Magazine September 30, 2019, Issue

The Eternal Debate over the Nature of Hell

Detail of The Last Judgment by Jan van Eyck (circa 1390 –1441) (The Metropolitan Museum of Art online collection via Wikimedia Commons)
That All Shall Be Saved: Heaven, Hell, and Universal Salvation, by David Bentley Hart (Yale, 232 pp., $26)

Does hell exist? It depends on what you mean by “hell.” David Bentley Hart answers the question in the affirmative but gives the term a definition different from that assumed by “apologists for the ‘infernalist’ orthodoxies,” as he calls his adversaries in the perennial debate over the nature of hell.

What is hell? Who goes there? Do they ever leave? Hart embraces universalism, also known as universal salvation, universal reconciliation, and apokatastasis (Greek for “restoration,” as of all creation in the age to come) — the doctrine, sometimes regarded as merely heterodox, other times as outright heretical, “that all shall be

This article appears as “Hell, Yes. Forever? Maybe Not.” in the September 30, 2019, print edition of National Review.

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