"Hope all things about your brethren"

My friend Phil over at Thinklings posted a semi-long Spurgeon passage that I love. Go read it here.

Here's one of my favorite parts:

Love's third great labour is in "hoping all things." Love never despairs. She believes in good things yet to come in her fellow-men, even if she cannot believe in any present good in them. Hope all things about your brethren. Suppose a friend is a member of the church, and you cannot see any clear signs of grace in him, hope all things about him. Many true believers are weak in faith, and the operations of grace are dim in them; and some are placed in positions where the grace they have is much hindered and hampered: let us take these things into consideration. It is hard to tell how little grace may yet suffice for salvation: it is not ours to judge.

This reminds me of the Lewisian idea (from God in the Dock) of only God knowing how much work grace has done in someone's life. Is someone a curmudgeon? Lewis would say, then perhaps with Christ they're much less of a curmudgeon than they would have been without Christ. Sanctification is a beautiful thing. And one of the paradoxes of Christianity -- and oh how I truly love the paradoxes -- is that we are sanctified and we are holy, yet we are being sanctified and we are called to be holy.

"At the name of Aslan ..."

At the name of Aslan each one of the children felt something jump in his inside. Edmund felt a sensation of mysterious horror. Peter felt suddenly brave and adventurous. Susan felt as if some delicious smell or some delightful strain of music had just floated by her. And Lucy got the feeling you have when you wake up in the morning and realise that it is the beginning of the holidays or the beginning of summer.

-- C.S. Lewis, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

"No one ever asks to leave hell."

I've made it no secret around here that I question the common understanding of Hell being a literal, consuming fire that torments a conscious soul day and night without end. I do believe in Hell, and a "fire" of Hell, but I've found it curious that many believers accept a metaphorical representation of Heaven (e.g. streets of gold) as represented in Scripture, but reject a similar metaphorical representation of Hell.

In The Reason For God Tim Keller summarizes my current thinking on Hell:

In short, hell is simply one's freely chosen identity apart from God on a trajectory into infinity. We see this process "writ small" in addictions to drugs, alcohol, gambling, and pornography. First, there is a disintegration, because as time goes on you need more and more of the addictive substance to get an equal kick, which leads to less and less satisfaction. Second, there is an isolation, as increasingly you blame others and circumstances in order to justify your behavior. . . . When you lose all humility you are out of touch with reality. No one ever asks to leave hell. The very idea of heaven seems to them a sham.

The idea of Hell being something of a choice for the damned fits hand-in-glove with the idea represented by C. S. Lewis who said that the damned souls are in some sense successful rebels to the end, and, as Lewis' character George MacDonald says in The Great Divorce, "There are two types of people in the world. Those who say to God, 'Thy will be done,' and those to whom God says, in the end, 'Thy will be done.'"

I believe Dallas Willard presents a similar picture of Hell in Renovation of the Heart.

I'll end with another Keller quotation from the aforementioned book:

All God does in the end with people is give them what they most want, including freedom from himself. What could be more fair than that?

Lewis Via MacDonald

I may have quoted this line in a previous post on this blog, but I can't quite recall. Anyway, I was reading a bit of Lewis' The Great Divorce, and I had to smile when I read the following line from the character George MacDonald:

There are two types of people in the world. Those who say to God, "Thy will be done," and those to whom God says, in the end, "Thy will be done."

That's a bit of a paraphrase, but I think the quote is pretty close. I don't have the book right in front of me. For those who may not know, MacDonald was Lewis' primary inspiration and, I believe, his most beloved author. Lewis was a MacDonald fanboy. I still intend to read MacDonald one of these days.

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