“We are Forerunners. Guardians of all that exists. The roots of the Galaxy have grown deep under our careful tending. Where there is life, the wisdom of our countless generations has saturated the soil. Our strength is a luminous sun, towards which all intelligence blossoms… And the impervious shelter, beneath which it has prospered.”

The gates of Hell are locked from within

by | Apr 8, 2021 | Christianity | 4 comments

The fundamental story of the Bible is of God’s attempts to reach out to His Creation and repair it – and of His Creation’s stubborn refusal to pay attention to the loving ministrations of a God that cares deeply about us. We have grown prideful and stupid in our insistence that we know better than our Creator – which is the root cause of every single one of our problems right now. That was as true in Genesis 3 as it is today.

On that subject – some time ago I caught up with one of my friends on the phone. (In fact, he reads this very site – that is how we came to know each other.) He had been pondering the question of why an all-knowing God could possibly leave the Tree of Knowledge in the Garden of Eden. After all, surely an all-knowing God would foresee the suffering and misery and pain that would result? How could an all-loving, all-merciful, all-powerful God POSSIBLY allow His Creation to do something as stupid as eating from the fruit of that Tree?

Free to Love God

Is Original Sin and the Fall of Man True? — Integrated ...

My answer to him went something like this:

First, there is good reason to argue that God actually seriously limits His powers, in the Bible. No matter where you look in the Bible – Genesis, Exodus, Judges, both books Chronicles and Samuel and Kings, and all over Acts and the Gospels – you will see that God can in fact be taken “by surprise”. Just look at the way that Jeroboam displeased the Lord in Kings. God made a covenant with Jeroboam and told him that if he obeyed the word of the Lord, Jeroboam son of Nebat would receive an amazing inheritance and be favoured above all others, even above Solomon himself. Yet Jeroboam disobeyed because he feared his own people more than he feared the Lord.

Surely God could have foreseen that – yet He didn’t.

Or did He?

We just don’t know. My view on the subject is similar to that of Our Beloved and Dreaded Supreme Dark Lord (PBUH) Vox Day the Most Terrible and Merciless: God knows what He WANTS to know. In other words, God is notomniderigent“.

Second, and much more importantly, God loves us so much that He simply will not circumscribe our free will. He does not want slaves to adore and worship Him because He says so. He never did. That is why He created the angels – many of whom rebelled against Him and His Law. Those fallen angels are the minions of Hell, and they obey the rule of Satan, the Prince of this world.

Victims of Pride

12 best images about mouth of hell on Pinterest | Mouths ...

God permitted rebellion and disobedience because He wants companions and friends, NOT SLAVES. He wants us to love Him because WE WANT TO, not because He commands us.

And that is the simple truth as to why He permits suffering and sin to run rampant on this Earth – because without it, what is the point of seeking to love God freely? It is a fundamental, axiomatic truth that there can be no growth without suffering and pain. No man is ever grateful for that which he has not earned.

God gives us His love freely. But to appreciate it, we must earn it, through making really dumb mistakes and repenting of them and coming back to Him.

And remember that God loves us so much that He will not force us to come to His presence if we do not want to. That is why those who reject Him outright will be cast into Hell – and that is not quite the place of fire and brimstone that we usually think of.

In fact, Hell is far worse than that.

The Realm of Eternal Desolation

Jonah 2:1-2 Illustrated: "Rescue!" — Heartlight® Gallery

To get a rough idea of what Hell is really like, read Jonah 2, especially verses 3-6. As the prophet Jonah states in those verses, he sank down into the very depths of Hell itself, and he was utterly and completely alone.

That is what it is really like – a place of utter nothingness, of stillness, of darkness without reprieve, without light, without hope. Hell is a place of eternal and complete isolation, of utter loneliness, of desolation more severe than you can POSSIBLY imagine.

And actually, we’ve all had rather more contact with Hell over the past year than any of us would have liked.

Remember what you went through during the lockdowns? No contact with your loved ones? No going outside, in some cases? Absolutely no fun, relaxation, joy, or hope? THAT, my friend, is a mere foretaste of what Hell truly is.

