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NOR ^ | January 2008 | Hurd Baruch

Posted on 01/09/2008 8:03:01 AM PST by NYer

I went looking for Hell the other day. No, not the one supposedly down there -- that one the demons would have to drag me to, kicking and screaming. I mean the Hell found in Scripture.

Opening the New American Bible, I quickly flipped through some of the verses where I expected to find it, without success. Maybe a computer search would pick up what my eyes were overlooking? No such luck. No wonder I couldn't remember hearing Hell mentioned at Mass for a very long time -- someone has taken the very word out of our Bible!

Thinking about the absence of the word from the New American Bible put me in mind of Dr. Karl Menninger's book Whatever Became of Sin? With popular culture and even some biblical exegetes dismissing the concept of sin as being "judgmental" (a horror greater than that of Hell in their minds), is it any wonder that "Hell" is on its way out, too?

For reassurance, I pulled out the old standard Catholic and Protestant Bibles, the Douay-Rheims American edition and the King James Version, and found Hell just where I remembered it, sprinkled liberally throughout the pages of both. I then set myself to the task of examining each of the dozens of instances of the word in the older Bibles to see what word had now replaced it in the New American Bible (NAB). What I found was not a single substitute, but six different terms, four of which were used repeatedly: "Sheol" (only in the Psalms), "the Pit" (in some Psalms and other Old Testament books), "the netherworld" (in both Testaments), and "Gehenna" (only in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and James). "Hades" is also used twice (in Revelation), and "Tartarus" once (2 Peter).

What under the earth is going on? The answer to that question proved to be fascinating -- I became aware for the first time that there had been a very significant development in Hebrew thinking about the dead, over many centuries up to and including the time of Jesus. We know from the Gospels and Acts of the Apostles that in His days there was a dispute between the Sadducees and the Pharisees as to whether or not there would be a resurrection of the dead (Mt. 22:23-33; Mk. 12:18-27; Lk. 20: 27-39; Acts 23:6-8), a dispute in which He sided with the Pharisees. What was behind their sectarian controversy?

Sheol, the Pit, and the Netherworld In the Hebrew Bible The earliest Hebrews believed that the dead -- both those who had been virtuous and those who had been evil in their lives -- lived in a place under the earth. This was a common conception of Semitic peoples, who divided the universe into the heavens, the earth, and the underworld. Like "shades" in the "Hades" of the Greeks, the Hebrew dead had a physical presence, but one without the substance of their earthly bodies, and their surroundings were dark and miserable. Joy was unknown and there was no real hope of escape. Consider these typical verses:

Job 10:21-22 (NAB): "Before I go whence I shall not return, to the land of darkness and of gloom, The black, disordered land where darkness is the only light."

Ecclesiastes 9:10 (NAB): "Anything you can turn your hand to, do with what power you have; for there will be no work, nor reason, nor knowledge, nor wisdom in the netherworld where you are going...."

Why didn't the dead leave their miserable abode? It was depicted as having gates, as for example in this passage from the Book of Job: "Have the gates of death been shown to you, or have you seen the gates of darkness?" (38:17; NAB). Jesus Himself used this gate imagery. In appointing Peter as His "rock," He said that "the gates of the netherworld" shall not prevail against His Church (Mt. 16:18; NAB).

Notwithstanding the grim conditions of the dead, in those days they were both revered in family rituals and consulted or petitioned through black magic. Recall how King Saul, frightened by the prospect of a coming battle with the Philistines, sought the aid of the witch of Endor to communicate with the deceased Prophet Samuel (1 Sam. 28:4-19). From time to time, reformers (oddly enough, including Saul himself, in happier days) attempted to quash the worship of ancestors and the resort to necromancy. The reformers' efforts met with some success:

In contrast to the earlier Semitic ritual universe, the ritual universe created by King Josiah's seventh-century B.C. reform ultimately sealed off the netherworld.... Instead of being powerful and influential ancestors, the deceased became weak shadows of negligible vitality.... Israelite theology focused on the practices of a this-worldly religion rather than on the futile speculations of the life of the dead. (Bernard Lang, "Afterlife: Ancient Israel's Changing Vision of the World Beyond," Bible Review, Feb. 1988)

