God is Heaven, God is Hell: A Review of ‘That All Shall be Saved’

I’m reblogging this, not because I endorse any or all of it (I haven’t formed an opinion yet), but because it is a subject which I find interesting and I think others will too….

Eclectic Orthodoxy

by Chris E. W. Green, Ph.D.

It took everything I have to write this review of That All Shall Be Saved by David Bentley Hart. Not because I didn’t like the book. I did like it, very much in fact. I found Hart’s arguments by and large persuasive, even if at times I was weary with his supercilious tone and too-quick dismissal of others’ views—especially Balthasar’s. As someone who lives with bi-polar disorder, I was especially unsettled by his comments about “diseased emotional conditions” (p. 29).

(As an aside, I have to admit that I worry Hart is at risk of becoming a caricature of himself as a pugilist, and I would hate for that to draw attention away from his theology. On the other hand, however, I have to admit that I very much enjoy Hart’s sense of humor, which has shown up not only in this book…

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The Good Death of Innocence

Innocence-Lost

“Of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”

Adam and Eve were forbidden from eating the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. That phrase, “knowledge of good and evil”, as defined by the bible, refers to maturity and wisdom (Deuteronomy 1:39; 2 Samuel 14:17; 1 Kings 3:6-9; Hebrews 5:12-14). Was the prohibition of knowing good and evil a permanent one? No, but Adam and Eve, or the first humans, had to mature to the point where they could partake of it. The tree of life, like milk, is available to the babes, but the knowledge of good and evil, or solid food, is only for the mature.

A sixteen year old girl losing her virginity at a drunken high school party loses her innocence. What comes after is shame and, unless some healing takes place, self destruction. She dies to her innocence but is not resurrected into something better. Her death to innocence becomes a permanent thing leading to corruption. It’s a bad death.

A young woman who loses her virginity on the first night of what will become a life long marriage however dies to her innocence to then be resurrected into a mature woman who knows the fullness of goodness, love, pleasure, and soon motherhood. Her death to innocence is a good death as it leads to a more glorious state of being.

When Adam and Eve ate of the tree of knowledge prematurely, they died, not to be resurrected into mature humans ready to move out into the wilderness to increase and multiply in a good and glorious way, but rather they died a bad death which led only to corruption. We, who come after, are under that curse of bad death.

Jesus began His mission in a hostile wilderness where, while being tempted by the serpent, proved His wisdom and maturity. He went on to die a good death to then become the first man to be resurrected into a true and perfect human. We who come after are resurrected into that same perfection.

Our bad death becomes a good death to innocence leading on and on to perfection.

Related reading: Predisposed to Rule