Ana Siljak on “D. B. Hart’s Inquisitor”

“Michael McClymond, in ‘Opiate of the Theologians,’ makes the plausible argument that we moderns have (in so many words) become soft. Christian universalism, he writes, is a ‘religion of humanity.’ a good-natured religion with all of its ‘spiritual shallowness.’ Lumping Hart with the Unitarian-Universalists, this critique construes Hart’s universalism as a kind of ‘free ticket to heaven,’ cheap grace absent repentance or spiritual preparation. The implication is that we enlightened moderns are all too comfortable, materialistic, and rational to really believe in hell, or to strive to escape it.

I wonder, however, whether McClymond has it exactly backwards. What if modernity, since the Enlightenment, has created a ‘religion of humanity’ precisely in response to the doctrine of an eternal hell? What if the ‘religion of humanity’ seemed a relief from the unendurable certainty that at least some of those among us will be forever trapped in eternal torment? If so, then Hart, however isolated, points us toward the very question that is at the heart of the modern rejection of God.”

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D. B. Hart’s Inquisitor

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3 Responses to Ana Siljak on “D. B. Hart’s Inquisitor”

  1. Robert Fortuin says:

    A worthwhile read!

    Ana put into words a grand hypothesis which has been with me for a while – that modernity can be understood as a rejection of a caricature of Christianity, a casting off of the absurdity of the god of endless torment:

    “It is hell, as it has been so literally and cruelly depicted through the centuries, that has led to the atheist universalism of modernity.”

    “What if modernity, since the Enlightenment, has created a “religion of humanity” precisely in response to the doctrine of an eternal hell? What if the “religion of humanity” seemed a relief from the unendurable certainty that at least some of those among us will be forever trapped in eternal torment?”

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  2. Iain Lovejoy says:

    More widely, I have heard it said that atheism derives, essentially, from Christian ethics: people have applied to God and the Church the ethical standards Christ and the Church themselves teach, and rejected Christianity as unethical. I think the article (with DBH) is right that it is the doctrine of eternal hell which has poisoned every other aspect and doctrine of Christianity and led to this pass.

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  3. Julian says:

    An excellent article!

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