Interfax | Bishop Hilarion | Mar. 28, 2008
Q: What do you mean by the hell on Earth?
A: When a man using his power over others makes Earth hell for them. Didn’t Hitler turn Earth to hell for millions of people tried and tortured in concentration camps, perished in gas cameras and battlefields? Didn’t Lenin and Stalin make hell for thousands and millions of people who died in camps or were shot on false denunciations or sentenced by Stalin’s “troika”? Don’t today’s terrorists, who kill peaceful citizens, take them hostage and cut off their heads, turn Earth to hell?
And is it believable that malefactors and monsters, who kill other people and revolt against God and all-hallows will share paradise with righteous and saints? Is it believable that paradise will welcome both John the Baptist and Herod, St. Veniamin of Petrograd and Lenin, thousands of the murdered new Russia’s martyrs and confessors and their torturers? It removes division between the good and the evil. Then there’s no difference if you are a saint or a villain, if you do the good or the evil, if you save people from death or kill them.
Q: So sins will be inevitably recompensed?
A: Any person bears moral responsibility for his actions. And he will answer for the sins of his earthly life in eternity. St. Isaac the Syrian writes that sinners in hell are not deprived of God’s love. On the contrary, love is given equally to everyone: to the righteous in the Heavenly Kingdom and to the sinners in Gehenna. But for the righteous it becomes the source of joy and bliss while for sinners it is the source of torture.
Thus, God didn’t create hell for sinners, they did it themselves. God doesn’t send sinners to hell, but people who oppose God’s will and revolt against God choose hell themselves. And this choice is made in their earthly life rather than in some distant eschatological prospect. It is right here on Earth that infernal tortures and “the Kingdom of God come with power” begin.
Q: However, even the Orthodox divine service says that hell is “abolished” by Christ after His Resurrection from the dead?
A: The reality of hell, its existence for sinners and even the possibility of its eternal existence don’t contradict the news of its abolition by Christ resurrected. Hell is really “abolished” in the resurrection of Christ, as it is not inevitable for people anymore and doesn’t have power over them. But those, who consciously oppose God’s will and commit crime and sin, restore destroyed and abolished hell as they don’t want to reconcile with God’s love.
I’d like to stress it again: God didn’t create hell, people created it for themselves, God destroyed and abolished hell, but people restore it again and again. Hell is re-created every time when sin is consciously committed and isn’t repented.
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