Where All Answers Deceive


From CS Lewis’ The Great Divorce. Lewis, having taken a bus ride from hell to heaven is being guided and instructed by George MacDonald. The question of what will be in the end comes up. Will all be saved? 


‘Ye can know nothing of the end of all things, or nothing expressible in those terms. It may be, as the Lord said to the Lady Julian, that all will be well, and all will be well, and all manner of things will be well. But it’s ill talking of such questions.’

‘Because they are too terrible, Sir?’

‘No. Because all answers deceive. If ye put the question from within Time and are asking about possibilities, the answer is certain. The choice of ways is before you. Neither is closed. Any man may choose eternal death. Those who choose it will have it. But if ye are trying to leap on into eternity, if ye are trying to see the final state of all things as it will be (for so ye must speak) when there are no more possibilities left but only the Real, then ye ask what cannot be answered to mortal ears. Time is the very lens through which ye see— small and clear, as men see through the wrong end of a telescope— something that would otherwise be too big for ye to see at all. That thing is Freedom: the gift whereby ye most resemble your Maker and are yourselves parts of eternal reality. But ye can see it only through the lens of Time, in a little clear picture, through the inverted telescope. It is a picture of moments following one another and yourself in each moment making some choice that might have been otherwise. Neither the temporal succession nor the phantom of what ye might have chosen and didn’t is itself Freedom. They are a lens. The picture is a symbol: but it’s truer than any philosophical theorem (or, perhaps, than any mystic’s vision) that claims to go behind it. For every attempt to see the shape of eternity except through the lens of Time destroys your knowledge of Freedom. Witness the doctrine of Predestination which shows (truly enough) that eternal reality is not waiting for a future in which to be real; but at the price of removing Freedom which is the deeper truth of the two. And wouldn’t Universalism do the same? Ye cannot know eternal reality by a definition. Time itself, and all acts and events that fill Time, are the definition, and it must be lived. The Lord said we were gods. How long could ye bear to look (without Time’s lens) on the greatness of your own soul and the eternal reality of her choice?’




  1. I always felt it was a little unfair to use MacDonald as a mouthpiece: he was a pretty unambiguously Universalist.

  2. “Currently, the most popular way of defending the notion of an eternal torment is an appeal to creaturely freedom and to God’s respect for its dignity, but there could scarcely be a poorer argument…

    It wouldn’t if we could construct a metaphysics or phenomenology of the will’s liberty that was purely voluntarist, purely spontaneous, though even then we would have to explain how an absolutely libertarian act, obedient to no rationale whatsoever would be distinguishable from sheer chance or mindless organic or mechanical impulse, and so any more free than an earthquake or embolism. But on any cogent account, free will is a power inherently purposive, teleological, primordially oriented towards the good and shaped by that transcendental appetite to the degree that a soul can recognize the good for what it is. No one can freely will the evil as evil. One can take the evil for the good. but that doesn’t alter the prior transcendental orientation that wakens all desire. To see the good truly is to desire it insatiably; not to desire it is not to have known it and so never having been free to choose it. It makes no more sense to say that God allows creatures to damn themselves out of his love for them, or his respect for their freedom, than to say that a father might reasonably allow his deranged child to thrust her face into a fire out of a tender regard for her moral autonomy.

    And the argument becomes quite insufferable when one considers the personal conditions – ignorance, mortality, defectibility of intellect and will – under which each soul enters the world and the circumstances, the suffering of all creatures, even the most innocent and delightful among them, with which that world confronts the soul.”

    -David Bentley Hart


  3. D.B. Hart’s analysis corresponds with the inspiring themes found in Isaac the Syrian’s newly discovered works (and St Gregory’s) as well as Bulgakov’s stronger universalist arguments, however we can never discard the refutation of these opinions either. In Barsanuphius and John, for example, we see explicit refutations to these questions posed to the Great Barsanuphius, and a clear counsel not to delve into those things philosophically and discursively (which is what we see in D.B. Hart) but to stay in the sacred place of hopeless hope which springs from deep and resolute repentance.
    We cannot forget that, even in sins of negligence or inescapable coercion, there is always culpability in man, even “the involuntary has its cause in the voluntary”, and hell is nothing other than the “invention” of the damned.

