Would God Send Anyone to Hell?

Would a good God send anyone to hell? Some folks tootle on about the Christian God being some sort of “invisible moral enforcer”. He’s the big school monitor in the sky; the eternal policeman. They reject that sort of God, and that’s okay because that’s not really the God of the Catholic faith anyway. We believe hell is a place of justice–where the evil folks got what was coming to them.

However, there is an aspect to God which we call his wrath, and what’s wrong with that? Read more.

 

 

About Fr. Dwight Longenecker
  • http://platytera.blogspot.com/ Christian

    I’m still trying to figure out why God made Eve eat the apple.

    • flyingvic

      He was trying to figure out the answer to Pi.

      • http://platytera.blogspot.com/ Christian

        I didn’t know!

    • Dad Of Eight

      I think the good Fr. got it right: God does not makes us do anything. He allows us the decision. God allows us, in his mercy, to go to Heaven or Hell. We decide. It is our choice – and one I struggle with everyday.

      • David

        The problem is one of evil, an idea that is completely made up. The evil we use to think exist, doesn’t. Curses no longer cause illness, demons are not the reason for mental illness, and it is in all of us to take advantage of power (alpha male). Evil is imaginary, but we insist on believing it. We look to evil to feel holy, we look on evil-doers to feel superior. The problem of faith is not faith in eternal goodness, but supernatural evil. When this kind of garbage is thrown in with spirituality, it is the poison of religion that damages all places of worship and all those impacted by the hate sourced in the idea of evil.

    • Dale Olmstead

      God did not make Eve eat the apple or what ever it was that was not to be done. God gave mankind the capacity to trust, to stewart, to choose and consequently the ability to obey or to disobey. What we consistently choose to do becomes habit which becomes our character and which shapes our personalities. The original disobedience placed mankinds simplistic logic as the center of his choosing, not trust in his Creator who gave him the option to trust and obey the one simple rule. Never the less, trust, choise, obedience and stewartship of Gods’ unrelenting love for us is still there for us. This, from me a sinner. 3rd century Christian prayer: Lord Jesus, son of God, have mercy on me a sinner. And from Jesus of the Divine Mercy: Jesus I trust in You.

  • Greg Cook

    (Without going too far into the divergences between East and West) I find one teaching of the Orthodox Church makes sense to me regarding this theme: Hell is not so much a place as a state. Moreover, it is a state to which we consign ourselves by our choices and trajectory. There is no place God is not, and so those who have chosen God throughout their life will experience the light of God as peace, joy, and fulfillment, whereas those who have spurned God will experience that same light as hellish fire.

    • Anil Wang

      It might very well be that Heaven, Hell, and Purgatory are all in the same “place”, namely in God’s full glory, and all that separates them is the state of a person. Then again, if God is loving, he might very well create a space for those who do not want to be in his full glory as a mercy. So there is no contradiction between East and West, and even the East sees this. If you look at Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s book, Brothers Karamazov he relates “The Parable of the Onion”, which highlights both the mercy of God, the existence of a separate hell, and the state of the people in Hell.

    • Oregon Catholic

      I believe hell is a choice. One we make in life and affirm at death during our particular judgement if we refuse purgatory. I think Jesus will give us clear sight about the eternal consequences of the choice we must make and we will believe in His love, His mercy, and His justice even if we fling ourselves into hell and bar the door. I believe that how we live in this life affects our soul’s capacity to accept an eternity in the Divine Light, which may be painful at first (purgatory). If we have lived ignoring or rejecting God all our life, if we have lived exclusively for our own pleasure and never for spiritual communion with God, we will probably choose hell where we can live in our self deserved and self chosen misery, in full knowledge of what we threw away out of our selfishness.

      I have known people in this life who are so filled with hate for themselves and others that they are completely unable to reach out to anyone or respond to love of any kind. I think they are an earthly example of how a person could choose an eternal hell and prefer it to eternal bliss. They have no capacity to tolerate joy or love and actually find it painful.

  • http://datechguyblog.com datechguy

    The best description of God and Hell is to think of it as the “give me your hand” scene from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.
    God is saying “give me your other hand”

    It’s up to you to decide if you are going to be Elsa ignoring the voice and reaching for sin and falling or Indiana listing to the voice of the father saying: “Let it go” and being pulled up.
    Your call.

  • http://www.instinctivephilosophies.com Rebekah Durham Hart

    This is a great post! I can’t help but be reminded of my favorite quote from C.S Lewis found in his book “The Great Divorce”: There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God “Thy will be done,” and those to whom God says, in the end, “Thy will be done.” All that are in Hell choose it. Without the self-choice there could be no Hell. No soul that seriously and constantly desires joy will ever miss it. Those who seek find. Those who knock it is open.”

  • Korou

    there were an awful lot of “I thinks” and “maybes” and “what ifs” in that post. This is possibly the most important thing that we’ll ever hear about, if it’s true. What do we know about hell?

    • Fr. Dwight Longenecker

      The Catholic Church teaches that Hell is a state of separation from God.

      • Korou

        That’s a rather vague way of putting it. Being separated from God could mean a whole lot of things. Can you be more specific? Or show me a website that explains the Catholic view on hell in more detail?

        Wikipedia said that some Catholics believe hell is a state of separation and some believe it is a place of fiery torment. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christian_views_on_Hell#Roman_Catholicism
        I’ve checked some other Catholic websites, and plenty of them seem to be saying that hell is a place of actual physical torment.

        Is it agreed that hell is a very bad place that any sane person would wish to avoid? That being there is a state of terrible suffering?

        And, if hell lasts forever, would it be reasonable to say that going there is an infinitely bad thing to happen – by definition, the worst thing that could happen to anyone?

        Or is there any redeeming feature of hell? Is there anything that could be worse than going there? Is there any possible way you could find any happiness if you existed there?

        Feel free to answer as much or as little of that as you like.

        • gina

          Korou,

          Our Lady of Fatima showed the children Hell. It was a place and there was physical torment.

  • Bill

    It’s a place of eternal suffering and torture, and the worst of humanity, because it’s an inherent rejection of the good. There is no compassion among souls there, no love. It’s a revealing of hatred.

    Now saying that, it’s the worst thing people can experience, but it is a state of justice, and a compassionate place by God. We Catholics believe that to no longer exist in any form is a fate far worse than eternal damnation.

    • Korou

      That sounds rather strange to me. I’m pretty sure that if I were offered a choice between being horribly tortured and ending my existence quickly and painlessly, I’d take the second. Wouldn’t you? Or, if you did go to hell, don’t you think you’d wish that you could end the pain?

