Bookmark and Share
My Photo

FROM the EDITORS:

  • IMPORTANT INFORMATION:
    Opinions expressed on the Insight Scoop weblog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the positions of Ignatius Press. Links on this weblog to articles do not necessarily imply agreement by the author or by Ignatius Press with the contents of the articles. Links are provided to foster discussion of important issues. Readers should make their own evaluations of the contents of such articles.

NEW & UPCOMING, available from IGNATIUS PRESS

















































































« Watch the trailer for "Toward the Gleam: A Novel" by T. M. Doran | Main | Ignatius Press sale on books and films about Pope John Paul II »

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

TrackBack

TrackBack URL for this entry:
http://www.typepad.com/services/trackback/6a00d83451b7c369e2014e88171eee970d

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference To hell with Hell?:

Comments

Blind Willie McTell

Friends,

Read this by St. Alphonsus Liguori:

What Will Hell Be Like?

Ed Peters

If Hell does not really exist, then to hell with it.

Mike in KC, MO

See, this is what perplexed me about some of Bl. John Paul II's writings. In some places, if you boil down what he says, it seems to go something like this: "Well, I can't say that nobody will ever go to hell, but, for all intents and purposes... *wink wink* *nudge nudge*"

And no, I'm not trying to defame our previous pontiff, but I am very confused now about it.

I have even heard some rather public Catholic apologists speak about how, perhaps, we can even hope that hell will be empty, including of the fallen angels.

Yes, I know that there is nothing that tells us who is in Hell forever. That is knowledge no one has. I also wouldn't wish hell on anyone. Period. But it seems that there are plenty of Catholics as well who come very close to Bell's position. The only difference in the cases I've seen is the degree of imprecision they use in their statements, in an almost CYA fashion.

Nettie Moore

Mike, the following writings on the fewness of the saved might help allay your confusion:

St. Leonard of Port Maurice:

http://www.olrl.org/snt_docs/fewness.shtml

Blessed John Henry Newman:

http://www.newmanreader.org/works/parochial/volume5/sermon18.html

Bishop Massillon:

http://cathom.blogspot.com/2008/09/on-small-number-of-saved.html

St. Louis de Montfort:

http://www.montfort.org/content/uploads/pdf/PDF_EN_28_1.pdf

From the latter:

"My dear brothers and sisters, there are two companies that appear before you each day: the followers of Christ and the followers of the world.

"Our dear Saviour's company is on the right, climbing up a narrow road, made all the narrower by the world's immorality. Our Master leads the way, barefooted, crowned with thorns, covered with blood, and laden with a heavy cross. Those who follow him, though most valiant, are only a handful, either because his quiet voice is not heard amid the tumult of the world, or because people lack the courage to follow him in his poverty, sufferings, humiliations and other crosses which his servants must carry all the days of their life....Their number is so small that we would be dumbfounded if we knew it. It is so small that there is scarcely one in ten thousand, as has been revealed to several saints, including St. Simon Stylites (as is related by Abbot Nilus), St. Basil, St. Ephrem and others. It is so small that, should it please God to gather them together, he would have to call them one by one as he did of old through his prophet, 'You will be gathered one by one;' one from this country, one from that province.

"On the left hand is the company of the world or of the devil. This is far more numerous, more imposing and more illustrious, at least in appearance. Most of the fashionable people run to join it, all crowded together, although the road is wide and is continually being made wider than ever by the crowds that pour along it like a torrent. It is strewn with flowers, bordered with all kinds of amusements and attractions, and paved with gold and silver."

If you read these in conjunction with Romano Amerio's great book, Iota Unum, your confusion will certainly dissipate.

Pax Dominum sit sempter vobiscum.

LJ

I agree with you Mike, and I get an uneasy feeling when Catholics mince around the issue of Hell, whoever they are and whatever their reasons. Sometimes it seems that the position "there is no Hell" and "Hell may be empty for all we know" are virtually one and the same. Personally, I can't overlook the words of Jesus himself in Matthew 7:13 -

“Enter by the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is easy, that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. “

Of course we don't know who they are and it is a waste of time to speculate who is in Hell. But I think Jesus pretty much definitively states that it will have its occupants, so the existence of Hell and its vacancy rate are settled issues from where I sit.

