Thursday 6 June 2019

People have already chosen Hell, en masse: Some tough-minded implications of Romantic Christianity

It may seem (to a traditionalist Christian) that Romantic Christianity is a soft-centred tissue of self-gratifying wishful thinking - an excuse to do whatever we happen to want to do, and pretend it is Christian.

But this is only the case if Romaticism is temporarily adopted, and is not followed-through. If Romanticism is adopted as a genuine principle, it has, on the one hand, the potential to be self-correcting. And on the other hand it has some tough and perhaps startling implications for the question of damnation.

The Romantic idea includes such aspects that Imagination may be a kind of knowledge, that intuition is the bottom-line, and that therefore each person must-and will make a personal and subjective evaluation and decision on all major issues.

But this subjective decision is also objective: that is, it relates to reality.

The implication is that the modern person has, in actual practice, in real life, and inevitably, made a subjective decision about major issues that is having and will have objective consequences.

Given what modern people assert about moral issues, and the nature of reality - for example modern mainstream sexual ethics, and the modern idea that this world is meaningless and purposeless, or the idea that morality is reducible to feelings - we need to take seriously that such assertions are genuine expressions of what many/ most modern people Really Think.

And if this is the case, then it seems probable that most people have already damned themselves, and have chosen not only to reject Heaven but actively to embrace Hell.

It has happened. Of course, this can be repented, then changed, at any moment - But that is exactly the current state of things.

Thus - Romantic Christianity is tough in a very individual and personal way; because we can no longer plead that we didn't know the truth, that we were misled by the lies of the mass media and bureaucracy - we cannot argue that we 'couldn't help it' and are not responsible for our personal judgements.

But We Are Responsible - here-and-now people have made up their minds and they are absolutely responsible for their decisions about fundamental matters.

Now there are No Excuses.


AnteB said...

For a long time I have been optimistic that people would “wake up”, that they as individuals, as churches, as political parties would reform or change their course when it becomes apparent how destructive the present way of things are.

Events have forced me at every turn to accept your point that any movement in a positive direction, for an individual or for an institution, is impossible without the right intentions and motivations. It is clear that, as you have expressed it, things have come to a point. Things are clear.

The abortion issue that have flared up recently have demonstrated in a way I no longer can ignore the extent to which people extent have embraced absolute moral inversion. Many people are absolutely disgusted by the idea that life can and should valued above individual autonomy and hedonistic aspirations – they really consider people evil for thinking that the killing of the unborn should be avoided!

As you points toward in this post – people really have made choices, they are following their intuitions, they are not necessarily manipulated or ignorant – this is the way many people really want things to be.

For me it is a very difficult “black pill” to swallow.

/Andreas B

William Wildblood said...

I have often wondered why when I first started to be interested in the spiritual question in the 1970s I did not feel that others who went on their worldly way were spiritually bad. They were just misguided or their eyes had not yet opened but they were still God's children like me. But now I do not feel in this way. Now I increasingly feel that many people actually are actively rejecting God and Truth and the Good and they are spiritually bad on that account. Agnosticism or uncertainty is one thing but there is now an active denial of God. Before I might have said people who denied God were ignorant but now I see it as a moral matter.

Frankly this distresses me and I hate feeling it because it makes me feel ashamed to condemn fellow men and women. But it is something I encounter regularly both in the faces of many of the people I see around me on the streets of London and in the media. It's very serious.

Bruce Charlton said...

@William - I personally don't feel ashamed so long as what I have said is true in intent (and open to revision on further kjnowledge and reflection).

Although understandable, there is nothing good about refusing to face reality - and I think far too many Christians in a mainstream setting justify moral (and physical) cowardice by a pretence that they are leaving judgment to God - which is just a misuse of words. It is they would should be ashamed!

God (I would have thought) *obviously* requires us to judge everything all the time and act upon these judgments; but not to regard our current judgment as of permanent validity, nor to mistake our judgment for God's.

