Church taught NO Hell?

In an article entitled “Is Hell for Real?”, Rev. Robert Short states

there has always existed a minority report which says that eventually all people will go to heaven and will be part of God’s nonsmoking family forever. This view that all people will ultimately be “saved” is usually referred to as “universal salvation” or–when it is held by people who also believe in the divinity of Christ–“Christian universalism.” In the early church, such notables as Clement of Alexandria, Origen, and Gregory of Nyssa were Christian universalists. As a matter of fact, by the fourth century A.D. there were six distinctive theological training centers or “schools” existing in the Christian world. Four of these six schools taught Christian universalism. So at this time, at least, the “minority report” was actually the majority.

Does anyone know about these “schools” that didn’t teach hell? A heretical priest at my campus uses this argument to show that the Church taught that there was no Hell in its early years. Aside from quotes from “The Fathers” (who don’t represent Church teaching anyway), can anyone show that official church teaching from this time taught Hell?

[quote=Rev. Robert Short]There has always existed a minority report which says that eventually all people will go to heaven and will be part of God’s nonsmoking family forever.
[/quote]

This is how the Apocalypse of Peter ends. The Apocalypse of Peter was very popular in the pre-canon days–more popular even then the Apocalypse of John (that’s the last book of the modern Bible for those who don’t like to use the old names).

In it “Peter” is given a vision of Hell and the End Times. He gives dramatic examples of the tortures of Hell (some of which are very reminiscent of Greek mythology). At the very end, after God has secured His final victory, He gives “Peter” a secret. So of course “Peter” writes it in the book for all to read (perhaps this is a good reason why the book wasn’t accepted into the canon). Anyway–at the very end God, after securing His final victory, shows His true love and mercy and releases all the souls from Hell.

 I'm going by memory here, so forgive me if I confused one or two things.

I think the more fundamental issue is how Rev. Short comes to determine what the Church teaches. Is it by merely counting noses?

Most of bishops at one point in the 4th century embraced the Arian heresy. I hope Rev. Short isn’t going to point to this and say, “Jesus is not God!”

The Fathers don’t represent the teaching of the Church? Of course individual Fathers don’t speak for the Church as a whole. But if Catholics are going to give up the claim of faithfulness (however nuanced) to the consensus of the Fathers, then as far as I’m concerned Catholic claims of authority are bogus and the Orthodox are really the only game in town. (I don’t actually think this is the case, BTW.)

As for the “six schools,” I’m really not sure where this comes from. The whole notion of a formal “school” at Alexandria has been challenged by modern scholars, and Origen was basically kicked out of Alexandria anyway. That may be where you get two of the “schools,” since he then went to Caesarea. Add in the Cappadocians, and you have three. But I think Gregory of Nyssa is the only Cappadocian who taught universalism anyway. The claim is really playing games with numbers to make universalism seem more dominant than it was.

More to the point (and this may be what the “Fathers are not representative” statement was trying to say), elite theologians like Origen did not necessarily represent what “simple believers” believed. I don’t think there has ever been a time (until perhaps today) when universalism was more than a tiny minority opinion. My own view is that confident universalism (all will be saved) is unorthodox, but hopeful universalism (all may be saved) as represented by Hans Urs von Balthasar is orthodox, although definitely not the dominant opinion historically.

But I’m just an Anglican heretic, so don’t mind me.

In Christ,

Edwin

The Church has always and will always teach there is a Hell, now will people in the Church get confused. Ha just look at me for that answer middle name is confused.:confused:

jackpuffin,

Where was the article published, and is there a link? I’d like to read it.

Thanks.

The Hell There Is!

Actually, I found the article on my college(University of Southern California) Catholic Community Center website. www.catholictrojan.com Click on “information” and then “faith discussion” and then you can click on the link to the article “Is Hell for Real?”. It contains a bunch of other heretical information. I am very dissapointed with the priest here at USC, Fr. William Messenger. I wish I could do something to get him to stop preaching heresy

BTW I did read “The Hell there is” Unfortunately it doesn’t quote any official Church Teaching —only Church Fathers. Aside from Church Councils and infallible papal statements (and as I understand the only one of these is the Assumption of Mary in 1950), what else is “official” church teaching?

[font=Verdana]See the Catechism, paragraphs 1033-1037.

Thanks for the link. One argument he missed (I think) was the one that runs something like “Jesus said that whatever we pray for in His will, He’ll grant; Jesus told us to pray that everyone will be saved; therefore, everyone will be saved.”

Bob’s theology is very influenced by Karl Barth, whom I tried to read when I was a Protestant but found it to be too dense for my soft head. Dogmatics in Outline has a nice bit on cheap grace (at least I thought so at the time), which is ironic since universal salvation seems to be the ultimate in cheap grace theology.

I always thought Bob’s thesis sounded like a plausible interpretation of Scripture, which I now realize is a powerful illustration of the need for the Magisterium. Bob was a pastor at a local church and played an important role in my coming back around. He’s a very smart guy, warm and gracious, and he loves Jesus a whole bunch. If the Protestant idea that the Holy Spirit enables every true Christian to discern the meaning of scripture was true, then for sure one would think that Bob’s got the good dope. And yet I know other men, equally smart and equally devoted to the Lord, who are just as certain that Bob’s wrong as Bob is that he’s right.

I’m really grateful that Jesus left us an infallible authority so that I don’t have to depend on my own understanding. Bob’s interpretation sounds plausible, the Church’s sounds plausible – all I need to know is that the Church holds all the trump cards.[/font]

BTW I did read “The Hell there is” Unfortunately it doesn’t quote any official Church Teaching —only Church Fathers. Aside from Church Councils and infallible papal statements (and as I understand the only one of these is the Assumption of Mary in 1950), what else is “official” church teaching?

There have been several infallible definitions by Popes throughout history. No one really knows how many. To know, you would have to apply to every papal declaration the criteria of Vatican I, and see if it’s infallible. There’s also the possibility that some infallible declarations may have been lost to us (i.e. the loss of destruction of historical records).

It’s impossible to concidely list for you all the Church’s official teachings. This is something one grows in knowledge of through his entire life. To know, you’d have to examine each issue individually, and research it to see what the Church teaches on it.

The most basic source, of course, is the Catechism. This, as well, as other statements by the Holy Father concerning this issue, are found in the link I posted. Read the intro.

There is a book called “Good Goats” which carries the Imprimatur and Nihil Obstat which affirms there were 6 schools, 4 of which held to the eventual restitution of all . .

One of the most curious statements is that Augustine, who was the first great proponent of an eternal hell lamented that most at his time did not believe this . .

It is very interesting reading . .

I have not studied it much past Augustine . .

Peace in Him!

Some quotes by Early Church Fathers regarding the restitution of all . . . .:

Augustine:

“There are very many (imo quam plurimi, can be translated majority) who though not denying the Holy Scriptures, do not believe in endless torments” (Enchiria, ad Laurent. c.29).

Clement of Alexandria:

In his commentary on 1 John, he writes,

(On 1 John 1:5) “And in Him is no darkness at all,” that is, no passion, no keeping up of evil respecting anyone; He destroys no one, but gives salvation to all.”

(On 1 John 2:2) “ ‘And not only for our sins,’ that is, for those of the faithful, is the Lord the Propitiator does he say, ‘but also for the whole world.’ He, indeed, saves all; but some He saves converting them by punishments; others, however, who follow voluntarily He saves with dignity of honour; so that ‘every knee should bow to Him, of things in heaven, or things on earth, and things under the earth’—that is, angels and men.”

Gregory of Nyassa

“33. So I begin by asking what is the truth that the divine apostle intends to convey in this passage? It is this. In due course evil will pass over into non-existence; it will disappear utterly from the realm of existence. Divine and uncompounded goodness will encompass within itself every rational nature; no single being created by God will fail to achieve the kingdom of God. The evil that is now present in everything will be consumed like a base metal melted by the purifying flame. Then everything which derives from God will be as it was in the beginning before it had ever received an admixture of evil. . .

  1. And this is the ultimate goal of our hope, that nothing should be left in opposition to the good, but that the divine life should permeate everything and abolish death from every being, the sin, from which as we have already said, death secured its hold over men, having already been destroyed. . . [Here he quotes from 1 Cor. 15:22-28 ending with “God will be all in all.”]

  2. That last phrase, which speaks of God coming to be in all by becoming all to each, clearly portrays the non-existence of evil. Obviously, God will be ‘in all’ only when no trace of evil is to be found in anything. For God cannot be in what is evil. So either He will not be ‘in all’ and some evil will be left in things, or, if we are to believe that He is ‘in all,’ then that belief declares that there will be no evil. For God cannot be in what is evil.”
    (Orat. in 1 Cor. 15:28, 32-44)

“The Lord will, in His just judgment, destroy the wickedness of sinners; not tneir nature . . . Wickedness being thus destroyed, and its imprint being left in none, we shall all be fashioned after Christ, and in all that one character shall shine, which was originally imprinted on our nature.”
(Comm. on Psalm 54:17)

Jerome:

“In the end of all things the whole body which has been dissipated will be restored . . . What I mean is, the fallen Angel will begin to be that which he was created, and man, who was expelled from Paradise, will once more be restored to the tilling of Paradise. These things will then take place universally.”
(In Eph. 4:16)

Ambrose:

“Our Saviour has appointed two kinds of resurrection, in accordance with which John says, in the Apocalypse, ‘Blessed is he that hath part in the first resurrection;’ for such come to grace without the judgment. As for those who do not come to the first, but are reserved until the second (resurrection), these shall be burning until they fulfill their appointed times, between the first and second resurrection; or, if they should not have fulfilled in them then, they shall remain still longer in punishment.”
(In Psalm 1, ch. 54)

It is an interesting subject to study . .

:slight_smile:

Peace in Him!

Hello jackpuffin,

Seeing that it is Jesus and not Moses who gave us the concept of hell, the Church had better echo Jesus message. Moses taught of spiritual life and spiritual death but he did not paint the horrific picture of hell (eternal damnation), that Jesus dose.

NAB MAT 25:41Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you accursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, a stranger and you gave me no welcome, naked and you gave me no clothing, ill and in prison, and you did not care for me.’ Then they will answer and say, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or ill or in prison, and not minister to your needs?’ He will answer them, ‘Amen, I say to you, what you did not do for one of these least ones, you did not do for me.’ And these will go off to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life."

**NAB MAT 13:47-50 **

The reign of God is also like a dragnet thrown into the lake, which collected all sorts of things. When it was full they hauled it ashore and sat down to put what was worthwhile into containers. What was useless they threw away. That is how it will be at the end of the world. Angels will go out and separate the wicked from the just and **hurl the wicked into the fiery furnace, where they will wail and grind their teeth. ****NAB MAT 5:20 **

I tell you, unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter into the kingdom of heaven . "You have heard that it was said to your ancestors, ‘You shall not kill; and whoever kills will be liable to judgment.’ But I say to you, whoever is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment, and whoever says to his brother, ‘Raqa,’ will be answerable to the Sanhedrin, and whoever says, ‘You fool,’ will be liable to fiery Gehenna.

NAB MAT 23:33

You serpents, you brood of vipers, how can you flee from the judgment of Gehenna?

NAB LUK 10:15And as for you, Caernaum, ‘Are you to be exalted to the skies? You shall be hurled down to the realm of death!’

Please visit WARNING! Jesus Does Not Forgive All

Peace in Christ,
Steven Merten
www.ILOVEYOUGOD.com

I’m too lazy to type out the exact quotations, so take my word on this. :wink:

Ludwig Ott notes, in his Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma, that the Fathers before Origen unanimously affirmed the eternal duration of Hell. (See my post above).

Some of the later Fathers contested this. Some said that all would eventually be saved, while others (like Saints Ambrose and Jerome) taught that eventually all Christians would escape Hell.

JND Kelly, in his Early Christian Doctrines, tells us that the general consensus even among the later Fathers was that Hell was indeed eternal. However, he notes that Saint Basil laments the fact that, in his day, most “ordinary Christians” believed it was only temporary.

Sounds oddly similar to our own day, no?

In any event, the Church finally dogmatized the eternal duration of Hell. And so that’s where the matter stands, now and forever.

[quote=DominvsVobiscvm]I’m too lazy to type out the exact quotations, so take my word on this. :wink:

Ludwig Ott notes, in his Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma, that the Fathers before Origen unanimously affirmed the eternal duration of Hell. (See my post above).
[/quote]

Hi DV

From what I have found in my research, this is not true . . . Clement of Alexandria preceded Origen . . Origen was his pupil . . I believe Irenaus also falls in this camp.