The Book of Maccabees and Other Pseudepigrapha Yet, we know that even before Jesus appeared on the scene, the Pharisee sect had already concluded that there would be a bodily resurrection. This was not a belief they held lightly, for it put them at odds with the Sadducees, the powerful sect that included the high priestly caste and the hereditary nobles. In light of the paucity of references to resurrection in the law, the prophets, and the writings that later were joined together as the Hebrew Bible, we are left to wonder at how the Pharisees came to their belief. One possible source of inspiration was Zoroastrianism, a religion practiced in Persia, which taught the doctrines of a general judgment, a Last Judgment, a separation of the good from the evil, and the destruction of death and evil.

An undoubted source of inspiration closer to home was what scholars refer to as the "pseudepigrapha," a body of writing dating from late Old Testament to early New Testament times, whose authorship is of dubious origin. Particularly noteworthy is the Apocalypse of Enoch, a book of strong and bizarre visions and predictions, including the eternal punishment of the wicked in fire. It was read in Jewish circles -- and later in early Christian ones as well -- although it did not make its way into either the Hebrew or the Christian canon.

It is fascinating to learn from Jewish and Christian apocalypses, which often include imagined cosmic tours of Heaven and Hell by a noted figure such as Moses, that the debate over "universal salvation" is not new. Back around the first century there was a full-blown debate as to whether ultimately anyone was doomed to an eternity in Hell. One current scholar, Richard Bauckham, after listing the stock arguments used by each side, notes that there was "a tension between a quite cogent defense of hell...and the nevertheless persistent compassion for the damned on the part of the seers" (The Fate of the Dead: Studies on the Jewish and Christian Apocalypses [Brill, 1998]). For example, in the Greek Apocalypse of the Virgin, she begged the saints to join her in interceding for the bad Christians punished in a lake of fire; in response, her Son did not free them, but He did grant them a reprieve during the days of the season of Pentecost.

What Jesus Had to Say About 'Gehenna' The social message of Jesus was tied into the Final Judgment that everyone eventually has to face. Jesus contrasted the fate of the blessed with that of the damned in His Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus the Beggar (Lk. 16:19-31; NAB). Jesus spoke of the evildoer as being in the netherworld, separated from the just by an impassable chasm, and tormented in flames.

Note that Jesus' imagery of damnation fits well not only with the Apocalypse of Enoch but also with the message of John the Baptist: "The one who is coming after me...will baptize you with the holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fan is in his hand. He will clear his threshing floor and gather his wheat into his barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire" (Mt. 3:11-12; NAB).

Jesus added to the frightening picture of the punishment that awaited evildoers with various warnings He addressed to His listeners. Consider the following reference to a "fiery furnace": "Just as weeds are collected and burned (up) with fire, so will it be at the end of the age. The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will collect out of his kingdom all who cause others to sin and all evildoers. They will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth" (Mt. 13:40-42; NAB).

Similarly, Jesus promised that when He returned in all His glory, He would send the accursed "goats" into "the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels" (Mt. 25:41; NAB).

The word that Jesus (and also St. James) used in other warnings for the place of torment in the next life was "Gehenna." This was a real place known to every Jew -- it was the Valley of Hinnom (Gehenna was its rendering in Greek), the northern border of Judah, running south and west of Jerusalem. In Canaanite days, children had been sacrificed there in fiery rituals, and Jeremiah (cf. 7:29-34) had predicted that the bodies of the Israelites who had done evil in the sight of the Lord would be thrown into the Valley. In Jesus' times, Gehenna was a garbage dump, where fires burned continually, fed by waste and carcasses of animals. Jesus referred to it in warnings such as this: "If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter into life maimed than with two hands to go into Gehenna, into the unquenchable fire. And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter into life crippled than with two feet to be thrown into Gehenna. And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out. Better for you to enter into the kingdom of God with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into Gehenna, where ‘their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched'" (Mk. 9:43; NAB).

