My crazy re-visualization of hell
What if hell functions like recent truth and reconciliation commissions initiated by Christians in Rwanda and South Africa? Burundi, Rwanda, South Africa, Canada. What if weeping and gnashing of teeth comes from a different kind of pain, not fire and brimstone, but acceptance of full responsibility for every hurt caused to the face of the wounded?
The United Institute of Peace is an organization funded by Congress to help bring peace to areas of the world in conflict. They assist in various truth and reconciliation commissions. They sponsor camps for children divided by conflict to enjoy each other and see the humanity in each other. The hope, peace, is audacious, and the results are not as significant as hoped. But I imagine this can be done in the next life, when offenders cannot lie, or hide, or deny and the offended are not threatened or bullied or bribed.
Let’s go right to the Hitler example. He committed suicide. In some sense he escaped justice. And some people take comfort in imagining him burning alive in Dante’s hell for eternity. I’m sure some wish they could confront him and tell him the pain he caused to them as an individual. In the next life he would no longer be insane, and he could no longer warp truth, and he would have to face every single person he murdered, tortured, manipulated, and deformed. I imagine the weeping and the gnashing of teeth each of those confrontations would bring. But I also imagine this all occurs in the heavens, where the God, who is love in essence, holds court. And this God, who lived as the man Jesus, taught that forgiveness for our faults is withheld by him until we forgive those who have faulted us (Mark 11:26). And this God, who lived as the man Jesus, taught that the measure we use in benefit of or against another will also be used on us (Matthew 7:2). And this God, who lived as the man Jesus, taught that those who do not know what they are doing and break the rules are judged less harshly (Luke 12:48). And this God’s greatest apostle, Paul, quotes a Proverb equating good deeds toward our enemies as equivalent to burning coals of fire on their heads, (Romans 12:20). What is the fire that cannot be extinguished except the love of God? All of God’s enemies have to acknowledge his love.
I imagine that even Christians will have to reconcile. Men such as Methodist preacher Colonel John Chivington will have to face the hundreds of Cheyenne families he and and his soldiers slaughtered at the Sand Creek Massacre. I have two previous blogs (1, 2) on the Sand Creek massacre.
I imagine I will be apologizing to many people in the next life as well. However, I still have time to make peace with as many of them now as I can.
All these ideas I want to expand on over the next month, which is why this essay is only a sketch of what I'm thinking about. I do not know who has proposed something like this idea before, but I want to imagine it is different from the traditional arguments about eternal hell, or universalism, or annihilationism, but rather an out of the box thinking to reconcile justice, truth and love that does not neglect the Christian scriptures.