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  #16  
Old Apr 14, '10, 8:46 am
camerong camerong is offline
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Default Re: Would Catholic Theology Allow for an Empty Hell?

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Originally Posted by puzzleannie View Post
we? we have no such power unless by "we" you mean "me 'n' Jesus Christ. Even Christ cannot save someone who wills eternal damnation for himself at the moment of death, although every drop of the infinite ocean of his Divine Mercy is available to that soul--but not through any agency of our own. We can pray and certainly should so our prayers are united with that treasury of merit won by the Savior, but "we" can't do anything to get anyone out of hell, Even God can't do that without violating his fundamental principal of free will. No we can't pray for people in hell, but we don't know who they are, we can pray for those who have died however, and have the obligation to do so.
I mean practically. If I devote my life to evangelizing, and am good at it, chances are--under conventional, lots-of-people-are-damned theology--that I will help "save" at least one person. If I avoid evangelizing completely, that person might well not be saved.

Perhaps this is an unsophisticated view of evangelization? I realize it also has a use for own soul, and it is following God's commands which make the act good in and of itself, but we wouldn't do it with much vigor if we knew it wouldn't convince anyone, would we?
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  #17  
Old Apr 14, '10, 8:46 am
mardukm mardukm is offline
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Default Re: Would Catholic Theology Allow for an Empty Hell?

Quote:
Originally Posted by camerong View Post
Good posts above. I think the Catholic theology on this is well-disposed of.

My next question then, is, how to we address the problems resulting from hell?

Specifically:
-How can we be content in heaven knowing that others are in hell?
-Can we pray for people in hell? If it would be futile, doesn't that imply a limit to God's reach?
-If we have the ability to save souls from eternal damnation, aren't we at terrible fault for spending time doing anything that does not at least indirectly support that goal?
The fact is, the Church does pray for all the dead, since indeed the Church does not know who is bound for Hell. It is ultimately up to God. I personally can't imagine a Satanist like Richard Ramirez bound for any other state except Hell, but only God knows his final destination.

Having said that, the existence of Hell is a dogma of the Catholic Church. Universal restoration was repudiated by the Fifth Ecumenical Council.

Blessings,
Marduk
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  #18  
Old Apr 14, '10, 6:29 pm
Jesus_123 Jesus_123 is offline
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Default Re: Would Catholic Theology Allow for an Empty Hell?

+Our Lady of Fatima . . . the Blessed Virgin Mary . . . who appeared to the three children Lucy dos Santos, age 9, and her cousins, Francisco and Jacinta Marto, ages 8 and 6 respectively in 1916 . . . (and which apparitions are approved by the Catholic Church) . . . whom the visionary Lucy described as "She was a lady more brilliant than the sun." . . . weighed in on this very real . . . and very very difficult subject in Fatima . . .
Quote:
+
. . . . . .

THE CHILDREN SEE HELL


During her appearance in July, our Lady, in answer to Lucy's plea, promised that in October she would work a great public miracle . . . [the promised phenomenal Miracle of the Sun occured October 13th before 70,000 people] . . . so that all might believe and know who she was. Again the Mother of God told the children to sacrifice themselves for sinners and to say many times, especially when making a sacrifice, this prayer:
O my Jesus, I offer this for love of Thee, for the conversion of poor sinners, and in reparation for all the sins committed against the Immaculate Heart of Mary."
As she spoke these words, Our Lady stretched out her hands, and bright rays came forth which seemed to penetrate into the earth. All at once the ground vanished, and the children found themselves standing on the brink of a sea of fire. As they peered into this dreadful place, the terrified youngsters saw huge numbers of devils and damned souls. The devils resembled hideous black animals, each filling the air with despairing shrieks. The damned souls were in their human bodies and seemed to be brown in color, tumbling about constantly in the flames and screaming with terror. All were on fire within and without their bodies, and neither devils nor damned souls seemed able to control their movements. They were tossing about in the flames like fiery coals in a furnace. There was never an instant's peace or freedom from pain.

Looking with compassion at the pale and trembling little ones, the vision spoke to them: "You have seen Hell, where the souls of poor sinners go. To save them God wishes to establish in the world the devotion to my Immaculate Heart. If people do what I tell you, many souls will be saved and there will be peace."
Our Lady of Fatima's Peace Plan from Heaven
- Abbey Press, St. Meinrad, Indiana

+
. . . all for Jesus+
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  #19  
Old Apr 14, '10, 7:42 pm
rpp rpp is offline
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Default Re: Would Catholic Theology Allow for an Empty Hell?