The Testimony of 'Eyewitnesses' About Hell In the parable about Lazarus, the rich man pleaded to have someone sent back to the land of the living to warn his brothers about the torments of the damned, but Abraham refused his request, and to this date we still have no "returnees" to enlighten us. Many of the greatest authors of religious fiction -- e.g., Dante, Milton, and C.S. Lewis -- have employed their skill in depicting Hell, but we will forego examining their conceptions since they were, after all, only imaginary. Similarly, we will pass by the speculations of the Fathers and Doctors of the Church, such as St. Augustine and St. Thomas Aquinas, in favor of visions of Hell by holy nuns who claimed to have been briefly shown the real thing through the grace of God.

Let's compare three such visions, all different, beginning with one by the eldest of the little seers at Fatima, Sr. Lucia, who only recently died and is already on a sure path to canonization. She wrote the following about one part of the "secret" of Fatima entrusted to her and her two companions by the Blessed Virgin Mary:

Our Lady showed us a large sea of fire which seemed to be beneath the earth. Plunged in this fire were the demons and the souls, who were like embers, transparent and black or bronze-colored, in human form, which floated about in the conflagration, borne by the flames which issued from it with clouds of smoke, falling on all sides as sparks fell in great conflagrations, without weight or equilibrium, among shrieks and groans of sorrow and despair which horrified us and caused us to quake with fear. The devils were distinguished by horrible and loathsome forms of animals, frightful and unknown, but transparent and black. This vision vanished in a moment. (Fr. Robert J. Fox, Documents on Fatima & the Memoirs of Sister Lucia [Fatima Family Apostolate, 1992])

Sr. Lucia's vision was in what might be called the "classical" mode, centered around the torture of the damned, changed in bodily form, in a truly physical fire. Another visionary, Bl. Anne Catherine Emmerich, who died in the 1800s, had visions of Christ's descent into Hell, an event mentioned in the Apostles' Creed. She saw Hell as three distinct spheres: the first holding Adam and Eve, the patriarchs, prophets, judges, kings, relatives of Jesus, and other holy people; the second holding pious pagans; and the third holding the damned. As to the last, she gave this description, which did not even mention the torture of fire, but rather emphasized the overall psychological terrors of the place:

At last I saw Him [Jesus], His countenance grave and severe, approaching the center of the abyss, namely, hell itself. In shape it looked to me like an immeasurably vast, frightful, black stone building that shone with a metallic luster. Its entrance was guarded by immense, awful looking doors, black like the rest of the building, and furnished with bolts and locks that inspired feelings of terror. Roaring and yelling most horrible could plainly be heard, and when the doors were pushed open, a frightful, gloomy world was disclosed to view.... all was pain and torment.... As in heaven there are gardens most wonderful to behold, filled with fruits that afford divine nourishment, so here in hell, there are horrible wildernesses and swamps full of torture and pain and of all that can give birth to feelings of detestation, of loathing, and of horror. (Quoted in Hurd Baruch, Light on Light [Maxkol Communications, 2004])

Finally, let us consider the experience of another visionary who lived in our own times, Sr. Faustina Kowalska, the "Divine Mercy" nun, who already has been canonized. During October 1936 she wrote in her diary:

Today, I was led by an Angel to the chasms of hell. It is a place of great torture; how awesomely large and extensive it is! The kinds of tortures I saw: the first torture that constitutes hell is the loss of God; the second is perpetual remorse of conscience; the third is that one's condition will never change; the fourth is the fire that will penetrate the soul without destroying it -- a terrible suffering since it is a purely spiritual fire, lit by God's anger; the fifth torture is perpetual darkness and a terrible suffocating smell, and, despite the darkness, the devils and the souls of the damned see each other and all the evil, both of others and their own; the sixth torture is the constant company of Satan; the seventh torture is horrible despair, hatred of God, vile words, curses and blasphemies. These are the tortures suffered by all the damned together, but that is not the end of the sufferings. There are special tortures destined for particular souls. These are the torments of the senses. Each soul undergoes terrible and indescribable sufferings, related to the manner in which it has sinned. There are caverns and pits of torture where one form of agony differs from another. I would have died at the very sight of these tortures if the omnipotence of God had not supported me. Let the sinner know that he will be tortured throughout all eternity, in those senses which he made use of to sin. I am writing this at the command of God, so that no soul may find an excuse by saying there is no hell, or that nobody has ever been there, and so no one can say what it is like. (Maria Faustina Kowalska, Divine Mercy in My Soul: The Diary of the Servant of God, Sister M. Faustina Kowalska [Marian Press, 1987; emphasis added])

