More on the philosophical problems raised by belief in an afterlife reward or punishment
3) “The free will theist’s understanding of hell is, in any case, utterly inconsistent with the New Testament teaching about hell” (The Inescapable Love of God, p. 171).
God does not damn, we damn ourselves; God does not cease to love and tender his unconditional forgiveness, we reject his forgiveness and alienate ourselves from his eternal fellowship; God does not inflict eternal suffering, we bring this suffering upon ourselves through our obdurate impenitence. This is the critical contention of what has become the dominant understanding of eternal perdition in Eastern Orthodoxy, Roman Catholicism, and mainline Protestantism. It is known as the free will defense of hell and was popularized in C. S. Lewis’s The Problem of Pain and The Great Divorce (for a succinct presentation of the basic models of damnation see Thomas Talbott, “Heaven and Hell in Christian Thought“). It is difficult to know when…
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