There is a reason why solitary confinement is the most feared form of punishment in prisons these days. It involves total isolation from outside stimuli.

For those of you familiar with Jim Caviezel, you know him as the man who played Jesus in The Passion of the Christ, and St. Luke in Paul, Apostle of Christ. He is a devout Christian and a man of great personal character and faith. But one of his better, if less well-known, roles is that of Edmond Dantes in the 2002 adaptation of The Count of Monte Cristo. (Which, incidentally, also starred a ridiculously young Henry Cavill at the time.) I highly recommend watching the scenes in which Dantes is imprisoned in the Chateau d’If. The relentless and terrible isolation breaks his spirit over the years, until he tries to commit suicide:

This, then, is Hell – a place without light, warmth, space, freedom, or hope.

And now do you understand why those who have condemned themselves to it, are in for a truly horrendous shock when they get there?

Smashing Down the Gates of Hell

Fiat Lux: February 2013

Those who go to Hell, do so of their own accord – because they reject God utterly and completely. If we choose not to be near Him, He assuredly will not force us to do so.

Nor, however, will He save those who pridefully and stupidly insist on rejecting Him.

That should terrify each and every one of us, now that we know what is in store for those who actively refute and refuse the hand of God. Take it from someone who knows, who repeatedly swatted away that hand when He offered it – the cost of doing so is extremely high.

Yet, even as we confront the ultimate price of this terrible problem of evil that we have created for ourselves, we also have the solution.

We know what that solution is. We celebrated His glorious resurrection just this past Sunday. And it is the ONLY possible solution, for reasons that I have elucidated elsewhere.

This brings us back to the original issue: what was God thinking when He gave us the capacity to sin and to do evil? Surely He could just erase evil in an instant? The same God who created everything around us, who put forth this magnificent Creation, surely can wipe out evil with but a mere thought?

Certainly. He could. But then… how is His creation going to fulfil its potential?

For the fundamental truth of evil is that its power is actually quite limited. Oh, certainly, that power is far greater than anything we mere mortals can comprehend. But it has limits. And it can only take over and destroy you if you let it.

Conclusion – Resist and Bite

As I have stated before, freedom is a choice. You have to choose to live free, and to accept the consequences of that decision. This is why slavery is fundamentally evil – because it robs men of that right to be free and make righteous choices.

If those around you refuse to make choices that set them free, or enslave themselves to evil, that is their problem. It is not yours until and unless their choices interfere with your own freedoms. At that point, you must fight back. You cannot accommodate them – do not commit the sin of Jeroboam. We are not commanded to tolerate our enemies – we are commanded to LOVE them. And that is an altogether very different, and vastly more difficult, commandment.

Approach those in your own family who commit sin on a regular basis with love. You may have to be stern and commanding, but do it you must. If they continue to reject your help beyond a certain point – and only you know what that point is – then you must leave them alone. They have chosen to be human trash, and they have chosen their destination accordingly.

That process of letting go is wretched and painful for all of us. But it is necessary. You cannot force people to go away from Hell. They choose to go there of their own accord. And they will seal the gates shut behind them – because they chose to be there. They almost surely do not want to be there – but they chose it nonetheless.

Instead, focus on being an example to those who depend upon you. Build your life, sanctify your life, justify yourself before Christ the Redeemer, and glorify God Almighty in all that you do. Your lot in life may well be to serve as an example of failure for others to learn from – that certainly was, and perhaps still is, my own purpose for a long time. But understand that your life serves a purpose nonetheless.

Find that Sacred Purpose, and do not deviate from it when you have found it. The rest will take care of itself.

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  1. Robert W

    Thank you for the write-up, I enjoyed reading it and found it to be a strong exhortation. The art piece of breaking down the gates of hell is a fascinating one. Jesus shares the gaunt look of the dead bodies (in particular his legs).
    The connection breaks down though as His clothing reflects poverty & burial while the ones he sets free are clothed in wealth and splendor…as with the seeds sown amidst the thorns, what good did it do to be choked out by the cares of wealth and the world?

