“God, Creation, and Evil” by David B. Hart

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20 Responses to “God, Creation, and Evil” by David B. Hart

  1. I lament the lack of footnotes.

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  2. Continuing the thread of universalism, has there been much discussion — on this blog at least — of the seemingly bizarre notion that even the damned would be resurrected at the Final Judgement? To me, it makes no sense to share in Christ’s resurrected human nature while being separated from Him for all eternity in the flames of hell. There is made a distinction between resurrection unto glory and resurrection unto condemnation; but that seems to negate the actual substance of what it means to be resurrected! Thoughts?

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    • Fr Aidan Kimel says:

      That all will be resurrected, the righteous and the unrighteous, is most certainly the ecumenical faith of Orthodoxy, Catholicism, and mainline Protestantism.

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      • Certainly! That wasn’t what I was getting at; rather, what is the point in the resurrection of the damned if hell is eternal? To share in Christ’s resurrection but to endure hell for all eternity seems bizarre, since resurrection is the conquering of sin and death.

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        • Fr Aidan Kimel says:

          Okay, gotcha! I suppose that your question really resolves into whether a convincing moral defense of eternal perdition can be advanced. If yes, then the resurrection of the wicked (which is restoration of the whole person) can be justified along those lines.

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          • Yes, sorry for my confusing language. It seems that if hell is everlasting torment and those in it after the judgment have their “resurrected” bodies, then it seems we either posit two different kinds of resurrection or we must assign ‘resurrection’ to the sheep and ‘resuscitation’ to the goats. I just cannot see how a resurrected body — one in conformity to Christ’s own resurrected body — could experience the pain and agony of hell. It seems contradictory to the nature of the resurrection. Granted, I’m writing this without even consulting any theologians on the matter… it just popped into my stream of thought as I re-read DBH’s lecture. By the way, thank you, Fr. Aidan, for posting it; I’ve listened to the lecture several times during my commute, and it’s good to sit down and read it. Now…if only DBH himself would chime in!

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  3. Karen says:

    Once again, DBH does not disappoint! (And, once again, I am having to read with my dictionary in hand!) 🙂

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  4. John DiGregorio says:

    Thanks to Fr. Aidan and David Bentley Hart. Does St. Gregory of Nyssa include Lucifer and the other fallen angels among the rational wills that will ultimately be reconciled with God? If so, does that imply a finite, temporal aspect to hell?

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    • Fr Aidan Kimel says:

      John, I am fairly sure that St Gregory did entertain the eventual salvation of the demons, but I have not yet read his apokatastasis writings, so cannot say for certain. But I do know that St Isaac the Syrian envisioned the reconciliation of all rational creatures.

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  5. Mike H says:

    Thanks for posting this Father. You might consider adding this to your “Readings in Universalism” tab.

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  6. Mike H says:

    I think that DBH has a good feel for the tension that your average non-scholar churchgoer (like myself) experiences when working through these issues.

    It gets to the very heart of why I’ve been having such a tough time at church of late. Most of the time I don’t want to go. At all.

    On the one hand is this vision of divine power and goodness and eschatological hope that gives me strength to keep going in the belief that my loved ones are safe. On the other, the language of hell and irrevocable loss is so inextricably present on a typical Sunday – within the sermons, the theology, the songs, and the overall church ethos and purpose that I can’t NOT see it. In the community I’m a part of it’s usually subtle and sort of viewed with regret (free will theodicy of hell). But it’s always there, hovering powerfully just out of sight (or in plain view at times). And this language is placed squarely alongside the language of “love”, “justice”, “mercy” etc, in such a way that, when examined closely, the latter language is stripped of all substantive meaning. I walk out and can’t help thinking that, despite any well intentioned arguments to the contrary, the point of it all is just to “save as many souls as possible from God”. “Pluck as many infants as possible from the flames”. Horror.

    This tension is just so extreme. It’s tough to live in it. It’s hard for what DBH says (and others) to take root when it’s so at odds with a typical Sunday narrative. I feel like a ping pong ball being volleyed back and forth. Like DBH says, this critique isn’t aimed at a few marginal sects within Christianity. It stems from the normal experience of the typical Christian in the broad mainstream.

    Anyways. For those of you that are pastors/clergy, I’d ask you to keep these things in mind as you look out at your congregations.

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    • 407kwac says:

      Mike, if you don’t mind my asking, what sort of church do you attend? If it is Orthodox, is that your experience of the Divine Liturgy itself, as well?

      Karen

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      • Mike H says:

        Evangelical.

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        • 407kwac says:

          Thanks, Mike. If you lived in my area, I would invite you to attend the Divine Liturgy with me, especially the services of Holy Week and Pascha. This is the reason I moved from Evangelicalism to Orthodoxy–I had an experience of struggle with the doctrine of hell as it is understood in Evangelical circles very similar to that described below by Mattkofler.

          Karen

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          • Nicholas says:

            It is, however, present in many Orthodox parishes as well. My priest recently started his sermon by saying “it is a dangerous thing to be an Orthodox Christian.”

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  7. mattkofler says:

    I’m very grateful to Mr. Hart for all that he’s written over the years. His writings have helped me get through some very difficult times. I also credit him for being the one to push me over the brink into universalism. I happened to read his article on First Things, “Roland on Vaikuntha”, during a time of intense anguish brought on by my struggles with the traditional doctrine of hell. In all honesty, those struggles were so bad that I had to start taking anti-depressants/anti-anxiety medication. Reading Hart’s article convinced me conclusively that I couldn’t/shouldn’t simply move on and try to live my life despite the threat of hell looming over everything and everyone I love. Funny how such a seemingly light-hearted article could be so potent.

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