In 2007 I first published Chrysalis Crucible, a coming-of-age novel about young Andy Norton who goes off to West Berlin in the early seventies to evangelize – with all the answers. You can find a page about it on this website.
I’ve republished it (2015) as Kindle eBook and Amazon print-on-demand.
Andy discovers in West Berlin instead that not only are people not asking the questions to which he has answers, he is being confronted with a barrage of questions coming at him so fast and furious like clay pigeons in a skeet shoot, that he has no time let alone capacity to keep up with answers.
Not least is this the case temporally with massive State violence blessed by the Western church. Not least is this the case spiritually with a doctrine of hell of eternal conscious torment, the Ultimate Cosmic Violence, and blessed by the Western church. (See for example “Farewell, Rob Bell”.)
This chapter, and Chapter Sixty-Three raise questions about Western Christianity’s doctrine of “just hell” of eternal conscious torment (on a continuum with “just war” and “just deserts”.)
Andy pondered this for a time. “Janys,” he began, “what would be one time of total contentment for you in your life? Think about that. I’m guessing one such is beyond memory, when you were a newborn child totally surrounded by your mother’s warmth, love, and nurture. Think about the image of a newborn baby, Janys, of a mother’s total care of and love for her. Then imagine God in that role. That fits what we know and say about God. Remember, Jesus wanted to gather the people of Jerusalem to himself like a mother hen gathers her chicks. Remember all those biblical images of God nurturing His people like a mother?
“Then switch your imagination to a torture room in Central America, where that same little baby, now grown to mature adult, is stretched out on a cold mattress, is viciously raped and undergoes routine indignities beyond imagination. She cries out for the release of death, but that does not come. And the pain and torture are endless.
“Now, can you honestly imagine the same mother in both roles, arranging for and superintending the second reality, no matter what the rationalization? Yet that is precisely what teaching you and I have been led to believe, that the same “god” who created us out of an enormous free act of love—who loved us so desperately that He gave ‘His only begotten Son’ to birth us a second time—somehow just as determinedly plans the most malicious eternal outcome imaginable if we do not believe in Him. In that case, Jesus dies above all to save us from God! That’s crazy! It boggles my mind, Janys that this has been taught for two thousand years! If this is the only way we can think about God according to the Bible, I’m checking out. It is sick beyond all human imagining! But the reason I say this now, Janys, is precisely because I read my Bible!
“Meanwhile, I have to hand out an evangelistic tract, as do you, about God’s love for us that forewarns, at the same time, that any who reject Christ’s offer werden Schmerzen, Kummer und Pein erleiden in der ewigen Dunkelheit der Hölle. That’s what it says, Janys, in just about those exact words. That if we reject Christ we will experience everything that woman tortured in Central America experienced in the eternal darkness of Hell. And Dr. Harlow’s book says the same thing: that if we reject Christ we will experience Furcht, Trauer und Zorn. Fear, sadness, and wrath, Janys. He quotes several passages from Matthew to prove it. That’s what we’re saying God is planning for each person who rejects Him! Do you really believe that? I don’t. I can’t. I won’t!
Please click on: Chapter Sixty-One