The Hell There Is

I really intended to blog every day. Really. Well you know what they say, the road to hell is paved with good intentions.

While we are on the subject of hell, Carl Olson, H/T New Advent, refutes One bad of a hell argument:


Another reason it is incorrect is that it’s impossible to reject “the New Testament concept of hell” and claim affection for “the tolerance and love taught by Jesus Christ” since the New Testament concepts of hell and judgment come directly from the lips, person, and teachings of Jesus Christ! And they are clearly rooted in an Old Testament understanding of the role of the prophet: to foretell the judgment of God on those who reject his commandments and break his covenant. The main lines of these truths are presented quite nicely in these two paragraphs from the Catechism:

We cannot be united with God unless we freely choose to love him. But we cannot love God if we sin gravely against him, against our neighbor or against ourselves: “He who does not love remains in death. Anyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.”  Our Lord warns us that we shall be separated from him if we fail to meet the serious needs of the poor and the little ones who are his brethren.  To die in mortal sin without repenting and accepting God’s merciful love means remaining separated from him for ever by our own free choice. This state of definitive self- exclusion from communion with God and the blessed is called “hell.”

Jesus often speaks of “Gehenna” of “the unquenchable fire” reserved for those who to the end of their lives refuse to believe and be converted, where both soul and body can be lost.  Jesus solemnly proclaims that he “will send his angels, and they will gather . . . all evil doers, and throw them into the furnace of fire,”  and that he will pronounce the condemnation: “Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire!” (par. 1033-34)

When an agnostic or atheist claims that the Christian belief in hell is “intolerant” or “mean-spirited” or “hateful”, he is making a perfect case for Fr. Thomas Dubay’s statement, “The atheist’s vision is often so narrow that he does not see how necessarily assumes a metaphysics in order to deny metaphysics” (Faith and Certitude, p. 214). In other words, they claim to have an objective basis—belief in “justice”—for making a judgment against the only ground for such an objective basis. If “justice” is a human creation, it can mean whatever humans want it to mean. Nothing more. So the real issue is not that atheists reject belief in God but that they reject the truth of the moral order that flows from the very nature of God, which is why the supposed “injustices” of Christian morality always align with the latest immoral fads. In the end, as Fr. Dubay writes, “The only logical, consistent alternative to theism is nihilism”, for this “doctrine declares that reality is empty, worthless, meaningless, valueless, absurd. … Even moral values are decadence for they are turned against our instincts and have behind them nothing but nothingness.”

It is often said—and rightly so—that there is hell here on earth for innocent people; there is murder and genocide and rape and molestation. But denying the existence of a loving God and the reality of an afterlife does not solve or soften these horrible injustices, but only marks them as gross, pathetic jokes that emerge as vile laughter from the dark underbelly of a mechanistic universe and drown us in a sea of meaninglessness. Yet we know there is meaning; we know that justice and injustice are real things. Which means, ultimately, that hell is not a marketing tool, but an instrument of cosmic justice and of divine love, allowed by the true God who gives us life, free will, and the ability to know, to choose, and to act as a moral creature.

Read more here.

What I really don’t understand is how so many Christians deny the existence of hell. Or at least they don’t think that it is populated. But not only does it go against what Jesus himself said, to deny the possibility that people can go to hell is to deny free will.  God respects our free will, and he will not force salvation on us.

About Susan Kehoe

I am the wife of a Catholic deacon living in Des Moines Iowa. My husband Larry was ordained in 2006. We have two children and five grandchildren.. Our daughter and her family live in Ireland, and our son and his family live in Franklin Massachusetts.
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