Didn't Vatican II Put Out the Fires of Hell? In a penetrating essay on Hell, novelist Piers Paul Read noted a shift in the public's attitude toward Hell following the Second Vatican Council:

There was a change of emphasis from individual virtue and sin and that individual's consequent condition after death to a collective salvation through the permeation of the world with Christian values.... The dire effects of Original Sin could now be mitigated by an effective drive for social justice.... The eternity of the individual's afterlife seemed now to be subsumed into the destiny of the human race: Catholics, like Communists, now believed in "progress" in this world and seemed to lose interest in what might await us in the next. (Hell and Other Destinations: A Novelist's Reflections on This World and the Next [Ignatius Press 2006])

Due to the emphasis on "pastoral" theology following the "pastoral" Second Vatican Council, the concept of Hell has fallen into desuetude and is scarcely ever mentioned from the pulpit, let alone taken seriously. My survey of decades of issues of Origins, the Catholic News Service documentary publication primarily devoted to reprinting texts written by the several hundred American bishops, found only a single, substantive comment on Hell (by a bishop who noted more than 20 years ago that questions by the laity about the reality of Hell were a cause in the drastic drop in the practice of confession). Perhaps this is because the episcopal thinking is in line with a comment of Archbishop Daniel Pilarczyk of Cincinnati that "I don't think that threats and hellfire are going to work anymore, not because hell has been done away with, but because people find that kind of rhetoric unconvincing and a little quaint" ("Reflections on Sin and Reconciliation," Origins, Dec. 25, 1986).

While Vatican II did nothing to advance appreciation for the reality of Hell, at least it did not call into question the settled teachings about it. Those teachings are still preserved in the Catechism of the Catholic Church,, which, as noted by Pope John Paul II, "offers a summary of the truths about the ‘last things' which God has revealed to us in Christ. The absolute uniqueness of each human person and the finality of death, the soul's immediate judgment after death, prayer for the dead in need of purification preceding the vision of God and a sober reflection on the existence and eternity of hell..." (Ad Limina address to U.S. bishops, May 28, 1993; quoted in Origins, June 10, 1993).

In his catechetical series of talks on God the Father, the late Pope spoke about the reality of Hell and the danger of damnation: "God is the infinitely good and merciful Father. But man...can unfortunately choose to reject His love and forgiveness once and for all, thus separating himself for ever from joyful communion with Him. It is precisely this tragic situation that Christian doctrine explains when it speaks of eternal damnation or hell" (General Audience, July 28, 1999; quoted in The Pope Speaks, Jan.-Feb. 2000).

After reviewing the different imagery in the Old and New Testaments of the place of the dead, the Holy Father said:

The images of hell that sacred Scripture presents to us must be correctly interpreted. They show us the complete frustration and emptiness of life without God. More than a place, hell also indicates the state of those who freely and definitively separate themselves from God, the source of all life and joy.... "Eternal damnation," therefore, is not attributed to God's initiative because in His merciful love He can only desire the salvation of the beings He created. In reality, it is the creature who closes himself to His love. Damnation consists precisely in definitive separation from God, freely chosen by the human person and confirmed with death that seals his choice for ever. God's judgment ratifies this state. (ibid.; italics added. The translation appearing in Origins [Sept. 2, 1999] had him saying, "Rather than a place, hell...," coupled with an incorrect editorial comment that the Pope had said that "Heaven, hell and purgatory are not places." The official translation, however, did not have the Pope calling into question the physical existence of Hell, although he avoided discussing its physical pains, in distinction to the spiritual pain of total separation from God.)

Is Hell Only an Empty Threat? So, Hell is still officially part of Catholic teaching, and it is indirectly referred to in Eucharistic Prayer I of the Roman canon in these words: "Father...grant us your peace in this life, save us from final damnation...." But a concerted effort has been made by liberal theologians to strip the concept of Hell of all meaning, even if they cannot dislodge it from the Catechism.

A burning issue in theology now is whether, assuming arguendo that Hell exists, it is empty -- or at least will be empty eventually, as God's mercy triumphs over His justice. The theory that proclaims this proposition is known as "universal salvation" or "universalism." It was condemned as heretical as far back as the year 543, in the Canons of the Provincial Council of Constantinople. However, it has survived centuries of disapprobation to become predominant in the current Zeitgeist among non-Catholics. For example, the Doctrine Commission of the Church of England has concluded that "Hell is not eternal torment, but it is the eternal and irrevocable choosing of that which is opposed to God so completely and absolutely that the only end is total nonbeing." What a relief for the Devil and sinners!

Up until now, one argument in favor of this proposition has been the translation of the Latin words of the Consecration, "qui pro vobis et pro multis effundetur in remissionem peccatorum," as "it will be shed for you and for all so that sins may be forgiven" (emphasis added). However, the Vatican has now mandated that the words "et pro multis" should be translated "and for many" -- thereby implicitly indicating that all people are not to be redeemed.

One of the leaders of the attack on the actuality of eternal damnation was the late Swiss theologian Hans Urs von Balthasar. He tried to overturn the literal language of the Gospels and 20 centuries of Tradition by proclaiming not only that we should hope that all men are saved, but that there are grounds in Scripture for believing that they are saved. Our late Holy Father, John Paul II, who was much taken with von Balthasar's ideas, expressed these thoughts:

Eternal damnation is certainly proclaimed in the Gospel. To what degree is it realized in life beyond the grave? This is, ultimately, a great mystery. However, we can never forget that God "wills everyone to be saved and to come to knowledge of the truth" (1 Tm 2:4)....
The problem of hell has always disturbed great thinkers in the Church, beginning with Origen and continuing in our time with Mikhail Bulgakov and Hans Urs von Balthasar. In point of fact, the ancient councils rejected the theory of the "final apocatastasis," according to which the world would be regenerated after destruction and every creature would be saved; a theory which indirectly abolished hell. But the problem remains. Can God, who has loved man so much, permit the man who rejects Him to be condemned to eternal torment? And yet, the words of Christ are unequivocal. In Matthew's Gospel He speaks clearly of those who will go to eternal punishment (cf. Mt 25:46). (Crossing the Threshold of Hope [Knopf, 1994])

The evident dubiousness of Pope John Paul II is most surprising in view of his admiration of Sr. Faustina Kowalska, whom he championed for canonization. Sr. Faustina, as set forth above, related in her diary her detailed vision of Hell, and wrote that the number of souls she saw falling into the abyss was "so great that it was impossible to count them," and that "most of the souls there are those who disbelieved that there is a hell." She further related that Jesus had said to her: "There are souls who despise My graces as well as all the proofs of My love. They do not wish to hear My call, but proceed into the abyss of hell. The loss of these souls plunges Me into deadly sorrow. God though I am, I cannot help such a soul because it scorns Me; having a free will, it can spurn Me or love Me."

Conclusion Since the words of Jesus set forth in the Gospels clearly state that there is a Hell, if there were no Hell, then we could not accept the Gospels as truly reflecting what Jesus said and did. And, in that case, there would be no good reason to suppose that there is a Heaven either, and our Christian faith would be worse than a house built on sand -- it would be a house built on imaginary sand.

