Tuesday, May 25, 2004

I have said before that I am intrigued by the Orthodox take on hell. Here are some quotes from the Orthodox tradition on the subject:

Saint Peter the Damascene writes:

"We all receive God's blessings equally. But some of us, receiving God's fire, that is, His word, become soft like beeswax, while the others like clay become hard as stone. And if we do not want Him, He does not force any of us, but like the sun He sends His rays and illuminates the whole world, and he who wants to see Him, sees Him, whereas the one who does not want to see Him, is not forced by Him."

God is a loving fire, and He is a loving fire for all: good or bad. There is, however, a great difference in the way people receive this loving fire of God.

Saint Basil the Great: "The sword of fire was placed at the gate of paradise to guard the approach to the tree of life; it was terrible and burning toward infidels, but kindly accessible toward the faithful, bringing to them the light of day."

Saint Isaac the Syrian: "Those who are suffering in hell, are suffering in being scourged by love.... It is totally false to think that the sinners in hell are deprived of God's love. Love is a child of the knowledge of truth, and is unquestionably given commonly to all. But love's power acts in two ways: it torments sinners, while at the same time it delights those who have lived in accord with it"

Especially that last one... I mean, if God is Love, I really think that is the way it is. It just makes the most sense.

You can hear the echo of these thoughts in the character of Zossima the priest in The Brothers Karamazov.

From a comment by Karl Thienes...

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