What is Hell?


By: Shenouda Girgis

Talking about hell is a touchy topic and one that many people don’t delve too far into. To be honest, I didn’t know much about it before preparing for this blog. The study of hell is quite difficult to initiate- its oppressive, innately negative and lacks the lustre of delving into scripture or a juicy piece of theology. In short, studying it is a bit hard to justify. In fact, I could only nod my head in agreement in retrospect.

Imagine a person who says, “I don’t want to be friends with other people; I want to be alone,”…
they then take baby steps to sever themselves off from those around them…
and then eventually they take mammoth leaps to absolutely and decisively choose themself over all other people.
Then this is going to hell.

Said another way, the essence of sin is separation from God, the desire to achieve competency away from the divine. It is the urge to be self-sufficient, to be able to discern between good and evil apart from the Creator. Some call it self-righteousness. This is the ultimate denial of being a creature of God. Now, by correlation, sin and hell are the same thing, a separation from others and God. C.S. Lewis depicts hell in ‘The Great Divorce’ through a quiet, grey, overcast town where people keep moving further and further apart from each other.

An old saying is that one would choose ‘heaven for the climate but hell for the company’. This is a deplorable myth. Hell is boring and uneventful to the extreme. But then how can heaven be interesting or exciting if we are reclining on marshmallow clouds, dipping our golden fingers in pristine rivers and tuning our ever new silver harps? But let’s try to consider what it means for human beings to flourish. Just imagine what it would be like for yourself and for us as human beings to act together without the frictions and subtractions caused by sin. What potential? What excitement? What room for growth and prosperity? As St Paul says, “from glory to glory”; our limitations would be nullified, our potential limitless. C.S. Lewis leans forward on his Cambridge armchair and beckons, “Come further up, come further in!” (The Last Battle)

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