The chilling indifference of heavens inhabitants


This brief essay from Christianity Today has bothered me deeply ever since I read it back in '02 – even before I was a Universalist… … 27.84.html
It’s titled:
Good Question: Hell’s Final Enigma
Won’t heaven’s joy be spoiled by our awareness of unsaved loved ones in hell?
by J. I. Packer

Near the end, he says this:

This to me seems a very chilling indifference on the part of those redeemed in heaven. In fact it appears to be the exact opposite of the deep concern for others which qualified them to be there in the first place!
Here I am, basking in God’s glory to the exclusion of even having the ability to worry/care about others less fortunate…

That’s just appalling to my mind…



In The Last Battle, Lucy begs Aslan to save the dwarves in the stable. Aslan replies, “They are so afraid of being taken in, they cannot be taken out.” End of story. Lucy immediately loses all interest in them and heads farther in and farther up.

To me, that’s the weakest scene in all the Narnian books. It simply doesn’t ring true. Lucy had such a big heart she could never forget those dwarves. Their doom would haunt her forever.


Perhaps a more important question is whether we are (to any degree) guilty of that now?


agreed, and it’s not in keeping with the inclusivist leanings of his writing when they meet the devotee of Tash there…he is surprised to find himself there, and then Aslan says that all his sacrifices to Tash were really to Aslan, that Aslan knew his heart.
sad really that there’d be that haunting image of the dwarfs, which even haunted me after…surely they were pitiable rather than evil? they’d been betrayed! wouldn’t God’s love eventually wear that down, as it has for so many of us in our lives?

i don’t have time to read that article, but i’ve read the summary, and yeah…it doesn’t ring true. it really doesn’t.


This was my first thought. How could the attitude of the saints in heaven be to have no regard for the people in hell? Let the Spirit and Bride say come!

Seems hard to figure how we could think God could do a work in us, but not others? This has been the most puzzling for me, how people in my church can believe some are unsaveable and God apparently can’t save the worst of sinners. If we manage to believe in time, great - good for us (kinda like the Amazing Race/we raced our way to the finish in time) and the ones that lost out, didn’t get there in time, too bad for them. I’ve always appreciated the teamwork on the Biggest Looser. When somebody falls behind, the ones ahead go back and help carry the load and cheer them on to the finish. This would be, what would seem, a godly attitude for those that have found Christ and want to love others.


If we will be thanking Him for everything, will we be thanking Him for our friends and family who have shaped our lives and loved us, but nonetheless are lost and frying in Hell.

“Thank you, Lord, for my dear mother who loved me and raised me. Can you please turn her over now, I think she’s done on that side?”


There is nothing about me or any other person that God doesn’t or won’t know. He knows my feelings, desires, thoughts, dreams, sufferings, joys … everything. God knows everything I know.

To me the above scripture claims that one day I will know everything God knows. Therefore, if God knows everything then He will know even the eternal suffering of the damned. He will feel and know every 3rd degree burn, the chomping worm, the horror, the agony, and therefore so will I.

If someone, anyone is suffering ECT, then this verse promises I will experience it too.

But that definitely is not my hope because love never fails.


I’m with you on this Amy! I just can’t even imagine that I’m more saveable than anyone else. I believe I’m saved because God saved me, not because of some inherent quality in me that enabled me to make a better choice than others … unless, perhaps, that inherent quality was put there by God so that I could make a better choice.

But then that leaves one asking, “Why did God make me able to choose, and not do the same for others?”

And the answer is either:

  1. “He didn’t want to.”
  2. “He did, but somehow they messed it up.”

If we say God saved me apart from any choice or virtue within me, then I’m asking, “Why me? It could just as easily be me burning in hell, instead of my grandma.” You can’t say God really loves me because I wasn’t chosen because of who I am or because of anything good or deserved in me – I just happened to be one of the lucky chosen lottery winners.

So, Grandma gets to glorify God by burning in Hell as a demonstration of His wrath, and I get to glorify God by being saved as a demonstration of His mercy. (Even though Grandma really couldn’t have chosen otherwise–because she was dead in trespasses and sins. And I can’t take credit for making the right choice because it was God working in me.) Given that reality, I’d rather switch places with her.

{And, yes, I know … here comes someone to tell me I’m being led by my feelings! But really, I can’t help it … being a woman and all! :stuck_out_tongue: }

But the I think that’s why the Calvinists say God does everything because He loves His glory, and that everything God does is “good” simply because of his status as God, without reference to any kind of humanly comprehensible definition of goodness. They’re saying “It looks bad, but really it’s good and we humans just can’t understand it.”



