The Agony of the Infinite: The Presence of God as Phenomenological Hell

In Simon Cushing (ed.), Heaven & Philosophy. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books. pp. 119-135 (2018)
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Much recent academic literature on the afterlife has been focused on the justice of eternity and whether a good God could allow a person to experience eternal suffering in Hell. Two primary escapes are typically suggested to justify never-ending punishment for sinners: the traditional view focuses the blame for an individual’s condemnation away from God onto the sinner’s freely chosen actions; the universalist position denies the eternality of the punishment on the grounds that God’s inescapable love and eventual victory over evil will bring all souls into His presence. I propose a third option that hinges on the possibility of Heaven itself being experienced as eternal punishment to demonstrate that if God’s presence is both the blessedness of Heaven for some and the agony of Hell for others, then the biblical affirmation of the universal restoration of all with the eternal punishment of some need not remain paradoxical.
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