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Knox was a little uneasy about my orthodoxy so far as hell was concerned and on the eve of my reception he said, “By the way, I’ve just been reading your letter about hell in our correspondence. I presume you’ve changed your views since then.”

“Of course.”

“Well what do you believe about hell?”

“I believe all that the Church teaches,” I replied firmly.

“But what does the Church teach?”

“Well you ought to know,” I said. “You’re a theologian.”

“I suppose we must pass that,” said Knox.

My father, by an odd coincidence, had much the same difficulty when he was being examined for the Methodist Ministry, and his orthodoxy, like mine, was suspect.

“Do you believe,” asked the examiner, “in eternal punishment?”

“I believe in eternal punishment of the finally impenitent,” answered my father.

“ And who, in your opinion, are the finally impenitent?”

“That is a mystery which I do not profess to solve,” said my father.

“I’ll admit to you,” said Knox after he had given me a pass mark for my answer on hell, “that hell was the only difficulty which I mentioned to the priest when he received me. I believed in hell because it is an integral part of the Christian religion. The doctrine of eternal punishment is like a bulky parcel which I could only just squeeze into an overflowing bag.”

Arnold Lunn (from And Yet So New, 1958)

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