And you know, if that’s how it is in heaven, if that’s the attitude that we’ll have in heaven (so consumed with our own personal enjoyment of God that we stop loving others), shouldn’t that be the attitude we have in this life? I mean, don’t we pray, “Your kingdom come on earth as it IS in heaven”!

Hell/ECT is truly an Enigma. It just doesn’t make sense from many perspectives. Hmm, I wonder why?


Bill Craig is a bit more consistent. He admits that we could not possibly enjoy heaven if we were conscious of the torments of the damned. So Craig says that God basically blocks knowlegde of hell from us when we’re glorified. A kind of labotomy. Ignorant of the anguish of the damned, we’ll be able to enjoy heaven.

When I ran across this explanation, I was like, “Are you kidding me?”



Hmm…So when you’re in Heaven and with your friends whose Mom made it to heaven, because of course she got saved in time, unlike your’s, and you see friends having a great time with their Mom, wouldn’t it make you wonder where your Mom was? Or wonder that you even had a Mom? Mom?..Mom? Oh, that’s right, I never had a Mom. Carry on… What’s a Mom, anyway?


Yes Tom:
When I read that (I had already been reading Craig for awhile and really like him) I just knew that he had lost the UR argument! And sure enough, when I read Tom T’s book “Inescapable Love…” I saw clearly the superior view of UR!
For in UR, those memories are the very context in which God saves us! The negative memories are in fact an accurate record of our histories. And it is those very things God redeems! It’s why we wouldn’t even consider rebelling again!



That scene has bothered me too.

Is there any blindness and deafness that God cannot heal? Can He not give them new eyes and new ears, and place in them new hearts so that they will seek God?

Eze 36
A new heart also will I give you,
and a new spirit will I put within you:
and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh,
and I will give you an heart of flesh.
And I will put my spirit within you,
and cause you to walk in my statutes,
and ye shall keep my judgments, and do [them].



re: Craig’s and Packer’s respective explanations of how heaven’s inhabitants deal with people they know in hell:

These explanations just show the depths to which non-Unies stoop to try to justify their theology. Ironically, they make extrabiblical conjecture to justify (what they think are) their biblical beliefs! Why not just open your mind to the possibility that UR is in the Bible? Then you get to believe the Bible without all the extra, non-biblically-supported speculation… :unamused: :sunglasses:



Do you have a source where William Lane Craig fleshes out his conjecture about the inhabitants of heaven forgetting reprobate loved ones?


I’m not Tom, but, besides Craigs books, this site holds a lot of his writings… … icles.html



That’s a very encouraging passage.

A little later he writes, “Then you will remember your evil ways and wicked deeds, and you will loathe yourselves for your sins and detestable practices.” There will be no selective amnesia in heaven!



I’ll try to track down the Craig reference when I have some time.



Just thought I’d attach a doc containing a relevant fictional story excerpt from George MacDonald. This passage struck a chord with me early on in my journey to UR.

Hope you enjoy.

MacDonald - Dare we imagine Thee as good as Thou art.doc (37.5 KB)


Thanks TotalVictory:Bobx3. I found this from Craig at … bott1.html :

So Craig would have us believe that now, while we have such knowledge, we are to rejoice and be happy? We are to wait in eager expectation for a day when we will be in blessed ignorance while the Lord we love must bear the agony of seeing some of those He loves suffer in hell? Are we to be that indifferent to the sufferings of God? According to Craig, somehow in our unredeemed state we are expected to be able to handle this but in our redeemed state such knowledge is too much to ask?

I’m sorry, but this state of affairs seems absurd and contrary to the quality of love we are supposed to possess.

Craig seems to admit that the thought of the damned should burden us.

Is it not reasonable to assert that if we are presently being conformed into Christ’s image and our capacity to love is growing, that we should be overcome with sadness concerning the damnation of people, as well as overcome with sadness for the God we love who must bear the knowledge of this burden forever?

If we accept Craig’s scheme, for us to have any joy in heaven is understandable. After all, we will be ignorant. But I would think that for us to have any joy right now would be inexcusable, for we presently have the knowledge and capacity to contemplate not only the fate of the damned, but the everlasting suffering of our Lord concerning them.

Craig continues:

Today Christian’s claim, as they should, that our closeness with God … our maturity in the faith … our experience of Christ’s presence in our lives is measured by our concern for this dying world in danger of being lost. We are quick to point out, as we should, that if such fruit is not visible, our faith is probably not real. Yet, under Craig’s scheme, once in heaven it is the exact opposite: The evidence of our closeness with God, who we will then experience in ways far beyond anything imaginable today, will be a total lack of concern for the lost.

With this kind of situation, how could an unbeliever take us seriously when we speak of our love for the lost and the transforming effects of Christ in our lives? If he has an ounce of logic, he couldn’t.