Every so often, you see articles written by a Catholic or Christian of some stripe who denies the existence of Hell. The Huffington Post published one earlier this month by a “Spiritual Leader” who is also an Ambassador to the Council on the Parliament for the World’s Religions…which if you think about it, the fact that something called ‘The Council on the Parliament for the World’s Religions’ actually exists, ought to be enough confirmation that Hell is a damned thing.
The piece, written by Steve McSwain, is just one big appeal to emotion. Here’s why he no longer believes in Hell:
Which is also why hell no longer works for me because, if people go there just because they have not believed “correctly” or have mistakenly believed the wrong thing, I cannot imagine how heaven would be heaven to me, or to anyone else except perhaps those with the biggest ego and the most repugnant arrogance, knowing hell is that place where others are suffering.
Towards the end, Steve writes:
“God, allow me to exchange places, please, because, if You’re expecting me to be happy floating around in heaven on a cloud singing hymns about your compassion and grace and love all day long, knowing some of my friends and others are suffering in hell…You’re wrong. You’re dead wrong. In fact, Your heaven has just become my hell!”
I’ve noticed something about this sort of article. Besides being naïve, immature, and totally wrong on the nature of God. It’s this: in nearly every case, the writer imagines that *he’s* the one in heaven, while it’s other people who are in Hell. He never imagines himself in Eternal Perdition. That’s a bit presumptuous and prideful – not to mention awfully judge-y. I mean, who are we to judge ourselves as being in Heaven?
It comes down to the lie of Once Saved, Always Saved. Once you’re convinced of your own salvation, it’s a short trip down the road to Universalism, where *everyone* is saved. Cos heaven forbid we have any Bad Feelz thinking that anyone we love ends up in Hell.
I got news for you – if you no longer believe in Hell – or believe you could never, ever end up there – Satan has you exactly where he wants you.
I believe there is a Hell –because I believe the Church. I believe because it’s logical. In the economy of salvation, it makes sense. If there is a heaven, there must be a Hell. Salvation was won for us by Christ by virtue of His death on the cross, yes. He died for all, yes. But not everybody accepts that gift of salvation. It can be rejected. God doesn’t impose it on anyone, and He doesn’t violate anybody’s free will. If someone chooses to not know, love, and serve Him in this life, He certainly isn’t going to force them to spend eternity with Him in the next. He respects their choice. When one says throughout their life “My will be done!” – God respects that. He’ll merely reply: “Thy will be done.”
The beauty of being Catholic is that our beliefs are not defined by personal interpretation of Scripture. We also have the Magisterium and Sacred Tradition to guide us. All three must agree. And the Church has always held that Hell is real. It was created for Satan and his devils, and it is the destiny of the reprobate. That’s how it is.
And the scary thing is, I could end up being a reprobate. I certainly don’t plan on it, and I absolutely don’t want to be. But as long as I live and breathe, Satan will do his worst to deceive and trick me into doing my will rather than God’s. He’ll try to convince me there is no Hell – and then attempt to convince me there is no Heaven. He’s the father of lies – it’s what he does.
Belief in Hell scares the hell out of me. For those Christians who no longer believe in it…well, I sincerely hope they have a change of heart before discovering too late that, yep, it’s a damned thing.
Photo credit: The Yorck Project [Public Domain] via Wikimedia
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