Archive for the ‘Hell’ Category

The Roman Catholic Problem of Hell

January 20, 2014

Scott Windsor has a post, “The Matter of Hell,” in which he sides with unordained Michael Voris against ordained priest Robert Barron. By contrast, Mark Shea has a post, “Michael Voris Again Smears an Innocent Catholic,” in which he sides with Barron against Voris.

Shea argues that Barron is saying almost exactly what Pope Benedict XVI said on the topic, whereas Windsor argues that Barron’s position comes close to falling under the condemnation of the Second Council of Constantinople. Per Windsor, Barron’s view is “scandalous at best and perhaps even heretical” whereas Shea thinks “Barron is guilty of no heresy, has said nothing “wrong” and is perfectly within the pale of orthodox speculation.”

At issue is Barron’s apparent view (which he says agrees with Balthazar’s view) we should believe that Hell is at least possible (as a metaphor for loneliness from divine love, not actually a place) but that we can reasonably hope that Hell is empty based on God’s universal salvific desire. Barron concedes to the big tent nature of Roman Catholicism, pointing out that folks like Augustine and Thomas Aquinas would disagree with him.

Shea likewise balances his comment by pointing out:

Now those, such as Ralph Martin who speculate that few will be saved are also (obviously) also within the pale of orthodoxy and share their opinion with not a few Fathers and theologians. But at the end of the day, that’s all you have: two schools of opinion–both of which are allowed by the Church.

But it’s not just Windsor and Voris vs. Shea and Barron. We could add that we have previously pointed out contemporary cardinals holding that hell may be empty (Cardinal George Pell and Cardinal Cormac Murphy O’Connor).

So, what’s the big deal? Well, on the one hand – the Scriptures are clear that there will be men in hell. For example:

Matthew 7:23
And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.

Matthew 25:41
Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels:

Revelation 20:14
And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.

Revelation 21:8
But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.

Matthew 22:14
For many are called, but few are chosen.

1 Corinthians 1:26
For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called:

Matthew 26:28
For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.

Mark 14:24
And he said unto them, This is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many.

Romans 9:22
What if God, willing to shew his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction:

Matthew 8:12
But the children of the kingdom shall be cast out into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

And we could on and on.  Although the great Origen erred in hoping for the eventual restoration of all creation, such a view is not consistent with Scripture’s teachings both that hell is real and that the punishment of hell is eternal punishment.

So, on the one hand, Windsor is right that people like Barron and a couple of Windsor’s cardinals are wrong.  On the other hand, such a problem is not resolvable on Roman Catholic grounds for basically the reasons that Shea and Barron enunciate: there has been no “official teaching” that anathematizes one or the other position, and consequently both contradictory positions are acceptable, even though both cannot be right.

Worse yet for Windsor and Voris, the evidence is that the current hierarchy supports and teaches the erroneous view.  I have not confirmed whether Shea is accurate in characterizing the teachings of Benedict XVI, but it clearly extends at least up to the cardinals.

The most remarkably thing is that Windsor and Voris continue to trust in this church (which teaches and promotes errors that they themselves are able to identify) rather than trusting in God alone and His Word. They may be able to convince themselves that these same hierarchs would never commit their erroneous doctrines to an allegedly infallible document, but such thinking seems wishful indeed in view of the highly compromised documents of Vatican II, not to mention the victory of the ultramontanists in Vatican I.


Didymus on Hell

April 16, 2013

Didymus the Blind (c. 313 – 398) (aka Didymus of Alexandria) provided a number of commentaries, much of which seem to have been lost, largely because of his association with Origen. I happened to be reading his commentary on 1 Corinthians 15 (as translated by Alice Thompson Croft) and found the following:

Because some people in Corinth were saying that the soul was mortal and the resurrection of the body was superfluous, Paul had discussed their error, and he says: “The gospel, through which you were called from the error of polytheism to the knowledge of the true God, and through which you are sustained and have salvation, this gospel which is well-known to you, I brought and established.” “I remind you of the gospel of God, in order that you might know that the recollection of the resurrection of the dead is not mine nor anyone else’s.”

(at 1 Corinthians 15:1-2)

It is not the bodies of all who rise that are like the glory of the luminaries and stars, but only the bodies of those who have lived well and been sober. For even the bodies of worthless people rise incorruptible, but they are deprived of the glory of the heavenly bodies. And it is to be noted that the glory of the bodies that are raised is real as is also that of the luminaries.

