Holy Hell

A Case Against Eternal Damnation

Derek Ryan Kubilus

A Review
By Frank A. Mills
February 4, 2024

February 4, 2024
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A Celtic Book of Dying Cover

Holy Hell: a case against eternal damnation, Derek Ryan Kubilus. 2014. Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans. 189 pages, including a sample universalist sermon and notes. ISBN: 9780802883179.

Holy Hell! Methodist pastor extinguishes the eternal flames of hell.

Okay, I am being somewhat sensational. Nevertheless, Derek Kubilus (who is a Methodist minister) in Holy Hell does make a strong case against God-driven eternal damnation. Kubilus shows us a God who loves us not conditionally, but unconditionally without any need of magic words. Here is the God who does not demand retribution. The God that Holy Hell speaks of is the God that is about loving rehabilitation rather than eternal damnation.

Holy Hell presents us with sort of a Catholic Purgatory, but not just one that purifies believers, while non-believers are damned, but a “purgatory” where both believer and non-believer are purified. In doing so, Kubilus offers a solution to the thorny question, how can a just God let sinners into the divine presence? The answer is a period of rehabilitating purification.

For Kubilus hell as a place becomes holy. It is no longer about eternal damnation. It has become a temporary rehab center.

Some Christian Universalists, myself included, may quibble with Kubilus, perhaps even over the need for afterlife purifying rehabilitation. For the more traditionally orthodox Christian, Holy Hell presents a workable alternative that satisfies the quandary.

Holy Hell is the book that those traditionalist Christians questioning hell, and even those not questioning, need to read. [And it would be good for us universalists who might not agree to also read.] Kubilus, ever the pastor, writes not a polemic, but a pastoral letter, sometimes humorous, always delightful, inviting the reader to consider Christian Universalism.

Having been often called a heretic for my Christian Universalist beliefs, I delighted in reading, “A Generous Heresy (chapter 11),” which ends with these words:

“If the day ever comes that universalism becomes a troublesome groundswell within Christianity, if it ever does start to change the church and her practices from the bottom up, and if it ever begins to shake the corridors of political power, then maybe that title [ed: “generous heresy”] will come. If that does happen, then I hope we wear the moniker with pride. It seems to me that I’d rather be known as a heretic who believes in an overly generous God than as a fully orthodox disciple of damnation.”

To which I would add, “I would rather be known as a heretic whose belief in an overly generous God can in community with other heretics change the world.

Derek Ryan Kubilus is an ordained elder serving in the East Ohio Conference, United Methodist Church. His current parish is in Ashland, OH. He is also a member of the Order of St. Luke and an amateur podcaster.

© Frank A. Mills, 1997-2024

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