Tertullian is well known for his stance on an eternal hell . .well, he did become a heretic, and if anyone has ever read what he wrote on this subject as far as his personal feelings went . . let me say it turned my stomach . .

Other than Tertullian, I do not remember a specific ECF embracing it as he did . . perhaps you could point me ot specific ECF’s and quotes . . ?

Some of the later Fathers contested this.

I would not say ‘some’ from what I have learned.

Some said that all would eventually be saved, while others (like Saints Ambrose and Jerome) taught that eventually all Christians would escape Hell.

JND Kelly, in his Early Christian Doctrines, tells us that the general consensus even among the later Fathers was that Hell was indeed eternal. However, he notes that Saint Basil laments the fact that, in his day, most “ordinary Christians” believed it was only temporary.

So, St Basil as well as Augustine note this, that most Christians did not believe hell was eternal . .

This speaks volumes . . if most Christians did not believe this, then it was not the predominite view of the Church at that time . . or an official teaching of the Church then. If it had been, it would be expected that most would have believed it was indeed etneral, as we are bound to believe what the Church requires us to believe as true. The fact that MOST did not testifies that the Church did not officially teach an eternal hell at that time.

This goes a long way to establishing what the Church taught . . and that the Church did not TEACH on this issue one way or the other until some point in the future when Augustine’s views were adopted . .

Peace in Him!

Hi DV continuing my response:

Sounds oddly similar to our own day, no?

In any event, the Church finally dogmatized the eternal duration of Hell. And so that’s where the matter stands, now and forever.

When I was researching this several years ago, I did not find a dogmatic statement by the Church that Hell is eternal . .

The fact that a book could be issued today with the imprimatur that gives the eventual reconcilliation of all as a viable belief in the Catholic Church today strongly attests, in my mind at least, that what I have read is perhaps true . . that there has been no dogmatic statement by the Church . . Hell taught as such, yes, but dogmatically?

I don’t see it …

There is a difference between Dogma and Doctrine . .

It was the doctrine of the Church that Mary was Immaculately Conceived . . but it was not declared DOGMA until recently . .

When was an eternal Hell ever dogmatically proclaimed by the Church?

I stopped researching this several years ago after not being able to find such a definitive statement, so perhaps it was, and I just didn’t go far enough . . the only thing I could find was reference to the Second Council of Constantinople of 553 AD as when the belief in an eternal hell was first officially embrace. However, in looking over the canons of that council, I could find nothing which mentions anything about hell; it is concerned with Christological heresies and proper Christology . …

So, since you seem to know when that it was, if you could provde the reference and cite for it, hopefully online so I can read it in context, etc, it would be most appreciated . .

Otherwise, from whawt I discovered, it seems that the Church may have elected to avail itself of the Doctrine of Reserves . . . as such a doctrine as a hell that does not last forever could be dangerous for those immature in their faith, leading them to not be so concerned about sin and its effects on their souls . . .

This is also a point the book “Good Goats” (which has the imprimatur) brings up . …

Peace in Him!

From what I have found in my research, this is not true . . . Clement of Alexandria preceded Origen . . Origen was his pupil . .

I (and Ludwig Ott!) stand corrected. Saint Clement of Alexandria was apparently the orginator of this doctrine.

I believe Irenaus also falls in this camp.

Nope:

The Church, though dispersed through the whole world, even to the ends of the earth, has received from the apostles and their disciples this faith: [She believes] in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all things that are in them; and in one Christ Jesus, the Son of God, who became incarnate for our salvation; and in the Holy Spirit, who proclaimed through the prophets the dispensations of God, and the advents, and the birth from a virgin, and the passion, and the resurrection from the dead, and the ascension into heaven in the flesh of the beloved Christ Jesus, our Lord, and His [future] manifestation from heaven in the glory of the Father “to gather all things in one,” and to raise up anew all flesh of the whole human race, in order that to Christ Jesus, our Lord, and God, and Saviour, and King, according to the will of the invisible Father, “every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth, and that every tongue should confess” to Him, and that He should execute just judgment towards all; that He may send “spiritual wickednesses,” and the angels who transgressed and became apostates, together with the ungodly, and unrighteous, and wicked, and profane among men, into everlasting fire; but may, in the exercise of His grace, confer immortality on the righteous, and holy, and those who have kept His commandments, and have persevered in His love, some from the beginning [of their Christian course], and others from [the date of] their repentance, and may surround them with everlasting glory.

