Acts of the Apostasy has a fine fisk of the article “Debunking The Myth Of Hell” by Carol Meyer from the National Catholic Reporter.
Here are my own thoughts.
I’m writing about hell because it is an unthinkable, horrible, destructive concept that can’t possibly be true.
I will defer from making a snarky comment like “You will know when you get there”, because I can think of nothing worse to say than to wish hell on anybody.
As per the Catechism:
1035 The teaching of the Church affirms the existence of hell and its eternity. Immediately after death the souls of those who die in a state of mortal sin descend into hell, where they suffer the punishments of hell, “eternal fire.”617 The chief punishment of hell is eternal separation from God, in whom alone man can possess the life and happiness for which he was created and for which he longs.
It is also rather amazing to read what people will say in the NCReporter. Canon 751 says “Heresy is the obstinate post-baptismal denial of some truth which must be believed with divine and catholic faith, or it is likewise an obstinate doubt concerning the same.” The teaching on hell is certainly something that must be believed with divine and catholic faith. And what can be more obstinate than an NCReporter article? At the least Carol Meyer is a material heretic.
Like almost all of the faith to deny one aspect is to undermine other aspects of the faith. For example to deny hell is to deny free will. If there is no hell than somebody who chooses to purposely separate themselves from God is forced to live with God in eternity. That no matter what they do in deliberate opposition to God really does not matter. All paths lead to the same place. Somebody with free will could choose to separate themselves from God.
To deny hell you also have to believe that Jesus was willing to lie to scare people. That he warned against the danger of hell repeatedly even though there was no possibility of anybody going to a place that doesn’t exist. The gates of hell will never prevail against the Church because there is no hell. Though the progressive will cast doubt on what Jesus said in scripture anyway. It is convenient to strip everything Jesus said you don’t agree with out. Of course if you can’t trust the Gospels in major aspects, you really have no reason to trust them at all. When Jesus said “But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life” he really meant that the way to salvation was an infinite lane superhighway that everybody finds.
I don’t care if scripture mentions hell or Jesus talked about it, if saints had visions of it, or if it’s a time-honored Catholic teaching.
That’s using faith and reason – not. Because you don’t understand something, just deny Scripture, Apostolic Tradition, and the Magisterium. Heck with that faith seeking understanding. She than goes on to say there is no proof of hell. She sounds just like an atheist denying the existence of Heaven and demanding scientific proofs of a non-material reality.
Of course after she says she doesn’t care if” Jesus talked about it” she then quotes Jesus in his multiple uses of “Be not afraid.” So I guess these multiple statements from Jesus kind of wipe each other out. The real question is why does she consider Jesus saying “Be not afraid” as denying the reality of hell? Those who are following Christ and living a life of holiness indeed should not be afraid. To follow Christ is to have total faith in Christ and his promises. The true disciple has no fear of hell. Those who have committed mortal sin by meeting the three requirements of mortal sin should be afraid, but most of all they should repent and live a life of holiness.
I think belief in a God who sends people to hell, no matter how cloaked in theological sweetness, creates cruel people.
Yes all the saints who believed in hell were such cruel people. When mary showed the shepherd children hell at Fatima those three children became very cruel people. In fact those children must have been the most cruel ever beatifified. Blessed Francisco & Blessed Jacinta Marto, not to mention Sister Lucia. People like Stalin, Chairman Mao, Pol Pot, who also did not believe in hell were not cruel at all.
Plus to say that “God sends people to hell” is just theologically inept. God wills that all be saved and he gives everyone the grace to be saved. But through are free will we can reject God and his grace and through are will choose to go to hell and eternal separation from God.
Besides it is an odd argument to say that belief in hell will make you more cruel. Anybody who really believes in the possibility of hell for their actions will have at least some impetus not to commit some serious sin. To believe that you wind up in Heaven no matter what you do is a license to sin. In the “Brothers Karmazov” we have the statement “In a world without God “everything is permitted.” In a world without hell, everything has no consequences. Why follow God and grow in holiness? You wind up in Heaven no matter what you do and even if there is time as we think of time in Purgatory – no problems – whether you are one of God’s friends of an enemy no “Go to Jail” but straight to the beatific vision.
To deny hell also leads to denying the existence of fallen angels. By her arguments God would not eject any Angel just because through there free will they rejected Him. So there is no demonic agency so we also get to reject Jesus exorcising demons and to simply reject the idea of exorcism in the first place. Being a progressive is fun since you get to deny so much of scripture that what you have left should be easy to memorize.
She ends the article with the statement “God is Love.” So to reverse her question “Can a loving God force someone to Heaven who doesn’t want to be with him?”
Now I don’t know the population of hell other than that it has some population, but I certainly believe that through my freely chosen actions I could end up there. My concern is not to increase the population of hell by one.