Friday, December 06, 2019

Hart thunders like Amos against cruel, incoherent religion.

Belief in an eternal hell relies upon a literal, which is to say static, reading of Genesis. To preach fire and brimstone one must first conjugate the triune God’s deliberation (“Let us make humankind in our image”) into the past tense. Creation from nothing, as church fathers like Gregory of Nyssa saw clearly, does not refer to God’s primordial act but to an eschatological one which witnesses to God’s ultimate—as in teleological—relation to creation.

Read it by clicking on the image 


CanonJohn3+ said...

I love David Bentley Hart's books. A breath of fresh air. However, his latest on universal salvation fails to prove his premise that in the end "All will be saved." He postulates that in the end even the most sinful depraved of individuals will abandon his pride, his ego, his self worship, his sin and accept the everlasting invitation of God. Hart underestimates the depth of individuals' depravity and self delusion which Satan affirms and magnifies within the confines of Hell. I recommend "The Great Divorce" by Cs Lewis as an alternative. Still, Hart's latest book is fun to read. Theology at its best.

Fr. Robert Hart said...

I have to disagree with you. I suggest that all three of the Cappadocean Fathers, especially St. Gregory of Nyssa (for your argument isn't really against my brother's position, but against his belief in theirs), would say that the underestimating being done is by you; I believe you are underestimating the love and invincible power of God to finsh His perfect work. The strongest argument is from Gregory, that Creatio ex nihilo and the eschaton are all one work.

Daniel Ledoux said...

Fr. Hart,

At your recommendation I read your brother’s book, and it made a lot of sense. However, aren’t there things in the formularies that teach an eternal hell? For example, in the Athanasian Creed we say that “they that have done good shall go into life everlasting; and they that have done evil, into everlasting fire.”

I know Dr. Pusey argued that the condemnation of Origen at the 5th Ecumenical Council condemned universalism, although reading through the 15 anathemas I was glad to see no mention of it.

Fr. Robert Hart said...

Quite frankly, a passage from the "Athanasian Creed" is not Scripture. Obviously, it reflects a Latin passage using aeternum for aionios, an unfortunate rendering from Matt. 25:41, 46. And, you will not find a 5th Ecumenical Council condemnation of Universalism except in a corrupted text. There was a condemnation of a version of the doctrine that included the pre-existence of souls (an idea some have attributed to Origen). That is not the same thing.