A friend recently mentioned Stanley Hauerwas’ new sermon collection, A Cross Shattered Church to me. I was taking a look at it tonight, trying to decide if I wanted to order it for myself when I came across this section, which sort of serves to whet the appetite. What do you think? It’s next in line for my library shelves I think…
An American evangelical philosopher once asked me if I did not think that hell is best conceived as being hated by God. I responded by saying that is surely wrong. If I know I am hated by God, I at least know I exist. Hell is to be abandonded by God. Dante surely had it right that at its lowest depths hell is where we are frozen in ice in a manner that those so condemned are unable to see anyone else.
Robert Jenson puts it this way:
What makes death the Lord’s enemy, and fearful for us, is that it separates lovers. Were my death simply my affair, the old maxim might hold, that since my death will never be part of my experience, I have no need to fear it. But death will take my loves from me and me from them, and that is the final objective horror, for it decrees emptiness of all human worth, constituted as it is by love. Having no more being woul dbe no evil were being not mutual.
But being is mutual, because mutuality is the very character of God–Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The Father desires friendship with the Son through the agency of the Holy Spirit. Which means speculation about dying and death that is not governed by Jesus’ cross and resurrection only tempts us to narcissistic fantacies. What we know is that the crucified Jesus has been raised, making possible our hope that death cannot defeat God’s love for us. We were created for God’s enjoyment and through the Son’s obedience even to death he has reclaimed us so that we may regard our deaths not as an end but as a beginning. In short God does not give us explantions that can make our dying something less than death. He does not give us an explanation; he gives us his Son.
Check it out: