in comparison.
Do we make an idol out of him to meet our own depraved instincts? Love itself is crucified upon the Cross, yet we do not see the irony that our own violence and evil is not in Him at all as we describe Him to be like the brutal Roman soldiers who nailed His hands and feet and cursed Him in the way He treats souls?
Something is dreadfully wrong here.