“The good man’s past begins to change so that his forgiven sins and remembered sorrows take on the quality of Heaven: the bad man’s past already conforms to his badness and is filled only with dreariness. And that is why, at the end of all things, when the sun rises here and the twilight turns to blackness down there, the Blessed will say ‘We have never lived anywhere except in Heaven,’ and the Lost, ‘We were always in Hell.’ And both will speak truly.” -C.S. Lewis (The Great Divorce)
When we talk about Heaven and Hell, often times this is portrayed as a choice between one final destination and another. The image that precedes this post illustrates this perfectly; in life there are two paths. One that leads to life, one to death. We see this too in the typical interpretation favored among Evangelical Christianity; wide is the path to destruction, narrow is the path to life. However, there are a few things to remember about this interpretation. The passage generally cited for this comes from the Sermon on the Mount, right after a claim from Jesus to “treat people the same way you want them to treat you” as a means to explain the spirit of the Law. Following this particular passage is the tree and fruit passage, where Jesus admonishes his listeners to not follow after “wolves in sheep’s clothing” and that a good tree bears good fruit and a bad tree bears bad fruit. When read within the surrounding text the verse seems to be saying little about our afterlife. Rather, it seems to be talking a lot about our life here.
What is going on here, I believe is what is hinted at in the above quote from C.S. Lewis’ novel The Great Divorce. The above passage, coming from an exchange the author has with the writer and theologian George McDonald in heaven, showcases how heaven and hell are lived in realities in our present condition. Much how Jesus is talking about how to live out our lives on this earth in the Sermon on the Mount, Lewis is hinting at the kind of life we live by our fruits. Perhaps the fruits that Jesus is talking about in the Sermon are not so much actions that showcase salvation or election, but in the sense that as we go about and live our lives according or not to the life Jesus preaches about and models, we will find ourselves in heaven and hell. We will find our selves experiencing the reality of the kingdom of heaven or the kingdom of hell, right here and right now. In this sense, Christianity and the Christian life begins to take on the quality that Peter Rollins has been advocating; that is that Christianity is not about life after death, but life before death.
This means that heaven and hell are not diametrically opposed streets; one-way to destruction, the other way to life. Rather, heaven and hell are felt realities that will translate into the life after and many will recognize that they were always in this reality. It’s not that there will or will not be separation from God; that much should be apparent. The biblical text supports this and the felt reality of hell is very much a separation from God and God’s kingdom. There probably isn’t fire raging, with physical pain and suffering in hell. There is separation and that separation is not the sort of life, whether here or in the here-after, that one does not want to live. Dare I say, this is not life, but death.
 Matthew 7:13-14
 This novel is about an unnamed authors’ bus ride between hell and heaven and among its dreamlike writing contains a lot of valuable insights into Lewis’ concept of morality.
 I can’t take total credit for this language, because it draws heavily from the work of N.T. Wright, who has made it a point to talk about the reality of God’s kingdom (the kingdom of heaven) breaking in here and now, instead of as an escape plan from this life.
 Peter Rollins latest book Insurrection explores this idea, along with a whole lot else, in a much more in depth fashion.
 While this might seem like a nod to annihilationism, I have another thought about what this looks like that will be ready for another blog post. Maybe.