Christopher Hollis on Hell

Christopher Hollis ends his delightful Memoir The Seven Ages with a discussion on the last things. It is full of Hollis’s trademark hesitation and puzzlement, but it ends with a very salutary warning that the well-intentioned theologians mentioned in my last post would do well to heed:

Whoever has the arranging of the Last Judgement it will not be me. So it is of little importance what I may think about it. My friend Smitt-Ingerbretsen was the Chairman of the Religious Committee of the Norwegian Government. It fell to him to give advice to the King what doctrine the King as head of the State Lutheran Church should pronounce about hell. His natural instinct was to be liberal, but then he reflected on the possibility that, if he denied all possibility of damnation, ‘my constituents, they will go to the Last Judgement, and they will say, “Mr Smitt Ingerbretsen said it would be all right,” and Almighty God, He will say, “Who the hell is Mr Smitt-Ingerbretsen?” And I shall look a bloody fool’. He was a very sensible man.


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