.... and the truth shall make you free. John 8: 32.
I've been contemplating this passage for a while, given how cause-effect its said up. If one knows the truth, one is not free. So in reversing that, if someone is not free, then the person does not know the truth.
One of the concepts behind hell is that its filled with people who willingly went there, as God won't force them to go anywhere against their will. A fellow blogger once explained this mindset as that we all know what the truth is, it's just that a majority of us are willfully and willingly rejecting this truth.
Based on the quote above, is it possible to willfully reject the truth? Knowledge of truth equals freedom, and if someone is free, is there anything left in them to willfully reject the truth?
I think there are ways to superficially know the truth, and really know the truth. The superficial way is like teaching a child to say 2 + 2 =4. They know this is the truth because an adult said it was the truth. But they don't understand the concepts behind taking two things and two things, and making four. They have a superficial knowledge.
The other way is someone who fully understands the concepts behind the math. Now, someone can still willfully reject that, but I'm not sure we could say the person is making a rational choice. If it's not a rational choice, can we still say the person has knowledge of the truth?
Branted, we need context with the John quote. Chapter eight of John starts with the woman caught in adultery, and then gets into the comparison between the Pharisees and Jesus. We have Jesus announcing that he will be going his way, yet the Pharisees will try and follow and not be able to, as they are of this world, and he is not. Yet they also seem confused, as verse 27 says that they don't understand he was speaking of the Father. After Jesus saying that the truth brings freedom, the Pharisees again are shown as not understanding, and that they were never in bondage to any man. Jesus says that whoever commits a sin is the servent of sin, and if the son has made one free, then one is free.
In an interesting note, we have Jesus saying that he knows they are of Abraham's seed, and yet his word has no place in them, as he does what he's seen from his FAther, and they do what they've seen from their Father. They protest that Abraham is their Father, yet Jesus says that if they were Abraham's children, they'd do the works of Abraham. Yet he also just said they are of Abraham's seed.
They are now seeking to kill a man who has told them the truth -- so is Jesus in fact saying that they do know the truth? I'm not sure, because he seems to mean that in just describing what his words are. These are the very words that the Pharisees are not understanding, because they can't "hear" them (vs 43). He then goes and says that Pharisees are the children of the devil, and so follow their father. This very father who was a murderer from the beginning, and cannot speak truth, as "there is no truth in him." He can only speak of his lies, of which he is the father. And so when Jesus says the truth, the Pharisees don't believe him. So the Pharisees are shown as those who believe a lie as the truth, and because they see that as the truth, they in turn don't believe Jesus, as it doesn't match to "the truth." Can we then say that the Pharisees are shown as willfully rejecting what they know to be true?
So I'm not sure we can say that hell is full of people who have willfully rejected the truth, in the sense that they know, completely, it was the truth. Knowledge of truth equates to freedom. If we can really reject the truth, then do we comprehend it in the first place? In a rational fashion?