The following is a translation from Halla Ilbo columnist Song Sang Il — Ed.
It is said that these are the words of Reverend J. “It (the earthquakes in Japan) is a warning from God, for Japanese nationals shunned God, and chose to follow the path for idol worship, atheism, and materialism.” There must be a mistake. An Internet news media released an explanatory statement that it was the condensed version for editing that caused the misunderstanding.
Certainly, it mustn’t be the words of a revered pastor because, such a disturbing and problematic statement is awry from what is said in the Bible, “…so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous (Matthew 5:45).” One who sees the hell of non-believers from another’s calamity must be a person of sadistic character. The Bible speaks out for such a person. “Do not judge so that you will not be judged (Matthew 7:1).”
The first cantica - Inferno (Hell) of Dante Alighieri’s epic poem, The Divine Comedy, depicts plenty of sadistic and miserable scenes. The Creator of such hells seems to be so far apart from the love of God. A renowned theologian and a Swiss Catholic priest, Hans Kung, painfully asks himself in his book, “The Beginning of All Things.” As a Christian believer, he questions whether he can trust God, who endlessly and mercilessly tortures his own creation. There were fathers who killed their own children. No matter how sinful their children were, no father would thrust their own children into a series of fire pits to be burnt endlessly. Much less, the ‘Lord God’ of love.
Nevertheless, I am not so reckless as to abolish the traditional Christian notion of hell with the stroke of a brush. This is what I have attained after long introspection. It is rather a scene expressing appreciation, than the scene of damnation, when the term, hell, is indeed meaningfully uttered. When one humbly prays, confessing, “I am a sinner. I deserve to be thrown down into the burning hell. Thank you, Lord for forgiving my sin. Thank you for your blessing,” hell is mentioned with a profound meaning, as the cause to reveal God’s mercy, not damnation.
Let us return to the catastrophic earthquakes in Japan. In this hell-like part of our world, the duty of a believer must be love in action sharing the pains, not speaking words about the “Hell of Non-Believers.”
(Translation by Suh Eunsook)
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