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Originally Posted by presidentjlh View Post
Premise 1: Hell is an absolute possibility.
This is a truth. Hell definitely exists.

Premise 2: Many have stated that more people are in Hell than Heaven.
Yes, they have, but is this official Church teaching? Is there not a chance of fallibility? Church teaching merely states that when one dies in a state of mortal sin they go to Hell. We do not know if most people have mortally sinned, especially in this culture, as so few are truly aware of the gravity of their sins.

Premise 3: An "empty Hell" is antithetical to authentic Catholic teaching.
This is true in that it is most probable that there is one or more souls in Hell. However, a "mostly empty Hell" is not antithetical to authentic Catholic teaching.

I, for one, am very hopeful for a "mostly empty Hell". The thought of the majority of mankind suffering for all eternity would make Heaven seem sad to me.
I would like to thank you and express my appreciation for your exceptionally intellectually honest and astute response to my my rather short post. I do not dispute any of your assertions. In fact, I find your response to be a somewhat more charitable response to the original premise than mine. Forgive me for unintentionally implying the Church teaches that most go to Hell, that is clearly no a Church teaching.

I too hope for a mostly empty Hell.
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  #20  
Old Apr 14, '10, 9:15 pm
presidentjlh presidentjlh is offline
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Default Re: Would Catholic Theology Allow for an Empty Hell?

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Originally Posted by rpp View Post
I would like to thank you and express my appreciation for your exceptionally intellectually honest and astute response to my my rather short post. I do not dispute any of your assertions. In fact, I find your response to be a somewhat more charitable response to the original premise than mine. Forgive me for unintentionally implying the Church teaches that most go to Hell, that is clearly no a Church teaching.

I too hope for a mostly empty Hell.
Oh, I held nothing against you and still hold nothing against you. Unintentional implications are not a reason to hold anger against someone. And, yes, I think we all hope for a mostly empty Hell, if not entirely empty Hell. Any Christian that sincerely hopes people go to Hell is no Christian at all, we don't want anyone in Hell, we try our best to keep people from there.

Trust me, it would bring me no greater joy than to know that the only residents of Hell are Satan and his minions, who I do fully believe deserve Hell with all my heart, as they honestly, intentionally want everyone to suffer with them. The thought that all of humanity will forever get to enjoy the perfection of heaven, that I would be able to encounter all my friends and family and embrace them, is a most wonderful thought.
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  #21  
Old Apr 15, '10, 2:54 am
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Zooey Zooey is offline
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Default Re: Would Catholic Theology Allow for an Empty Hell?

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Originally Posted by Br. Rich SFO View Post
Oops, after reading my original post I realized that I left it hanging. I meant that Hell is at least populated with satan and his followers. We do not know the disposition of any human soul after death except Mary and the Saints being in Heaven.
I think that's right.
I also believe that we have a grave duty to pray for others, all others, however unloveable, in the hopes that they may be saved, "though as by fire".
I have been, on occasion, led to pray for the most unlikely people....I believe it is one of the most important things that everyone who names the Name of Christ can ever do.....
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  #22  
Old Apr 15, '10, 12:05 pm
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Default Re: Would Catholic Theology Allow for an Empty Hell?

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Originally Posted by KyivAndrew View Post
.

Read full article on the "Population of Hell" here: http://www.firstthings.com/article/2...ion-of-hell-23

And please I'm not publicly advocating the position in the article personally but am linking an interesting article for thinking.
Thank you for this link to Cardinal Dulles's thinking. A beautifully composed work.
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  #23  
Old Apr 15, '10, 6:35 pm
KyivAndrew KyivAndrew is offline
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Default Re: Would Catholic Theology Allow for an Empty Hell?

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Originally Posted by bpaynter View Post
Thank you for this link to Cardinal Dulles's thinking. A beautifully composed work.
You're most welcome.
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  #24  
Old Apr 15, '10, 9:22 pm
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curlycool89 curlycool89 is offline
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Default Re: Would Catholic Theology Allow for an Empty Hell?

Well, we know that Satan and some other fallen angels are in hell. So we know it's not empty in the literal sense. It's popularly thought that Judas Iscariot is also most probably in hell.

Quote:
Originally Posted by camerong View Post
So, the question is, could Catholic theology support the idea that everyone (perhaps with a very long time in purgatory) winds up in heaven? I've heard it said, for example, that people may receive a last chance to repent at death, and that we can't even be sure that Judas is in hell.

