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Wednesday, March 09, 2011



Silouan the Athonite's commandment, "Keep thy mind in hell and despair not" is probably the best way to live.


I'm inclined to just read the adjective as modifying both nouns, that is, to read him as saying "Liberal Protestantism and [liberal] Roman Catholicism...". That does leave open the question why those non-liberal Catholics have supposedly ceded custodial duties of hellfire preaching to the Evangelicals, but maybe he's just dismissing the effectiveness of Roman Catholicism on the basis of the presence of liberals in the same way that he seems to be dismissing mainline Protestantism in toto on account of its liberals? I imagine he's just making exactly the point that you and Piers Paul Read are making: "it's impossible to ignore the fact that many Catholics do indeed hear little or nothing about hell from the pulpit."

An interesting two-pronged question might be:
(1) whether the lack of focus on hell is in part the product of a misreading of Balthasar's book?
...and on the other hand:
(2) Whether some of the preaching being dismissed as "liberal" or dismissive of hell is actually perfectly good preaching in the Balthasarian tradition, and it's just parishioners or onlooking critics that take the preaching to not be hard-nosed enough?

Craig Martin

As reflected in many of his First Things writings, Dr. Mohler routinely uses Catholicism (and his obvious disapproval) as a foil. If only he would describe its teachings truthfully.

fr. richard

Perhaps Dr. Mohler has simply attended too many Catholic funerals?

Dan Deeny

Our priest gave us a homily on hell a few months ago. He said that Jesus decides who goes and who doesn't go. Dr. Mohler should know better than to say something like that about Catholicism. Perhaps he's still studying Dr. Boettner's classic work?

Paul Rodden

There's an interesting piece over on Stand to Reason - an Evangelical outfit with which Dr Beckwith was involved - showing that Dr Mohler's in a very fragile glasshouse himself:

Brian Offer

It is not that Dr. Mohler and his fellow "evangelicals" do not acknowledge the existence of hell. They do. Their error is the remedy they preach in avoidance of such a place.

Their remedy is contained in the common evangelical salvational phrase "Once Saved Always Saved". The life of discipleship contained in such a phrase is little more than a "walk down the aisle". The cost of such a doctrine is certainly not a Pearl of Great Price. They certainly are not demanding that their followers must "sell all they own" to attain such a pearl, (even figuratively speaking). Once an evangelical has "accepted the Lord", Hell is no longer part of their judgement. For those living in sin and conformity to a sinful world, you will find few if any evangelical preachers demanding "fire and brimstone" repentance from the flock. That ship sailed with the "Decision", and hell is forever precluded; heaven is forever assured.

The demons in hell acknowledge the doctrine of hell. It is a very real place to them. The issue is not whether one believes in it, but whether one is willing to acknowledge that sin is an offense to God and that our only hope is to die to self and subsume ourself in the Ocean of our Lord, literally and figuratively living the life of a martyr for our God. We must learn to love the Lord our God, literally, with all our hearts, soul, mind and strength ... TO THE EXCLUSION OF ALL OTHER THINGS. Demons in hell cannot do this. Only Christ's brothers and sisters can.

Only the Catholic Church teaches and preaches the "fire and brimstone doctrine that sin must be confronted every day, hour and minute in the battle between the baptised soul and the fleshly temptations of this fallen world.

Attend any evangelical church service in America today, and you will find very few in the congregation that evidence any kind of fear and trembling as they work out their salvation.

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