Tuesday, February 25, 2020

The Love of God is the Fire of Hell

“The love of God is the fire of hell.” ~ St. Isaac the Syrian
What St. Isaac speaks is nothing more than the truth that God is love. Love is not merely what God has or does but what God is. So God always acts toward everyone according to love. Always. Because God is love.

Even in hell, then, God is love. God is not retributive because love is not retributive but always seeks what is best for the loved one.

But it is like the old proverb that the same sun melts wax but hardens clay. The difference is not found in the sun but in the materials upon which it shines. Likewise, the difference between heaven and hell is not a difference in God’s disposition but is found in the heart of the individual. God does not act any differently towards those who experience hell than towards those who experience heaven. The difference is found in each individual and his or her orientation toward God.

God’s orientation toward everyone is always the orientation of love. Those who turn toward God experience the love of God as it truly is, that is, as love. But those who turn away from God and resist God are turning away from love and resisting love, so the love of God seems to them a torment. It is not that God intends to torment them, but the disposition of their heart perceives the way of God as torment.

So, the love of God that is the light of heaven is also the fire of hell. What is needed in those who experience it as torment, or hell, is repentance, a change of attitude toward God, which God has made possible through Jesus Christ.