You mentioned purgatory in passing Carl. On that point I have been recently working my way through Fr. Thomas Dubay's excellent book (from Ignatius Press of course!) called "Fire Within" regarding St. Teresa of Avila, St. John of the Cross and the Gospel, on prayer. Let me say this, the more I understand what it means to be purified and transformed by God into union with him in this life, the more and more I am convinced that purgatory is a place of mercy for many, if not most of us in the next life, and I thank God for it.

Without that purification, I am so lost, and knowing what it took for Saint Teresa and Saint John to reach that kind of holiness here on earth, I am counting on purgatory. Would that I could come close to their experience of God here, but it is a great comfort in the love of God to know he will finish the job there.

Bender

While one might have a legitimate argument regarding the existence or nonexistence of heaven, even the most militant atheist must concede the existence of hell as a matter of simple logic.

Hell is, according to the best understanding, separation from God (whereas heaven is eternally being one with God).

Thus, even if God does not exist -- especially if God does not exist -- then, being necessarily apart from Him (because He does not exist), one is also necessarily in a state of hell.

If God does exist, then to be apart from Him would be hell, and if He were to violate His loving nature and force you to be with Him in heaven, because you do not want to be with Him and are their against your will, that too would be a type of hell.

When one considers every possible alternative, the existence of hell is undeniable.

LJ

"If God does exist, then to be apart from Him would be hell, and if He were to violate His loving nature and force you to be with Him in heaven, because you do not want to be with Him and are their against your will, that too would be a type of hell."

Overall an interesting argument Bender. There is a school of thought that takes the very nature of God, ie., existence itself (I AM), and argues from there that nothing can exist, not even Hell without the sustaining presence of God, so therefore, there can be no Hell.

However, the other argument is that Hell is by definition, the burning torment of God's presence for those who hate him, which you have touched on. I still think one of the best descriptions of this is from the Eastern Orthodox theologian Dr. Kalomiros in a talk given in 1980, called River of Fire.

http://www.orthodoxpress.org/parish/river_of_fire.htm

(Warning: He is quite critical and harsh on the Catholic Church and her philosophical tradition. But once you get past the anti-Catholic diatribe his description of Hell is interesting, and to my mind, despite his bias, is not incompatible with Catholic faith)

Mike in KC, MO

I thank you all for the links.

I know what the Catholic Church teaches about Hell in the catechism. I also accept it 100%. I guess what I'm looking for is someone to take the very plain language of Church's teaching on Hell and explain just what Bl. JPII was talking about, as on its face, his statements seem rather... at odds. No offense meant to him, of course. I just simply don't see how they mesh. Then again, I'm a layman, I may be missing some very deep meaning that would explain it, I'll honestly not deny that.

I mean, if it is possible that everyone in hell could eventually be in heaven, ie that there is no eternal punishment for final rejection of the Love of God, then there is no point in anything. Why bother suffering? Why bother offering your flesh to be torn by the animals in the arena when, if you'll go to heaven anyway regardless, you could just avoid that unpleasantness and apostatize and live as a complete hedonist? It DOESN'T MATTER in that scenario.

And if some apologists really believe that every being in hell really will get to heaven, including the fallen angels, then they should stop trying to tell protestants that 'once saved, always saved' is wrong, as in that case they have had a better grasp on the Truth than we Catholics do.

You see my problem here? I am NOT, I repeat NOT doubting what the Church teaches. I accept it fully. I simply would like some one with the teaching authority in the Church today to say something besides *wink wink* *nudge nudge* on this.

If this has been done, I haven't found it. If it does exist out there and any of you know of a link to it, I would be VERY greatfull if you would share.

Thanks!

Charles E Flynn

Father Schall's article reminds me of one of the more chilling expressions used by Adrienne von Speyr, which goes something like this:

"those who are able to assimilate and act upon uncongenial truths"

Charles E Flynn

Mike in KC, MO,

Have you read Father Schall's article, for which Carl provided a link above? Father Schall is not a member of what we might call the "Confraternity of *Wink Wink Nudge Nudge*".

Bender

Mike, given your troubles here, have you considered the possiblity that you have grossly misread Blessed John Paul II? That he did not say, much less mean, the "wink, wink, nudge, nudge," that you attribute to him, which would be not only intellectually dishonest, but bordering on heretical? That is, that your problem is with you and your reading, and not with His Holiness?

