Letter: Return to hell?

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From Mr J. Gwyn Griffiths

Sir: I was glad to note that several of your contributors have welcomed the Church of England's revised views of hell. Its report refers to "appalling theologies which made God into a sadistic monster".

This is no empty tirade. A trenchant example is given by Augustine of Hippo, author of The City of God. He was able to recognise that torment in a fiery hell could not last for ever, since it was biologically impossible. In his City of God (21. 9. 47-8) he argued that the problem could be solved, since the ability of bodies to endure this torment for ever is "a miracle of the most omnipotent Creator".

Here is a piece of exquisitely subtle sadism which is ascribed to God himself.

Yours faithfully,

J. Gwyn Griffiths

Department of Classics

and Ancient History

University of Wales


23 January