    The heavens tremble over the preoccupations of human beings. The earth shakes over how people want to scrutinize the incomprehensible […] Avoid these things, brother, so that their word may not be established in your heart. They dry tears, blind the heart, and quite simply destroy those who pay any attention to them. Do not dwell on them; do not study them; for they are filled with bitterness and produce fruit unto death. As for knowledge about things to come, do not be deceived. Whatever you sow here, you will reap there (cf. Gal. 6:7-8). (Letter 600 Barsanuphius and John)

    ….Therefore, when you hear that one of them [those saints such as Gregory of Nyssa] received from the Holy Spirit whatever he speaks, then this is clear assurance that we ought to trust him. When, however, this person speaks on those matters [of apokatastasis], it does not seem that he refers to the same kind of assurance, but rather to the teachings and tradition of those who preceded him. In this way, while paying attention to their knowledge and wisdom, nonetheless, they did not ask God about these matters, as to whether or not they are true.
    There then! You have heard all my foolishness. So be calm, and commit yourselves to God, ceasing from such idle talk and paying attention to your passions, about which you will be asked to give account on the Day of Judgment. For you will not be asked about these matters, why you do not understand them or why you have not learned them. Therefore, weep and mourn. Follow in the footsteps of our fathers, of Poemen and all the other like him, and “run in such a way that you may win” (1 Cor. 9:24) in Christ Jesus our Lord, to Whom be the glory to the ages. Amen. (Letter 604 Barsanuphius and John)

  4. Robert Capon, when asked to explain his broad understanding of “salvation”;

    “I am and I am not a universalist. I am one if you are talking about what God in Christ has done to save the world. The Lamb of God has not taken away the sins of some — of only the good, or the cooperative, or the select few who can manage to get their act together and die as perfect peaches. He has taken away the sins of the world — of every last being in it — and he has dropped them down the black hole of Jesus’ death. On the cross, he has shut up forever on the subject of guilt: “There is therefore now no condemnation. . . .” All human beings, at all times and places, are home free whether they know it or not, feel it or not, believe it or not.

    “But I am not a universalist if you are talking about what people may do about accepting that happy-go-lucky gift of God’s grace. I take with utter seriousness everything that Jesus had to say about hell, including the eternal torment that such a foolish non-acceptance of his already-given acceptance must entail. All theologians who hold Scripture to be the Word of God must inevitably include in their work a tractate on hell. But I will not — because Jesus did not — locate hell outside the realm of grace. Grace is forever sovereign, even in Jesus’ parables of judgment. No one is ever kicked out at the end of those parables who wasn’t included in at the beginning.”

    Yes, I can understand that using the term “Universalism” is like looking at eternity through the large end of a telescope. I would much prefer to speak in terms of “ultimate reconciliation” for in our best understanding God is reconciling–a process– the kosmos to Himself and He has all of eternity to accomplish His desire–unless, of course, He becomes impatient ;o)

  5. I don’t mean to start an argument with Diana, but I really appreciated this from Fr. Stephen. It took me a while to realize it, but Fr. Stephen’s posts are half (well, maybe 2/3rds) of the the conversation. The great thing about his blog are the comments and the conversations that get going in response.

    So on that note, I had to read this several times even to begin to see how it might be approached and to get any kind of handle on it. But having done that, and having read Isaac’s quote about from David Bentley Hart (of whom I am a big fan), I am inclined to ask a (knowingly and hopefully provocatively ) dumb question: Are DBH and Lewis both Calvinists? It kind of sounds like they are here.

