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A denial of Hell is the very apex of short term thinking. Living your life here and now as though eternity matters is the epitome of long term thinking. And once these fundamental “mentalities” have set in, it is not long before you start to see other manifestations of them.

Deferred gratification is essential to long term economic growth. Gotta-have-it-now isn’t. Inability to say no to present desires cracks up marriages, and ability to honor commitments over time sustains marriages. Schools that expel students for academic reasons are a standing testimony to the realities of the last day. Rebellion against the red ink on a spelling quiz in third grade because Johnny’s feelings are bruised by them is actually hatred of the eschaton. Hatred of the day when God honor the giving of a cold cup of water in His name will eventually be a mentality that sees no reason to give a cup of cold water in the first place.

As Lewis points out in The Great Divorce, Heaven and Hell are retroactive. In Hell there are no momentos of the good times. In Heaven, every tear is wiped away.


Carpe diem is all very well, but you have to know what kind of day it is that you are seizing. One man can seize the day because he sees the need to eat, drink, and be merry for tomorrow we die, and another might realize that if today we hear His voice, we should not harden our hearts as we did in the wilderness. Seize the day, is it? What is a day, and how do we seize it? More importantly, why should we seize something as fruitless and as empty as a day? Unless of course, it is not empty.

But if we are to say it is not empty, we might be called upon to give some reasons for thinking this. If we appeal to Scripture, we cannot appeal to just a portion of it. Jesus does promise us eternal life, but if we monkey with the adjective to get rid of that offputting eternal death, we soon discover that we have destroyed all the promises.

One other thing. It may seem trivial, but I would urge believers everywhere to return to the practice of using the upper case H when writing about Heaven and Hell. Why might this be important? Bishop Sheen once submitted a manuscript to his publisher, and when it came back to him, the h’s had all been changed to lower case. He dutifully changed them all back again. His editor wanted to know why he had done that. Sheen said, “Because they’re places. You know, like Scarsdale.”


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