(at 1 Corinthians 15:41)

The dead will be raised, their body, which was formerly corruptible, becoming incorruptible. Now some say here “we shall be changed,” in contrast to the statement some others make, whosoever they are, on the topic of the dead, namely “we are raised incorruptible in our bodies, whereas our souls are changed when they are altered to conform to a better and more divine quality.” But another person says the dead who are sinners are raised incorruptible in order to endure eternal punishments but [those] who have lived virtuously [i.e., towards excellence] are changed from glory to glory. The mortal is therefore also corruptible, not indeed the reverse. Therefore the corruptible puts on incorruption, and the mortal puts on immortality in the crucial moment of the resurrection of the dead.

(at 1 Corinthians 15:52-53)

Didymus is right. The reason that the dead are resurrected is so that they can be eternally punished. What I had not noticed before reading Didymus is that the resurrection of the dead is one that is to incorruption.  In other words, if their bodies were corruptible, they would be able to return to their previous state, but because their bodies are raised incorruptible, they will endure the pains of hell forever.

What distinguishes the resurrection of the elect from the resurrection of the reprobate for Didymus is that the elect will be raised to glory:

1 Corinthians 15:42
So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption:

1 Corinthians 15:52
In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.

My primary concern about this particular point is that the grave is associated with corruption of the body.  Moreover, in several places, this seems to be the reward for evil-doers:

Galatians 6:8
For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.

2 Peter 2:12
But these, as natural brute beasts, made to be taken and destroyed, speak evil of the things that they understand not; and shall utterly perish in their own corruption;

However, those verses could refer generically to death and more generally to the fact that the good things of this life are corruptible:

Matthew 6:19-20
Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal:

1 Corinthians 9:25
And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible.

So, perhaps Didymus’ point is stronger than I thought. Moreover, the only verses that talk about post-resurrection bodies don’t specifically differentiate between the elect and the reprobate. So, I may have been too cautious to accept his proposal.


Pressing Chris Date’s Retreat

April 9, 2013

Over at “Rethinking Hell,” Mr. Chris Date has retreated a few steps in his discussion of the meaning of the term “punishment.”

Recall that the argument that “punishment” in this case was a “result” noun was one of Mr. Date’s first supposedly “positive” arguments for his position. Now, Mr. Date tries to argue for ambiguity. He states: “First, it should be noted that many deverbal nouns are polysemous, ambiguous between a process or result meaning.”

Of course, this is true – it’s something that Mr. Blauser and I already pointed out in our supplement. It’s true, but it’s not necessarily relevant.

Moreover, while it is true, it can be misleading. While – in some cases – a word standing alone can be ambiguous, even words with a range of meaning that includes both process and result can unambiguously express one or the other in context. In other words, the fact that something is a deverbal noun doesn’t make it automatically ambiguous in a particular context.

Mr. Date even admits:

I do not dispute that “punishment” does sometimes—even often—refer to the process of punishing. But since such deverbal nouns are often polysemous, it does not follow that therefore “punishment” carries a process meaning every time it’s used. “Punishment” may often describe “a manner of treatment, not the result of that treatment,” but this is not always the case.

This is similar to the post-modern fallacy of assuming that just because people sometimes revise their opinions – or even often revise their opinions on many things – that therefore there is nothing that should be held absolutely.

Similarly, it’s not true that just because some (or many) deverbal nouns are polysemous, that therefore all deverbal nouns are polysemous. Moreover, there are kinds and degrees of polysemeity. For example, there are words like “punishment” that (in English) nearly always refer to a process, just like there are words like “injury” that almost always refer to a result.

After an irrelevant tangent over whether a fine is a process or result (it’s a result), Mr. Date points out that “capital punishment” is a use of “punishment” that carries a “result” sense.

Of course, the only reason it carries a “result” sense in English is that it is being modified by a term that requires that sense. In other words, it is the modifier that goes with the word “punishment” that determines whether it carries its usual process sense, or this exceptional “result” sense.

In like way, “fine” can refer to the process of transferring the money. For example, “During the fine of Mr. Date, the bank discovered that there were insufficient funds in his account.” In this case, a word that normally refers to a result carries a meaning that refers to a process.

“Capital punishment” is just an example in the opposite direction, where a term that is normally about the process is used to refer to a result. Just as we make result nouns function as though they were process nouns, we can make process nouns function as though they were result nouns. For example, slap “completed” on a process noun, and you now have a usage that refers to result.