      • Fr. Dwight Longenecker

        My experience in this life shows that many people prefer the pain and suffering they are enduring to the pain that would be involved in a cure.

        • Korou

          But there wouldn’t be any pain, would there? God could simply snuff you out. You would simply cease to exist.
          You can’t be saying that, wracked in conscious and unending torment of the worst kind, which has been going on for an unbearably long time and which you know will continue forever – you can’t be saying that in that situation, if someone told you you could end it simply for the asking, that you would say you preferred to continue being tortured?

          • Bill

            No, I disagree completely. If I deserved eternal punishment for my actions, it would be just and merciful for me to suffer. It might be just to no longer exist, but it wouldn’t be merciful. Non-existence, atomization, is a fate worse than death because it means there is no immortality. Human life would be meaningless.

          • Fr. Dwight Longenecker

            Unfortunately, I know many people in this life who prefer the endless torment of their situation than to go through the difficulties and humility and risk that change requires. I know lots of people who prefer the torment they know to the cure they fear.

          • gina

            Korou,
            Hell is described numerous times in the bible, Jesus gives us images of hell’s existence. Rev. 4:11; Matt 25:41;Matt;5:22 are just a few. You can find references to hell in new and old testament. Besides the bible. you can go to this very good link on hell or the catechism.
            http://old.usccb.org/catechism/text/pt1sect2chpt3art12.shtml
            http://www.catholic.org/encyclopedia/view.php?id=5634

          • gina

            Korou,

            I’m very grateful for you questioning. It has encouraged me to study and learn more about what the church teaches on hell.

      • gina

        Korou,

        If someome despises God’s laws or goodness on earth, than why when they die would they choose to be with God? If you died in a state of hating God than unless you received grace and accepted it, you won’t decide to love God just because you are pysically dead. Why would you choose God if everything you preferred on earth is found in Hell?

        • Korou

          Sorry for the late answer, I’ve been travelling.
          The problem with answering questions like this is that there is such a confusion about what exactly hell is. So if you address one version of it someone will criticise your for not addressing theirs!
          You have said, however, that you believe hell is a place of undending physical torment – flames, screams, torture, etc. Don’t you think that, if I were given a choice between that and being in the presence of God forever, I would choose God?
          Christians, I think, do not like to think of their God as a bad person. And if he did create hell and does send people there forever for “crimes” such as following a different religion, or none at all, then it is hard to avoid the conclusion that God is very bad indeed. So we see rationalisations like this:
          “You really did know that God existed, but you just chose to pretend that you didn’t.”
          “God may be sending you to hell, but at least he isn’t annihilating your soul, which would be much worse.” (let me know how much physical and psychic torture of the most gruesome kind you can stand before you change your mind and beg to have it ended. What a horrible thought).
          “The only people who go to hell are the ones who actually hate goodness; for them, being in the presence of God is hell.”

          These, and other rationalisations, apparently allow Christians to preserve the goodness of God’s character.

  • Al Bergstrazer

    Often in discussions about hell God’s just nature is pitted against his loving nature, as if those two are somehow exclusive of each other and cannot exist in perfect unity. We Americans have been whelped in a culture of permissive parents who think love is allowing your offspring to do whatever they want and when they harm themselves or others defend their actions and excuse them. We live in a culture where justice is getting the results you want in court. God is Holy and just, he must and will punish those who offend Him, without exception. Allowing His creation to go on to do whatever we wish against Him and our neighbor is not loving, but God also shows forbearance in his judgments against us so that we might turn and repent. In this forbearance he shows his love. Unfortunately there is no way that we can suffer God’s justice without being destroyed. Knowing that there is no way for us to end the separation caused by our sin God chose to send his Son to be punished in our stead and gave us his righteousness. Hell doesn’t exist because God is a bully who likes to see people suffer, but because he in his righteousness must act upon our rebellion, in his love he makes a way for us to be with Him and end the separation between God and man. When we turn and repent of our iniquity, transgression and sin we are forgiven and restored on the basis of what his Son has done on our behalf. “Why would a loving God send anyone to hell?” Is often asked in an effort to impugn what a Christian believes, the rejoinder is ‘would a loving God not hold his children accountable for what they have done?’ Would a loving God not make a way for the relationships between He and they to be restored? Would not a loving God have to carry out his justice on those who refuse to be reconciled to him, lest he be unjust to those who have turned and repented? We can argue about whether hell is a place of eternal torment or a place of eternal separation from God, but the real issue is that hell is a place where we go based upon our own merits (or lack thereof), and heaven is a place where we go based on the merits of Christ for us.

  • Romulus

    Flannery O’Connor suggested that hell is what God’s love is to those who reject it. I can’t improve on that.

  • Janet

    When I was a young teenager, I asked a Catholic friend of mine to spend the night at my house. She refused because she would not be able to go to church. I asked her what the big deal about that was, and she replied with a horrifed look, “Because if I don’t go, I will go to hell!” That she would think that horrified me! And left me with a not great impression of the Catholic church. Now, I have done some reading and growing since then and now have a great fondness for the Catholic church (happily sent my child to parochial school for 8 years) but I can’t quite get myself to the point of saying it is the one true church. And this is one of the reasons why. Yes, I believe in hell, and yes, I believe that we can put ourselves there through our choices. And I believe in original sin, etc. etc. I also believe that we can indeed “lose” our salvation. But when I hear things like if I converted to Catholicism I would have to not ever miss a mass because that’s a mortal sin and puts my soul in jeopardy, I cringe! To me that lessens the impact of hell being a place for truly bad or selfish people. Just something I still wrestle with.

    • Fr. Dwight Longenecker

      Your friend misunderstood Catholic teaching on mortal sin. We teach that a mortal sin is a sin which, by it’s nature, separates us from the love of God. For a sin to be mortal there must be grave matter–that is to say it must be a serious sin. Secondly the person must have full knowledge that it is a serious sin. Thirdly, they must commit the sin intentionally and without repentance. We consider it to be a mortal sin if the person skips Mass intentionally because the fourth commandment is to keep holy the Sabbath Day and to skip the worship of God breaks that commandment. Also, it is at Mass that we unite ourselves with the love of God. To skip that intentionally because we think there is something better to do is to separate ourselves from God’s love and put something else before him

      However, this is only for those who skip Mass intentionally knowing that it is a serious sin. To miss Mass for a good reason like reasons of poor health, travel or something like that is not mortal sin. To miss because of a mistake is not mortal sin, and even if one does skip Mass intentionally one simply needs to make a good act of contrition and go to confession as soon as possible to be restored to God’s love and mercy.

