Light & Fire
From the earliest days, Christians believed and taught that there is an uncreated light and fire that eternally emanates from God's divine nature. Because these emanations existed from eternity, they are called “uncreated,” and operate in the same way as God’s love, which also existed before the creation of the cosmos.
This uncreated light and fire of God are revealed in multiple places in the scriptures.
And the Angel of the LORD appeared to him in a flame of fire from the midst of a bush. So he looked, and behold, the bush was burning with fire, but the bush was not consumed. Exo 3: 2
Mount Sinai, the bush was on fire, and from it
came a light, yet the bush was not burned or destroyed; the bush was able to
bear the fire. In the account, the voice of God came from the bush.
The early church understood that the uncreated light and fire of God play a significant role in God's interaction with creation, and particularly with mankind. In the account above, an unprepared bush experienceing the light and fire of God would be consumed. However, it states that the bush was able to bear the light of God: How is this possible? Because, it was made holy.
"Do not draw near this place. Take your sandals off your feet, for the place where you stand is holy ground." Exo 3: 4
The New Testament goes further, and reveals that “the uncreated light” emanates from the Lord Jesus Christ, who is God and man.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it... That was the true Light which gives light to every man coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: Jn 1: 1-12
Every creature must be prepared, or made holy, in order to experience the uncreated light of God, just as the bush, being a part of creation, and Moses, being part of mankind, needed to be prepared to see this light and not be consumed.
This preparation to experience the uncreated light of God is now available to all mankind by co-operating with the grace of God. We see an example of this preparation of persons in the account of Jesus’ Transfiguration on
He was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and His clothes became as white as the light. And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, talking with Him. Then Peter answered and said to Jesus, "Lord, it is good for us to be here… Mat 17: 2-4
The disciples were prepared by God. As instructed, they followed the Lord, saw uncreated divine light of God's presence, and yet were not consumed. Why? Because they were prepared by co-operating with the love and grace of God. Others, had they been present and not prepared, would either not have seen it, or been consumed by it. The divine light of God either illumines or consumes; not because of the condition of the light, but because of the condition of the person receiving the light. To one prepared, the light illumines, bringing joy and communion with God. To the unprepared, it is a fire that consumes and destroys.
Heaven & Hell
St. Basil the Great wrote, “The evils of hell do not have God as its cause, but we cause them”. The oldest Creed of the church, “the apostles Creed”, states “I believe in one God the Father Almighty maker of heaven and earth.” It does not state “maker of heaven, hell, and earth.” The reason for this creedal confession is to ensure that all understand that God is not the creator of hell. We humans are the cause of our own suffering. The concept that hell is a place created by God for the express purpose of banishing the wicked for everlasting punishment, is quite different from the most ancient Christian teaching.
The earliest Christian understanding is that heaven and hell are primarily states of “the human soul”. A person’s eternal state is not determined by God’s desire to empty out his wrath to one, or his kindness to another. The scripture tell us that God does not play favorites; no good father does.
Heaven is the soul’s experience of the uncreated light that leads to communion with God for one who is prepared for it, and hell is the soul’s experience of the uncreated light that leads to separation from God one who is unprepared for it.
A person’s eternal state is determined by their individual response to God's love. God has done all that is necessary to enable men to prepare, He has taken on flesh, He has defeated sin and death, and He has provided eternal life to all mankind.
"For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. "For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. "He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. "And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. "For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. "But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God."
The choice to prepare or not to prepare belongs to each person, and therefore to have light or fire, and heaven or hell is a choice.