Further Thoughts on Heaven & Hell

“He (a young child) may express much concern about the welfare of another and genuinely do all he can for that other. But, as anyone knows who has had experience of being ministered to by a young child, the results were not always welcome. Where a child fails is not in his lack of will to benefit the recipient of his care but in his grasp of what would, from the recipient’s point of view, be beneficial.”
― John Bowlby (Attachment, pg. 354)

John Bowlby is one of the foremost thinkers on attachment theory

“We were all raised in what I’ll call the mono-mind belief system – the idea that you have one mind, out of which different thoughts and emotions and impulses and urges emanate. That’s the paradigm I believed in, too, until I kept encountering clients who taught me otherwise…you and everybody else is a multiple personality. And that is a good thing. I’m not suggesting that you have Multiple Personality Disorder (now called Dissociative Identity Disorder), but I do think that people with that diagnoses are not so different from everybody else. What are called alters in those people are the same as what I call parts in IFS [Internal Family Systems], and they exist in all of us.”
― Richard Schwartz (No Bad Parts, pg. 7)

Richard Schwartz is the founder of Internal Family Systems

Writing on Carl Jung’s analytic psychology, Kelland says, “Getting to know different or opposing parts of ourselves and the world was the way our personality grew “whole”. Psychic dynamic energy included the idea that we should listen to different points of view inside ourselves, and outside ourselves, because opposing views usually had some truth to them and were trying to form a larger “whole” and a larger “whole person”.  The person who could listen to various points of view such as love and hate within themselves, and balance these out, was a well-developed individual. The person who was constantly turning against other points of view was likely to be imbalanced and unhappy.”
― Mark Kelland (Personality Theory in a Cultural Context)

“You must understand that in the afterlife, our personalities reflect an adult situation anyway, so we can say for sure that there will be no children in hell.”
― J.P. Moreland (cited from here)

In bringing together these ideas, of children not knowing – of the mind having parts rather than simply being a whole – of personality arising out of tensions within the self – of hell being an adult situation and not a place for children, it seems to me the following must be raised.

If hell is an “adult situation” (Moreland), and therefore not a place where children are sent, what might this mean in light of a view of the psyche which rejects the mono-mind (Schwartz)? That is the idea which holds we are many parts, many personalities, often even into our old age and to the end of our long lives. Many people have parts which are trapped in adolescence, which, often due to trauma, are still children (Schwartz).

Parts, like young children, often do not know how to handle situations or how to see things from a broad point of view. Like children, they may be incapable of seeing things empathetically, and if left in charge may completely fail to administer proper care/treatment despite their best efforts (Bowlby). So then, how are people judged in the end? What would it mean for a person to be taken to heaven or cast into hell? In heaven, would these parts continue to grow and develop? Would they be nurtured and finally get un-stuck, finally reconnected properly to what Schwartz calls the SELF? What is the prerequisite for this healing? Many will say it is to accept Christ and make a statement of faith. Still, what does it mean for a person composed of parts to make a profession, and what of those who, due to the trapped situation of their parts, are unable or unwilling to do so?

Contrastingly, in hell, are the trapped parts doomed to be forever isolated from self? Are they trapped in a childlike state for eternity and tortured further without hope of being freed of their burdens? Are those “children” taken into hell along with the evil adult ones? Or perhaps the psyche becomes further fragmented so the more mature parts may be in heaven and the trapped ones in hell? Are those “children” taken into hell along with the evil adult ones? Are they all taken to heaven in the end? Do they go to hell to just grow up or be purified (purgatory)?

It seems fairly clear to me that children do not go to hell. And I think most Christians would agree. Still, I don’t know what to make of the situation when we reject the mono-mind paradigm which we are steeped in. This paradigm holds that our mind, our psyche, is one complete thing. Still, the psychologists whom I respect the most seem certain this isn’t the case – we are not simply one whole thing. We are a multitude of parts. Schwartz even goes on to detail interactions with clients in which it seems that parts have parts – it’s quite complex. But alas, complex, isn’t exactly fertile ground for efficiently “saving souls,” so I digress.

Published by javenbear

Javen Bear is 25 years old and lives with his beautiful wife Aleisha in Phoenix, Arizona. He's a graduate student in a mental health counseling program at Grand Canyon University where he also works as an admissions representative. Javen’s super-power, if he had one, would be the ability to press pause on the world and catch up on reading. He enjoys talking walks with his wife, playing guitar, and always uses Oxford commas.

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