  6. Repentance -“for the choice that might have been otherwise”- repentance, especially through the intercesssion of the Theotokos, could bring “the gift whereby ye most resemble your Maker and are yourselves parts of eternal reality. ” Would it be fair to say that when one unworthily gets that “gift”, should keep thy mind in hell and not despair?
    Pray for me, Fr. Stephen!

  7. Isaac and Diana,
    Neither of them.

    Some background on the quote. George MacDonald, a very interesting author in his own right, lived a generation or two before Lewis. He was a Scotsman, and a Presbyterian minister (I think). He was also a universalist and got into lots of trouble for it. But Lewis was not a Universalist, as this passage shows. But he was deeply, deeply influenced by MacDonald. He once said that he never wrote anything without MacDonald in mind.

    So, to one degree, this is Lewis engaging his erstwhile mentor on a topic where they disagree, and Lewis is reconciling their positions with this “All Answers Deceive.”

    Diana, generally, I would prefer my own stuff being posted. Someone brought this to my attention yesterday and I savored it a bit and wanted to share it. I’ve been writing with too much effort for the past few days and wanted to post something – so Lewis agreed to let me take a short break.


  8. It seems to me that at least a part of the speculation on ultimate things stems from our fear of what is to come. Perhaps we seek theoretical assurance in false absolutes so that we do not have to actual experience the freedom of Christ that requires actual faith in a real person and a real and living God who even in His love is terrible?

    Fear not! He has over come the world. Go boldly before the throne of Grace. Watch, pray, give thanks, fast, give alms, forgive and repent with the people God gives us.

    These are the means and context of our salvation. Within and through them He works our salvation as we allow Him. In the process He also redeems time.

    Or so it seems to this unworthy sinner.

    God is good. His love is incomprehensible. We can partake of that love in body, mind and soul. We do partake of that love to the extent we are able.

    What more do we need.

    God forgives.

  9. Dino,
    I’ll offer a word in defense of Hart. He indeed writes in the mode of discursive reasoning, but does not ignore the patristic witness. If I have a “takeaway” from Hart, with which I agree, it is his criticism of the rather glib and easy defence some offer for eternal torment. Some not only defend it glibly, but seem to delight in doing so, and some, perversely, argue that it somehow reveals God’s glory.

    The very thought of eternal torment should stagger and grieve every conscience, and, perhaps even shake their faith to some measure. That is the response of Abraham at the news of the coming destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah.

    That “shaking,” I suggest, is perhaps not unintended by God and serves a greater purpose. But those who simply, and peacefully, offering that this is the teaching of Scripture, or the Fathers, etc., and then walk away as though the matter is settled, seem to me to suffer from some defect of heart. Hart perhaps goes too far, but he, at least, grasps the essential problem.

    The contemplation of eternal torment should, for the Orthodox, drive us to intercede always and at all times for the souls in hell, if our prayers might avail them of some relief. For though there are words in Scripture regarding such torment, we are nowhere bidden to cease loving them. Love prays.

    When I read Hart, I do not hear so much the force of his discursive method. I see in his method a form of prayer – perhaps an echo of Abraham’s argument. Though I don’t know Hart personally, I know a number of people who do. I correspond on social media with one of his brothers. I think of him in very personal terms rather than in abstract. I like his stuff on the whole – even when we might disagree.

  10. Can anyone recommend a link that leads to a description of universalism that would be helpful? I have not heard that term before, and Google search is turning up too wide of a catch, I think.

  11. Father,
    The thought of eternal torment absolutely does stagger my conscience. The problem I have with the subjects of eternal torment vs Universalism is the ‘either/or’ in defending one side or the other. In this instance, the extremes are difficult to agree with. And when we discuss these things, taking a stance, backing it up with Scripture and The Fathers, many times both sides come across as glib, determined to prove their point. This is what happens when discussing a subject where we do not have the ultimate answer. When I think about eternity, my infinite mind can only end in wonder. We simply do not know. And that is the frustrating part because we always seek for an answer. This subject, I have to leave be, concluding that our God is right and just and whatever takes place will be right and just. It is good to read about these things and consider the arguments that are put forth, and even come to our own conclusion, but really, we will not get the answer in this age. And maybe God did not intend this “shaking” as you say, nevertheless, if it draws us closer to Him and increases our intercession for others…well, no harm done!