      • Clare

        I think you mean the third commandment. (Catholics number the ten commandments differently from Protestants)

    • http://quamangustaporta.blogspot.co.uk/ Malvenu

      I am a convert to Catholicism of less than one year. In practice this means that I am still getting used to what it means to *be* a Catholic.

      Missing Mass on a Sunday is a mortal sin if it fits the 3 conditions for sin to be qualified as mortal sin, 1. Grave matter, 2. Full knowledge of what one is doing, 3. Consent. So if i’m held prisoner and prevented from going to Mass or am in a place where there is no Mass to attend or the car breaks down on the way and I can’t get there, condition 3 is not met. If I was not aware that this Friday as the feast of Saints Peter and Paul were a Holy Day of Obligation (which, in terms of one’s obligations of going to Mass makes it equivalent to a Sunday) and did not go or was not aware that i am obligated to go to Mass on a Holy Day of Obligation condition 2 is not met. As for whether missing Mass is a grave matter, Father Longenecker already wrote about that here: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/standingonmyhead/2010/11/missing-mass-mortal-sin.html

      A few weeks ago out of a lack of planning and little apathy i missed Mass on a Sunday. Confession is offered on a Saturday morning in my Church. After being in a foul mood all that week i returned home “nicer”, as far as my wife was concerned, after going to confession. Now, when i tell her i need to pop out on a Saturday morning i don’t get, “can’t it wait until next week?”!!!

      • Dave Pawlak

        Illness and other medical circumstances (one’s own or the immediately required care of one who is) also exuses one from attending Mass.

      • Janet

        Thanks!

  • David K. Monroe

    If hell does not exist, then all human moral choices and perhaps all human activity is ultimately meaningless. Obviously, if there is no afterlife, then all human activity is meaningless and justice is only what a majority of people say it to be at the time that they say it. The decision to be a kind person who helps people or a malignant person who harms people is only contingent on one’s personal preference. Whether or not one thinks that one choice or the other will prolong life or the quality of it is actually futile since all will meet the same end regardless of the choices made.

    If only heaven exists, then all human moral choices are meaningless since an afterlife of bliss is the ultimate end of all. Again, the choice to be kind or malignant is simply a personal choice and there is no compelling reason outside of the self to choose either attitude. Justice is an illusion pertaining only to physical existence and being either the cause or the victim of suffering is equally meaningless.

    If hell exists, then justice is not merely an illusion or a fantasy or a human construct, but something that is genuine and integral to the human experience. We can have confidence that if human justice fails (which we KNOW it does) there is an ultimate justice that does not fail. We can believe that our struggles for justice here on earth are not meaningless or futile, because they are at the very least a reflection of a principle that is integrated into the universe. We can know that it is right to be outraged at the loss of life and dignity caused by evil of every sort, and yet be confident that those who suffer and die at the hands of others can enjoy the restoration of their life and dignity. The decision to be a kind and generous person or an evil and malignant person is a profound one, as it is really training for eternity.

  • Janet

    Thank you, Fr. Dwight! But does that mean that if you skip Mass and die before you can go to confession, that you will go to Hell? I’m sorry if I sound nitpicky about this, I am just genuinely trying to understand it. I am an Episcopalian (thankfully in the orthodox diocese of SC) but definitely find myself leading more and more to Catholicism, it’s just questions like this keep arising.

    By the way, I live a couple of hours south of you on I-26. Thank you so much for this blog, I have learned so much by reading it. You are a blessing!

    • Fr. Dwight Longenecker

      God is merciful and not willing for any to perish. I am sure if someone dies with a heart full of love for God and sorrow for their sins they will not go to hell.

      • Janet

        Thank you! That helps a lot. There are just some things I’ve read about Catholicism that seem so, well, legalistic. I too believe that God is merciful and knows our hearts. God bless!

    • http://quamangustaporta.blogspot.co.uk/ Malvenu

      I think my lack of certainty on this very point was why i was unbearable when i knew that i needed the Sacrament of Reconciliation for having missed Mass. My understanding of what actually constitutes grave matter is also still being formed. I might be a bit too legalistic on this whole thing but i’m deliberately erring on the side of caution as i learn more about how it works. But what i have learnt is that it DOES work.

      My experience of the Sacrament of Reconciliation was initially an overwhelming feeling of relief after having received absolution. The fruits of the sacrament are twofold, however, forgiveness of sins and healing from the effects of sin. More and more i am appreciating the healing side of the sacrament as well as the pastoral care and advice of the priest. Both deepening my relationship with Jesus.

      This in turn has led me to a deeper understanding of Communion and the link between the two Sacraments. That is, that Jesus’ sacrifice is prefigured by the Jewish Passover in which the participants had to eat the meat of the passover lamb in order to receive forgiveness.

  • John cronin

    If Joseph Stalin had got a priest in, made a full confession for his sins and sought pardon the night before his death, does this mean he would be in Heaven now?

    • Fr. Dwight Longenecker

      This is a theoretical question, but the Catholic answer is that if he made a full and good confession and truly trusted in Christ’s mercy and justice that he would go to purgatory where the stain and guilt of his sins would be properly purged through punishment.

  • http://deleted John cronin

    By the same token, Mahatma Ghandi, Albert Einstein, Bertrand Russell, Soren Kierrkegard (dunno bout spelling) Voltaire, The Buddha and indeed 99% of the human race who have ever lived, would not agree with every, or indeed any aspect of your theology. Does this mean they are all currently in Hell? Where are all the folks who died prior to 33AD currently residing?

    • Fr. Dwight Longenecker

      Catholic theology allows that those who are not Catholics–indeed, those who are not Christian at all may be saved if their response to what truth, goodness and beauty they have has been positive. This applies to those who have never heard the gospel including those who lived before Christ. We believe they may be saved through the mercy of God and the action of general revelation in the world and their own ability to respond to the light they have been given. To those who say, “You have to say ‘yes’ to Jesus to be saved” we reply, “They are saying ‘yes’ to Jesus who is present in all expressions of truth, beauty, goodness and justice.” To those who say, “Why bother spreading the Christian gospel?” we reply, “We say they may be saved–not they definitely will be. Therefore it is better to have the fullness of truth and forgiveness rather than partial truth.”

