Revealing Randal Rauser's identity in the previous post led me to read one of his articles, How Could I Be Happy in Heaven with a Loved One in Hell?. A difficult question to be sure. It has led many of us to be "hopeful Univeralists," people who don't assert that Univeralism - the doctrine that all people will be saved - is true, but hope that it is true.
But what if it turns out that Universalism is false, and that some people, including some of our loved ones, spend eternity in Hell? How could I, assuming I was one of the lucky ones, be happy in Heaven?
In the final book of The Chronicles of Narnia, The Last Battle, author C.S. Lewis offered what might be a possible solution. A group of dwarves, who were thrown into a small hut and presumably died, are now alive in Aslan's country (Heaven), but believe that they are still in the small, dark, dirty hut. All efforts to convince them that they are not in the hut but actually in Aslan's beautiful country prove fruitless. Eventually giving up and leaving the dwarves squatting in a small, grumbling group, people move further up and further into Aslan's country to enjoy all it has to offer. They are happy, even though the dwarves are miserable.
Now what if, instead of dwarves, it had been someone's close relative, such as the children's sister, Susan? Could they happily have moved on, leaving her in misery? I suspect yes, since her misery would be self-inflicted. All the dwarves and Susan would have to do is admit they were wrong, and Aslan's country awaited them. Their stubborn refusal to admit they were wrong is no reason to deny happiness to others, even if they are close relatives who still continue to love the ones in misery.
So if Hell is such a place as described in The Last Battle, where the door is locked from the inside and could always be opened if the person were willing to admit they were wrong, then I think we could understand how people could still be happy in Heaven, even if those in Hell were loved ones. And if it is true that in Heaven we will be made perfect as our Heavenly Father is perfect, then all will be loved by all of us, wherever they are.