The First Electronic Church of America
A Sermon on Hell
by the Rev. Howard D. Armstrong
I want to talk about Hell, but first a quick word about Heaven. It seems immoral to me that some people preach that a person can go to Heaven by killing himself and others with suicide bombings. The idea that somehow you go straight to God by destroying yourself and anyone else who happens to get in the way is anti-God to me. It is the opposite of Good and the antithesis of Heaven. In my book, these suicide bombers can go to Hell.
But what is Hell? The word originally meant a place where the dead, who had no proper grave, were left as carrion for the dogs and the vultures. Hell was humiliation. Dante saw Hell as a series of descending circles. He would put suicide bombers in the Seventh Circle of Hell in the River of Blood where those who have been violent against others boil and burn eternally. Or, perhaps they would be withered and poisonous trees in the horrible Wood of Suicides.
In Paradise Lost, Milton tells us that God hurled a flaming Satan and his rebellious Legions into the bottomless pit of Hell, flooded with ever-burning sulphur and whirlwinds of fire. Where Heaven was light, Hell was darkness. Hell was Satan lying on the burning lake planning his sinister revenge. It became the center of evil, the home of Chaos and utter darkness.
But what about now? Especially for FECHA, what about the electronic world? In today's cyberspace, Hell, by definition, takes on a different shape. I turn to the great Jean-Emile Charon.
For Charon, (no relation to the ferryman by the same name who conveyed the dead to Hades over the River Styx), Hell may well be the Black Holes of the Universe. Charon says that we will never know the content of a black hole where he says there is nothing "but the absolute and total blackness of a burial pit." The only way we know that a black hole exists is by "the swirling phenomena around the eye of the black hole," warning us of the danger should we ever be swept in by the vortex. Charon also says that if we were to fall into the black hole we would be forever imprisoned in a cyclical universe where we would relive everything that ever happened to us again and again. Sounds like Hell to me.
-- July 1996
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