Thoughts?
Maybe there's a final chance to repent at death. It's a big maybe though. I wouldn't advise anyone to live their life hoping for that. Even if there is a "final chance", given the size of the human population there's a pretty good chance that at least a few people have refused to repent even at death. Remember, people choose hell for themselves by their own rejection of God.

Personally, I think it'd be great if hell was only sparsely populated. That means lots of people chose God over themselves. Realistically, I'm willing to accept that hell may not be so sparsely populated based on what I see in the real world.
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  #25  
Old Apr 15, '10, 11:01 pm
bona fides bona fides is offline
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Default Re: Would Catholic Theology Allow for an Empty Hell?

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Originally Posted by curlycool89 View Post
Well, we know that Satan and some other fallen angels are in hell. So we know it's not empty in the literal sense. It's popularly thought that Judas Iscariot is also most probably in hell.
Hell is most definately not empty. In addition to the demons it has at the very least one more human soul: JUDAS. The church does not explicitly teach this but scripture makes it absolutely clear.

John 17:12 12While I was with them, I protected them and kept them safe by that name you gave me. None has been lost except the one doomed to destruction so that Scripture would be fulfilled.


There is no sadness in heaven over those in hell since God's glory wipes away every tear. Further, the angels and the saints rejoice in God's inscrutable Justice and His compassionate Mercy for those who accepted it. I think it would help people to think of the lost souls as those souls who themselves chose hell over loving and living with God for eternity out of their own free choice. They themselves elected to be eternally seperated due to their wickedness and pride being greater than their capacity to love. God does not overwhelm any soul with his power and awe to force anyone to love Him since that would make a mockery of love and make God into a relational bully. It is only because of freewill and the possibility for divine love that hell must exist so as to give us a real alternative choice. That choice should be very easy - to make except for the fact that sin corrupts so severely that one loses their ability to love anyone but one's self - and even that is a corrupt love based on pride and illusions of self sufficiency.

The better question to ask here is: "how insane must a person be to choose hell over God's love and how could God condemn an insane person?"

My thoughts on that are that God does not so much condemn anyone. He simply presents each sould before himself and permits each to go to their own place. A dead soul simply can not bear to suffer God's radiant holiness since by contrast it makes his corrupt soul look so pathetic and unworthy that it becomes consumed with envy and bitter scorn and chooses to flee God and hide for eternity. God opens hell to these to give them a place. In a certain sense the fires of hell become a mercy since it gives the disgraced soul an eternal purpose and the sole remaining thing from God that it can relate to outside of itself - divine attention through God's punishment. The alternative of sitting in isolated darkness and emptiness devoid of God or any company of any kind for all eternity would be a worse punishment.

BF
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  #26  
Old Apr 16, '10, 12:31 am
wjp984 wjp984 is offline
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Default Re: Would Catholic Theology Allow for an Empty Hell?

I could be wrong but my guess is there are people who actually will defy God to his face even after death and choose Hell.

And while Judas deserves Hell, so do many other people today but we just don't know. I find it funny that today we think of a person who despairs and commits suicide as mentally ill and therefore who knows whether God will have mercy. Yet no such sympathy is considered for Judas. The man had just betrayed God, and he knew he had done an absolute terrible thing beyond anything bad. We know he was so sorry that he could not forvive himself and despaired. What Judas did and the guilt he experience very well might have driven him what we in modern times would consider insane. So who knows whether God showed mercy due to Judas's insanity. Maybe he went to Hell or maybe he was given a Purgatory sentence so long that time will end before he is let out.

But my point remains that in all probability, there will still be some people that are so prideful that they will refuse to acknowledge God even after death. Though a fallen angel, Lucifer made that decision so my guess is some humans unfortunately do too.

Last edited by wjp984; Apr 16, '10 at 12:41 am.
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  #27  
Old Apr 17, '10, 2:32 pm
Pete Holter Pete Holter is offline
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Default Re: Would Catholic Theology Allow for an Empty Hell?

