Wednesday, March 04, 2009

The Problem of Hell part 2

Chapter 5 has a section titled, A Loving God Would Not Allow Hell. Keller states on page 76,
Modern people inevitably think that hell works like this: God gives us time, but if we haven't made the right choices by the end of our lives, He casts our souls into hell for eternity. As the poor souls fall through space, they cry out for mercy, but God says, "Too late! You had your chance! Now you will suffer!"
Keller then interacts with Jesus' parable of Lazarus and the rich man. Although he rightly points out that men freely choose hell in some sense. After describing the mind of a man that deteriorates He writes,
There is increasing isolation, denial, delusion, and self absorption. When you lose all humility you are out of touch with reality. No one ever asks to leave hell. The very idea of heaven seems to them a sham.
Basically Keller argues from the parable that the rich man never wants to leave hell. The idea just does not occur to him. Again, although I think Keller is overstating the reading of the text, I have no doubt that the Rich Man was not wanting to enter the holy presence of God. But to say that he wanted to remain in hell is contradicted by the Rich man begging Abraham to send Lazarus back from the dead to warn his brothers of the torments of hell. Clearly he did not want to be there either. He simply had no option to leave, and he knew it.

To use another example from Scripture, we may go back to the Garden of Eden. Adam sinned. Yet Adam was not trying to leave the Garden. Instead He hid from the presence of God. God had to expel Adam and Eve out of the Garden.

There is a big difference from choosing to go directly to jail and living in such a fashion that you know jail is your destination. Sinners want their cake and the ability to eat it too. For example, a bank robber knows that if he gets caught robbing a bank, he will go to prison. That is why he wears a mask and has a get-away-car! Yet his nature and desire are so bent on evil that he perverts his thinking to do what he knows he ought not to do. So on the one hand, Keller is right. Men choose to warp their own minds and become lost in their own hells. But on the other hand, they will run from God's wrath if given the chance.

What makes hell so terrible is that sinner's will be totally restrained from being able to act upon their evil desires. They will bear God's wrath in their own minds and bodies. As Jesus said,
"Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell."

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