MOTT on the Problem of Evil & the Doctrine of Hell

Editor’s Note:  The following texts, which have been excerpted from 4 different letters (as indicated), comprise the essence of our anonymous author’s teaching on the problem of evil and the doctrine of hell.  Insofar as possible, esoteric references and terminology have been omitted or paraphrased so as to make these excerpts more accessible.  Omissions are indicated by ellipses.  Paraphrased summaries and transitions are enclosed in brackets.

[Quoting from Letter 4 on “The Emperor”, pages 80 and 82-84]  God governs the world by authority, and not by force. If this were not so, there would be neither freedom nor law in the world; and the first three petitions of the Lord’s Prayer (Pater Noster): “Sanctificetur nomen tuum. Adveniat regnum tuum. Fiat voluntas tua sicut in caelo et in terra“, would lose all meaning. He who prays these petitions does so solely with the purpose of affirming and increasing divine authority and not divine power. The God who is almighty— not virtually but actually —has no need at all to be petitioned that his reign may come and that his will may be done. The meaning of this prayer is that God is powerful only in so far as his authority is freely recognised and accepted. Prayer is the act of such recognition and acceptance. One is free to be believing or unbelieving. Nothing and no one can compel us to have faith — no scientific discovery, no logical argument, no physical torture can force us to believe, i.e. to freely recognise and accept the authority of God. But on the other hand, once this authority is recognised and accepted, the powerless becomes powerful. Then divine power can manifest itself—and this is why it is said that a grain of faith is sufficient to move mountains. . . .

[82]  .  .  .  The faith of those who project the ideal of power onto God himself  . . . depends only on the power of God; if God was powerless, they would not believe in him. It is they who teach that God has created souls predestined to eternal damnation and others predestined to salvation; it is they who make God responsible for the entire history of the human race, including all its atrocities. God, they say, “chastises” his disobedient children by means of wars, revolutions, tyrannies and other similar things. How could it be otherwise? God is almighty, therefore all that happens is only able to happen through his action or with his consent.

The idol of power has such a hold on some human minds that they prefer a God who is a mixture of good and evil, provided that he is powerful, to a God of love who governs only by the intrinsic authority of the Divine — by truth, beauty and goodness — i.e. they prefer a God who is actually almighty to the crucified God. However the father in the parable of the prodigal child had neither sent his son far from his paternal home in order to lead a life of debauchery, nor had he prevented him from leaving and forced him to lead a life which was pleasing to him (the father). All he did was to await his return and to go and meet him when the prodigal son was approaching his father’s home. Everything which took place in the story of the prodigal son, save for his return to the father, was clearly contrary to the will of the father.

Now the history of the human race since the Fall is that of the prodigal son.  It is . . .  a matter of . . . an abuse of freedom similar to that of the prodigal son. And the key formula of the history of humanity is to be found [83] neither in the progress of civilisation nor in the process of evolution or in any other “process”, but rather in the parable of the prodigal son, in the words: Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; I am no longer worthy to be called your son; treat me as one of your hired servants. (Luke xv, 18-19)

Is mankind therefore solely responsible for its history? Without a doubt — because it is not God who has willed it to be as such. God is crucified in it. One understands this when one takes account of the significance of the fact of human freedom, and likewise the freedom of the beings of the spiritual hierarchies— the Angels, Archangels, Principalities, Powers, Virtues, Dominions, Thrones, Cherubim and Seraphim. All these beings — including man (the Ischim) — have an existence that is either real or illusionary. If they have a real existence, if they are not a mirage, they are independent entities endowed not only with a phenomenal independence but also a noumenal independence. Now, noumenal independence is what we understand by freedom. Freedom, in fact, is nothing other than the real and complete existence of a being created by God. To be free and to exist are synonymous from a moral and spiritual point of view. Just as morality would not exist without freedom, so would an unfree spiritual entity— soul or spirit — not exist for itself, but would be part of another spiritual entity which is free, i.e. which really exists. Freedom is the spiritual existence of beings.

When we read in the Scripture that God created all beings, the essential meaning here is that God has given freedom — or existence —to all beings. Freedom once having been given, God does not take it back. This is why the beings of the ten hierarchies mentioned above are immortal. Death — not separation from the body, but real death — would be the absolute deprivation of liberty, i.e. complete destruction of the existence given by God. But who or what can take the divine gift of freedom, the divine gift of existence, from a being? Freedom, existence, is inalienable, and the beings of the ten hierarchies are immortal. The statement: freedom or existence is inalienable, can be understood as the highest gift, the very greatest value imaginable — then this would be a foretaste of paradise; or as condemnation to “perpetual existence”– then this would be a foretaste of hell, because no one “sends” us anywhere —freedom not being a theatre. It is we ourselves who make the choice. Love existence, and you have chosen heaven; hate it, and there you have chosen hell.

