Gregory maintained that hell resembles something like what Catholics have traditionally called purgatory: a place of sometimes excruciatingly painful purgation of sins in preparation for heaven. The pain is not externally inflicted as punishment, but follows directly from the process of purification as the soul progresses toward a perhaps never fully realized union with divine perfection. Gregory describes this process as a “constant progression” or “stretching forth” (epektasis) of oneself toward an ever greater embrace of and merger with God in the fullness of eternity — a transmutation of what is sinful, fallen, and finite into the transcendent beauty of the infinite.
Hell, in this view, would be the state of agonizing struggle to break free from sin, to renounce our moral mistakes, to habituate ourselves to the good, to become ever more like God. Eastern Orthodox theologians (and, interestingly, Mormons, who hold similar views) call it a process of divination or sanctification (theosis) that follows directly from the doctrine of God’s incarnation in Jesus Christ. It is a formula found in the writings of Clement of Alexandria, Athanasius, and other ancient theologians: God became a human being so that human beings might become like God.
All human beings.