TOPICS: Apologetics; Catholic; History; Judaism
KEYWORDS: bible; hell; scripture; sheol
Navigation: use the links below to view more comments.
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Hurd Baruch, a retired attorney living in Tucson, Arizona, is the author of Light on Light: Illuminations of the Gospel of Jesus Christ from the Mystical Visions of the Venerable Anne Catherine Emmerich (Maxkol Communications, 2004).
1 posted on 01/09/2008 8:03:05 AM PST by NYer
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To: Salvation; narses; SMEDLEYBUTLER; redhead; Notwithstanding; nickcarraway; Romulus; ...

A painting by Hieronymous Bosch, c.1510, portraying Paradise on the left and Hell on the right.

2 posted on 01/09/2008 8:04:22 AM PST by NYer ("Where the bishop is present, there is the Catholic Church" - Ignatius of Antioch)
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To: NYer
Hell continues unDanted.
3 posted on 01/09/2008 8:12:20 AM PST by MrEdd (Heck is the place where people who don't believe in Gosh think they aren't going.)
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To: NYer

Hell, oh you mean East New York?

4 posted on 01/09/2008 8:12:31 AM PST by brooklyn dave (A big ole Army base on the Straits of Hormuz sounds lovely)
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To: brooklyn dave

Since East New York took the place of the South Bronx when it comes to Hell.

5 posted on 01/09/2008 8:36:57 AM PST by Biggirl (A biggirl with a big heart for God's animal creation, with 4 cats in my life as proof. =^..^=)
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To: Biggirl; brooklyn dave

I vote for Camden NJ.

6 posted on 01/09/2008 8:52:04 AM PST by AnAmericanMother ((Ministrix of Ye Chase, TTGC Ladies' Auxiliary (recess appointment)))
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To: NYer
"If I knew God I'd be Him."

Trying to be Holy is challenge enough.

7 posted on 01/09/2008 9:03:54 AM PST by onedoug
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To: NYer

Logic and facts aside, my informal survey of lapsed christians: Reasons include- abuse by church members covered up or the victim was blamed. Second- Hell and eternal torment are so difficult to understand in the context of a loving God that people give up, assuming they are going to be among the majority of humanity doomed to be playthings for a spoiled and sadistic angel.

So I do not agree with the changes, I just understand the motivation.

8 posted on 01/09/2008 9:06:19 AM PST by Unassuaged (I have shocking data relevant to the conversation!)
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To: NYer
The Compendium to the Catholic Catechism states:

212. In what does hell consist?

Hell consists in the eternal damnation of those who die in mortal sin through their own free choice. The principal suffering of hell is eternal separation from God in whom alone we can have the life and happiness for which we were created and for which we long. Christ proclaimed this reality with the words, “Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire” (Matthew 25:41).

213. How can one reconcile the existence of hell with the infinite goodness of God?

God, while desiring “all to come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9), nevertheless has created the human person to be free and responsible; and he respects our decisions. Therefore, it is the human person who freely excludes himself from communion with God if at the moment of death he persists in mortal sin and refuses the merciful love of God.

9 posted on 01/09/2008 10:06:57 AM PST by tdunbar
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To: AnAmericanMother; Biggirl; brooklyn dave
"I'm in Hell. Connecticut is the fifth ring of Hell!"
- Gus, from the film The Ref

10 posted on 01/09/2008 10:08:03 AM PST by Alex Murphy ("Therefore the prudent keep silent at that time, for it is an evil time." - Amos 5:13)
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To: NYer

A Question Of Hell (One Minister Questions Its Existence)

Pell-Mell to Hell -- Cardinal Pell

A Hell to Shun

Playing with fire ["Hell makes a comeback"]

Pope Benedict, Dr. Johnson, and Hell

According to this Pope "Hell really exists"

Pope says hell and damnation are real and eternal

Pope says hell and damnation are real and eternal

The fires of Hell are real and eternal, Pope warns

Balthasar, Hell, and Heresy: An Exchange (is it compatable with the Catholic faith?)

Angels - in Heaven, on Earth and in Hell

Angels - in Heaven, on Earth and in Hell

Scholars: Heaven, hell, meaningless to most Americans

Which circle of Hell do You belong in?

There Is No Hell

Why We Need Hell

"To Hell with Hell!": The Spiritual Dumbing Down of the Generations

The key to the gates of hell (Science gone mad Alert!)

