Is it not patronizing and treating them with contempt to say, “Oh well, all you mediocre people–you will just be gathered up in God’s big loving embrace and welcomed home?” They have not done anything to respond to the love that was offered or the redemption won for them at great price. Shall we treat their choice with such disrespect and force them into a heaven they have no desire for and have done nothing to merit?
And what of the millions of pagan souls who have never heard of Christ? We hope that they may be saved by following faithfully the light they have been given, and we are taught that this is possible, but is there much evidence that many of those souls do, in fact, pursue the light they have been given with sincere hearts and with all their might? I hope that it is so, but I do not see evidence of such. It seems to me that most men are like me–they spend their lives thinking only of themselves and their pleasure and think very little about God and his Beauty and goodness. Furthermore, there is plenty of evidence that many of the pagans are not simply drifting in a haze of general niceness and goodness which will one day allow them to drift into heaven. Instead among the pagans we see true barbarism, cruelty, violence and the worship of demons.
The speculation can continue. Let us suppose that there are multitudes upon multitudes heading on the broad path to destruction. What becomes of them? We know that those who are saved are called to ‘grow up to the full humanity of Jesus Christ.’ They are called to be divinized. The redeemed become greater and greater in their growth in glory. Their progress to sanctification continues until they are full and completely radiant eternal beings. What if the damned are on an opposite trajectory? If the saved are getting bigger and bigger and being infused with more and more glory and goodness and the fullness of God in Christ Jesus in an ever widening gyre is it not logical to suppose that the damned are getting smaller and smaller and less and less significant and going down an ever decreasing spiral into the dark?
If the saved are becoming individual, radiant and unique beings eternal in the heavens perhaps the damned are becoming increasingly insignificant–mere ciphers of what they could have been–drones with empty souls and empty hearts. All glory has been withdrawn from them and they are dwindling into ash, falling into trash, descending into being mere shadows of the stars they were meant to be. If this is the case, then the Scriptures which talk about the wood, hay and stubble being burnt up make sense. This is the fire that purifies and burns up all that is trash. We do not hold to hell as obliteration of the eternal soul, but perhaps the eternal soul shrinks into so insignificant an identity as to be what ash is to a piece of wood?
The judgement therefore is not made on quantitative terms but qualitative. As harsh as it may sound, does it matter that the trash is thrown on the fire? This is actually the image the Christ uses when he speaks of Gehenna–which was the trash dump outside Jerusalem. The chaff will be thrown away and burned. The potter throws the broken pot onto the trash heap. The waste is a tragedy, but nature is prodigious. There are many acorns but from them few oak trees. There are many seeds and few flowers. There is much coal but few diamonds.
I realize in this egalitarian age where we judge by quantity not quality such a thought is horrendous, and my own heart is heavy at the thought of so many being damned. Indeed it is heavy at the thought of one soul being damned. I wish that all would come to salvation and hope that many will see Christ at that moment and say “yes” to Love, “yes” to Life “yes” to Goodness, Truth and Beauty, “yes” to Christ.
However, I cannot help but believe that there will also be many who will continue to hate Christ and reject his love. St Faustina saw that each soul would see Christ and he will ask each one three times if they love him and only those who reject his love three times will depart from him. That is the sort of speculation that inspires me for it combines hope and mercy with the reality of the everlasting consequences of human choice. This is truly a severe mercy, but the only one which grants man true dignity in the image of God for part of that image is that God has granted to each soul a portion of his own omnipotence–which we call free will–and this free will cannot be violated or man is no longer in God’s image.
It must therefore be respected, and for that free will to be respected it must receive the consequences of its choice.
Postscript: These writings are my own speculation. If they have offended or if they go against the church’s teaching or sacred Scripture I am more than happy to be corrected by those whose learning and wisdom is greater than mine.
Read More: Would God Send Anybody to Hell?