Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Oh, Heck

I've often heard H-E-Double Toothpicks described as the absence of God and God's presence. McLaren does a good job of articulating that position in "Generous Orthodoxy." Hell is an existence in the absence of God and God's love. Hatred and acts of evil cannot stand before God, therefore, they cease to have a part in God's eternity, glowering forever in the shadows. On many levels, I resonate with that position...it's both gracious and has some scriptural support.

On the other hand, I do not believe that anything can exist or does exist in the absence of God's creative power. Outside of God, there is only void, emptiness, or formless chaos. If Hell is understood in that way, it is closer to the ancient Hebrew concept of Sheol...an absence of existence.

To be honest, I'm not sure that simple oblivion--the negation of personal existence--captures the depth of the reckoning to which scripture bears witness. If there is to be justice, would it be served by simply erasing Pol Pot or Osama? Is that "reaping what you sow?" Perhaps...but I think there are other theological alternatives.

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