Mike in KC, MO

Bender, as I said above: "No offense meant to him, of course. I just simply don't see how they mesh. Then again, I'm a layman, I may be missing some very deep meaning that would explain it, I'll honestly not deny that."

And no, I don't think that Bl JPII is heretical in the least, just to be clear. What really brought about the confusion for me was, afterword, apologists coming out and basically say, like I mentioned above: "I have even heard some rather public Catholic apologists speak about how, perhaps, we can even hope that hell will be empty, including of the fallen angels."

I suppose I should have been more clear, as my main request was for official clarification on this, as I know that the Church, not random joe apologists, speaks for Christ.

Thanks

James Kirk Wall

We do have to create our own justice. That's reality. What justice has come from the Catholic Church? 600 years of the Inquisition? I stand by my assertion that heaven and hell are marketing tools. I find no reason to believe words by men who claim to be speaking for God and more than other men claiming to be speaking for God. Its humbug I tell you! There is good and there is evil in the Bible. What is taken from it depends on the people who are reading. True, communism hardly has a history of peace and love either. Perhaps Machiavelli was right about humanity. Whether by religion or not, mankind needs good arms and good laws in order to behave ethically.

Carl E. Olson

James: I wrote, in my post, of "flippant, theologically-challenged, and historically-illiterate snarkiness." You've simply reinforced the observation:

• "We do have to create our own justice. ... I stand by my assertion that heaven and hell are marketing tools." Theologically-challenged
• "That's reality." Flippant.
• "What justice has come from the Catholic Church? 600 years of the Inquisition?" Historically-illiterate snarkiness.

I hesitate to employ numbers, but for what it is worth (at least to give pause, I hope): the Inquisition, over the course of 300 years or so, was responsible for the deaths of about 10,000 people, according to scholars across the board. Communism, during the 20th century, murdered around 100 million people. So, yes, it's true, as you say, that "communism hardly has a history of peace and love either."

The fact is, Aristotle was thinking far beyond where you are now, and he lived over 2300 years ago. Aquinas was even further beyond your line of thinking, and he was a hell-believing scholastic. You're headed in the wrong direction on all counts: intellectually, theologically, morally.

Dan Deeny

Interesting article and interesting comments. I've come by my doubt of there being any human souls in hell (Please note that I do not doubt the existence of hell.) by coming into contact with Calvinists and their doctrines of predestination, double predestination, and the total depravity of man. It seems to me that if God knows the past, present, and future He would know that some people would choose eternal and everlasting punishment. But why would a loving God, the Christian and Jewish God, create someone who would suffer eternally? Doesn't make sense.
My doubt of there being human souls in hell comes from my acquaintance with the Calvinists and their, to my mind, extraordinarily mangled and cruel version of Christianity. Purgatory seems more probable.
But very interesting article and comments all the same.

James Kirk Wall

Carl, in dealing with people like you, I need to remember the wisdom of Lao Tzu
“Respond intelligently even to unintelligent treatment.”

I’m not theologically challenged according to the Eastern Religions. Do you know anything about them?

Yes, 600 years of the Inquisition, 1231 to 1860.

10,000 people tortured and killed according to “scholars across the board.” Seeing as how you don’t even know how long the Inquisition lasted, who knows if your “10,000” number is even correct. And even if it is, I wouldn’t be bragging about it. This doesn’t include the people who were oppressed. Jews marked and locked up in ghettos wasn’t invented by the Nazis, was it?

Aristotle was thinking far beyond where I am now 2,300 years ago? What did Aristotle have to do with your religion? Jesus Christ wasn’t born yet. And what about Socrates or Epicurus?

“Death does not concern us, because as long as we exist, death is not here. And when it does come, we no longer exist.” -- Epicurus (341-271 B.C.)

“Well I am certainly wiser than this man. It is only too likely that neither of us has any knowledge to boast of; but he thinks that he knows something which he does not know, whereas I am quite conscious of my ignorance. At any rate it seems that I am wiser than he is to this small extent, that I do not think that I know what I do not know.” – Socrates (469-399 B.C.)

And yes, we do need to create our own justice based on moral reason and common sense. Or perhaps we should get it from the Book of Numbers Chapter 31? Invoking the name of God does not magically make something divine. History is full of people invoking the name of God to fuel their own arrogance.

Carl E. Olson

James: I'll add "petulant" to the list. You've earned it.

