Hell, Evil and Nonbeing

Gregory of Nyssa (c.335-c.394) taught that evil is non-being. He says, ‘The really real is the self good. . .whatever is outside of the real is not in being.’ Evil is what is ‘outside the good’ as he puts it, and is ‘nonsubsistent’, its ability to exist only possible when ‘given being in those who have fallen away from the good.’ In other words, evil is not something that has an end goal or purpose, its ‘being’ only made possible by those who enable it to be present, ‘its nature is conceived not in its being anything itself, but in its not being good.’ Evil exists outside of God, for God is life and being, beckoning all things to fulfilment, to their goal (telos) and purpose in Christ. 

Jesus consistently spoke in terms of relationship. As a young boy, in his teaching, in distress, on the Cross and in resurrection he spoke relationally of God, inviting us towards depth of relationship with God and one another. This is the goal; relationship, to share in the eternal dance, to fully know relationally and be fully known in relationship. All things united, healed, graced, loved; Jesus will be all in all.
Every act of compassion and kindness, every movement of love, every dynamic stirring of forgiveness and nonviolence, every gesture of shared humanity, a foretaste, a sign of the telos of the whole cosmos. 
Therefore, there can be no movement of hell, no being of evil, no place beyond Christ’s ‘allness’, for Christ has conquered the totality of sin and evil’s ‘nonbeing’ meaning that all things will be reconciled and healed. Humanity cannot exist outside the real in a place of evil and nonbeing, for that would mean Christ is not ‘all in all’. Therefore, all movement is towards Jesus, with evil dissolving one day as all things move into the dynamic dance of God. Right now we do not have ‘freedom of choice’ as every choice today is marred by the nonbeing of evil. Every choice today, however, no matter how far from the good, is an innate desire for God, marred by nonbeing and its ability to confuse, dehumanise, and disorientate. True freedom is found when we are known fully and fully known, our choice freed to our most inner desire and goal, namely Christ. 
Sin and evil cease to exist once humanity are ‘grafted back to the real’. Like Stephen King’s IT, the existence relies on the willingness of those to enable IT to exist, consciously or otherwise. As yet, our awareness is ‘through a glass darkly’, and we are unable to grasp who God really is. One day our awareness will be a gift as we encounter the real of divine life and love, no longer held back from total love with God and one another. No longer will our slavery to nonbeing exist, and evil will evaporate forever as all things find their place and purpose in Jesus. 
‘The really real is the self good… This good, therefore, or, rather, this beyond the good, both itself truly is and by means of itself has given and continues to give to the things that exist the ability to become and remain in being; whatever is found outside of it is nonsubsistence, for whatever is outside of the real is not in being. Now since evil is understood as the opposite of virtue and since the perfect virtue is God, evil is therefore outside of God; its nature is conceived not in its being anything itself, but in its not being good. For to the conception “outside the good” we have given the name “evil”. Evil and good are opposite in conception in the same way that not-being is distinguished as the opposite of being. When therefore by our own sovereign movement we have fallen away from the good…it is then that the nonsubsistent nature of evil is given being in those that have fallen away from the good; and it exists for just as long as we are outside the good. If the sovereign motion of our will again tears itself away from its company with the nonsubsistent and is grafted to the real, then that which no longer has its being within me will no longer have being at all.’ Gregory of Nyssa, Homilies on Ecclesiastes


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