Now, God is with respect to free beings either the ruling King . . . or the Crucified. He is King with regard to those of his beings who voluntarily accept (who “believe”) his authority; he is Crucified with respect to those beings who abuse their freedom and “worship idols”, i.e. who replace divine authority by a substitute. King and Crucified at one and the same time — this is the mystery of Pilate’s [84] inscription on the cross of Calvary: lesus Nazarenus Rexjudaeorum (cf.John xix, 19: “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews”). Almighty and powerless, both at once —this is why miracles of healing in human history were able to be accomplished by saints whilst bloody wars and disasters raged around them! Freedom — freedom is the true throne of God and is his cross at the same time. Freedom is the key to comprehension of the role of God in history— to comprehension of the God of love and the God-King, without the sacrilege of making him a tyrant and without the blasphemy of doubting his power or of doubting his very existence. . .God is all-powerful in history in as much as there is faith; and he is crucified in so far as one turns away from him.

Thus, divine crucifixion follows from the fact of freedom or the fact of the real existence of the beings of the ten hierarchies, when it is a matter of a world governed by divine authority and not by compulsion. . . .

[Quoting from Letter 8 on “Justice”, pages 177 – 182] . . . Now, the structure of “fair human justice” is only— and can only be —an “image” or analogy of the structure of divine cosmic justice . . . [178]  [the latter can be thought of as] a system of balance [that] establishes and re-establishes equilibrium between that which is above and that which is below, as well as in a horizontal sense, i.e. the balance maintains equilibrium between the right side and the left side . . . .  Therefore, weighing is effected on the one hand by means of scales on the right and left and on the other hand by scales above and below.  The working of the “right-left” balance is the law of justice which maintains equilibrium between the individual freedom of beings and universal order. In the last analysis it is KARMA which is the law governing the adjustment of mutual debts between beings.  But the working of the “heaven-earth” balance surpasses the justice of karma; it is that of the justice of grace.

Gratia gratis data. . .” The sun shines on the good and wicked alike. Is this morally right? Is it the justice of grace here which is higher than the protective, distributive and punitive justice of the law? This is so. There is the sublime “other justice” of grace, which is the meaning of the New Testament. For the Old Testament is to the New Testament as karma is to grace. Grace also makes use of the [179] balance, i.e. justice. It is the balance whose one scale is on the earth and whose other scale is in heaven. The Lord’s prayer reveals to us the principle of the justice of grace and the operation of weighing by means of the “heaven-earth” balance. There it is said: “Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.” And then the Master adds: “For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father also will forgive you; but if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses” (Matthew vi, 12, 14-15).

The Master is explicit with respect to the balance operating between earth and heaven—”. . .if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses”— this is the law, this is the infallible and implacable operation of the “heaven-earth” balance. That this balance governs not only forgiveness but also the entire domain of gifts from above, understood as the Holy Spirit, is evident in the words of the Master concerning the Lord’s prayer in the Gospel of Luke: “If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” (Luke xi, 13)

The sun shines on the good and wicked alike. But it is certainly necessary to open the windows of a dark room in order for light to be able to enter there. The light of the sun is in no way created or merited by us. It is a gift, pure and simple — gratia gratis data. Nevertheless, it is necessary to open our windows in order for it to enter into our abode, just as it is necessary to open our eyes in order to see it. The practical meaning of the “heaven-earth” balance is that of cooperation with grace. Human effort is therefore not for nothing in the domain of the working of grace. Neither election alone from above (Calvinism) nor faith alone below (Lutheranism) suffice for the requirements of the “heaven-earth” balance. Chosen or not chosen, having faith or not, it is necessary for us, for example, to “forgive those who trespass against us” here below in order for our trespasses to be forgiven above. There is a correlation — not in measure, but rather in nature — between the scale below, “effort”, and the scale above, “gift”, of the “heaven-earth” balance. The correlation between effort below and gift from above is not, I repeat, one of measure or quantity, but rather one of substance or quality. It can be that the forgiveness on my part of one single offence by another can produce the forgiveness of a thousand or so offences of the same nature by me. The “heaven-earth” balance does not weigh quantity; its working belongs entirely to the domain of quality. This is why there is no quantitative justice in the relationship between efforts below and gifts from above. The latter always surpass the measure of quantitative justice. This is important to understand above all with regard to the glaring injustice of eternal hell, that one life— or more, it does not matter —which is limited in time can bring about. Eternal hell is unjust, however, only from a purely quantitative point of view. One compares the limited number of years of life — or lives — on earth with the unlimited number of years of eternity and thus one arrives at the conclusion that the measure of chastisement is out of all proportion with the measure of the transgression and that, consequently, there is no justice. But let [180] us consider the problem of eternal hell not from the point of view of quantity (which is absurd, as time does not exist in eternity), but rather from that of quality. How is it with this problem, then?

