Hell is eternity in the presence of God without a mediator.
Heaven is eternity in the presence of God, with a mediator.
What do we reckon?
Here's what's great about it. It affirms that our experience of eternity hinges on our relationship to the Mediator. It also affirms that God is not absent from hell. Both those things are true and worth lifting up.
But I think there are better ways of saying such things. Here's what's unhelpful about it:
- In terms of our doctrine of God - what sense can be made of 'God without a Mediator'? Trinity means that mediation goes way back. WAY back. And WAY forwards. 1 Corinthians 8:6 - all things have always been from the Father and through the Lord Jesus. All things. And all things always will be. Who is this God who is without His Mediator. I simply can't recognize 'God without a mediator' as the Christian God.
- In terms of our christology - does this sentiment give Christ His due?It could lead people to suppose that Christ is simply the wrath-averter. Now of course He is the wrath-averter. And if He was only the wrath-averter we would still praise Him into eternity for it. But He is far more than this. He is the Mediator of all the Father's business. Christ does not exist for our benefit - we exist for His. The saying above could be easily misconstrued to mean that the Mediator is extremely important for us - but not so important for God. No. He is essential to the divine life before we ever consider His importance for us.
- In terms of Scripture - 2 Thes 1:9 "Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power." (KJV) There's a translation issue about the preposition ('apo'). Should it be translated 'from' or 'away from'? I favour 'from' - ie implying that Christ is present in judgement. This goes with Revelation 14:10 where the damned are tormented in the presence of the Lamb. See also Rev 1:18 where Jesus is presented as the Jailor of death and hades, and Rev 6:16-17 where it's the wrath of the Father together with the Lamb. Jesus expressly says in John 5:22 that the Father has entrusted all judgement to Him.
What does this mean? It means that hell is being in the presence of God who continues to mediate His judgement through the Son. There is no such thing as 'God without a mediator'.
I've got some more to say on this, but I'll wait for another post...