Sede Vacante

The light is on but no one is home.

I am a heretic: there is no hell


I don’t believe in hell. I find the notion of a locus for cosmic torment and punishment incongruous with any vision of a just and loving god–a being whose very existence is difficult enough to swallow without the mention of a place overflowing with fire and brimstone.

With any god worth his salt being perfect, shouldn’t we expect his expression of love and justice to far surpass that of human imagining? Wouldn’t such a god express a perfect justice, one that is all-seeing and all-embracing rather than one that is blind and vengeful?

Punishment in the human sphere is both a deterrent and a thinly veiled retribution. The link between justice and punishment requires that the penalty be appropriate to the misdeed. Even murderers are at worst incarcerated for life and or “humanely” executed. So what kind of decision or deed would it take for god to send you to hell? In the human sphere, crimes are errors in human choices between “goods”. That is, the thief steals because he deems it better than starving. A serial killer murders because having the thrill is better than not having it. It’s like choosing between a salad and a candy bar. Ultimately, you are choosing between the good aspects of the thing. Eternal damnation seems an apt punishment for one who chooses absolute evil and nothingness over god (and essentially the perfect good) itself.

So if this vision of our just and loving god were to make sense with a notion of hell, we need to accept that we are going to be given a final choice. Just as we went through life making these decisions between good and better, we must be given a final penultimate choice–one between all goodness itself and nothingness.

And a just and loving god wouldn’t let a blind man choose between two paths that he cannot see. For this final choice to be valid, we must be made whole and complete. We need to fully understand the nature of what we are choosing. There will be no blindness, no insanity, no emotional baggage. Whatever will be left of us will be perfected simply for that final choice.

Now who, with a right fucking mind, would choose nothingness?

No one. Not Hitler. Not Stalin. Not my fifth grade teacher. Heck, not even my boss.

Would it be so bad to find in the end that when faced with the perfect vision of god itself that all human beings will choose goodness over evil and thus be admitted into god’s open arms?

Would it be so unfair to find Osama and Ted Bundy knocking it back with the heavenly host, perfect and finally whole and unbroken? Wouldn’t we be so overwhelmed by the song of god that the inclusion of even the worst sinners would fill us with hope and happiness; enough to overflow and push out any desire for vengeance or human justice?

Wouldn’t it be enough that these butchers and plunderers have become whole and truly penitent under the loving gaze of god?

Isn’t happiness perfected with the happiness of all versus a few? So wouldn’t our happiness in union with god only be sensible with the salvation of EVERY SINGLE ONE OF US?

Some of you are fidgeting. So why be good on earth? Because it is right. Because our pursuit of happiness, growth, and fulfillment as human beings demand it.

I return the question to you: is it not enough to have faith that we will be happier being good rather than evil? Are we so vulnerable to jealousy and vindictiveness that we, who are hoping for heaven cannot accept this on faith?

If we cannot accomplish this meager little leap of faith, how much hope can we have of believing in god itself?

Sadly, such a view makes me a heretic. A Universalist to be precise. Thankfully, it doesn’t make me an apostate. Perhaps that will spell all the difference in whether or not I end up spending an eternity in a hell I so fervently do not believe in.

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