Greetings in the LORD my brothers and sisters. Some thoughts on issues raised in this thread…

There was a local synod held in Constantinople in A.D. 543 where certain anathemas of the Emperor Justinian were agreed to. These were also sent to Pope Vigilius who confirmed them. Here’s the info:
“In these circumstances a report against Origenism was addressed to Justinian, by whom and on what occasion it is not known, for the two accounts that have come down to us are at variance (Cyrillus of Scythopolis, ‘Vita Sabae’; and Liberatus, ‘Breviarium’, xxiii). At all events, the emperor then wrote his ‘Liber adversus Origenem’, containing in addition to an exposé of the reasons for condemning it twenty-four censurable texts taken from the ‘De principiis’, and lastly ten propositions to be anathematized. Justinian ordered the patriarch Mennas to call together all the bishops present in Constantinople and make them subscribe to these anathemas. This was the local synod (synodos endemousa) of 543. A copy of the imperial edict had been addressed to the other patriarchs, including Pope Vigilius, and all gave their adhesion to it. In the case of Vigilius especially we have the testimony of Liberatus (Breviar., xxiii) and Cassiodorus (Institutiones, 1)” (“Origen and Origenism”).
And here’s one of those anathemas:
“Can. 9. If anyone says or holds that the punishment of the demons and of impious men is temporary, and that it will have an end at some time, that is to say, there will be a complete restoration of the demons or of impious men, let him be anathema” (Enchiridion Symbolorum 211).
For more information on the preceding see “Apocatastasis”: “the doctrine which teaches that a time will come when all free creatures will share in the grace of salvation; in a special way, the devils and lost souls […] was thenceforth looked on as heterodox by the Church.”

Pope Paul II also condemned the proposition that “all Christians are to be saved” in his letter Cum Sicut in A.D. 1459 (Enchiridion Symbolorum 717b).

As for particular individuals, we have statements like these to consider from the Ecumenical Councils:
“Are they unaware, or rather pretending to be unaware, that to be judged anathematized is just the same as to be separated from God? The heretic, even though he has not been condemned formally by any individual, in reality brings anathema on himself, having cut himself off from the way of truth by his heresy. What reply can such people make to the Apostle when he writes: ‘As for someone who is factious, after admonishing him once or twice, have nothing more to do with him, knowing that such a person is perverted and sinful; he is self-condemned’ (Titus 3:10-11)” (Second Ecumenical Council of Constantinople [A.D. 553]).

“This holy synod […] declares, defines and decrees that the said John Wyclif was a notorious and obstinate heretic who died in heresy, and it anathematises him and condemns his memory” (Ecumenical Council of Constance [A.D. 1414-1418]).
I think that the most straightforward interpretation of the words of King Jesus lead us to believe that most people will enter into destruction. For even when He compares the many with the few on their separate paths (cf. Matthew 7:13-14), the many enter the gate to destruction while the few merely find the gate to life. This leads us to think that even among the few who find the gate to life, there will be even fewer who will “persevere to the end” and thereupon enter (cf. Matthew 24:13). “For many are called, but few are chosen” (Matthew 22:14).

Paul also tells us plainly that “not all obeyed the Gospel” (Romans 10:15), and further reveals to us that “those who do not know God and […] those who do not obey the Gospel of our Lord Jesus […] will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His might, when He comes on that day to be glorified in His saints, and to be marveled at among all who have believed” (2 Thessalonians 1:8-10). Therefore, we know that there are people in hell.

And when our Lord sent out His own laborers (cf. Luke 10:13-15), did He have any words of praise for repentant cities? No, but He pronounced woes upon every city that gained mention. “Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest” (Luke 10:2) so that by preaching Jesus Christ as Lord (cf. Romans 10:5-15), and by making “supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings […] for all people,” (1 Timothy 2:1), we might by all means save some (cf. 1 Corinthians 9:22). For “If the righteous is scarcely saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?” (1 Peter 4:18)

All Glory to God,
Pete
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  #28  
Old Apr 17, '10, 2:42 pm
rpp rpp is offline
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Default Re: Would Catholic Theology Allow for an Empty Hell?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Pete Holter View Post
Greetings in the LORD my brothers and sisters. Some thoughts on issues raised in this thread…

There was a local synod held in Constantinople in A.D. 543 where certain anathemas of the Emperor Justinian were agreed to. These were also sent to Pope Vigilius who confirmed them. Here’s the info:
“In these circumstances a report against Origenism was addressed to Justinian, by whom and on what occasion it is not known, for the two accounts that have come down to us are at variance (Cyrillus of Scythopolis, ‘Vita Sabae’; and Liberatus, ‘Breviarium’, xxiii). At all events, the emperor then wrote his ‘Liber adversus Origenem’, containing in addition to an exposé of the reasons for condemning it twenty-four censurable texts taken from the ‘De principiis’, and lastly ten propositions to be anathematized. Justinian ordered the patriarch Mennas to call together all the bishops present in Constantinople and make them subscribe to these anathemas. This was the local synod (synodos endemousa) of 543. A copy of the imperial edict had been addressed to the other patriarchs, including Pope Vigilius, and all gave their adhesion to it. In the case of Vigilius especially we have the testimony of Liberatus (Breviar., xxiii) and Cassiodorus (Institutiones, 1)” (“Origen and Origenism”).
And here’s one of those anathemas:
“Can. 9. If anyone says or holds that the punishment of the demons and of impious men is temporary, and that it will have an end at some time, that is to say, there will be a complete restoration of the demons or of impious men, let him be anathema” (Enchiridion Symbolorum 211).
For more information on the preceding see “Apocatastasis”: “the doctrine which teaches that a time will come when all free creatures will share in the grace of salvation; in a special way, the devils and lost souls […] was thenceforth looked on as heterodox by the Church.”

