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The last word on hell

Finally, it is objected that the ultimate loss of a single soul means the defeat of omnipotence. and so it does. in creating beings with free will, omnipotence from the outset submits to the possibility of such defeat. What you call defeat, I call miracle: for to make things which are not itself, and thus to become, in a sense, capable of being resisted by its own handiwork, is the most astonish- ing and unimaginable of all the feats we attribute to the deity. I willingly believe that the damned are, in one sense, successful, rebels to the end; that the doors of hell are locked on the inside. I do not mean that the ghosts may not wish to come out of hell, in the vague fashion wherein an envious man “wishes” to be happy: but they certainly do not will even the first preliminary stages of that self abandonment through which alone the soul can reach any good. they enjoy forever the horrible freedom they have demanded, and are therefore self enslaved: just as the blessed, forever submitting to obedience, become through all eternity more and more free. — from The Problem of Pain



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