  12. Carol – you’re right in that a generic Google search casts a VERY wide net. In response to your question, you might visit Fr Kimel’s Eclectic Orthodoxy blog.

  13. Responses to Hart’s argument for universalism remind me of the arguments against biological evolution one often hears from young earth Orthodox Christians. The evidence and arguments for evolution are persuasive, if not airtight, so all that can be done is appeal to the Church Fathers whose views are incompatible with such modern notions.

  14. Would it be reading into Lewis’ thought too much to say that Freedom is only livable in the present? To reflect on it is to live in the past, to fear is to borrow from the future. Time is our opportunity to experience Freedom. To live in the present is not a default for humanity. We tend to focus on past or future.

  15. This is all too much for me, so I am going to follow Fr. Hopko’s 37th maxim and flee imagination, fantasy, analysis and figuring things out.

  16. Michael Bauman, I would caution you not to infer more from comments than is justified. Besides, truth is truth, regardless of whether it is old or newly discovered.

  17. Oh, Fr. Stephen, thank you for this today. Lewis was so instrumental in my own journey to Orthodoxy. And this book in particular was a revolution for me. As for Dr. Hart, I join you in defending his work. He is tough work to read but I never leave without having my soul edified.
    Your observation of his work as prayer has opened up a new perspective fort me. I think it’s spot on.

    Blessed Nativity Fast.

  18. Isaac,
    Don’t bring to many other topics (i.e.: evolution or not) into an already pregnant one please, or we will never ever get anywhere here!
    I am not categorically arguing ‘for’ or ‘against’ apokatastasis as some do, it is not really given us, but I bring to our attention the fact that [as Father Stephen did in his comment to me] true prayer for the whole world cannot reach the height we see in the Saints within a context of assuredly proclaimed universalism. The “drying up of tears and blinding of the heart” referred to by St Barsanuphius in my quote above is particularly germane to this… One can only struggle with God in prayer, as Father explained, (in the image of Abraham interceding for Sodom), if eternal torment is understood as just that. The supreme anomaly of an eternal Hell in a world created by a God of love has to do with the anomaly of pride of course, that “unfortunate, required option” for a creature capable of free salvation. It is not – as Hart presupposes – that “a father allows his deranged child to thrust her face into a fire out of a tender regard for her moral autonomy” […!] It is rather that a child {a human and not an automaton} interprets its Father’s loving caress as repugnant because it has voluntarily conditioned itself that way. The ascetic fight with God for the salvation of all is ‘in Christ’ and not ‘against Christ’, it does not philosophically tell God what he should do, but takes upon itself as much as possible the sins of all who’s freedoms are respected despite the deep knowledge of their delusional absurdity. Hell’s absurdity already exists in the refusal of divine love, but only on the one side i.e.: the side of the one who eternally continues in creating it for himself.
    And this ‘argument’ disregards CS Lewis’ argument above about the absence of time as we now experience it (and upon which we base our reasonings), in the eschata. Elder Sophrony in his ‘We shall see Him as He is’ rather accedes to this by describing our existence after the Last Judgement as one that cannot ever change ‘as an object that has left the gravitational sphere of the Earth would not alter its trajectory’ (towards God, or away from Him).
    Certain words on the inevitable apokatastatic nature of the “ultimate things” are critically close to heresy, just as the opposite words are often close to blasphemy. Hope, however, is different. But hope, (that deep yearning of “hopeless hope” rather than of confident certainty), must presuppose the reverse of universal apokatastasis.

