I do not want Hell to exist.
And yet…I believe there is reason enough for me to believe in a traditional conception of Hell from the words of Jesus in the Gospels and in Revelation.
Some might say that writing those words or holding that belief is a hair’s breadth (or less) from those–Calvinist, Calvinisht, and otherwise–who replace every Mystery of God with, “God’s ways aren’t our ways. Would you put yourself in the place of God?!” From Abraham to Moses to Hannah to David to Jesus in the Garden, however, questioning God has a vital lineage as one of the truest expressions of faith available to a human being.
The emphasis I just mentioned–Mystery–is at the heart of my understanding or beliefs about Hell (and every other Last Thing). Because what I believe about Hell and Judgment more than anything else is what I believe about God. What I believe about God is that every mercy I can imagine ever existing is a dewdrop on a blade of grass compared to the literally infinite ocean of the Mercy Who God Is.
Even if Hell is what the mainstream of Christians have thought it is for a couple thousand years, God’s mercy will provide the shape for even that. It is God’s Mercy which will define every part of whatever The End is.