Free Will and the Moral Vice Explanation of Hell's Finality

Religious Studies 59 (4):714-728 (2023)
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According to the Free Will Explanation of a traditional view of hell, human freedom explains why some people are in hell. It also explains hell’s punishment and finality: persons in hell have freely developed moral vices that are their own punishment and that make repentance psychologically impossible. So, even though God continues to desire reconciliation with persons in hell, damned persons do not want reconciliation with God. But this moral vice explanation of hell’s finality is implausible. I argue that God can and would make direct or indirect alterations in their character to give them new motivational reasons that re-enable their freedom to repent. Subsequently, I argue that it is probable that each damned person will be saved eventually, because there is a potential infinity of opportunities for free repentance. Thus, if the Free Will Explanation’s descriptions of hell and divine love are correct, it is highly probable that each person in hell escapes to heaven.

Author's Profile

Robert J. Hartman
Ohio Northern University


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