Putting hell first : cruelty, historicism, and the missing moral theory of damnation
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Recent work on the morality of hell spans the various subdisciplines of theology, with the ironic exception of theological ethics. An adequate defence of hell requires a positive account of how God’s eternally tormenting some humans is beautiful, just and worthy of worship. This suggests a short-term and long-term task. The short-term task, which this article pursues, tests whether an adequate moral theory is available by evaluating three possible candidates, the third of which is the most interesting, as it offers a historicist defence of hell: we believe hell is cruel only because of aversions to cruel and unusual punishment that emerged in modernity. Nonetheless, all three defences are inadequate, suggesting a longer term goal: we need either better moral theories or better accounts of hell, as well as greater analytic clarity regarding theological statements of the form, 'I want doctrine y to be true but believe doctrine x is true'.
Perry , J 2016 , ' Putting hell first : cruelty, historicism, and the missing moral theory of damnation ' Scottish Journal of Theology , vol 69 , no. 1 , pp. 1-19 . DOI: 10.1017/S0036930615000745
Scottish Journal of Theology
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2016. This work is made available online in accordance with the publisher’s policies. This is the author created, accepted version manuscript following peer review and may differ slightly from the final published version. The final published version of this work is available at http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S0036930615000745