How do we square the idea of evolving consciousness, to which I subscribe, with the doctrine that if we reject Christ we suffer a spiritual consequence in the afterlife, traditionally known as damnation or hell? Let me first of all say that nobody is sent to hell. You send yourself there and you do so by closing off your mind to Heaven. I would also go along with Dante's vision that there are different hells equating to different sins because I believe that in the afterlife the principle of like attracts like operates with one's outer environment reflecting inner consciousness. The universe is a thought. Life is Mind and in the spiritual world what you think is what you are and where you go. Thus, there may be hells which are not necessarily that unpleasant, at least not to those who go there, but which are nevertheless deprived of God and real goodness and real beauty. So, of course, they are unpleasant to the reasonable person whose consciousness has not been perverted by a misdirected will.
This world is a world of choice. You choose whether or not to believe in God and you also choose what sort of God you believe in. You choose or don't choose to acknowledge Christ and you also choose what sort of Christ to believe in because many people believe in their own version of Christ, a Christ who is a projection of their own thoughts and desires. There is the real Christ to whom you respond in the heart through the spiritual imagination, aided, of course, by scripture and even art (that is art's highest function), and there is a human created image of Christ who may be modelled on aspects of the real Christ but has some extra elements superimposed as well as important elements missing. It is a mental version of a spiritual reality and, depending on its approximation to the real Christ, does only limited good. It may even do harm if the image departs too much from the reality and reflects more of social or political or personal concerns than spiritual truth.
Hell is separation from God. There are many degrees of separation and different souls will have separated themselves to different degrees. Some will be a long way off while others may retain some kind of connection to some aspect of God, maybe a love for beauty or concern with right behaviour. For them there is a way back if they will take it but it will mean opening closed areas of the heart and mind and that may be more difficult in the post-mortem state as we may then have solidified choice meaning the occasion for choosing is past as the specific conditions which form the test under which you make a choice no longer prevail.
It may be that souls who refuse to accept Christ's offer of Heaven are held back on lower levels of being while others progress onwards and upwards. They don't have hell in the traditional sense but nor do they have Heaven. It may also be that there are many such souls alive now because this is a time of reckoning when final chances are offered to souls who have turned down previous offers. Between Heaven and Hell there are many other spiritual states which are, returning to Dante, forms of limbo which was Virgil's region in the afterlife. Now, Virgil represented the best of humanity without God. He was virtuous and wise but he did not know Christ so he could not enter Heaven. (As an aside, I believe that all those born before Christ are given the opportunity to know Christ either through being reborn in this world or else in some other way so I would expect that a soul of the quality of Virgil is in Heaven now as are all other worthy pagans.) Thus, non-believers do not necessarily go to Hell but they are barred from Heaven by their own lack of acceptance of it.
Evolving consciousness is one thing but accepting God is another. In reality both are necessary but you can have one without the other. The devil has a highly evolved consciousness. There are also simple souls who believe in God but are not able to express very much of him. Evolution means we can understand more of God and we can become more like him in terms of love, creativity and intelligence. This is the destiny we are called to. We must grow but we can only grow as we should when we grow according to the pattern of God. To grow according to that pattern is heaven. Not to do so, however evolved you are, is hell.
This is excellent, thank you. The ideas expressed in this post, with which I agree, makes it very difficult for me to accept any kind of permanence in the afterlife. Meaning, it is possible for even the most wicked soul in the lowest ring of Hell to come back to God (through Christ) at some point in eternity. Even those who choose Christ in life can't fully know and understand Christ at that point. They will be learning more about God and Christ throughout eternity; so someone who rejects Christ must necessarily be doing so without full knowledge of Christ therefore always leaving the door open to coming back. Indeed, I believe the most basic stucture/fact about reality is that it is tilted (even if infinitesimally) towards God, and that rejecting God requires an eternity of swimming upstream, so to speak. It is also this fact of reality that biases those who choose Christ initially to stick with Him as they learn more and more about God and Creation through eternity.
I also believe that God provides many opportunities for repentance but some souls just double down because of pride or attachment to some other sin.
In many ways I reject the crucifix except that it is one of the best symbols of infinite spiritual and material dimension. Christ was crucified once, and it is my contention that he needn't be placed there again except that it is necessary for he is God. It satisfies me that I do not know God and I much prefer imagination.
Reality may not require a conciousness for it to be, and yet there is. Christ guarantees an inalienability (for lack of something simpler to say).
Reminders are necessary for created things, but creation can not be mistaken. Whatever happens during the whole course of life, I feel fond and glad to meet it. :)
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