    Elder Sophrony also repeats (in his St Silouan the Athonite speaking of Silouan) these very sentiments I note here:

    In the really Christian sense the work of salvation can only be done through love – by attracting people. There is no place for any kind of compulsion…
    …The power of love is vast and pregnant with success but it does not override. There is a domain in human life where a limit is set even to love – where love is not supreme. This domain is freedom [“προαίρεση”].
    Man’s freedom is positive, real. It concedes no determinism in his destiny, so that neither the sacrifice of Christ Himself nor the sacrifices of all those who have trodden in His footsteps lead necessarily to victory. There may be some – whether many or few, we do not know – who will meet even this perfect love, this perfect sacrifice, with a rejection, even on the eternal level, and declare, ‘I want no part in it’. It was this recognition of this abyss of freedom which prompted the Fathers of the Church to repudiate the determinist theories of the Origenists. Belief in Apocatastasis, understood as universal salvation predestined in the divine purpose, would certainly rule out the sort of prayer that we see in the Staretz [St Silouan].
    What was made known to the Staretz in his vision of Christ outweighed all doubt and hesitation. He knew that it was the Almighty God that had appeared to him. He was sure that the humility of Christ which he had come to know, and the love which filled him to the limits of his strength, were the action of God the Holy Spirit. He knew in the Holy Spirit that God is boundless love and mercy, [to a degree that extremely few have come to know so ineradicably] yet knowledge of this truth did not lead him to conclude that ‘anyway, we shall all be saved’.

  19. Dino,
    I very much like the point that a flat universalism would tempt us not to pray. It is why we “keep our mind in hell” not going beyond it until God Himself takes us beyond it, but remaining there in prayer for all souls. That is indeed the “time” in which we live.

    When Christ met Martha at her brother’s tomb she says, “I know my brother will rise again at the last day.” But that is the sort of vague “future” where we are not yet called to live. Christ answers, “I AM the resurrection and the life!” And then, if you will, He “enters into Hades” in His prayer and commands Lazarus to come forth. The battle is always today, now, immediately.

  20. Father Stephen, I sympathize regarding the work you do in your writing. Your capacity staggers me. In my own work (in the days when I ‘did’ chemistry) sometimes I reached a point where I could go no further in reaching a conclusion or solution or an understanding. At that point I would put it down and attempt it the next day after a rest. Sometimes new paths present themselves after such a rest.

    Your quote and these comments have stimulated many thoughts. I share them here.

    In your response to my disequilibrium in the previous post, you quoted “Awake O Sleeper”. Your quote and explanation was so helpful to regain my footing. I believe this is how it is for all of us, in our need to ‘awake’ and I believe this is the implicit message in this quote in C.S. Lewis.

    Yet the telescope analogy is difficult for me, of all things, in how it is used concerning time. At least I am encountering difficulties regarding my own interpretation of C.S. Lewis here. The analogy suggests a kind of linearity that physics and some cultures might not perceive of time regardless of what end of the telescope one might look through. When I re-read this C.S. Lewis passage, I was able to focus on the use of the word ‘picture’ and attempt to equate it with ‘icon’.

    Words do elude us in our attempts to communicate our experiences of God with others. And if the salvation of others is dependent on what and how we communicate the Gospel to others, Lord have mercy what a failure I am in this communication. In the face of my sins and incapacity I have no recourse but hope in God’s salvation for those I love but whom have no interest in finding God in an Orthodox Church. Christ claimed to love His enemies. I have hope and trust in the Truth of His Love. My loved ones are not God’s enemies, but they reject so much (and sometimes for good reasons). Predestination, God’s Elect, and similar concepts espoused by self-named Christians are among the reasons.

    This world, as an icon, shows us both the breaking in of Hell and the breaking in of the Kingdom and at the same instance it shows us a glimpse of eternity, and of non-temporality (I’m making up a word please forgive me). For me and perhaps for others, this is the enigma our experience. But when we attempt to express it, we create a sequential order, whether in words or acts. (and maybe as a fool for Christ–expressed as some kind of nonsense) I hope in God’s mercy that our ineptitude to understand and/or to express God’s love is not indicative of God’s love itself. To this infant in Christ, our limitedness and our creatureness are not capable of creating boundaries of God’s love and cannot limit His capacity to save all.

