Monday 21 July 2014

Do not despair! Damnation hangs by a thread.


We are indeed living in the end times, the latter days; yet Satan's triumph is a trick - and he lives in terror of its being seen-through. He has successfully induced the mass of Men to nihilistic pride and existential despair - but this is extraordinarily fragile.

Satan's meticulously-constructed vision of nothingness could suddenly shatter in anybody's life - or blow-away like a wisp of smoke.

It is not our salvation that is precarious: if we want it, we can have it (at least have salvation at some level, albeit not usually a high level - yet vastly better than anything we could now experience). Rather it is damnation that is precarious - because it must be chosen; and ultimately it must be chosen in knowledge of the consequences.

To induce people to choose damnation requires getting them to reject God's vision of their happiness and to prefer the gratification of pride at our power to spit in the face of deity; and to embrace such a despairing vision of nothingness that a perpetual self-satisfaction at our own defiance seems the best reality we can imagine.


[Damnation - for most of the people for whom it is a real possibility - is to accept as the ultimate reality and fundamental truth Satan's selections, his evaluations, his methods... most often, nowadays, as they are modeled in the totality and net nature of the mass media.]


Jonathan C said...

I dearly hope you are correct. Because living virtuously in this society feels like an impossibility; the supports for virtue are so lacking, and it takes immense willpower to do right when the society opposes rather than supports it. I hope God will see that though I sin, I take no pride in it and do not try to defend it.

Bruce Charlton said...

@JC - I got this mostly from the end of CS Lewis's 'Screwtape Letters', when the demon fails to obtain 'the patient's soul for hell, and it is revealed how difficult this is to manage and how easy it is for a soul to slip from Satan's grasp.

As a corrective, 'Screwtape proposes a toast', which was written later, reveals the hell has never has such an abundance of souls as in the post 1939-45 war period...

George Goerlich said...

@JC - I read "The Imitation of Christ" and was quite taken aback by what first appeared to almost a self-hatred - at least by today's standards. Some of it has sunk-in though, and I've been more aware of my daily mistakes (that perhaps before I felt a need to defend or identify with). Having an attitude of self-observation and daily repentance has proven helpful to me. To separate oneself from the unvirtuous thoughts and behavior immediately, and trying to identify ourselves and reach towards (slowly, with difficulty) towards goodness (God).

The traditional Catholic attitude seems to recognize that we all sin, almost all the time (with the saints those who were apparently harshest on themselves), yet without this leading towards despair. I think it is a very difficult balance to strike today, especially with limited guidance from the surrounding community or religious support network.

scory said...

You are right. Salvation, in some degree, is available to all but those who knowingly reject it. Though I believe that in the case of the unrepentant justice must and will be served to "the uttermost farthing". But God IS just and eternal damnation for finite crimes is not justice. There is an end to hell for most (though I would not want to experience even a second in that place).

It takes effort and determination to damn oneself eternally. It takes the kind of pride and pure, determined evil exemplified by Lucifer. That he has his admirers and emulators here is all too well known. That their numbers appear to be growing daily is all too distressing.

Bruce Charlton said...

@scory. Good comment.

I find that many of these matters are clarified by thinking of God in his primary Biblical metaphor as a wholly loving and wholly good Father - and how a loving a good Father would behave concerning his children. Much theology fails the test of being plausible at this level - indeed, violating grossly the loving Father metaphor.