A Man Wills Hell for Himself – “Theology for Beginners”

I’m reading “Theology for Beginners” by F. J. Sheed. In speaking of Hell, Sheed writes:

” being deprived of God is the essential pain, and this deprivation is willed by the self. It has nothing of God but His will to maintain it in existence. The God Who alone could nourish it, it will not have. When a man dies loving self to the hatred of God, what can God do with him? What He does do we know on His own word—He lets him go to his own place. It is hard to see what else He could do. He can hardly take him into heaven, for that would mean an inconceivably close union with the God he hates, a ceaseless torment to the self he loves. Those who deny the existence of hell so confidently never seem to have considered this problem of the people who have made the choice of self against God (though there is nothing in our experience of life to make us feel it impossible). When their attention is drawn to it, they still do not consider it: they merely rap out the suggestion that God should simply annihilate such people—before birth perhaps, by withholding existence from those He knew would make the choice of hatred. A study of the reasons God may have for not annihilating those who hate Him would take us theologically very deep. But quite apart from these, we have no reason of our own to conclude that condemned souls would want annihilation. To me it seems at least probable that love of self carried to that intensity would involve a clinging to self at all costs.”

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