[Click HERE for an excerpt from Arnold Lunn’s 1929 biography, John Wesley, which deals with the founder of Methodism’s attitude to the traditional Christian doctrine about hell. The quote from John Morley (‘The most frightening idea that has ever corroded human nature—the idea of eternal punishment’), to which it is linked, is one that I think Lunn, who converted to Catholicism four years later, would fully endorse. But he also shows in his depiction of Wesley that Bertrand Russell is guilty of oversimplification when he writes, ‘I think only cruel people could have invented hell.’ In the end, however, Lunn cannot fully explain how admirable men, especially ones as morally and intellectually developed as Wesley, were able to accept the doctrine of hell in its traditional form, a form that held sway for the first nineteen centuries of Christianity and then vanished almost overnight—at least in the Catholic and Protestant mainstream. It is, perhaps, a question for a deep psychological analysis, not only of Wesley but of the effect of certain historical developments on human sensibilities.]
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