This morning my wife went with the sister missionaries to teach a discussion. The investigator was an intelligent, well-educated woman who was quite religious and very biblically knowledgeable. (We live in the South.) She had an interesting concern when the sisters taught her the plan of salvation: Not enough people were going to hell.
Previously on this blog, Jim Faulconer has mentioned how liberating he finds the quasi-universalism of Mormon theology. Heaven is very large, hell is very tiny and it is quite difficult to get in. The woman my wife spoke with, however, illustrates the other side of this coin. There is something unseemly about the idea that Lenin, Stalin, Mao, and Pol-Pot will be resurrected to enjoy a never ending life of happiness far exceeding anything that we enjoy here on earth. Where is the justice in that?
My understanding is that this concern with the tiny size of hell has been a recurring problem in Mormonism. David Whitmer – one of the three witnesses to the Book of Mormon – eventually left the Church. His complaints were legion: Joseph was interfering in “temporal” affairs, the creation of the office of High Priest and with it the rise of hierarchical priesthood structure rubbed all of his protestant and democratic sensibilities the wrong way, etc. etc. Among his stumbling blocks was the 76th section of the Doctrine and Covenants. For him, the vision of the three degrees of glory represented a slide into Unitarian-style, namby-pamby universal salvation. A serious religion required a serious God who was serious about the consequences of our actions. In short, it required a robust hell.
Something to think about.