Moreover, “capital punishment” is not a term used in Scripture, and this particular example of the semantic domain of “punishment”, therefore, does not have a corresponding expression in Koine Greek (that I could locate – perhaps there’s some use I’m unaware of). In short, this is an exception to the general rule in English – but not one that Mr. Date will find in the Biblical text.

Taking the usage of “punishment” in the King James Version, the only modifiers aside from “everlasting” in Matthew 25:46, are “my” (Genesis 4:13), “no” (1 Samuel 18:10), “strange” (Job 31:3), and “sorer” (Hebrews 10:29). The only other place where the corresponding Greek word is used, the KJV translates it as torment, not punishment.

Moreover, in this case – the word that modifies “punishment” is the word that means “everlasting.” It’s a word that relates to duration. As such, it’s a word that unmistakably suggests that “process” or “manner” sense of “punishment” is intended, just as if it had said “long punishment,” “lengthy punishment,” or “short punishment.”

So, Chris Date has two uphill battles to try to make his supposedly positive case. First, he has to deal with the fact that “everlasting” here suggests a process, and second he has to deal with the fact that “punishment” normally refers to a process.

Chris Date attempted to rely on Augustine.  Regarding his misuse of Augustine, Mr. Date asks:

Did we not see Augustine explicitly stating that the measure of capital punishment is not in the duration of the punishing, but rather in the duration of the consequent lifelessness?

No, we did not. We saw him explicitly saying that it was not in the duration of the act of killing but in the duration of the exile (“As to the award of death for any great crime, do the laws reckon the punishment to consist in the brief moment in which death is inflicted, or in this, that the offender is eternally banished from the society of the living?”).

Mr. Date turns from there to a rebuttal argument extracted from Jonathan Edwards.  Jonathan Edwards argues that if the Biblical descriptions of punishment in the afterlife all refer simply to a state of annihilation, and if being in that state eternally meets the description of “eternal punishment,” then there is no reason for a lengthy period of suffering prior to such annihilation.

Mr. Date mistakenly takes comfort in this argument, supposing that Edwards is saying that continuing in the state of being annihilated is legitimately viewed as an “eternal punishment.”  On the contrary, while Mr. Date cited section 31 of the chapter, in section 1 Edwards explicitly states “Eternal punishment is not eternal annihilation.” (get the book, here)

Finally, Mr. Date uses an argument worth laying to rest here, although perhaps it could be addressed anywhere.  He writes:

The phrase Jesus uses a mere verses earlier, “eternal fire,” carries a certain meaning elsewhere, which along with the rest of Scripture must be the lens through which we interpret “eternal punishment,” rather than the other way around.

The argument Mr. Date is referring to here attempts to read the shadow into the substance, instead of recognizing that the shadow is just a shadow.

Thus, in this example:

Matthew 25:41
Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels:

There is that fire that lasts forever.  It’s the same fire that whose smoke will rise up forever (as we discussed here).

It’s also referred to earlier in Matthew:

Matthew 18:8
Wherefore if thy hand or thy foot offend thee, cut them off, and cast them from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life halt or maimed, rather than having two hands or two feet to be cast into everlasting fire.

Chris Date’s argument is to rely on the fact that the fire sent against Sodom and Gomoorrha is also called “eternal fire.”

Jude 7
Even as Sodom and Gomorrha, and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire.

The argument is that the fire and brimstone against Sodom was not eternal in the duration of its burning.  But Sodom is just an example – a shadow or type of future punishment.  Similarly, Gehenna and Tophet/Topheth are types of the future burning, but the fires there were not literally unending.

And, I should add, this concept of fire that burns forever is not a strictly New Testament concept:

Isaiah 33:14
The sinners in Zion are afraid; fearfulness hath surprised the hypocrites. Who among us shall dwell with the devouring fire? who among us shall dwell with everlasting burnings?

I should note that a similar thing occurs when the “read the limitations of the shadow into the substance” hermeneutic encounters similar types:

Jeremiah 17:4
And thou, even thyself, shalt discontinue from thine heritage that I gave thee; and I will cause thee to serve thine enemies in the land which thou knowest not: for ye have kindled a fire in mine anger, which shall burn for ever.

Yet the Babylonian captivity was only for a matter of years.

Or to take another example:

Leviticus 6:13
The fire shall ever be burning upon the altar; it shall never go out.

