Following on from my earlier post, I’d like to not only talk about the nature of hell, but also the concept of theosis.
Theosis means deification, which as St athanasius states is ‘a state of perfection greater than those experienced by Adam and Eve before their fall.’ There are 3 levels of walk in the Orthodox faith: purification, illumination, and deification. Adam and Eve were created at the 2nd stage called illumination. They had no sin, but they were not yet united to God. They would of been united to God had they taken of the fruit of the tree of life before their fall.
Purification is the first stage Orthodox Christians go through on our ascent of the ladder of divine ascent. It means the healing phase. Illumination is like the vision of God. Deification is the final stage, that of union with God, where they are like angels in heaven on Earth.
For those who reject the Lord’s commands through the Orthodox Church, God does not punish them as such. In the bible, Jesus describes hell as ‘the weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ Why would he say ‘gnashing’? Don’t people gnash their teeth when they are extremely angry? In this case, it would be apparent that people in hell despise God so much that they grind their teeth in anger, never wanting to experience God’s presence as light and warmth.
It reminds me of what I’d think a protestant would feel in the afterlife. He might believe and loyally serve God in this world, as a pious protestant, but when he gets to heaven and sees the virgin mary sitting at the right hand of Jesus, he’d think ‘That’s not doctinally correct to venerate mary! That’s not part of my religion! I don’t like heaven very much! I hate heaven because of mary!’ So then heaven would become hell for that protestant, due to the theology he believed in during his lifetime.
There are no bars surrounding hell. Sinners and demons can leave hell anytime they want. All they just have to say is ‘Lord! Have mercy on me, a sinner!’ But as sinners are egotists, why would they want to leave hell, or bless the Lord? Egotists never stop blaming God.