    If the creed is true, and I believe it is, Christ was begotten before all worlds. Before all things, before all sin happened in this creation. There is an eternity in this begotten act. An eternity in the Nativity. My hope hangs on these truths. But I don’t comprehend them in words. And when all words fail, there is God’s Love.

  21. Thank you, Mike H and Dee of St. Herman’s.  Your suggestions of where to look for information on universalism were very helpful.  I don’t know why I have never run into this concept before.  I suppose I could glibly say “I’m Roman Catholic and we settled it at the Second Council of Constantinople!” (which I just learned today)  But Google turns up plenty of current discussion about it amongst Roman Catholics so I just must not have stumbled over it before.

    The first few times I read this post I had that feeling. . . “All the words are in English, but I don’t understand any of it!”  I think I understand it a bit more now.  Both the post and the discussion have been thought provoking. 

  22. “…And when he comes to be more carefully studied as a mystic, as I think he will be when people discover the possibility of collecting jewels scattered in a rather irregular setting, it will be found, I fancy, that he stands for a rather important turning point in the history of Christendom, as representing the particular Christian nation of the Scots. As protestants speak of the morning stars of the reformation, we may be allowed to note such names here and there as morning stars of the reunion.”
    -GK Chesterton, on George MacDonald

  23. On the same line as the quote Nes just posted, I’d recommend MacDonald himself, especially his fairy tales and Unspoken Sermons. To lump him in with an imagined theologically loose universalism would be a grave mistake.

    Unspoken Sermons is second on my desert island list, after the Scriptures themselves.

  24. Dear Fr. Stephen, Thank you for posting this bit from C.S. Lewis’ The Great Divorce. I have read the book several times — and I’ve tried to read everything from C.S. Lewis that I can acquire — but the Great Divorce is among my favorites. It is comforting to me and I believe that God approves the comfort given. I appreciate Lewis’ writing this bit here that you’ve quoted, as I appreciate you quoting it! And the comments here remind me of another quote credited to Lewis: “For the Present is the point at which time touches eternity.” — from Lewis’ Screwtape Letters.

    I also recommend Fr. John Behr’s book, Becoming Human as this quote you have posted reminds me of this book for some reason. God bless you and yours Fr. Stephen! Glory to God for All Things

  25. Metropolitan Kallistos Ware has a good analysis of the debate between ultimate reconciliation of all things and the eternity of hell. See here: https://www.scribd.com/document/109948181/Dare-We-Hope-for-the-Salvation-of-All

    Regarding this debate, I remain hopeful for ultimate reconciliation, that the goodness of God will draw all things to himself and bring great good out of great evil, while in some mysterious not violating human freedom. I think the best approach is to trust and hope that “all will be well,” while at the same time trying not to figure out exactly how.

    In the words of lady Julian of Norwich: “Our Lord feels pity and compassion for us because some people are so anxious to know about it; and I am sure that if we knew how much we would please him and set our own minds at rest by leaving the matter alone, then we would do so.”

  26. Given the antinomical nature of the Church in which many seeming binaries are combined for the fullness of the truth (Jesus Christ is fully God and fully man for example). I have come to suspect that in some manner the binary of “All are brought to salvation vs. Some are damned” may not be an either/or but a both/and.

    No clue how. Just a suspicion.

    Whatever the truth of it, it likely falls in the “terrible knowledge” category.

    Fast, pray, give alms in thanksgiving, humility and mercy, it may be revealed at some point. Or not.

    May our Lord be born in the manger of our hearts this year.

  27. I love George McDonald. Especially the short story collection: Gifts of the Child Christ.

    He was a Presbyterian minister from Scotland but entirely escapes the confines of that discription. His sermons are also interesting.

    His stories have always brought a joy tempered with poignant melancholy.

