In a dialogue with St. Gregory the Great, Peter the deacon seems to prefer to think there is no hell. But we can’t do that, says St. Gregory the Great, without making a liar out of Christ.
Peter: Let me ask you: will those who are condemned to hell burn forever, and never have any end of their torments?
Gregory: It is certain, without doubt, and very true that, as the good will have no end of their joys, so the wicked will never have any release of their torments. For our Savior himself said that the wicked “will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life” (Matthew 25:46). Since what he has promised to his friends is true, what he has threatened to his enemies cannot be false.
Peter: But what if I said he threatened eternal pain to those who lived wickedly so that he might restrain them by those threats from committing sins?
Gregory: If what he threatened is false, because his intent was by that means to keep us from wicked life, then likewise we must say that his promises are false as well, and that he merely meant to provoke us to virtue with them. But would even a madman dare presume to say that? For if he threatened what he did not mean to put into execution, then though we are trying to make him seem merciful, we are at the same time forced (which is horrible to speak) to say that he is deceitful.
–St. Gregory the Great, Dialogues, 4.43-44
IN GOD’S PRESENCE, CONSIDER . . .
How often am I tempted to make Christ say what I think he ought to have said rather than what he did say?
Father, though I am defiled with a multitude of sins, do not condemn me, I pray through your Son Jesus Christ.
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