The Creation of Hell (A Parable)

The time had come. The first human had died and had chosen to go to hell.

A chief angel quietly approached God, who sat saddened and slumped on the heavenly throne. The Almighty had insisted on not putting any thought or energy into building hell. It was not part of God's original plan. God had desired that no one should die, much less chose an immortal life apart from the source of goodness, beauty, justice, and truth. Now that the first human was slated for hell, the angels were a little anxious that they wouldn't be able to meet God's architectural needs in time.

"Lord, I'm so sorry, but it's time. The first human is ready for their afterlife outside of heaven. Where are we supposed to send them? What is it supposed to be like?"

God remained silent.

Another angel, known for shooting off at the mouth, "I mean, it's a place of punishment, right? So how about fire? Humans hate getting burned!"

A crowd of angels had gathered to hear what God would say. They nodded in agreement.

The mouthy angel continued. "There could be different circles of hell, depending on how bad they were. And punishments of increasing severity depending on which circle you're in. Let's make sure there's some worms, they're so creepy. Oh, and you know that sound humans make when they grind their teeth? Let's make that the soundtrack for all eternity."

The crowd of angels murmured their approval. But heaven again grew silent as they remembered that God had still not said a word.

Finally, God drew a breath and said, "Leave it empty."

The chief angel titled her head. "I'm sorry, Lord, empty?"

"Yes," the Divine responded. "Empty. The only thing you must do is grant the humans the ability to have whatever they desire."

So, the chief angel did as she was asked. The first unrepentant human was placed on an empty world, left to fulfill their own eternal cravings. Eventually, a second human was placed there. And then a third and so on.

The mouthy angel, while somewhat disappointed that his ideas were not taken into consideration, had an idea of what God was up to. Many eons later, he checked in on the world of unrepentant humans.

To his surprise, his suggestions from many eons ago were not that far off from what the humans had created for themselves. The entire world was in flames. They had concocted various hierarchies and fought vicious and violent wars to enforce them. Despite being given all of their desires, the world was entirely devoid of joy or anything recognizably called pleasure. Each resident, to a person, blamed the Divine for their state. "Curse God!" they would say. "He has given us everything we want but removed our ability to enjoy it!"

The mouthy angel watched, amazed at God’s wisdom. God had not spent one moment designing an elaborate eternal punishment. God had not fallen prey to the very violence God detested. The humans had managed to do it all themselves. Shockingly, the angels all knew that the Son of God held the keys to Death and Hades and that He had unlocked the doors quite some time ago. Goodness, Christ Himself had gone and preached the Gospel to those who had chosen this fiery world for themselves.

The humans had the ability to receive whatever they desired. But precious few had chosen to desire the one thing that could make it all stop: repentance.

Anthony Parrott

Anthony Parrott

Washington, DC