There, while they stood in a green wood
And marvelled still on Ill and Good,
Came suddenly Minister Mind.
‘In the heart of sin doth hell begin:
’Tis not below, ’tis not above,
It lieth within, it lieth within:’
(‘Where?’ quoth Love)
‘I saw a man sit by a corse;
Hell’s in the murderer’s breast: remorse!
Thus clamored his mind to his mind:
Not fleshly dole is the sinner’s goal,
Hell’s not below, nor yet above,
’Tis fixed in the ever-damned soul—’
‘Fixed?’ quoth Love—
These two stanza’s are from Sidney Lanier’s poem, How Love Looked For Hell. As I read the poem it seems to be a pretty vanilla late 19th century work, technically sound, lyrically overwrought, philosophically shallow. Like Bell in Love Wins, Lanier wants his readers to believe that wherever Love is, hell cannot be.
Rob Bell has not said anything new. Nor has he said anything profound. We can only hope his teaching meets the same fate as Lanier’s poetry- destined to be relegated in forgotten books.