By judging modern people as having actively rejected God, Truth and the Good we are simply taking them at their own words and actions - over considerable periods of time, and worsening with time. What else should we conclude?

(I'm asking this rhetorically!)

@Andreas - I got the expression and concept of 'coming to a point' from CS Lewis in That Hideous Strength.

For me it signals the accelerating approach of the end of an era - because it is a kind of positive-feedback process (whereby change in a direction causes further change in that direction - i.e. an accelerating trend), which is something that *cannot* for long continue.

William Wildblood said...

Bruce, you're absolutely right and thank you! I sometimes worry that I may be misjudging my motives and condemning for the pleasure of condemning and feeling morally superior about it. But I genuinely don't feel I am like that. I know it is a part of human nature though. The thing is, when the truth seems to say one thing you have to go with the truth.

The wider point would be, and this is something I believe you're very good at, sticking with your convictions whatever difficulty that might cause you.

Wm Jas Tychonievich said...

"Embrace" seems a bit strong. Believing the world to be purposeless and meaningless isn't the same thing as wanting it to be so. You might as well say of a person who believes (rightly or wrongly) that he has cancer, that he embraces cancer.

Bruce Charlton said...

@WmJas - Embrace was intended - if it was merely a passive absorption 9like a child wrt school work), then it would indeed be 'excusable' - and such a person would presumably choose salvation when its nature became clear. What I mean (to use managment speak) is that a lot of people really have 'bought-into' the official evil agenda, have 'ownership' of it - and actively reject salvation from an inverted morality (i.e. they know the morality of God's creation and Heaven, and have decided to invert it, for reasons of their own - probably something like because they are disgusted by it, bored by it, or prefer the feeling of inversion).

David said...

It seems your conception of hell is radically different to the traditional Christian Conception of an enforced place of final judgement, with 'gnashing teeth,' etc. To clarify, your hell seems self-chosen, desirable, potentially actually experienced as pleasurable and meeting a particular souls deepest desires. And each persons hell is uniquely tailored to each soul? Could you clarify what you believe hell is exactly and how it differs to the traditional view?

Bruce Charlton said...

@David - If you haven't - you should acre-fully read CS Lewis's The Screwtape Letters and Screwtape Proposes a Toast, and The Great Divorce; they seem to give a convincing insight into types of demonic psychology, and the ways in which hell is chosen.

Cererean said...


Things come to a point... but then good triumphs.

As I commented at Albion Awakening, Edward the Confessors prophesy could also be interpreted as being 3 furlongs of 40 *rods* (the oldest unit of measurement the furlong was divided into, as far as I can tell), or 120 years divided into 40 years. 120 years, remember, was the warning that God gave before the Flood. It was also the time elapsed between the birth of Moses and the Israelites entering the promised land, and about the maximum length of time a human being can live (as far as we know), which puts anything before that time out of living memory. If a generation is taken to be 40 years (again, something that comes up a lot in the Bible), that's 3 generations, which is *another* aspect that has Biblical significance. For these reasons, I think it makes a lot more sense as the time being 120 years, rather than 300.

The question is, when was the green tree separated from the root - at what point did the England cease to be a Christian nation? I definitely think the date was no later than the 1967 Abortion Act, but to even consider that Act suggests an earlier date, maybe going back to the end of WWII. Or possibly even the end (or beginning!) of WWII, which would put the year of our restoration at either 2039 or 2034, 15-20 years from now. Things coming to a point indeed.

I will share a dream I had which may be connected to that prophesy. I dreamt that I was cutting a branch from a Yew tree in order to make a bow. The branch had been almost severed from the trunk before I started cutting, and was rotting on the outside, but when I cut it I discovered that the branch was still alive inside, though it appeared to be dead. I don't know what tree St. Edward had in mind, but the Yew (and longbows made from it!) is very closely associated with England, and in particular the English Church.