Nevertheless, the fire on the altar did go out.  It was relit by God at the building of Solomon’s temple, and then went out again, at the latest at the time of the captivity (but probably significantly before then).

The fire on the altar, like the fire that consumed Sodom, are pictures of the unquenchable fire that is coming:

Matthew 3:12
Whose fan is in his hand, and he will throughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat into the garner; but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.

Luke 3:17
Whose fan is in his hand, and he will throughly purge his floor, and will gather the wheat into his garner; but the chaff he will burn with fire unquenchable.

Trying to reconcile the idea that the “fire” is “eternal” with the claim that it is not unending results in people like Mr. Date having to argue that the fire is only “eternal” in the sense of being from the eternal God.

If we are to read “eternal” as merely “from God” with respect to the fire and the punishment, then we should do so also with “eternal life.”  But surely Scripture makes it abundantly clear that eternal life is forever.

All this to say this verse:

Matthew 25:46
And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.

makes it perfectly clear that both hell (i.e. the lake of fire) and heaven are eternal.


Hell and Romans 12

April 8, 2013

One surprisingly compelling passage in favor of the idea of eternal conscious torment in the New Testament is Romans 12:20, where Paul explains one motive for doing good to our enemies.

Romans 12:20
Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head.

This was nothing new. In fact, it’s a paraphrase of a passage from Proverbs:

Proverbs 25:21-22
If thine enemy be hungry, give him bread to eat; and if he be thirsty, give him water to drink: for thou shalt heap coals of fire upon his head, and the Lord shall reward thee.

The significance of this passage is related to the person receiving eternal consequences. It’s not simply that they will feel guilty.

Coals of fire are a symbol of the wrath of God:

Ezekiel 10:2
And he spake unto the man clothed with linen, and said, Go in between the wheels, even under the cherub, and fill thine hand with coals of fire from between the cherubims, and scatter them over the city. And he went in in my sight.

Habakkuk 3:5
Before him went the pestilence, and burning coals went forth at his feet.

More particularly, they are a symbol of the wrath of God visited on those in hell:

Psalm 140:9-10
As for the head of those that compass me about, let the mischief of their own lips cover them. Let burning coals fall upon them: let them be cast into the fire; into deep pits, that they rise not up again.

Advocates of annihilation may be tempted to treat this as referring only to an interim punishment before the great judgment day. However, notice that this says that they will “rise not up again.” The point is that they are stuck under these punishments forever.

Furthermore, the point of the coals is not simply annihilation, but pain. What’s the value of trying to “heap” coals of fire? It really seems to make little sense outside the context of conscious torment. While the eternality of that torment is not immediately apparent from Romans 12 itself, it becomes more clear when taken with the rest of Scripture’s testimony.


Everlasting Contempt

March 25, 2013

In my debates on hell, I didn’t mention the following verse:

Daniel 12:2
And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.

Perhaps I should have, as it helps to make clear one of the verses I did cited:

Isaiah 66:22-24For as the new heavens and the new earth, which I will make, shall remain before me, saith the LORD, so shall your seed and your name remain. And it shall come to pass, [that] from one new moon to another, and from one sabbath to another, shall all flesh come to worship before me, saith the LORD. And they shall go forth, and look upon the carcases of the men that have transgressed against me: for their worm shall not die, neither shall their fire be quenched; and they shall be an abhorring unto all flesh.

The point of this is not specifically to make clear that the punishment of hell will include torment of the damned. After all, that aspect of hell is abundantly clear from verse like the following:

Luke 16:28
For I have five brethren; that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment.
Revelation 14:11And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name.

Rather the point of citing Daniel 12:2 in connection with Isaiah 66:22-24 is that the condition of the wicked is a permanent condition. It won’t cease, either for salvation or annihilation. Instead, it will be a perpetual memorial to God’s justice and power.

Daniel 12:2 also confirms the general resurrection, which we see more clearly in the New Testament.

John 5:29And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation.
Acts 24:15And have hope toward God, which they themselves also allow, that there shall be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and unjust.

People might find my reference to Isaiah 66 surprising, because on its face it is not clear that these corpses are people who are alive in some sense, even while being dead in another and important sense.

But the second death is spelled out more clearly in Revelation 20:

Revelation 20:7-15
And when the thousand years are expired, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison, and shall go out to deceive the nations which are in the four quarters of the earth, Gog, and Magog, to gather them together to battle: the number of whom is as the sand of the sea. And they went up on the breadth of the earth, and compassed the camp of the saints about, and the beloved city: and fire came down from God out of heaven, and devoured them. And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever.