  • Scotty Ellis

    For me, the verdict is out on the issue of Hell. I lean strongly towards not believing in it, for a wide variety of reasons. First, the origins of Hell: Hell is not a Christian invention at all, of course. Many cultures had interpretations, more or less harsh, of afterlife, judgment, and so forth. The notion of Hell as fire, embodied in, among other things, St. Thomas Aquinas’ discussion of Hell in the Summa, is clearly a case of bad science: the fires under the earth seen in volcanoes, for example, was seen as evidence that Hell really and literally was a place of fiery torment beneath the earth.

    Like many doctrines, Hell has seen a general allegorization and abstraction over the last century or so. There are surely still “fire and brimstone” teachers who maintain the old lake of fire Hell, but their numbers have thinned in deference to a more subtle vision of Hell as separation – possibly entirely psychological in its punishment – and certainly not located in any physical place in our cosmos. But this abstraction suggests to me a mode of ad hoc justification, an attempt to rescue a distinctly pre-modern cosmic vision from its unscientific idiosyncrasies.

    But more than that, Hell strikes me as an ultimately petty and downright resentful place – a place of revenge. I am reminded of various Christian saints describing how the blessed in heaven will rejoice and take pleasure in the sight of the torments of the damned, passages that stink of a resentment and bitter cruelty with which I wish no part. Even the way you described it, Father, makes it seem that God is “getting back at” those who disobeyed Him, or that we should feel that surge of vengeful pleasure at seeing the wicked punished, their debt paid by means of the torment of their flesh (the Merchant of Venice comes to mind, as does Measure for Measure). Eternal punishment – a punishment that undoubtedly exceeds any proportionality to the crimes of a mortal creature – has about it an air of vengefulness that does seem unbecoming a supposedly just, benevolent, omnipotent and invulnerable God, a bit like me punishing an ant for biting me.

    The only argument that strikes me as plausible is the idea that Hell is chosen by those who go there. However, even this has problems: if Hell is indeed a place of great torment, it seems highly unlikely that anyone would choose to remain there for eternity: that is, the fortitude of malice would have to be of an unbelievable character for such a choice to really be eternal. The alternative would be that people would truly regret being in Hell – that is, that the pathway to repentance would really be always open, much in the way of C. S. Lewis’ The Great Divorce, the only vision of Hell I’ve ever encountered that seems to overcome the problem of petty, vengeful god (of course, it is not a Catholic vision).

    • Fr. Dwight Longenecker

      The Catholic Church teachers that hell is a state of being separated from God. Speculation of what that consists of has always been imaginative and open ended. “Torment” is maybe how you define it. My favorite explanation is that everybody gets the same thing: they experience the bright radiance of the Divine Light–the Divine Mercy. To those who accept it and who have always longed for this love and light it is the radiance of glory, love, goodness and therefore heaven. For those who have always rejected it and hated it–for them it is a burning torment. They have always hated love and light and goodness and truth and beauty so they will continue to do so and be tormented by the relentless everlasting light. There is nothing vengeful or petty about this at all. It is simple pure and just.

      • Korou

        But you don’t know this, do you? It’s just an idea you’ve heard or thought of which you think sounds right and fits into what you understand of God’s character. It seems to me deeply unsatisfying that you have to take (even educated) guesses about such a terribly important thing. Don’t you eve wonder if you’ve made a mistake that means you’ll go to hell forever? I’m sure that if I were you, I would!

        Also, if you are thinking that humans can be divided into two types of people – well, how many people do you know who do hate love, light and beauty?
        You’re splitting humanity up into polar opposites which I don’t think really exist.

        • Fr. Dwight Longenecker

          I think most people love beauty, truth and goodness, and will respond positively when faced with the Divine Love. However, I have met some people who have come to hate beauty, truth and goodness and I fear that they will do so forever and be locked into their hatred.

          In this life we are all a mixture of good and bad responses. The idea of the judgement is that at that point it will all be sorted out. Catholics do not believe that a ‘mistake’ would send you to hell. Our moral theology is pretty clear about most things and ordinary people can walk the path to heaven with confidence and without fear.

          • Korou

            In that case, what you are saying is that people will be weighed and go to heaven or hell according to which side the scale tips towards. That means that people who are, say, 51% evil go to the same place as Adolf Hitler; and people who are 51% good go to the same reward as the best of people.

            Also – can anyone be good enough to deserve an eternal life of goodness and happiness? I’m not sure if they can. But what I am sure of – and this is my answer to your opening post – is that there is nothing a person can do, not the worst and most evil person imaginable – which could justify an eternity of the most terrible punishment imaginable. Hitler doesn’t deserve that. Nobody could.
            And the idea that I and people like me would be sent to that fate, is a horrible idea. Darwin put it quite rightly -a “damnable doctrine.”
            There is nothing imaginable which can reconcile the existence of hell with calling God loving. If people send themselves to hell, then God is the person who permits that to happen. How loving is that?
            No, I don’t hate God; but I am appalled that people love Him when they believe in the existence of hell. It doesn’t make it better to say that people send themselves there. It doesn’t make it better to say that people go there as a natural consequence of having lived evil lives – an exaggeration so gross it could be called an outright falsehood.

          • Fr. Dwight Longenecker

            I’ll say it again: God wants everybody to go to heaven. Some people will refuse to go there. Hell will be more attractive to them than heaven. Put it this way: anybody who wants to go to heaven will be able to. It will be a natural consequence and summary of their whole life.

      • Scotty Ellis

        “The Catholic Church teachers that hell is a state of being separated from God. Speculation of what that consists of has always been imaginative and open ended.”

        But it wasn’t considered speculation. It was a literal, literal belief in a lake of fire. It wasn’t the case that Hellfire was just considered a nice image that conveyed the idea of Hell – Hellfire WAS Hell, literally, physically. Moreover, this vision had a specific location: under the earth, the abode of most cultural underworlds. To wit, the Summa:

        “However, whatever we may say of the fire that torments the separated souls, we must admit that the fire which will torment the bodies of the damned after the resurrection is corporeal, since one cannot fittingly apply a punishment to a body unless that punishment itself be bodily.”

        The fire is corporeal – Hell, indeed, is considered a place of corporeal, material, literal fire that very well can be said to be the fire beneath the earth. There is no reduction of the suffering to simply “a state of separation,” but a genuine literal belief. Now, this belief has gradually grown untenable, and an abstraction has occurred – a distillation of the concept of Hell down to its “spiritual” element of separation. Now, this might be fine for you – I doubt it would have been fine for Christians before you. And I think it goes right along with a number of other abstractions that are occurring in Christianity: for example, the de-literalization of Adam and Eve and the Fall as taking such mythologies literally becomes more and more untenable (think of Cardinal Pell’s recent admission on this matter, for example).