    A tangential question, but connected to this idea of the tree and the freedom to choose;

    Why does God allow evil?

    Frank Tipler had an interesting conceptual answer in the Physics of Christianity:

    Reverse the question to ask, How does a God allow for maximum virtue? He has to permit free choice, for you cannot have virtue without choice.
    Across the multiverse, that will require people to be capable of making evil choices to varying depths and degrees within each of the individual universes. We don’t know where along the spectrum of virtue/evil our universe falls, but it is possible there is one universe thread where only virtue has ever been chosen, and that the renewal of all heavens and earths in the singularity at the end of time are drawn back into such a universe. It is also possible that the counterparty is a universe where only and ever has evil been chosen, and that the separation of the sheep from the goats at the great judgment sentences wickedness to the home of its own choice.

    I cannot falsify nor test any of his proposals. Physics is not a strong subject for me and it took months to process through the book. But this idea stuck with me, and his work is breathtaking in scope and refreshing by being so far removed from seminary while being steeped in a working catholic faith.

    • Didact

      The art piece of breaking down the gates of hell is a fascinating one. Jesus shares the gaunt look of the dead bodies (in particular his legs).

      Indeed, it’s very good. I found it through a random DDG search, but I quite liked it.

      Why does God allow evil?

      This is THE question to ask. And only Christianity offers a workable, comprehensive, sensible answer. I addressed this in my last podcast, and I look at it in terms of personal growth. That book by Tipler that references multiverses has a serious flaw in the argument, in that it depends on multiverses, which are inherently not observable, hence unproveable. The argument from miracles in THIS Universe is far stronger by comparison, since you can argue about whether miracles happen – but they are observable.

      Of course, I’m only going by what you reference from it. I have not read the book and confine my criticism only to that specific passage. It may well be that Tipler points out and admits that multiverses are an inherently unsatisfactory explanation – I don’t know. But I am willing to give him the benefit of the doubt. And given who Frank Tipler is – I went and looked him up – I’m not about to argue with his knowledge of physics and mathematics, beyond pointing out the problems with M-theory.

  2. Veritas

    An excellent article and well-timed. The question of the tree in the garden has vexed, confounded and baffled me for a long time. I was looking at it in typical human fashion using the optics at my disposal and which I’m most familiar with… logic, reason and evidence.
    And although the human qualities stated above help us reach a limited understanding, the answer is far more complex and mainly spiritual. In fact, like Didact correctly stated it far beyond human understanding.

    What put things into perspective for me real quick is my current battle against evil, not only in an abstract form but physically up close and personal, daily. I questioned God (argued more like it), as to why he chose me to endure this ordeal, why engage me in this struggle, to what purpose?
    Having evil break down my door and faced with no real way to combat it, I made a conscious decision to seek God, to humbly try to understand him and ask for his help. I realized that it is through struggle that we develop virtues and consequently the path to holiness. Virtues have to be developed, practised and earned, it is not freely given, nor should it be, otherwise it would be worthless. One has to be forged in the crucible of Gods choice and have faith in the result.

    My own path has led me to cultivate the following through spiritual struggle and is shamelessly stolen from Juan Luis Lordas book “The virtues of holiness”.

    Sensing the presence of God
    Self knowledge
    Living for others

    Quite a laundry list, but if you haven’t started working on it, then your chances at salvation and living apart from this sinful planet is slim to none.
    Here endeth the lesson.

    • Didact

      You are correct. Logic and reason can bring us TO God, but it cannot give us faith to ACCEPT God. That requires far more. And the Problem of Evil fundamentally comes down to acceptance.

      We have to accept that evil exists and that it cannot be corrected or destroyed without destroying humanity itself.

      That is the fundamental difference between Christians and literally everyone else. Real Christians accept that evil exists – and that we have the only true solution to it. Everyone else thinks that we can either ignore the problem, or fix it using man-made tools. Neither solution works, although the Stoic approach is far more effective than any of the alternatives.


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