The Calvary Chapel pastor I had in southern California, Mark Foreman, said
that the book "The Great Divorce" was his favorite book after the Bible.
It is a short novel about how people either become fully acclimated to Heaven
after death or sort of disappear, dissolve, wither into nothing. This is
radical theology, except it's not so radical when you understand that
many people have thought that the unsaved are simply annihilated.
In Lewis' opinion, they are annihilated gradually by their own inability
to become heavenly citizens after death. Some of his characters "grow"
so much that they become citizens of Heaven, others simply strangle
themselves with their own pride and self-deceit.
It's a novel, remember. Fiction, speculation.
I was reminded of this when thinking of our Doves' controversy over the
doctrine of "millennial exclusion". This is another doctrine which "makes
a way," however unpleasant, for those not ready for Heaven, although
declaring faith in Jesus, to purge away their uselessness and become
fit for Heaven after a thousand years. It is, as Chris W. put it, sort of a
One may truly ask: are the Catholics totally wrong about purgatory?
Could it be possible that people can "grow" into Heavenly citizens
after death? Could it be that Purgatory is not so much outright
punishment but a painful growing which might have been done before
death, but wasn't? The Way of the Cross at last accepted?
Remember, though, that Jesus told the Thief on the Cross that he would
be in Paradise that very same day with Him. It was possible for a
criminal to repent and just get saved and admitted to Paradise just
like that, if the Master made it so.
"The Great Divorce" by C.S Lewis, although tiny, is one of MY best
ever books too.