        My point being that you cannot pretend there has not been a great deal of change in Christianity’s Hell-beliefs simply by abstracting one single common element. That being said, the newer, abstracted, allegorized, and spiritualized Hell is far more sophisticated, and the best expression I can find of it is in The Great Divorce. But this is to hold out hope for the damned – that is, to say that there is a pathway from Hell to Heaven. It is to reject the notion that if I, say, stole a snickers bar from the 7-11 and never repented I would, upon my death, be unable to repent and would be subject to Hell (whatever that is, we seem to be getting more and more fuzzy on the matter) for eternity.

        • Fr. Dwight Longenecker

          The sense in which the joys of heaven or the pains of hell are corporeal would be dependent on just what one thinks the ‘resurrection body’ is.

          • flyingvic

            While we’re talking in pictures of something none of us have seen may I share one that I was told a long time ago? Heaven and Hell are the two trestle tables laden with beautiful food in a long banqueting-hall. The cutlery is all three feet long. Those in Hell are terminally frustrated because in their selfishness they try to feed themselves and find it to be physically impossible because of the length of the cutlery. Those in Heaven use their cutlery to feed the person sitting opposite, and are fed by them in return.

          • Scotty Ellis

            Just out of curiosity:

            Let’s say (hypothetically) that one day I told my daughter:

            “You are free to love me, your parent. Of course, you owe me your love, but even though I command it I will call it a free choice on your part. Additionally, if you freely choose not to love me, I will put you in a place of great torment where you cannot change your mind about the matter.”

            I assume you would consider this an example of absolutely horrible manipulation? The situation is such that my daughter really can’t make a truly free choice: coercion exists. Furthermore, it is unclear to me how a truly loving relationship, which is meant to be free, could exist – even if she did choose to love me, the choice would be made under monstrous conditions. My point is that Hell, for the most part, dismantles the possibility of freedom rather than under-girding it. If He really is interested in loving relationships, God must not only be willing to let people reject Him, He has to let that choice be ultimately uncoerced; Hell adds an element of coercion that taints the relationship.

          • Fr. Dwight Longenecker

            I have lost track of the various threads here. I have said time and again that hell is simply the result of one’s choice. Choose God and good: heaven. Do not choose God and good: not heaven.

          • Scotty Ellis

            Who arranged things such that this state of affairs is the case?

          • Fr. Dwight Longenecker

            God and good and choice and free will and consequences: It’s all one.

          • Scotty Ellis

            Then, let me return to my question:

            If I ask someone to love me, that’s all well and fine. I have given them a choice. But let us say that I have arranged circumstances in such a way that if they say no, they will in fact be tormented. Let’s say, for instance, that I ask my daughter to love me and tell me she is free to make her choice, but that if she refuses she will be stuck in a burning closet and will be supernaturally preserved so that she can experience the pain of being burned for all eternity (see the Summa by Thomas Aquinas for details). My question is:

            1) Can my daughter actually make a truly free choice?

            2) Even if she chooses me, how can we have a genuinely loving relationship when such a threat exists?

            3) Isn’t arranging things such that this state of affairs exists itself immoral?

    • Eliza

      How funny – you are a character from The Great Divorce!

  • john cronin

    So, my previous comments didnt get past the moderator? Why not? Nuthin obscene or libellous there.

  • Will

    One thing about our current pastor is that he preaches about sin and hell all of the time. He criticizes other priests for not preaching about them. I wish for another pastor who would be more positive.

  • http://deleted john cronin

    Where are the Borgia popes at the moment?

    • Fr. Dwight Longenecker

      Catholics do not declare on the eternal state of any particular soul. We don’t know who is in heaven or hell.–except for the saints. We know they are in heaven.

      • Scotty Ellis

        “We don’t know who is in heaven or hell.–except for the saints. We know they are in heaven.”

        Assuming they even exist, and that their canonization isn’t reversed in embarrassment over their being associated with blood libel against the Jews, and assuming that the Church even knows whether the person its canonizing really is one person or many…

        I remember being confused on this point. I asked my priest, who said that it is not a breach of faith to not believe that someone who has been canonized is in heaven. Any thoughts?

        • Fr. Dwight Longenecker

          My only thought is, “Why nitpick so much? If you love God and the Catholic Church then try to be a faithful Catholic. If you don’t, then get out, have a beer, make your choices and see what happens.”

          • Scotty Ellis

            “Why nitpick so much.”

            Really? So, does this mean that you don’t really believe that canonization means someone is in heaven? Or that it is trivial in general? Or that you just don’t feel like dealing with its problematic side? Hey, it’s your belief, not mine, so maybe I should just leave it be.

          • Fr. Dwight Longenecker

            Theoretical questions don’t really interest me. They’re not real, and often they’re just a way to avoid making a decision to accept or reject a truth.

          • Scotty Ellis

            Okay, well, that’s fine, I guess. I mean, you were the one who brought up the idea that we know who is in heaven. I merely brought up cases where that seems to really not be the case, that is, where it is clear that we really don’t know who is in heaven. Maybe this doesn’t matter to you, but that kind of inconsistency raises my eyebrow, as they say.

            “Theoretical questions don’t really interest me. They’re not real..”

            Either you:
            1) believe there are no cases in which someone who is canonized turns out to not exist or was “de-sainted,”
            or
            2) know of these cases and willfully ignore the theoretical problems because they don’t interest you.

            But not both.

  • http://deleted john cronin

    My parents were Catholics and I was sent to a Catholic school: have a couple of relatives who were priests. At an early age, I decided that I just didn’t buy it: simply had no belief in the supernatural or the afterlife. I struggled to keep this from my parents and succeeded into my 20′s. I have not been to Mass or Confession since circa 1979, and before that I attended purely to keep my parents happy. It caused them great pain when they realised they had raised an unbeliever,and it pains me to think I pained them.

    I have had relations with eight women since then, none of whom was married to me (one of em was married to someone else at the time, but he was abusing her) I employed contraception. In the last 30 yrs, I have refrained from murdering, raping, robbing, or defrauding any of my fellow citizens (I did a week in jail when I was 19 after a bar fight, apologised to my victim and paid restitution for damages) have worked, paid my taxes and have on occasion done meritorious things: worked unpaid for a charity, got a humane society citation for pulling a lad out of a car after an accident, twice intervened to help victims of violent crime at some personal risk to myself and have given lifts to several hitch hikers. So where am I going if I get hit by a bus tomorrow morning?

