Could Hitler eventually ascend to heaven?

  • 3 June 2014
A 1939 photograph of German Nazi Chancellor Adolf Hitler.
Image caption The implications of a "temporary" hell makes some people uneasy

A review of the best commentary on and around the world...

Today's must-read

Hell isn't a permanent punishment, writes the Week's Damon Linker, it's a "state of being". To believe otherwise, he contends, "makes no theological sense":

If morality is good, then doing the right thing must be its own reward and doing the wrong thing must be its own punishment. To think that a sinner deserves extra, externally imposed suffering presumes that morality isn't good and that those who commit evil deeds benefit from their actions - which is another way of saying that those who do the right thing are fools.

It is better to think of hell a condition in which one is alienated from God - which can occur in this life or in the afterlife, he says.

He notes that many of his readers don't agree with this view, as they seem to prefer thinking that some people will endure an eternity of damnation.

These same people, he continues, won't be happy with the implications of his belief - that a temporary hell means that people like Judas and Adolf Hitler could eventually earn their way into heaven.

He points to contradictory passages in the Bible on the prospect of a permanent hell. It's a "tension", he says, that has led some believers to only focus on the harsher idea, while ignoring the contrary evidence.

He cites Fourth Century theologian Gregory of Nyssa as one man who endorsed a softer version of hell: "a place of sometimes excruciatingly painful purgation of sins in preparation for heaven".

Those consigned to this kind of hell would undergo a purification process, Linker says, "longer and more painful for those who have fallen furthest from God during their lives". Eventually, however, they would make progress toward God - and not spend eternity in a "dungeon pointlessly presided over by satanic, whip-wielding sadists".

Not even Hitler.

Spain

A brave king passes the torch - "King Juan Carlos is abdicating because he is plainly aware of the need for change," write the editors of Spain's El Pais. It is a sign of bravery from a king who has demonstrated this virtue throughout his rule, they add.

Most importantly, they argue, the king stayed neutral in political debates and showed "scrupulous respect" for the nation's constitution.

Now, they say, it is time for Prince Felipe, who at 46 is closer to the average age in Spain, to take the mantle of leadership from his father.

Although it appears the transition will be a smooth one, they say, Prince Felipe will confront serious problems, including an economic downturn, a Catalonian independence movement and questions about the legitimacy of the monarchy.

"Prince Felipe will now have to win the confidence of Spaniards, building on qualities shown by his father and facilitating the modernisation that Spain urgently needs," they write.

Syria

A "fraud" election - The Syrian presidential election held this week is an attempt by Bashar al-Assad to give his rule a "veneer of legitimacy", writes Syrian Opposition Coalition leader Ahmad al-Jarba in the Washington Post.

He says it violates a United Nations order to establish a transitional Syrian government and gives Mr Assad a "pretence to claim a mandate to accelerate the slaughter and destruction of the Syrian people".

Despite this, Mr al-Jarba writes, the Syrian revolution cannot be destroyed. To force Mr Assad to the negotiating table, however, the Syrian opposition needs Western support to change the "military balance of power".

Once Mr Assad is compelled to give up power, he concludes, the Syrian opposition is ready to govern. "The blueprint is there," he says.

Afghanistan

Obama's revisionism - During President Barack Obama's speech at the US Military Academy in West Point last week, writes the Federalist's David Harsanyi, he both claimed victory in Afghanistan and laid responsibility for the war's cost in money and human life at the feet of his predecessors.

In reality, Harsanyi says, the mess in Afghanistan is a result of the president's five years of Afghanistan policy, including his flawed 30,000-troop surge that did not have any lasting impact in the country.

"That Obama can claim his Afghan strategy was a success without a tidal wave of criticism only indicates how much this administration gets away with," he writes.

Maybe there was no solution for the "complex and multifaceted troubles that we face in that part of the world", he writes, but Mr Obama should not be allowed to rewrite history and avoid responsibility for his mistakes.

Cuba

Investors won't be liberators - It is becoming increasingly apparent that the claims that greater foreign investment into Cuba would liberalise the island nation are false, writes the Wall Street Journal's Mary Anastasia O'Grady.

Despite 20 years of eased sanctions, she writes, "Cubans are still tyrannised". Cuban leaders Fidel and Raul Castro continue to keep a tight grip on foreign currency flows, she says, which prevents any investment from improving the lives of the average Cuban.

"It's true that Cuba is changing slowly, but that's being driven by desperation not engagement," she continues. Because limited reforms aren't working, the Cuban economy is "a train wreck".

"It can be profitable doing business in a Caribbean country with one-man rule," she concludes. But "let's not pretend that cutting deals with plantation owners is about making Cubans better off".

BBC Monitoring's quotes of the day

Palestinian media reacts to the new Hamas-Fatah Palestinian Authority unity government that was sworn in on Monday.

"We fully realise the hardships and obstacles standing in the way of completing national unity measures. If the formation of the government needed all this time to hold consultations and discussions, although it is a temporary government with clear tasks, then how long will the other steps need, particularly the elections for the presidency, the Legislative Council and the National Council?" - Editorial in Jerusalem-based, pro-Fatah Palestinian newspaper Al-Quds.

"The differences between [Fatah and Hamas] should be about ways of achieving objectives and their details, and not about the entire national effort. The Palestinians are waiting for more and more narrowing down of differences between the two movements that need to hold internal discussions on endorsing responsible policies." - Commentary in Ramallah-based, Palestinian Authority-owned newspaper Al-Hayat al-Jadidah.

"It is possible to say that the unity government is the beginning of implementing reconciliation. Nevertheless, the Palestinian people still have much work to do before removing the ramifications of the split and before returning matters to normal. There is a need for tireless work and good intention to achieve our people's wishes." - Commentary in Hamas-run, Gaza-based newspaper Filasteen.‎

Have you found an interesting opinion piece about global issues that we missed? Share it with us via email at echochambers (at) bbc.co.uk.