The following is the answer we arrive at when we abandon a quantitative correlation between time and eternity: whoever enters the region of eternity without an ounce of love, enters it without an ounce of love, i.e. he enters eternal hell. For to live without love—this is hell.  And to live without love in the region of eternity —this is to live in eternal hell.

Hell is the state of the soul powerless to come out of itself, absolute self-centredness, dark and evil isolation, i.e. final inability to love. (Nicolas Berdyaev, The Destiny of Man, London, 1937, P- 351)

This subjective state of soul is neither long nor short—it is as intense as eternity is. Similarly, the blessedness that a saint experiences in the vision of God is as intense as eternity—although it could not so last, since someone present at the ecstasy of a saint would time it as a few minutes. The “region” of eternity is that of intensity, which surpasses the measures of quantity that we employ in time and space. “Eternity” is not a duration of infinite length; it is the “intensity of quality” which, if compared with time and thus translated into the language of quantity, is comparable with an infinite duration. Concerning this, Nicholas A. Berdyaev says:

In our life on earth it is given to us to experience torments that appear to us to go on forever, that are not for a moment, for an hour or a day, but seem to last an infinity. . .Objectively this infinity may last a moment, an hour, or a day, but it receives the name of everlasting hell. . .When Origen said that Christ will remain on the cross so long as a single creature remains in hell, he expressed an eternal truth. (Nicolas Berdyaev, The Destiny of Man, London, 1937, p. 342 and p. 347)

What can one add to this, if not “amen”? Eternal hell is the state of a soul imprisoned within itself, where the soul has no hope of coming out. “Eternal” means to say “without hope”. All suicides committed through desperation bear witness to the reality of eternal hell as a state of soul. Before committing suicide, the person who commits it experiences a state of complete despair, i.e. eternal hell. This is why he prefers nothingness to the state of despair. Nothingness is therefore his last hope.

Eternal bliss—”heaven”—is, in contrast, the state of soul which is filled with boundless hope. This is not a blissfulness which lasts for an infinite number of years; it is the intensity of hope which gives the quality “eternal”. Similarly, it is [181] the intensity of despair which imparts to the state of soul designated “hell” the quality “eternal”.

The anguish of Gethsemane which gave rise to perspiration of blood was eternal. This night, the night of Gethsemane, was not measured in hours. It was — it is — immeasurable, therefore eternal. It is due to its eternity that he sweated blood, and not because of the temporary, and therefore passing, trial. He knew eternal hell through experience, and as he came out of it, we have the “good news” that not only death is vanquished by the Resurrection, but also that hell is—through Gethsemane. The majesty of the victory over hell announced by the words “I am he” caused many to prostrate themselves on the ground, from amongst the band of soldiers and officers from the chief priests and Pharisees who had come to arrest him (John xviii, 5-6). The soul of Origen was also prostrated in the face of the victory over eternal hell and moved by the revelation contained in the words: “It is I,” spoken by Him who had just come out from eternal hell. This is why Origen himself knew with certain knowledge that there would be no “damned” at the end of the world and that the devil, also, would be saved. And whoever meditates on the sweat of blood in Gethsemane and on the words “It is I” (or “I am he”), announcing the eternal victory over eternal hell, also will know with certain knowledge that eternal hell exists as a reality, but that it will be empty at the end of time. The sweat of blood in Gethsemane is the source of “Origenism”; here is the source of its inspiration.

But the “good news” of the eternal victory over eternal hell has not been understood by the “Greeks” (those seeking wisdom), nor by the “Jews” (those wanting miracles). It can be understood only by Christians. For “Greeks” deny the reality of eternal hell as being incompatible with the idea of God who is at one and the same time good and all-powerful. “Jews” abide by eternal damnation, i.e. they insist on a populated eternal hell, because otherwise God (as the judge) would be lacking the absolute power of punishment. They deny the infinity of divine love. And it is Christians alone who accept and understand the “folly and weakness” of the cross (cf. 1 Corinthians i, 22-25), i.e. the work of infinite love achieved by no other means than by love itself.  For them, not only do the means not sanctify the aim, but also the means must be identical with the aim. They know that love will never be taught and understood through severity and fear. They apprehend hearts directly through goodness, beauty and truth, whilst the fear of hell and eternal damnation has not given birth to love in any human heart hitherto—and will never do so. And it is not the severity of strict justice which teaches us the love of the father for the prodigal son, but rather the joyous feast with which the son was welcomed home by him.