  28. Thank you Robert, both for the link and for expanding my vocabulary. (I had to look up theologoumena. What a terrific word!) As you observed there is plenty to wrestle with there.

  29. I have long loved Lewis’s writing; and when I come back to him after a long break, he is even better than I remember. Thank you, Fr. Stephen, for this excerpt.

    When I try to make sense of what Lewis says, I think of a man raising his son, trying to protect him from dangers that he does not, indeed cannot, understand. The man tells his five-year-old son, “Do not play in the street.” The son, puzzled at losing a great playground, asks, “Why not?” The man answers, “A car might hit you.” The son, relieved to find his father’s concern groundless, replies, “Oh, don’t worry Dad. I’ll be careful. If a car comes, I’ll move out of the way.” At this point the man may explain how distractible little boys are, how difficult they are for drivers to see, and how ready neighbors may be to call DCS about a boy playing in the street. But all answers deceive. The boy will always have a reply that “gets behind” the father’s answer, showing that it really is safe to play in the street. So the man, to protect his son, threatens punishments: “If you play in the street, you will have no desserts for a week!” And the son, not for fear of the real danger, but for fear of his father’s wrath (which would, in fact, do him no harm), stays out of the street, where the real danger lies.

    This scene recurs as the boy grows. The man gives new commands: Do not lie. Do not steal. Do not be lazy. Do not be unchaste. He guards not so much the boy of today as the man of tomorrow. He fears not so much a single lie, a theft, or a duty neglected as the boy growing into a liar, a thief, or a sluggard. Yet if the boy questions his father’s commands, again all answers deceive. In his immaturity he cannot, by definition, understand how transgressing these commands will shape him in maturity. He either trusts (or even fears) his father and comes safely to that maturity in which his father’s loving protection makes sense, or he trusts himself and gets behind his father’s explanations to justify doing as he pleases, with predictably grievous results.

    Analogously, in my immaturity, as a fallen creature made in God’s image, I am growing, in a fashion fraught with dangers I cannot understand, into a maturity I cannot imagine. That maturity evidently has the potential to be a horror or a glory (alluding again to Lewis). If I probe the form of that maturity, or if I question the safeguards the Lord, through His Church, places along the way, all answers deceive. In my immaturity I will always get behind them and reduce the way of following Christ to something I like better. Ultimately I either trust Him (and, if possible, trust that the punishments He threatens are from His love, harmless unpleasantries protecting me from real dangers too awful to contemplate), or I trust myself. He has revealed as much truth as I can handle without harm.

  30. Reid,

    I am joining Rafael in thanking you for your analogy, very wonderful and useful… I am considering printing it out and making my kids (nearly grown up) read it. That should explain to them my “nagging” that I keep up even now, when they are past the age of any possibility of me influencing them…

    And also thank you for the suggestion for searching the blog! It works amazingly well. THANK YOU!!!

  31. Reid,

    Wonderfully stated. The same can be said of the ‘rules’ and (to some) seemingly inexplicable practices and prescriptions of our mother, the Church. The true knowledge and understanding of them come only with time through submission. There is a certain, never fully achieved, maturity that comes of realizing that she really does know best regardless of what we may think of them at any given moment of our lives.

  32. Father – in thinking about (and better yet, during) Divine Liturgy or any other moments of kairos or “flashes” of the eschaton breaking into the linearity of time that we live in…is it because of such moments, that certain prayers (even Hart’s elaborations as you say that are echoes of Abraham’s argument), might speak about a truth from the perspective of eternity (at least known in the heart to be as final truth), and yet when written down within the linearity of language always comes out as either contradictory or with the possibility for a condemnation on one side or another… which is to say that it might be true in eternity but false to our knowledge in time. But hope, or faith as the substance of things hoped for, can allow us to retain the truth in our hearts, but still not go as far as to declare them as certain with language in time? Thus, we can “pass over these things in silence” as “silence is the language of the age to come” or if we do choose to speak, speak with faith, hope, and love.

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