Heaven, Hell, and the Incarnation of God

Heaven and Hell. (Good Black Sabbath song, by the way. Give it a listen.) Alexander Solzhenitsyn said this: “the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being.” This is particularly relevant to human life, as it encompasses the human capability for both good and evil. It also signifies our knowledge of good and evil, as detailed in Genesis. I think this line, and the division of Heaven and Hell, is the embracing or rejection of God, of the Word made flesh. Christ is identified with the Logos. The Logos is the Word of God. Christ sacrificed himself voluntarily to the truth, to the good, to God.

The Kingdom of Heaven spread upon the earth is when we people embody and aim towards the Logos, to God himself. When we act out truth itself. And this is embodied in so many stories in the Bible. The sacrifice of personal will to the will of God. But it’s not an act of submission. It is an act of courage. It is faith that the wind will blow your ship to a new and better port. It is the faith that Being itself can be corrected by becoming. Look at the Blessed Virgin Mary, for instance. “Hail, full of grace (to whom is given grace, favoured one), the Lord is with thee. Fear not, Mary, for thou hast found grace with God.” The conforming of one’s will to God’s, the aim of one’s purpose towards God is what brings about the Kingdom of Heaven spread upon earth. “Behold the handmaid of the Lord, be it done to me according to thy word.” And look what came out of this. Jesus Christ himself.

Milton believed that Hell was the very rejection of redemption itself. The willing state of deceit, acts of betrayal, deception, cruelty, carelessness, cowardice and, most commonly of all, willful blindness.

Now whether or not Heaven and Hell are metaphysical states beyond our world, I think we can be pretty damn sure that we can glimpse or even partly attain those states here on the earth. We have plenty of examples of both.

Now, you may be wandering, how is Christ the Logos? Why does it matter? How has he saved us? These are all very good questions, some I’ve struggled with in the past.

The Second Person of the Trinity, the Divine Logos, was (and is) God from all eternity. (The other two are the Father, and the Holy Spirit.)

In the Incarnation, the Logos entered space and time as Jesus of Nazareth. While preserving the Divinity whole and intact, He humbled himself by taking on our humanity. This meant creating a human body and also a human soul for himself. Jesus wasn’t simply a mask the Logos wore, or an avatar, or anything of the likes. Rather, the man Jesus is the Second Person of the Trinity, and vice versa. The Second Person of the Trinity united his human soul perfectly to his Divine Self. In doing so, he bridged the gulf created by sin between God and man.

But what does this mean? Now here is where I’ve had trouble in the past. The analogy which works best for me, while still lacking, is this. By dying on the cross, Christ paid the debt we were in by his sacrifice. So now we have a flat bank balance, and are able to move towards the truth. We have the opportunity and ability to cast away the chains of sin, to move beyond them. The Word became flesh for us in order to save us by reconciling us with God, who “loved us and sent his Son to be the expiation for our sins.”

That makes sense. But here’s something more, something I found in the Catechism. “The Word became flesh to be our model of holiness: ‘Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me. I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but by me.’” And now we are back at my Heaven analogy. With Christ as the model of holiness, and his acts on the cross, we learn (I mean, obviously, there is heaps of good stuff in the parables and gospels, but I think this is what the base message is) that we must shoulder the burden of responsibility. And quite clearly, with that responsibility, comes suffering. But the only way to make Being better, to grasp at that state of holiness, is to do this. And we can do that by embodying the Logos, the Word made flesh.

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