And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.

Notice that the lake of fire is a place of eternal torment, and it is the second death.

And ultimately, the reason why the “traditional view” of hell is the view of hell that we will continue to hold is because it is the Scriptural view – represented not only by the above verses, but most especially by

Matthew 25:46And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.

That punishment will generally be the wrath of God, and will particularly involve both torment and also specifically shame and contempt.


Until He Pay the Uttermost Farthing

March 13, 2013

Two of the verses sometimes used to argue for the position that hell is eternal state:

Matthew 5:26
Verily I say unto thee, Thou shalt by no means come out thence, till thou hast paid the uttermost farthing.

Matthew 18:34
And his lord was wroth, and delivered him to the tormentors, till he should pay all that was due unto him.

Thinking about this long ago, I had assumed that the man would eventually be able to pay off the debt, even if it took millenia to do it. So, I was confused about how this would be a good illustration of eternity, unless the point was that millenia is an analogy for eternity.

But what I had neglected to consider was basic economics. The man owes the massive debt in today’s money. But a talent of gold tomorrow is worth less than a talent of gold today – and a talent of gold in a hundred years is even less. There is time value to money.

The amount of money owed in the Matthew 18 parable is massive. Some have suggested that a talent corresponds to about 6,000 days wages. Thus, 10,000 talents corresponds to about 60,000,000 days wages. If money had no time value, it would take 164,000 years (or so) to pay off the debt. But if the time value of money is even 1/1000th of a percent, the man would never be able to pay the interest on the debt – each day he would owe even more than the previous day.


P.S. I provided a clarifying comment in the comment box, but perhaps it makes sense to place it in the main post:

It’s not a question of inflation. Even in an inflation-free system, a dollar (or ruble, or yen, or euro, or peso, or pound) today is worth more to people than a dollar (or whatever) a year from now. That is to say, even if the dollar will buy the same sandwich in one year that it buys today, we’d rather have the money now, thanks. It’s a fundamental principle of economics.

And Matthew, Matthew’s audience, and (obviously) Jesus were aware of the concept of interest. Interest factors explicitly into another parable (the parable of the talents, see Matthew 25). In that parable, the lord was not satisfied to merely have his talent back at the end of the time period. He expected that it should at least have received interest.

Cardinal Cormac Murphy O’Connor on the Eternal State of Atheists

May 18, 2012

I previously reported some thoughts by Cardinal George Pell. Pell had suggested that there will be those who were atheists in this life who will be in heaven.

Cardinal O’Connor has something similar to say:

Q: And hell?

A: We’re not bound to believe that anybody’s there, let’s face it. …

Q: It is sometimes said that there will be a separate heaven for Bavarians because they would not be in a state of eternal happiness if they had to share heaven with the Prussians. Will Catholics and Protestants be together in heaven?

A: I hope they won’t be separate. I think that the divisions manifest here on earth will be reconciled in some mysterious way in heaven. I’m not thinking just of Catholics and Protestants, but people of other faiths and people of no faith. We are all children of God.

Q: So we shouldn’t be surprised if we were to meet in heaven someone who was a Muslim or an atheist on earth?

A: I hope I will be surprised in heaven… I think I will be.

(source – thanks to Steve Hays)

Neither Cardinal Pell nor Cardinal Cormac Murphy O’Connor denies that hell is real, but both seem to think that it might be empty.


Cardinal George Pell vs. Richard Dawkins – Some Thoughts

April 11, 2012

Someone directed me to a sort of informal debate between Cardinal Pell and Dawkins, in the form of a moderated Questions and Answers session. Dawkins came across as insecure, accusing the audience of bias (though they routinely cheered for his statements) and repeatedly asking the audience why they are laughing (such as at his comment that the “it depends on how you define ‘nothing.'”

Pell was asked about evolution and his religion. He alleged that those in his communion can believe almost whatever they like about it. He took the position that men are descended from Neanderthals (Dawkins reacted to this much the way a Star Wars geek would react to you talking about Hans Solo instead of Han Solo and Pell blew it off). He said that the first time a soul was “human” was when it had various characteristics of communication and the like. When question about Adam and Eve, he took the position that they were just mythological, like “everyman.” (around 30 minutes) He said he wasn’t sure whether the Old Testament recounts God himself inscribing the ten commandments (33 minutes in).