    • Fr. Dwight Longenecker

      That is not for me to say. Faith is a more mysterious thing than any of us know, and the mercy of God is stranger and more wonderful still. It could be that you stopped believing because you were believing in the wrong thing to start with. In our heart of hearts if you hate God, goodness, truth, beauty and love I expect you would go to hell, but if you, in your heart of hearts love God (even if you don’t understand or accept all the religious bit) and you love goodness, truth and beauty and your are sorry for the things you’ve done wrong, perhaps you will cross the river, see Christ as he really and truly is and say, “So that’s what it’s all about! Of course I love and believe all that. I always have.” Then you would have mercy, and I guess you’d head off to purgatory to finish doing your homework.

      Someone has said, “At the point of death the Lord Christ comes to each soul and they see him as he really is and all their misunderstandings fall away. At that point he says to them three times, “Do you love me?” If they still refuse him three times they are damned for to refuse him would be to refuse all that was good and beautiful and true.

      • Korou

        So refusing to love Jesus means being sent to hell. And Jesus allows this?
        If you were Jesus, and if you were faced with somebody completely and utterly evil – as only a very few people are – what would you do?
        Send them to eternal, conscious torment?
        Or teach them how to be good?
        There can’t be any reason God can’t do this. He’s all-powerful, he knows everything, and he has infinite time.
        Would you send this evil person to hell? Would you condemn them to eternal torture?
        If you believe that hell is a self-inflicted pain, would you allow this person to keep hurting themselves?
        The only way to make God loving is to limit his powers, so that in spite of everything he wants people still get sent to hell. And that means that he’s not God.

        • Bill

          You’re missing the point entirely. God wills that all men be saved. However, man himself can will himself to reject God.

          God’s not some cosmic overload/puppetmaster who controls everybody’s lives. He is our Father who loves us unconditionally, but gives us the ability to discern how we want to live our life.

          • Korou

            1. If God willed that all men would be saved, then they would be. And all women too, I imagine. God is all-powerful and all-knowing. I grant you your point about people being able to reject God – and yet surely God, with his infinite knowledge and power, would be able to find a way to make them love Him and be saved. Instead, we find God doing almost nothing.
            Seriously, think about it. I am going to go to hell. If I, a non-Christian, am not going to go to hell, then what is the point of being a Christian? None at all. So, I’m going to hell. And God doesn’t want me to. And what has he done to stop me? What has he done to save me?
            Nothing at all.
            You could say he died for me. But the whole Jesus story – obviously, for me, it didn’t work. Because I don’t believe it happened. I don’t believe that, if a person called Jesus existed, he was the Son of God. I don’t believe there is a God.
            You could say that God is under no obligation to save me. True, maybe, but in that case, you can’t call him loving.

            Your final line: “…(He) gives us the ability to discern how we want to live our life.”
            He didn’tgive me the ability to discern that the path I am walking on has a huge pit in the middle of it. Thanks, God.

        • Fr. Dwight Longenecker

          It’s easy. Jesus invites them into heaven. They don’t want to go there. They would hate it in heaven. It would be torment for them. If Jesus forced them into heaven he would be forcing them to be tormented and do something they don’t want to do. Jesus doesn’t force anybody to do anything. He lets them do what they want.

          • Korou

            What a strange thing to say. Billions of people have gone to hell, and you say that they wanted to?
            The best you can say is that they thought they wanted to, but when they arrived in hell they found they didn’t want to be there.
            But it was too late, then, wasn’t it? For some reason, you don’t get to choose a second time.
            Jesus lets us do what we want? Okay then: “Jesus – I don’t want to go to hell. Please don’t send me there. Thank you.”

            A ridiculous argument that you are forced to make in order to avoid casting the Person who created hell as being in the wrong.

          • Fr. Dwight Longenecker

            If you really prayed that prayer and meant it, then you would not go to hell. You might go to purgatory though…

        • gina

          That makes him powerful, He could make you love Him but He won’t.We are weak and try and force our will on others- God in his love and mercy doesn’t.

          • Korou

            He could make me believe in Him first! And then perhaps we could discuss whether or not I should love Him.

          • Fr. Dwight Longenecker

            God won’t force you to do anything–not even believe in Him.

        • gina

          korou,

          It is not a horrible thing to love God. When Jesus was hanging on the cross, it wasn’t his wounds that caused him the most pain. It was his heart aching for love from us. He ached because he can’t force us to love him, he has so much love to give. when you realize how much he loves you, it’s hard to not want to hide from him. Not because he is accusing you of being a wretch, but because you understand all that he sufferedout of love for you and how often you rejected his love. while still alive we can run to the confessional and into his arms, but once we are dead the only place to hide is hell.To love him means keeping his commandments. Satan would be most happy for you to not believe in hell or to hate and blame God for allowing souls to go there.

          • Korou

            I’m sure Satan would be happy for me not to believe in hell. Which makes it very strange that God and Jesus, who allegedly love me, will not help me to understand that hell exists.
            They know that I’m going to go there, and they are doing nothing to stop me. Listen, Gina: I sinerely do not have any belief in God or in hell. If I get sent there, I am an innocent. I was never told.
            If I was given reason to think that hell existed then yes – maybe you could say it was my fault that I get sent there for failing to love God.
            Now: please explain to me – how is it that a God who knows I am going to hell and does nothing to stop me can be said to love me?

          • Fr. Dwight Longenecker

            God won’t force you to do anything–not even go to heaven.

      • gina

        Father Dwight,

        It would be hard to answer that question from Jesus”do you love me?” because when you die and understand how much he was aching for you while hanging on the cross not filled with pain from the horrible wounds but from wanting to save you. like Adam and Eve hiding from God, I imagine a person would want to hide from him too out of shame. Not because he’s accusing you of horrible crimes, but because his love for you makes you feel really bad that you didn’t love him in return. this blog is making me think about whether or not I’m living my life as if I love Jesus. If i were dead the only place to run and hide from Jesus’ loving glance would be Hell, but fortunately I’m alive and can run to the confessional.

    • gina

      John,
      pray and ask God to enlighten your conscience.

