Dorothy Sayers on the Doctrine of Hell

“[T]here seems to be a kind of conspiracy, especially among middle-aged writers of vaguely liberal tendency, to forget, or to conceal, where the doctrine of Hell comes from. One finds frequent references to the ‘cruel and abominable medieval doctrine of Hell’ or ‘the childish and grotesque medieval imagery of physical fire and worms . . . ‘ But the case is quite otherwise; let us face the facts. The doctrine of Hell is not ‘medieval’: it is Christ’s. It is not a device of ‘medieval priestcraft’ for frightening people into giving money to the church: it is Christ’s deliberate judgment on sin. The imagery of the undying worm and the unquenchable fire derives, not from ‘medieval superstition,’ but originally from the Prophet Isaiah, and it was Christ who emphatically used it. . . . [O]ne cannot get rid of it without tearing the New Testament to tatters. We cannot repudiate Hell without altogether repudiating Christ.”

~ Dorothy Sayers, “Introductory Papers on Dante

(HT: Justin Taylor)

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