By now, most of you realize that doctrine has progressed. I mean, you have the Trinity, you have the office of the Bishop, Church Government(s), the Canon and the such. But, is Eternal Torment the developed doctrine of Christianity, coming from Purgatory (which, ironically, is something some of the Jews around the time of Christ sorta believed in)? If so, is there a need to readdress the issue of Hell and Christian Doctrine?
I didn’t realize this, but C.S. Lewis was a believer in purgatory – which wasn’t really surprising. Lewis seemed to be believe in a hell locked from the inside:
. . . The right view returns magnificently in Newman’s DREAM. There, if I remember it rightly, the saved soul, at the very foot of the throne, begs to be taken away and cleansed. It cannot bear for a moment longer “With its darkness to affront that light.” Religion has claimed Purgatory. Our souls demand Purgatory, don’t they? Would it not break the heart if God said to us, “It is true, my son, that your breath smells and your rags drip with mud and slime, but we are charitable here and no one will upbraid you with these things, nor draw away from you. Enter into the joy?” Should we not reply, “With submission, sir, and if there is no objection, I’d rather be cleaned first.” “It may hurt, you know”—”Even so, sir.”
I assume that the process of purification will normally involve suffering. Partly from tradition; partly because most real good that has been done me in this life has involved it. But I don’t think the suffering is the purpose of the purgation. I can well believe that people neither much worse nor much better than I will suffer less than I or more. . . . The treatment given will be the one required, whether it hurts little or much.
My favourite image on this matter comes from the dentist’s chair. I hope that when the tooth of life is drawn and I am “coming round,” a voice will say, “Rinse your mouth out with this.” This will be Purgatory. The rinsing may take longer than I can now imagine. The taste of this may be more fiery and astringent than my present sensibility could endure. But . . . it will be disgusting and unhallowed.
But, for today, respected scholar, Roger Olson comments,
What’s wrong with a Protestant believing that upon entering paradise a hate-filled Christian leader of the past who condoned torture and even murder (I don’t know what else to call the burning of Servetus even though it was technically legal–we still call “legal” stonings of women in certain countries “murder”) has to take a spiritually therapeutic “class” of correction?
I can imagine (only imagine, you realize!) Zwingli entering the pearly gates (imagery–because there’s no reason to believe paradise has gates!) and being greeted by Hubmaier who says “Ulrich, it’s nice to see you here. I’ve completely forgiven you. But Christ has assigned me as your tutor and guide during your orientation to paradise. Here, sit down, let me offer you some correction about treatment of people with whom you disagree.”
What I think Dr. Olson is struggling with is simple – the final purging of the believer. But, what about the non-believer?
Anyway, thought I might post that bit about Zwingli – no, I am not commenting on it, just wanted to post it for HeWhoShallNotBeNamed (/Jim-West/).