I was referring to the most famous and most-cited Inquisition, the Spanish Inquisition, which lasted for 300-350 years, depending on which ending date is preferred. But you're right: I should have looked up some numbers before writing my hasty comment. In which case I could have quoted from Dr. Edward Peters book, The Inquisition, published in 1988 by that hyper-Catholic outfit, the University of California Press:

"....the Spanish Inquisition, in spite of wildly inflated estimates of the numbers of its victims, acted with considerable restraint in inflicting the death penalty, far more restraint than was demonstrated in secular tribunals elsewhere in Europe that dealt with the same kinds of offenses. The best estimate is that around 3000 death sentences were carried out in Spain by Inquisitorial verdict between 1550 and 1800, a far smaller number than that in comparable secular courts." (p. 87)

Some scholars give a higher estimate of up to 5,000. Dr. James Hannam cites the article, "Some Recent Work on the Inquisition in Spain and Italy” (Journal of Modern History 54:3 1982) by highly regarded Dr. Geoffrey Parker, in writing:

By most standards, the records of the Spanish Inquisition are spectacularly good and a treasure trove for social historians as they record many details about ordinary people. Nothing like all the files have been analysed but from the third looked at so far, it seems the Inquisition, operating through out the Spanish Empire, executed about 700 people between 1540 and 1700 out of a total of 49,000 cases. It is also reckoned that they probably killed about two thousand during the first fifty years of operation when persecution against Jews and Moslems was at its most severe. This would give a total figure of around 5,000 for the entire three hundred year period of its operation. (Source: page 526, Parker)

Noted British historian Henry A. Kamen arrived at similar numbers and conclusions in his influential study, The Spanish Inquisition: A Historical Revision (Yale University Press, 1998). The Peters and Kamen books are in my personal library of seven thousand books (including two shelves of books on Buddhism, Hinduism, and other Eastern religions).

And do you really think I was bragging? If so, you can't read. If not, you can't be trusted.

What did Aristotle have to do with your religion? Jesus Christ wasn’t born yet.

You are a sharp one! I'm so embarrassed. No, actually I'm not, as my point, however poorly expressed, was that Aristotle had a far more profound understanding of morality and justice than you do, despite not having access to the wisdom of the 2300 years between his day and ours.

And yes, we do need to create our own justice based on moral reason and common sense.

Ah, yes, our "moral reason". Which comes from where? What? Who? And how does it come to us? How do you know? Is it universal in character? Objective? Subjective? If objective, then upon what basis? If subjective, then why should I agree with your sense of justice and moral reason? And so forth and so on.

I recommend you read What We Can't Not Know: A Guide (Ignatius Press, 2011), written by former atheist and brilliant philosopher, J. Budziszewski (University of Texas), who takes cliches such as, "We do need to create our own justice based on moral reason and common sense" and shreds them like tissue paper with real commonsense.

Manuel G. Daugherty Razetto

Carl is correct that Spain has been maligned through exaggerated accusations about the Inquisition. Years ago three or four secular Spanish scholars searched well into the records of the Inquisition and the picture turned out to be astonishing.
Inquisitional courts were more just and lenient than civil courts; prisoners in secular courts would blaspheme in order to be sent to the courts of the Inquisition, where conditions were better; between 3,000 and 5,000 died during the Inquisition's 350 years of history( 1.9% of all processed), which pales in comparison to 150,000 documented witch burnings elsewhere in Europe in the same centuries.

James Kirk Wall

Carl,
Ah, so your claim that I was “historically illiterate” was based on your own misunderstanding. Apology accepted.
It’s good to know that the Spanish Inquisitions’ “convert or die” system of justice did result in many picking the former and thereby sparing their own lives.
In your previous post, you compared 10,000 deaths to the number of deaths under Lenin, Stalin and Mao. It seemed to be a “look, not as bad as them” kind of brag. Perhaps I was mistaken.
In regards to Aristotle, you seem to be proving my point. It appears that you believe Aristotle to be a subject matter expert on morality and justice, and yet he was able to make his deductions without the New Testament concept of hell. How could that be if that concept of hell is essential? Socrates and Confucius were also great teachers of morality and ethics without Jesus Christ or the Old Testament.
Your argument is basically justice cannot come from human beings, but must come from men who claim to be speaking for the Biblical God in order to have any legitimacy. If that’s the best Budziszewski’s got, he is hardly a brilliant philosopher.