Dawkins asks where original sin comes from if there is no real Adam and Eve.

When an atheist asks Pell (around 41 minutes in) what will happen to him when he dies, he says

(Cardinal) Well, I know from the Christian point of view, God loves everybody. But every genuine motion towards the truth is a motion towards God. And when an atheist dies, like everybody else, they’ll be judged on the extent to which they have moved towards goodness and truth and beauty. But in the Christian view, God loves everyone except those who turn their back on him through evil acts.
(Moderator): Oh, so athiesm – not an evil act.
(Cardinal): No, not a – well, no I don’t – in most cases its not.

(Moderator): Is it possible for an atheist to go to heaven?
(Cardinal): Well, it’s not my business.
(Moderator): No, but well, you’re the only authority we have here.
(Cardinal): I would say ‘certainly, certainly!’

Dawkins acts shocked that Christians will be bodily resurrected.

Later on the Cardinal asserts that the idea of any child going to hell is grotesque and does not represent the Christian God (48 minutes in)

Around 49 minutes in, the Cardinal shares his views on hell and salvation from it:

(Moderator) Where do you draw the line? Do unbelievers go to hell?
(Cardinal) No, no, no. The only people – Well, (1) I hope nobody’s in hell. We Catholics generally believe that there is a hell. I hope nobody is there. I certainly believe in a place of purification. I think it will be like getting up in the morning and you throw the curtains back and the light is just too much. God’s light would be too much for us. But I believe on behalf of the innocent victims in history, that the scales of justice should work out and if they don’t, life is radically unjust: the law of the jungle prevails.

The Cardinal’s theodicy is, in essence, that freedom is necessary.


The Door Was Shut, Rob Bell

March 30, 2011

Rob Bell (Love Wins, p. 66):

Could God say to someone truly humbled, broken, and desperate for reconciliation, “Sorry, too late”? Many have refused to accept the scenario in which somebody is pounding on the door, apologizing, repenting, and asking God to be let in, only to hear God say through the keyhole: “Door’s locked. Sorry. If you had been here earlier, I could have done something. But now, it’s too late.”

Jesus Christ (Matthew 25:1-13):

Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom. And five of them were wise, and five were foolish. They that were foolish took their lamps, and took no oil with them: but the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps. While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept.

And at midnight there was a cry made, “Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him.”

Then all those virgins arose, and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said unto the wise, “Give us of your oil; for our lamps are gone out.”

But the wise answered, saying, “Not so; lest there be not enough for us and you: but go ye rather to them that sell, and buy for yourselves.”

And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came; and they that were ready went in with him to the marriage: and the door was shut.

Afterward came also the other virgins, saying, “Lord, Lord, open to us.”

But he answered and said, “Verily I say unto you, I know you not.”

Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh.

Am I saying that those in Hell will come “truly humbled, broken, and desperate for reconciliation” – no, I’m not saying that. I’m saying that when the door shuts, it’s too late. So, since you don’t know when Christ will return, or when you yourself will die, take hold of the kingdom of heaven now. Be prepared.

Bell’s dream of an always-open heaven is nothing more than a delusion.

– TurretinFan

Your Hell is Too Small, Mr. John H. Armstrong

March 4, 2011

To John H. Armstrong, author of the book, “Your Church is Too Small,” and to those who buy into his way of thinking, my response is “Your hell is too small.”

What do I mean by that? I mean that you are too quick to assume that people don’t need to hear the gospel. You figure, “if they call themselves Christians, who am I to judge?” But in the process you lose the chance to convict them of sin and exhort them to repentance and faith in Christ.

By accepting their Christian professions despite their idolatry or other serious and unrepented-of sin, you are not doing them any favors. You may make a lot of friends for yourself (and that will be your reward) but you are not showing them love.

We love our fellow humans and we don’t long for hell to be as large as it is. But on the other hand, we need to be realistic and to keep in mind that there will be many who are now saying “Lord, Lord,” who will be there. It’s not loving to tell someone with a treatable disease that they are fine, even if they don’t want to hear about their disease.

Mr. Armstrong, you may think that my definition of the church is too small, but I’m afraid I must tell you that your definition of hell is too small. If I’m wrong, I’ve shared the gospel in vain. If you’re wrong, you’ve failed to share the gospel with those who need it. If there’s any uncertainty about who is right, I suggest you come over to my side.


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