  • Merkn

    While I agree that orthodox Catholic teaching is that Hell exists as a separation of God, I believe that there is a respectable view that in fact their may not be anyone in Hell after the final judgment. All may be saved by the mercy of God if they genuinely repent their sins. Whether everyone does so is something we cannot know. It does seem hard to square with Christ’s frequent references to Gehenna and the fires faced by some in the afterlife, but maybe Purgatory is a lot tougher than we sometimes think.

    • Wills

      There is also a viable argument that we cannot legitimately hope there is no one at all in Hell, given that Jesus speaks of Judas as being “lost” to HIm and speaks often of Hell and those in it. We can, certainly, hope they are few and live so as to cooperate with and bring grace to the world so that that may be so–and we certainly cannot speak conclusively of any particular person (even Judas, it seems, paradox as that may be) being there.This is an issue best consigned to “God’s problem, not mine.”

  • john cronin

    “Catholic theology allows that those who are not Catholics–indeed, those who are not Christian at all may be saved if their response to what truth, goodness and beauty they have has been positive. This applies to those who have never heard the gospel including those who lived before Christ. We believe they may be saved through the mercy of God and the action of general revelation in the world and their own ability to respond to the light they have been given.”

    In that case, what was the point of Jesus? There are Orthodox Jews who believe that Jesus is currently in Hell, as he was a false prophet. Why is their view any more or less valid than ours?

    • Fr. Dwight Longenecker

      If Jesus is the Son of God the Orthodox Jews who consider him a false prophet are mistaken.

      • Korou

        So why is their view any less valid than yours?

        Also: if it not necessary to be a Christian in order to go to heaven, then why be a Christian?

  • http://deleted john cronin

    I would also point out that (I thought) traditional Catholic teaching was that those who had died before AD33 were in Limbo, not heaven or hell.

    • Fr. Dwight Longenecker

      Wrong. It suggested that the pagans who lived before the time of Christ might be in a place called limbo. The teaching about limbo was always speculative.

  • Will

    I have always thought that there will be more people in heaven than some think. Perhaps we will be pleasantly surprised.

  • Chaza

    Actually you put yourself there. I was taught this by a 7 year old whom I was teaching the Sacraments. I asked her, “Who punishes you?” and she answered, “yourself.” Well done amie Campbell

  • Lori Romes

    When I was wandering in the world in rebellion, having lost my mind for about 30 yrs when I stopped going to church– I knew that nature and science reveals that everything has balance, order and cause and effect. One day I realized those same pictures of starving kids in Africa are still there after all these years, and the U.S. with all her wealth, (well when we still had some), all of our charitible folks, and all our technology–those kids are still there…nothing changed!!! I then realized, somebody is going to be acountable for that! I don’t know why it struck me like a revelation, but I realized those kids are still there because of the sins of man. This “too-loving God to send anyone to hell” has to send somebody there! Those poor kids are born into misery and die…and then nothing? My loving God will bring justice for them in the next life!

  • John Cronin

    “Catholic theology allows that those who are not Catholics–indeed, those who are not Christian at all may be saved if their response to what truth, goodness and beauty they have has been positive. This applies to those who have never heard the gospel including those who lived before Christ. We believe they may be saved through the mercy of God and the action of general revelation in the world and their own ability to respond to the light they have been given.”

    I repeat the question: If you can go to heaven as an honest heathen who does good works, what exactly was the point of God sending Jesus? One could argue that non-Christains who are left alone by the missionaries would have a better chance of salvation than those who were converted then fell away from the faith.

    • Fr. Dwight Longenecker

      The latter truth is dependent on the former.

  • John Cronin

    You state:

    “In our heart of hearts if you hate God, goodness, truth, beauty and love I expect you would go to hell, but if you, in your heart of hearts love God (even if you don’t understand or accept all the religious bit) and you love goodness, truth and beauty and your are sorry for the things you’ve done wrong, perhaps you will cross the river, ”

    But, er supposing I neither hate nor love God: just don’t believe in him: as the Froggie astronomer said to Napoleon “I have no need of such a thesis.” Might as well ask me if I love or hate Sherlock Holmes or Anna Karenina. I have no emotional feelings towards fictional characters.

    • Fr. Dwight Longenecker

      The sort of love of which I am speaking is not an emotional feeling.

  • john cronin

    Have you ever seen Monty Python’s “Life Of Brian”?

    • Peter Brown

      Yes. Not one of their better ones–the aim is less sure than, say, “Holy Grail”. Myself, I think it’s because they had less of a grasp of what they were mocking. YMMV, naturally.

  • http://industrialblog.powerblogs.com IB Bill

    I am terrified of hell and always have been. I converted to Catholicism about six years ago.
    Recently, I realized that, at 48, unmarried and childless, I have wasted my life in selfish pleasures and fantasies. As you sow, so shall you reap …
    Worse, I have had … spiritual experiences in which God has repeatedly shown me what life is all about. It’s about love, learning to love, growing in love … and virtually everyone I know is more loving than me. They have manifested that love in myriads of ways. Yet I turn away from Him when tried.
    In some ways, and I’m not presuming to teach anyone anything here, I suspect that questions of heaven and hell are a bit off the point of Christ’s message. Christ is offering us an invitation to the kingdom — I have dipped a toe in it and it is wonderful beyond all measure. We are individuals yet no longer separate. We are satisfied in our hearts and in our reason. I can’t say about our bodies. It is living in the presence of the living God, having a relationship with Him.
    Hell would indeed be missing that, and what’s worse, it’s a pointless missing of it in pursuit of things that we think are better, but we will learn are not.
    Yet, I sin. Constantly.
    Again, I am not teaching anything. It’s my experience that the Catholic Church teaches correctly and that the underlying message, often lost, is that there is a relationship here where we not only are satisfied, but grow in our ability to love others — the desires we have in our hearts to love to give to pour ourselves out for others without fear — it’s all there in heaven. I think. Because I don’t rely on my experiences. I rely on my faith.

  • http://industrialblog.powerblogs.com IB Bill

    Another thought — I see my failures as missed opportunities to love … to not join in, out of my selfishness, stupidity, pride and fear. It’s not just, “I’m forgiven by Christ.” It’s, “I hurt God and missed what God had prepared for me. I whined when I didn’t get what I wanted … and I didn’t know what I really wanted.”

    • Peter Brown

      Yes–missed opportunities to love, missed opportunities to grow. Good description of sin.
      The wonder of mercy is that, despite our insistence on looking for God in that which is not God, God still waits for us, still holds open the possibility of salvation if we will just let him in.

