Monday, December 22, 2008

On hell

Rowan Williams was recently asked (in a pub in Cardiff as it turns out) "what is hell like?" His answer?

"Hell is being by yourself for ever."

I much prefer R. A. Finlayson's comment on hell and heaven:

"Hell is spending eternity in the presence of God."

"Heaven is spending eternity in the presence of God, with a mediator."

More on hell and the presence of God here.


Unknown said...

The Rowan answer seems almost instinctive for people today (where has that come from??)

Your answer is so much better.

Zac Wyse said...

I totally agree and actually just blogged about this very thing. I think it stems from the belief that only Christians have a relationship with God, while non-Christians are 'separated from Him' (think 'Knowing God Personally' tract). Therefore, hell would simply be more of the same - the lack of God's blessing, rather than God present in His wrath. It seems to begin to undermine penal-substitution, too!

Anonymous said...


There is so much error and cliche out there when it comes to the doctrine of Hell, so I was a little apprehensive when I saw the title of this post in Google Reader.

I am relieved, and thankful for posting a great quote by R. A. Finlayson.

Similar to your link in the post, I addressed the topic of Hell earlier this year, and recently reviewed the "Knowing God Personally" tract that PostTenebrasLux mentioned.

Praise God for the Mediator, the Lord Jesus Christ!

Anonymous said...

If "Hell is spending eternity in the presence of God." and "Heaven is spending eternity in the presence of God, with a mediator." How would describe life here, now for an unbeliever?

Martin Downes said...

In terms of Matthew 5:45

"He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous."

And Luke 6:35

"he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked"

That common grace that all people experience in this life will be withdrawn in eternity. Romans 2:1-11 speaks to this same issue.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the reply Martin.

Is Rowan saying the same as you then? If Hell as the withdrawal of common grace isn't this the same as the withdrawal of God Himself?

Cheery subject for Christmas though!