11 posted on 01/09/2008 10:14:19 AM PST by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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To: All
A Brief Catechism for Adults - Lesson 11: Hell
12 posted on 01/09/2008 10:17:02 AM PST by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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To: Salvation

I believe that B-16 actually hints at hell in his new Encyclical on Hope in his introduction...

“SPE SALVI facti sumus”—in hope we were saved, says Saint Paul to the Romans, and likewise to us (Rom 8:24).

According to the Christian faith, “redemption”—salvation—is not simply a given.

Redemption is offered to us in the sense that we have been given hope, trustworthy hope, by virtue of which we can face our present: the present, even if it is arduous, can be lived and accepted if it leads towards a goal, if we can be sure of this goal, and if this goal is great enough to justify the effort of the journey.

13 posted on 01/09/2008 10:33:28 AM PST by Saint Athanasius ("I've noticed that everyone who is for abortion has already been born." - Ronald Reagan)
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To: Saint Athanasius

And if we put in the right actions moving toward that goal. For example:

I could have a goal of reaching heaven, but I could currently be addicted to pornography, alcohol, gambling, etc. You name it.

Through addiction, haven’t we lost our hope? And are therefore moving into the realm of hell?

What if we repent of these sins and reform our lives, moving away from these addictions? Do we then have hope? Can we expect then to move more toward heaven than hell?

Fascinating to contemplate, isn’t it?

14 posted on 01/09/2008 11:19:49 AM PST by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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To: tdunbar

Thank you for posting that to this thread.

15 posted on 01/09/2008 12:13:02 PM PST by NYer ("Where the bishop is present, there is the Catholic Church" - Ignatius of Antioch)
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To: Salvation
I could have a goal of reaching heaven, but I could currently be addicted to pornography, alcohol, gambling, etc. You name it.

For this we have purgatory - for no one is without sin except God.

16 posted on 01/09/2008 12:17:16 PM PST by NYer ("Where the bishop is present, there is the Catholic Church" - Ignatius of Antioch)
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To: NYer

I fully and firmly believe in the actual, literal, place of hell and that plenty of people end up there. I’ve read some Catholic literature on the subject (Josefa Menedez’ diary, Fr. von Cochem’s discourse on the 4 last things, and St. Alphonsus’ book on preparing for death).

I’ve always ascribed to Hell to being something of the reprobate’s own making. That even if they were offerred a chance to leave, they would refuse, choosing pain and torment over giving up whatever evil they are attached to. The stuff I’ve read, however, seems to point that for souls in hell, they really WANT to get out, see all the bad stuff they’ve done, and would repent, except they could not.

17 posted on 01/09/2008 12:21:57 PM PST by jjm2111 (Sarcasm tags deleted by popular demand)
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To: NYer

The only way you can say there is no hell is either you are not a Christian, or you haven’t read the Bible at all. Christ talked quite a bit about it.

18 posted on 01/09/2008 2:42:12 PM PST by redgolum ("God is dead" -- Nietzsche. "Nietzsche is dead" -- God.)
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To: NYer

The author didn’t search his NASB bible very well. After reading this article the first place I looked in my NASB was Matt 5:22 - and there it was “fiery hell”. Hard to take anything else he says seriously.

19 posted on 01/09/2008 2:56:21 PM PST by joebuck
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To: tdunbar
213. How can one reconcile the existence of hell with the infinite goodness of God?

God, while desiring “all to come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9), nevertheless has created the human person to be free and responsible; and he respects our decisions. Therefore, it is the human person who freely excludes himself from communion with God if at the moment of death he persists in mortal sin and refuses the merciful love of God.

I've always wondered about the "moment" of death, especially with regards to that very same passage from Peter's Epistle that is quoted in your Catechism:

But do not let this one fact escape your notice, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like one day. The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance. (2 Peter 3:8-9)

20 posted on 01/10/2008 1:04:30 AM PST by Zero Sum (Liberalism: The damage ends up being a thousand times the benefit! (apologies to Rabbi Benny Lau))
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