I heartily recommend this YouTube channel – while I do not agree with many of his conclusions (his being mostly in agreement with C.S. Lewis when it comes to issues concerning the nature of humanity and hell – and therefore, ultimately, the nature of God.) Again I must say that no one outside of Scripture has influenced me more than C.S. Lewis. But when it comes to these issues (e.g. hell and human nature) – I think he was simply wrong…. See my post on this site regarding Lewis, Hell and Human Nature…)
This is my response to the video above:
I hope you will have time to read and reply to this – I take your arguments seriously, and here are some thoughts (and I think I answer in the spirit if not the letter of DBH):
First of all you say (40:47), “the degree to which a person can choose to love must necessarily be the degree to which they are able to choose not to love”
This proposition (taken from an unnamed “scholar”) seems far more philosophically informed that Biblcially: Granted there are many assumptions presupposed – especially as to the precise meaning of “must necessarily be the degree to which they are able to choose not to love”. This may work philosophically as a thought experiment – but have you talked to anyone who has “fallen” in love lately? They would very possibly say that their experience was out of their control – and that they could not imagine doing otherwise – possibly even denying that it was a “choice” so much as some kind of fortuitous “accident” (Cupid’s arrows, perhaps?)
But, of greater concern – it seems to me that little to no consideration for Biblical wisdom is taken into consideration:
1. First of all – are any of us (of the human race) in this fallen world really “free”? And, to be clear, I am in no way arguing for determinism. What I am saying is that there are certain constraints and limitations on our choices – especially when it comes to matters of the soul or spirit (from a consistent Biblical anthropology). We are “slaves to trespasses and sin”. We have been “taken captive by Satan to do his will”… In other words we are in a spiritual prison such that “but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.”(Romans 7)
2. No Biblically consistent conception of “freedom” can be construed apart from wrestling with the meaning and implications of this verse, “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free” (Gal.5:1) It is into this “glorious liberty” that Christ sets us free – and, dare I say, this freedom (fully realized in “heaven”) will not require that there is a truly live, existential possibility before us to chose otherwise. If that is freedom (there), then I want none of it! But, instead, I do believe that that beatific vision will be so ineffably grand that to love otherwise will be infinitely odious to us. We could theorize all day about the “logical possibility” of choosing to NOT love God – but, at bottom, I think that is irrational – and in the sense that “rationality” in grounded in the reason (Logos) on which our being is framed – and the eros of the infinite beauty of God!
3. Last but not least – projecting the philosophical conception of love (requiring an alternative course of action to be truly open to us) into hell fails in that it does not include the ontological reality embedded within and through our very being (within the Being of God). Your definition of “freedom” totally lacks the insight that Hart brings forward: we ultimately do not exist as persons apart from “others” – but especially from God, who “is a consuming fire”. Furthermore, we are NOT created “tabla rasa” – but in the image of God, which is (dare I say) Jesus Christ, the express image of God. If that is true – there is something within the loved “enemy” – a Trojan Horse of love…. We may suppress it – but it is (I believe) indestructible. So our hearts and desires will be in some way configured to our design – and our design is not merely as an autonomous free agency…. There is an eternity set in our hearts – and deep calls to deep….We are made for God – and we cannot have the peace for which we deeply crave apart from Him; the warmth of His hearth is found only in His house…. and at some point the prodigal will come “to himself” – and move toward the Father’s arms…
It is NOT (as Lewis says) merely a “game” to win or lose – it is a battle for our very souls by our already victorious “warrior God”; and he will subject all things to himself – “drag all” to the cross – and conquer our hearts by His all-surpassing Love! “Every knee will bow, and every tongue swear allegiance…”
We have an implanted “memory” simply by virtue of the fact that we bear the image of our first father (who bore the image of His Creator) – perhaps from the garden of Eden passed on to us in ways we do not understand. And the day will come when “All the ends of the world shall remember and turn to the LORD: and all the families of the nations shall worship before thee….” Psalm 22:27
This Psalm should have a privileged place of the highest order in the lectionary of the Church: for it is the one hymn that Jesus (I believe) “sang” on the cross – and I believe He envisioned the reward of his sufferings, the return and reconciliation of all things to His Father…. and so He prayed, “Father, forgive them…”
2 thoughts on “Freedom, Hell and Human Nature”
Ah yes! The old “theodicy of freedom” argument which Infernalists use as their trump card when boxed into a philsophical corner from which the cannot extract themselves. DBH very nicely discusses this in TASBS, but may I offer a personal view of this which I use to confront such arguments?
I am very much enjoying your site! Keep up the good work!
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Thanks so much for your kind and encouraging words. I read the post you had linked – and really enjoyed and benefited from your insights – but especially your own fascinating personal story of liberation. Thank you!