The previously-mentioned email correspondent asked me another question. This goes into a bit of my personal history of thought, but I shamelessly lay it out before you, my faithful trio of readers.
Question: Since you became a Christian, have you ever had a totally independent thought about God, Jesus, the Holy Ghost, the Trinity, Satan, evil, good, Heaven, or Hell? If so, what do you consider the most salient one?
First, a disclaimer - No one ever has any independent thoughts about anything, so strictly speaking, the answer is no. We are either controlled by evil (an oligarchy of the flesh, the devil, and the world) or by the Holy Spirit.
That's probably not what you meant, though, so I'll address this on a more colloquial level.
2 things come immediately to mind, and maybe more will occur before I finish writing this.
1) Earlier in my walk with God, I believed that God *would* without fail make sure that I understood theological truths about Him and about the Scripture (specifically, on whether it is justifiable to claim the spiritual gift of speaking in tongues, or glossolalia) based simply on the fact that I had prayed (and very earnestly, no lie) that He would lead me into these truths b/c, as I would tell people, "Why would God lie to me?"
What I forgot was, of course, that God has no obligation and has made no promise to telepathically reveal all theological truth on any given question based on even an earnest prayer. I can think of several reasons why, but at the time that didn't occur to me.
God used His Scripture (as He usually does) to shepherd me to a better understanding of this issue so that, after about 10 months of struggling with this issue, I realised that I had never observed nor performed speaking in tongues in a biblically-supportable way.
2) A little later, I think I came to a much fuller-than-it-previously-had-been realisation of the horror of Hell. It occurred to me that Jesus Christ, while He lived ~30 years as a human and suffered all our weaknesses, died for us, rose again as the 1st glorified human, etc, He had never gone to hell. How, then, I thought, could we say that God's been everywhere we've gone? Hell is SO horrible and SO eternal! How could it be eternal?
Many answers presented themselves to me. I find them fully intellectually satisfying and for the most part satisfying to my heart, but the horror of hell remains. It's a similar horror to the one I sometimes encounter when I talk to atheists. Specifically, sometimes the subject of morality is broached, in similar manner to the one in which you have broached it with me. I respond in the same way in which I respond to you. The wrangling then proceeds to the point that I sometimes ask them if they can unequivocally, rationally say "Hitler was in the moral wrong to murder 6 million Jews". A few times, these atheists have revealed that they are far more consistent than others with their own position: "No, what he did was right for him but wrong for me."
Therein lies the complete abdication of any possibility of any moral judgment at all. And this event is only 60 years removed from now!
The upshot is that this question is already academic for them - they have NEVER seen horror. The stacks of bodies they've seen in grainy photos are simply statistics, not humans with families, friends, and dreams. They pale in color and passion to the heroes and villains they see blown away on a daily basis on TV and video games. But I struggle and strive to remain cognizant of the horror of evil, and I express that in part by eschewing and even shooting down the occasional "Jew in the oven" joke or "heil Hitler" joke I hear.
THAT is the horror I mean.
Ironically, this is precisely one of the answers to the question. How evil is evil? Well, it's terribly, horribly evil. Justice demands punition of evil, and that's Hell. Evil is so evil it must be destroyed without question.
Other aspects to it:
-Sartre's comment that the door to hell is locked from the inside and related thoughts.
-The Bible doesn't say who torments the damned; it just says they are tormented. I think it's quite reasonable to believe that the damned, deprived even of God's common grace, will torment and tear each other to pieces for eternity, thus incurring eternally continuing sin and justifying their eternal punishment.
-The damned knew, in life, that God exists and that they are lawbreakers and yet rejected Him anyway. Why would God bring them to heaven against their will? CS Lewis said: "There are 2 kinds of people: Those who say to God 'Thy will be done' and those to whom God says, in the end, 'THY will be done.'"