Abbot Tryphon · April 24, 2013
According to St. Gregory of Nyssa, heaven and hell are not about location, but about relationship. God is everywhere, and he did not create a heaven for some and a hell for others. If we love God, his fire will be a comforting warmth, but if we choose not to have a relationship with him and have no love for our neighbor, his fire will be as hellfire. We choose how we will experience the presence of God in the afterlife, and since God can not be absent from anywhere, those who have chosen to ignore him will, nevertheless, be in his presence for all eternity.
According to St. Gregory, paradise and hell do not exist from God’s point of view, but from man’s point of view. It is all about man’s choice and condition. According to St. Gregory, heaven and hell are not two different locations; they are simply two different experiences of the same place. Everyone will spend eternity in God’s presence, but how we experience God’s presence will depend upon the condition of our soul. Those who have been transformed by the action and work of the Holy Spirit would experience God as light and bliss. Those who have rejected God’s love would experience it as pain and suffering. For the unbeliever and the unrepentant, their sins will not allow them to enjoy the presence of God.