The idea of Universal Reconciliation, the apokatastasis; that all created intelligences will eventually be reconciled to their Creator, has always been a minority opinion in Christianity.  There are many reasons why this would so.

One of the most objectionable reasons to disbelieve in Universal Reconciliation is that a lot of Christians are as angry as the punishing God they profess to believe in.  I have to admit that I still am in a lot of ways.  There is something in me that wants to be vindicated, that wants to be shown to be right, and sending people to Hell is a remarkably final way to end all metaphysical and theological argument.  However,  I always saw Hell and conscious punishment as something of a design flaw.  Back in the dreary Internet theological arena of the early 00s, hell was kind of the final entry in a schematic drawing on any number of theological arguments.  ‘Oh, you don’t believe in Limited Atonement?  Well, when you’ve been Baking in the Lake for 500,000 years, you’ll rethink your position!’

chaptersAnother objectionable argument against the Universal Reconciliation is the one based on Free Will, i.e. that God needs to allow eternal conscious torment in order to maintain an abstract freedom that is never absolute under the best of circumstances.  Our vaunted freedom is hedged about on every side with a terrible finitude, not the least of which is our own ignorance.

Yet there are some objections I have to Universal reconciliation as well;  it doesn’t take into account the real possibility that some people could hate God, love, and being so much that they could resist Him and it indefinitely.  That these people are some of the most damaged among us is not something I want to deal with right now.

Orthodoxy dispenses with Original Sin, so we don’t go to Hell because we deserve it for sullying God’s honor or some other such nonsense (sorry Anselm).  Hell draws me because there is something in me that responds to it, that recognizes it as my soul’s True Home, and after struggling with my sin for almost seven decades now and finding it as recalcitrant as ever, I realize that this is indeed a very real possibility.

Also, there is very strong indication in the Tradition that physicality is necessary for repentance, that it gives friction to the soul.  After that physicality is lost, the friction is lost and the dis-corporeal intelligence, like a driver hitting a patch of ice,  continues on the trajectory it was pursuing when it was forcibly unbodied, never to be reoriented.  For this reason, the fallen angels are never shriven, and can never return.

In the future, I’d like to explore different ways of looking at the apokatastasis.  I’m not a scholar, so I won’t be adding a lot of patristics, and probably not even a lot of Scripture.  There are plenty of places you can go for that.  Here, I just want to think out loud for a bit.

The graphic is from Blankets, a graphic novel by Craig Thompson.  It is very, very good.