Pope Paul II also condemned the proposition that “all Christians are to be saved” in his letter Cum Sicut in A.D. 1459 (Enchiridion Symbolorum 717b).

As for particular individuals, we have statements like these to consider from the Ecumenical Councils:
“Are they unaware, or rather pretending to be unaware, that to be judged anathematized is just the same as to be separated from God? The heretic, even though he has not been condemned formally by any individual, in reality brings anathema on himself, having cut himself off from the way of truth by his heresy. What reply can such people make to the Apostle when he writes: ‘As for someone who is factious, after admonishing him once or twice, have nothing more to do with him, knowing that such a person is perverted and sinful; he is self-condemned’ (Titus 3:10-11)” (Second Ecumenical Council of Constantinople [A.D. 553]).

“This holy synod […] declares, defines and decrees that the said John Wyclif was a notorious and obstinate heretic who died in heresy, and it anathematises him and condemns his memory” (Ecumenical Council of Constance [A.D. 1414-1418]).
I think that the most straightforward interpretation of the words of King Jesus lead us to believe that most people will enter into destruction. For even when He compares the many with the few on their separate paths (cf. Matthew 7:13-14), the many enter the gate to destruction while the few merely find the gate to life. This leads us to think that even among the few who find the gate to life, there will be even fewer who will “persevere to the end” and thereupon enter (cf. Matthew 24:13). “For many are called, but few are chosen” (Matthew 22:14).

Paul also tells us plainly that “not all obeyed the Gospel” (Romans 10:15), and further reveals to us that “those who do not know God and […] those who do not obey the Gospel of our Lord Jesus […] will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His might, when He comes on that day to be glorified in His saints, and to be marveled at among all who have believed” (2 Thessalonians 1:8-10). Therefore, we know that there are people in hell.

And when our Lord sent out His own laborers (cf. Luke 10:13-15), did He have any words of praise for repentant cities? No, but He pronounced woes upon every city that gained mention. “Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest” (Luke 10:2) so that by preaching Jesus Christ as Lord (cf. Romans 10:5-15), and by making “supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings […] for all people,” (1 Timothy 2:1), we might by all means save some (cf. 1 Corinthians 9:22). For “If the righteous is scarcely saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?” (1 Peter 4:18)

All Glory to God,
Pete
Excellent information. Thank you.
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  #29  
Old Apr 17, '10, 3:31 pm
Pete Holter Pete Holter is offline
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Default Re: Would Catholic Theology Allow for an Empty Hell?

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Excellent information. Thank you.
Glad I could share! May God bless you for the encouragement!

I also have to correct a typo I made:
“I think that the most straightforward interpretation of the words of King Jesus leads us to believe that most people will enter into destruction.”
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  #30  
Old Apr 17, '10, 4:46 pm
Daedelus76 Daedelus76 is offline
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Default Re: Would Catholic Theology Allow for an Empty Hell?

1) A supposedly loving God would not need to punish poeple eternally. I don't see how this point can be argued. If people go to hell and stay in Hell, there has to be something more than retributive justice involved.

2) The Biblical, especially Old Testament, concept of justice is not like modern humanistic justice. It isn't easily reconciled with everlasting in Hell, in fact. The Jews do not generally believe in an everlasting torment for the dead. This idea is common in Greek and Roman mythology, though. David Bentley Hart, a Western-Rite Orthodox theologian and historian, has argued the concept of an everlasting Hell is not integral, or unique, to Christian belief in his book Atheist Delusions.

2) I have heard some opinions in Orthodoxy, that people could possibly repent after they die. I think some Anglicans tend to take this POV implicitly, especially modern ones that accept praying for the dead, but not necessarily Catholic beliefs on Purgatory..
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