WARNING: Theology post. Read no further if this is not your bag.
I was sitting in Richard Beck’s class Thursday morning at the Pepperdine Bible Lectures as he spoke on different views of soteriology (how we study/believe in salvation and damnation). Much of his topic sprung from Rob Bell’s 2011 book Love Wins. Beck didn’t posit a position, rather he created a framework through which further dialogue could continue by offering terms by which differing practices of Christianity see the afterlife; specifically for the damned.
Annihilationism, Mortalism, Separationalism, Conditionalism, Evangelical Universalism….etc.
The trajectory of his topic will lead to the “big” question, “Can this particular tribe of Christianity exist within the tension of such differing views on Hell?” (Update: I didn’t get to sit in on his last session, but I believe both are online here.)
But as usual when sitting in the presence of a brilliant mind, my mind takes a singular idea and goes down a rabbit hole.
On this particular beautiful morning, my mind chased after one question, “In orthodox Christian theology, does evil ultimately win?”
Let me define “win” here… We spend millions upon millions of dollars to study and defeat all forms of cancer, yes? Does ultimate victory against cancer (polio, AIDS, malaria, etc.) have to do with management and maintenance, or complete elimination?
If the latter, how can orthodox Christianity view the existence of an eternal place of torture and torment for those who are “evil” total victory? Evil is not deleted, it is simply managed and maintained.
Is there an alternative?
Is there another way that is true to the holy text, yet that offers a different understanding of how evil is defeated?
Does God come out genuinely victorious if evil is only compartmentalized into a P.O.W. camp?
PLEASE NOTE: I’m just sharing the thoughts I had and the questions to which they drew me. No assertions are being made here. Just a guy, sitting on a bench in Malibu, pontificating on eternity.