  • Korou

    “God won’t force you to do anything–not even go to heaven.”

    A very bitter joke, that.
    No matter what they have done, nobody deserves to go to hell for eternity. Hitler doesn’t deserve that. Nobody could deserve that. People like me certainly don’t deserve that.
    The fact that nobody within the Catholic community, never mind the religious one as a whole, can agree on what hell is like and who is at what risk of going there, would be terrifying if there was any reason to think it existed. As people who do think it exists, your negligence in being able to give informed opinions about it is criminal.
    Your flippant attitude towards the danger you think we are facing is appalling, and your lack of knowledge about what you think will happen to us, and your lack of concern about that, is equally appalling.

    As an atheist, all I can say is, thank God He doesn’t exist, and nor does hell.

    • Fr. Dwight Longenecker

      “As an atheist, all I can say is, thank God He doesn’t exist, and nor does hell.”

      Christians are often accused of wishful thinking. It seems to me that the atheist who disbelieves in heaven, hell, God and judgement is the one who is involved in the most outrageous wishful thinking, for he wishes that one day it will all be over. He can slink into the nothingness he hopes is after death without having to face any of his actions or decisions. How lovely to think that you can do whatever you like and just go to sleep and it will all be over. Wishful thinking indeed.

      St Padre Pio said about those who don’t believe in hell: “They will believe in Hell when they get there.”

      • Korou

        Funnily enough, there is a post at Bad Catholic right now which is all about wishful thinking.

        As to your post, it seems you’ve misunderstood the term. “Wishful thinking is the formation of beliefs and making decisions according to what might be pleasing to imagine instead of by appealing to evidence, rationality or reality.”

        Evidence, rationality and reality clearly demonstrate to us that once a body fails beyond a certain point, life is ended. Wishful thinking is believing that life goes on in another form with no evidence that this is so (apart from myths and legends) because it would be nice if it did.

        So yes, accusing Christians of wishful thinking seems accurate. I can say, though, that is God and hell existed it would be a horrifying crime beyond belief – and so I’m extremely glad there’s no evidence that they do.
        Which isn’t wishful thinking. See?

        • Fr. Dwight Longenecker

          You seem impervious to reason.

          • Korou

            In this particular instance, I can’t say I’ve heard it yet.

          • Korou

            What you used just now was misreasoning.

    • flyingvic

      Korou, this is a fine example of someone not only having their cake and then still wanting their cake to be there when they’ve had it, but also of shouting abuse at someone else who has some cake of their own to share.

      You are willing to engage in philosophical discussions about the possibility or impossibility of whether God, Heaven and Hell exist in any shape or form; yet whenever someone talks in terms of a God who loves and who therefore does not force, or Heaven as that state in which someone who wants to be with God finds themselves in his presence, or Hell as being quite simply a state of separation from God – all the toys get thrown out of the pram. There is no God. There is no Heaven. There is no Hell. How dare you not tell me about things I don’t believe exist?

      If you have never had a glimpse of what Heaven might be like, then I’m sorry for you. If you have never had a glimpse of what Hell might be like, then I’m very happy for you. If you don’t believe that God exists, then there is nothing that I can say that will convince you otherwise.

      • Fr. Dwight Longenecker

        Preach it Vic!

      • Korou

        Vic, you need to reread what I said. My arguments on here have not been that I’m angry with people because they’re telling me about something that doesn’t exist. You’ve misinterpreted it.
        My argument is that although I don’t believe in hell, you do. I think hell is a story. You think hell is a terrible reality. Just because I don’t think hell is real, it doesn’t make the attitudes of Christians any less terrible – the indifference to who goes there.
        You say there’s nothing you can do to convince me that hell exists – and you don’t seem to care. The fact that people go to hell is the greatest tragedy possible – but you can write to me and say that there is nothing you can do to convince me – and that, apparently, doesn’t fill you with shame, or despair, or anger at the God who refused to give you the evidence you would need? Fr. Longenecker can write, with no apparent dismay, that he doesn’t know if any particular person is going to go to heaven or hell, or what it takes to send one there.

        For me, this doesn’t matter. For you, it should be a matter of extreme urgency; and apparently it isn’t.

        There’s no hypocrisy here. I’m not switching arguments on you. To discuss religion with you I have to suspend my disbelief and say “If what you are saying is true…” and then discuss what that would mean. But right now I’m not talking about religion, but about the attitudes of the religious.

        What’s strange or wrong about that?

      • Korou

        And by the way, I do not consider describing your attitude as flippant and appalling to be “shouting abuse.”

        • flyingvic

          “Criminal” and “appalling” might well be considered angry or abusive words (or, indeed, empty ones) – unless you can back them up with some of that “evidence” you seem so keen on.

          My position depends upon faith, and I fully accept that you do not find that in the least bit satisfying. My descriptions, should I offer them, of God, Heaven and Hell are largely dependent upon picture language, for the obvious reason that my life-experience is entirely earth-based and coloured only by faith, imagination and shared perceptions with other trusted members of the faith community; and I fully accept that you do not find in this the exclusively rational basis that you require in order to proceed. That said, since I am quite unable to call down fire from heaven upon demand or plagues of frogs to convince you as Pharaoh was apparently convinced (and even then only for a short time!) there is nothing that I can say to you because everything that I might say is dependent upon belief in a God you steadfastly refuse to believe in. To my mind God has already given you all the evidence that you need to believe in the Christian religion in the life, death and life of Jesus Christ. If you do not or cannot accept that, and since I do not know you personally in a way that might allow me to “love” you into God’s kingdom, it would be presumptuous of me to think that I could do better than God and whisper some abracadabra that would instantly convert you. Further, it would be difficult indeed to express the sense of tragedy that I feel about you and all other unbelievers without sounding incredibly pious and patronising – and I honestly don’t think I can be accused of either of those.

          The “terrible reality” of Hell that I believe in is that of being separated from God. I would hate, in this world, to be separated from my wife, especially if it was through my own fault that I had allowed a gap to grow between us; to think that in the next world, and by the free exercise of my own choices in the course of this world, I might be separated from God is too awful to contemplate. But if I believe in God, Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit, Heaven and Hell, and if you don’t believe in any of these things, how in goodness’ name am I supposed to talk to you about them whether I feel a sense of urgency or not?

  • Korou

    Well, I think this conversation has gone as far as it can. Thanks for your time.

  • flyingvic

    Says it all, really, doesn’t it? Bye.


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