Nevertheless, the “Greeks” would say that the father knew in advance that the son would come back, since the son had, in fact, no other choice, and everything is only a drama in appearance. The father’s way of acting was only a “clever ruse” (Hegel’s “List der Vernunft”). And the “Jews” would say that it was the power of [182] the father which acted within the soul of the prodigal son and commanded him to return to his father’s home, which irresistible power he could only obey. Thus, the joy and the feast of welcome from the father remain incomprehensible both to the worshippers of God’s wisdom (“Greeks”) and the worshippers of God’s power (“Jews”). The meaning of both is understandable only to the worshippers of the love of God (“Christians”). They understand that the story of the prodigal son is a real drama of real love and real freedom, and that the joy and celebration of the father are genuine, just as the suffering of the father and also that of the son, which preceded their reunion, was genuine. Moreover, they understand that the story of the prodigal son is the history of the whole human race, and that the history of the human race is a real drama of real divine love and real human freedom. . . .

[Quoting from Letter 11 on “Force”, page 282] . . . It is said that “union makes force”, and one understands by this the alliance of individual wills with a view to achieving a common aim. It is the formula for the quantitative increase of force. With respect to qualitative force, it would be appropriate to say that “unity is force”, because one is strong only in so far as there is unity of spirit, soul and body . . . It is inner conflict that renders us weak:  the fact that we serve two or even three masters at the same time.

The Emerald Table of Hermes [expresses] the principle of [universal] force: “to accomplish the miracles of one thing” . . . .

The force taught by the Emerald Table is the unity in action of heaven and earth, for thelema (the fundamental will) “doth ascend from earth to heaven; again it doth descend to earth, and uniteth in itself the force from things superior and things inferior” (Tabula Smaragdina, 8).

Let us now examine [another aspect] of Force which the Emerald Table speaks of, namely: that it “overcometh every subtle thing” . . . .

The deeper meaning . . . of “overcoming” is to change the enemy into a friend. To render him impotent only is not yet victory.  Thus the Germany of 1914 was certainly rendered impotent in 1918, but was not overcome —as the year 1939 proves. But after the defeat of 1945, Germany was certainly overcome— in so far as she is sincerely allied to her old adversaries. The same applies to Japan as a state. On another plane, it is likewise true that the devil will be overcome only at the moment when his voice —no matter whether it is rough or smooth—will be heard in chorus with the choirs of celestial hierarchies praising God.

[Quoting from Letter 20 on “The Judgement”, pages 584-585]  The last judgement will be the sacrament of penance on a cosmic scale, comprising universal confession and universal absolution. It will be only the impenitents who will exclude themselves from the grace of universal absolution, although it is difficult to imagine impenitence in this situation. The Church Father Origen could not do so. and believed that everyone, including the hierarchies of evil with Satan at their head, will be saved. Was he right or wrong? By way of answer, I will pose these two questions:

  1. Is there in the world any person or group of people who know with certain knowledge who will be impenitent in the distant future?
  2. Is there in the world any person or group of people who have the authority to specify the limits of God’s love and mercy? . . . to state and decree that the love of God goes so far and no further?

These two questions are addressed to those who believe themselves to be in a position to affirm that Origen was wrong in believing in universal salvation. In cases where they cite the scriptures in their answer—the Prophetic Books, the Gospels and the Apocalypse, which speak of the fate of the damned —they should take into consideration the fact that neither the prophets, nor the Gospels, nor the Apocalypse treat the fate of the damned as inevitable for whoever this may be. They say that if human and hierarchical sinners are impenitent, if their [585] conscience does not awaken by the end of time, if sinful souls refuse to the end to profit from the innumerable occasions which will be offered to them to turn towards the good, then their fate will be such as it is depicted in the scriptures as the lot of the damned.  In other words, the lot of the damned is certainly real, but there is no one who is to be excluded from salvation.  It is not the fear of hell, but rather the love of God and of good which ought to motivate the choice of souls.

End of excerpted texts from MOTT on
the Problem of Evil & the Doctrine of Hell

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