Christopher Morse on God’s eternal rejection of hell

“By identifying the coming judgment as the coming of Jesus Christ, Christian confession entails the refusal to believe that what is ultimately defeated and rejected is ever other than the opposition, in whatever personal and corporate form of denial, betrayal, and crucifixion it takes, to being loved into freedom. . . . The eternally ‘rejected,’ the ‘unsaved,’ and the ‘lost’ is all that is within us and within the world which denies, betrays, and crucifies the love that comes to set us free. . . . Christian faith refuses to believe that the grace of being loved into freedom ultimately stops coming or ceases to be. . . . When such grace is confessed to have ‘descended into hell,’ then hell is acknowledged to have no dominion that can prevail. There is in the proclamation of the gospel no basileia of hell that is at hand, but only a basileia of heaven. Hell has no eternal dominion. If what God eternally rejects throughout all creation, with the fire of a love that remains unquenchable, is every opposition to our being loved into freedom, including our own, then the hellfire and damnation of Judgment Day is precisely the one true hope of all the earth. The old question of whether or not grace is ‘irresistible’ only becomes a problem when theology forgets Who it is whose judgment is confessed to be coming. What else is the Crucifixion if not the resistance to grace? What finally does a Resurrection faith refuse to believe, if not that the resistance to grace is ever its cessation?”

—Christopher Morse, Not Every Spirit: A Dogmatics of Christian Disbelief (Valley Forge, PA: Trinity Press, 1994; 2nd ed., 2008), 340-41.

Comments

Jason Goroncy said…
Great quote David. Thanks for drawing my/our attention to this book. What's the rest of the book like?
I think it's the single best introduction to theology that I've ever seen. If I were teaching an intro to theology course, it's the book I would use (maybe alongside Dan Migliore's book). The whole thing is superb.
Jason Goroncy said…
Thanks for that David. There's a copy in the library here so I'll have to check it out. Love that quote.
A. D. Hunt said…
More so than McGrath's with accompanying Reader? Or do they serve different purposes?
Aric Clark said…
Wow. That is awesome David. Just fantastic.
A. D. Hunt:

I suppose McGrath's textbook would suffice for an undergraduate course, but I wouldn't use it unless I felt that I absolutely needed to. McGrath just isn't very helpful, in my opinion, for teaching people to think theologically.

My top books are:

1. Christopher Morse, Not Every Spirit
2. Daniel Migliore, Faith Seeking Understanding
3. Rowan Williams, On Christian Theology (paired with Tokens of Trust)
A. D. Hunt said…
I definitely think Rowan's book is stupendous. I completely understand what you mean too by saying that McGrath doesn't teach people to think theologically. What I so deeply appreciate about it, especially with the Reader, is that it exposes students to the range of Christian thought.

So if perhaps supplemented with one of the above books it can function more fully as a Primer on historical theology and method?
Absolutely, as a way to expose students to the various positions in church history, McGrath's text is very helpful. So for an intro to historical theology or history of doctrine, I would probably assign it. For an intro to dogmatic/systematic theology, it would have to be paired with one of these other books.
CCW said…
nice to see you posting again.
To be honest, I don't know if it will continue for very long. But we'll see.
Anonymous said…
re "The old question of whether or not grace is ‘irresistible’ only becomes a problem when theology forgets Who it is whose judgment is confessed to be coming."

So good to read that. For a long time now I've felt this.

In my head it goes something like this:
If the truth about the universe is the loving purpose of God, then there's no injustice in that truth pressing upon us until we recognize it.

Any way to shorten that and make it a bit clearer?

tn