Concerning my response to Craig, ImagoDei wrote:
Thanks for this comment and for your second thoughtful comment as well. Whatever Lewis might have meant by “blackmail” in the present context, I quite agree with you that God could never permit the damned to blackmail the redeemed eternally, and neither could he permit them to “hijack,” so to speak, the supreme happiness of the redeemed. As I see it, however, this is precisely why God must eventually achieve a complete victory over sin and death. A partial victory is not enough; neither is it enough merely to quarantine sinners forever or to confine them to a particular region of God’s creation, a region known as hell. God must instead destroy their sinfulness altogether and thus eliminate all separation from God, so that God can truly be “all in all” (I Cor.15:28). He must, in other words, destroy sinners in the only way possible short of annihilating them: by saving them or rescuing them from their sin. Otherwise “the self-centeredness of the lost” would indeed achieve a kind of perverse victory over God and would indeed “hijack” the blessedness of the redeemed. And as we both agree, a loving God with the power to prevent it would never permit that to happen.
Consider a specific illustration. When the mother of Ted Bundy declared, so agonizingly and yet so appropriately, her continuing love for a son who had become a monster (as the serial killer of young women), she illustrated why keeping sin alive throughout an eternity in hell is simply not an acceptable option. A reporter (working for 60 Minutes, if I remember correctly) had just asked her whether she still supported her son, and here is how I have elsewhere described her reaction: “As the camera zoomed in on her face, she literally began to shake and her eyes filled with tears, as she barely whispered the words: ‘Of course I still support him. He is my son. I love him. I have to support him!’ She did not, of course, support his monstrous crimes, or even object to the severity of his punishment. But she did continue to support him and to yearn for his ultimate redemption. All of which raises a most profound question: How could God’s grace possibly reach this suffering mother unless it should also find a way to reach (or transform) her son?” (Universal Salvation? The Current Debate, p. 16).
So how, I wonder, would you classify the anguish and the suffering of Ted Bundy’s mother. Would you classify it as an instance of an improper ‘Passion of Pity,’ as Lewis called it? We certainly have no evidence that this mother’s anguish induced her–and here I paraphrase your own words–to concede what she should not have conceded, or to flatter when she should have spoken the truth, or to speak nice pleasantries when she should have displayed courageous opposition to her son’s demonic actions; and even if we did have such evidence, her obvious anguish, like the anguish that Jesus experienced when he wept over Jerusalem, would still have been perfectly appropriate in and of itself. It would also have been an unavoidable consequence of her love in the given circumstances. For it is simply not possible, I claim, both to love someone even as you love yourself and to remain indifferent concerning that person’s ultimate fate. According to Jesus, “there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance” (Lk. 15:7). And, for exactly the same kind of reason—namely, the love that exists in heaven—the eternal damnation of a single soul, if it should occur, would be the source of eternal sadness and regret in heaven as well. (See also my comments at [Reformed Journal))
Does any of this make sense to you? Thanks again for your comments.