Jean

"It appears that you believe Aristotle to be a subject matter expert on morality and justice, and yet he was able to make his deductions without the New Testament concept of hell. How could that be if that concept of hell is essential?"

James, I am confused by your perception of contradiction on Carl's part. While Catholicism is grounded in the facts of Jesus Christ's life, death and resurrection, i.e., eyewitness testimony, it is also intricately tied to the western philosophic tradition beginning with Plato, then Aristotle's modification of Plato running straight through Augustine to the Scholastics. Indeed, Aquinas is known as the great synthesizer of Aristotelian views with Christianity. In his book “The Last Superstition,” philosopher Edward Feser sums up the persistent themes of this synthesis: "...that the material world points beyond itself to an eternal source; that things have immutable forms or essences; that the foundation of morality is to be found in this source and in these essences; that human beings have immaterial souls; that all of this is knowable through reason, and that knowing it is the highest end of philosophy and science." This leads me to wonder if you are using the word "essential" in the classical philosophic meaning or the modern meaning of "really important." Nevertheless, a study of justice using unaided reason leads to the plausibility of hell's existence even without reliance on Christ's words.

"In your previous post, you compared 10,000 deaths to the number of deaths under Lenin, Stalin and Mao. It seemed to be a "look, not as bad as them" kind of brag. Perhaps I was mistaken."

Let's avoid the low-hanging fruit of state-sponsored brutality so prevalent after the Enlightenment. The comparison of the Inquisition to secular tribunals within the same time frame keeps the cultural norms of the time in perspective. However, a more balanced understanding of that time period would also include an appreciation for the Church's Scholastic tradition, roughly dated from the mid 1000s to the 1500s. Scholasticism employed the method of resolving opposing positions by use of reason and authority in the sciences of theology and philosophy. The Scholastics gave us the university system, providing the framework for the scientific revolution. Spanish universities of the 16th century were developing international law including the concept of human rights, stemming from the encounters with the people of the New World. Modern scientific economics arose well before Adam Smith, again in Spanish universities of the 15-16th centuries. The hallmark of Catholicism is its integration of faith and reason but this is easily misunderstood when working from an incomplete definition of "faith" and/or the materialist's truncated version of "reason."

"Your argument is basically justice cannot come from human beings, but must come from men who claim to be speaking for the Biblical God in order to have any legitimacy. If that’s the best Budziszewski’s got, he is hardly a brilliant philosopher."

James, I'm sure you would prefer to read Budziszewski yourself than to rely on someone else's authority as to what the author says.

I'll grant that it is more comforting to sit in judgment over people who lived 500 years ago than to face the fact that we already "create our own justice based on moral reason and common sense" and it is a monumental failure. We live in a culture that proclaims the bloody "justice" of pre-emptive war abroad and the death penalty for unwanted humans at home. At least the justice of the Biblical God as understood by the Catholic Church is always accompanied by mercy.

James Kirk Wall

"At least the justice of the Biblical God as understood by the Catholic Church is always accompanied by mercy."
But Jean, you know the history of the church has much corruption. Even recently there was corruption that I will not mention specifically. And what mercy is there for people condemned to hell for all eternity?
Socrates redefined the soul from a shadowy representation of ourselves to something greater than our physical bodies. His concept of God and the soul was closer to the Catholic concept than the concept of Greek mythology. The Bible has many influences from the Great Three and Egyptian theology as well. There are many books written by men who claim to be speaking for God. To say that the followers of all others are going to hell is intolerant and evil IMO. I know many Catholics do not feel that way. I also know many Catholics agree with modern science in regards to the age of the earth and evolution. As for hell itself, the Old Testament does not contain the New Testament concept of hell, and Eastern religions do not either. I maintain that the New Testament concept of hell was created as a marketing tool and is a direct contradiction to the tolerance and love taught by Jesus Christ.

The comments to this entry are closed.

Ignatius Insight

Twitter


Ignatius Press


Catholic World Report


WORTHY OF ATTENTION:




















Blogs & Sites We Like

October 2014

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
      1 2 3 4
5 6 7 8 9 10 11
12 13 14 15 16 17 18
19 20 21 22 23 24 25
26 27 28 29 30 31  
Blog powered by Typepad