In January a report by the Church of England's Doctrine Commission entitled The Mystery of Salvation was published. The report maintains that hell still exists although not many people are worried about going there. Heaven is a reality, and open to people of other faiths. The report goes on to say that every human being will face a final judgement and is free to reject God and choose hell. Hell may be a state of "total non-being", not eternal torment.
The Commission argues that belief in the possibility of damnation is necessary to the belief that God has made humans free. "Moral and spiritual choices are ultimate and serious choices," it says.
The report "maintains two essential points: the centrality for Christian faith of the person and work of Jesus Christ, and the universal range of the salvation God bestows through him," said the Revd Alec Graham, Bishop of Newcastle, who chairs the Commission.
Salvation is available to all, "but it contradicts the nature of love to think that anyone can be compulsorily installed in heaven. Hell is choosing the path of complete opposition to God."
Truths naturally had an exclusive element in them, said Bishop Graham at the launch of the report, and the Commission was clear that salvation comes only from God, and only through the cross. This did not mean that God rejects people of other faiths. "We honour, respect and admire evidence of the grace of God in other people's lives. Their fulfilment and salvation lies wholly in God's hands."