When I’m on the road visiting college campuses, students often ask me about hell.
Some say they’d rather live in hell than sit around in heaven, suffering the torture of perpetual, saintly dull.
In response, I’ve been offering up this image:
Hell is like an empty pub.
The promise of partying with one’s friends in hell evaporates in the illusions of godless living.
Maybe the self-made (or spiritually lazy) person thinks they’ve beat the system — that hell, which is the maximal extension of life without God, is a great alternative to godly living (and dying).
In hell, the Author of true community is no longer available to provide the gifts of love and friendship.
Rather hell-dwellers sit in empty pubs, drinking alone, addicted to the liquors of autonomy, independence and sloth that defined their earthly lives.
Hell is probably more than this, as several passages in Matthew and elsewhere seem to indicate. But it is not less. It is not less than the “absence of God.”
So when you need a quick image to use in an apologetics conversation, the empty pub is a good place to start.
Of course, depending on your theology, you can always lay down another image for hell that has endured for ages:
A lake of fire.
Now that’s memorable.