Is there a hell? The concepts of heaven and hell are as intimately connected as those of good and evil. When we are free to do good, we are also free to do evil; when we can say yes to God’s love, the possibility of saying no also exists. Consequently, when there is heaven there also must be hell.
All of these distinctions are made to safeguard the mystery that God wants to be loved by us in freedom. In this sense, strange as it may sound, the idea of hell is good news. Human beings are not robots or automatons who have no choices and who, whatever they do in life, end up in God’s Kingdom. No, God loves us so much that God wants to be loved by us in return. And love cannot be forced; it has to be freely given. Hell is the bitter fruit of a final no to God.
For further reflection…
“Now choose life, so that you and your children may live, and that you may love the Lord your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. For the Lord is your life…” – Deuteronomy 30: 19b – 20a (NIV)
This post was written by Henri Nouwen. For more information about Henri Nouwen, visit the website: http://henrinouwen.org