and

For as, in the New Testament, that faith of men [to be placed] in God has been increased, receiving in addition [to what was already revealed] the Son of God, that man too might be a partaker of God; so is also our walk in life required to be more circumspect, when we are directed not merely to abstain from evil actions, but even from evil thoughts, and from idle words, and empty talk, and scurrilous-language: thus also the punishment of those who do not believe the Word of God, and despise His advent, and are turned away backwards, is increased; being not merely temporal, but rendered also eternal. For to whomsoever the Lord shall say, “Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire,” these shall be damned for ever; and to whomsoever He shall say, “Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you for eternity,” these do receive the kingdom for ever, and make constant advance in it; since there is one and the same God the Father, and His Word, who has been always present with the human race, by means indeed of various dispensations, and has wrought out many things, and saved from the beginning those who are saved, (for these are they who love God, and follow the Word of God according to the class to which they belong,) and has judged those who are judged, that is, those who forget God, and are blasphemous, and transgressors of His word.

Other than Tertullian, I do not remember a specific ECF embracing it as he did . . perhaps you could point me ot specific ECF’s and quotes . . ?

Writing in A.D. 212, Saint Hippolytus writes:

For all, the righteous and the unrighteous alike, shall be brought before God the Word. For the Father hath committed all judgment to Him; and in fulfilment of the Father’s counsel, He cometh as Judge whom we call Christ. For it is not Minos and Rhadamanthys that are to judge (the world), as ye fancy, O Greeks, but He whom God the Father hath glorified, of whom we have spoken elsewhere more in particular, for the profit of those who seek the truth. He, in administering the righteous judgment of the Father to all, assigns to each what is righteous according to his works. And being present at His judicial decision, all, both men and angels and demons, shall utter one voice, saying, “Righteous is Thy judgment.” Of which voice the justification will be seen in the awarding to each that which is just; since to those who have done well shall be assigned righteously eternal bliss, and to the lovers of iniquity shall be given eternal punishment. And the fire which is un-quenchable and without end awaits these latter, and a certain fiery worm which dieth not, and which does not waste the body, but continues bursting forth from the body with unending pain. No sleep will give them rest; no night will soothe them; no death will deliver them from punishment; no voice of interceding friends will profit them. For neither are the righteous seen by them any longer, nor are they worthy of remembrance. But the righteous will remember only the righteous deeds by which they reached the heavenly kingdom, in which there is neither sleep, nor pain, nor corruption, nor care, nor night, nor day measured by time; nor sun traversing in necessary course the circle of heaven, which marks the limits of seasons, or the points measured out for the life of man so easily read; nor moon waning or waxing, or inducing the changes of seasons, or moistening the earth; no burning sun, no changeful Bear, no Orion coming forth, no numerous wandering of stars, no painfully-trodden earth, no abode of paradise hard to find; no furious roaring of the sea, forbidding one to touch or traverse it; but this too will be readily passable for the righteous, although it lacks no water. There will be no heaven inaccessible to men, nor will the way of its ascent be one impossible to find; and there will be no earth unwrought, or toilsome for men, but one producing fruit spontaneously in beauty and order; nor will there be generation of wild beasts again, nor the bursting substance of other creatures. Neither with man will there be generation again, but the number of the righteous remains indefectible with the righteous angels and spirits. Ye who believe these words, O men, will be partakers with the righteous, and will have part in these future blessings, which “eye hath not seen nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him.” To Him be the glory and the power, for ever and ever. Amen.

Writing in A.D. 181, Theophilus of Antioch tells us:

Therefore, do not be sceptical, but believe; for I myself also used to disbelieve that this would take place, but now, having taken these things into consideration, I believe. At the same time, I met with the sacred Scriptures of the holy prophets, who also by the Spirit of God foretold the things that have already happened, just as they came to pass, and the things now occurring as they are now happening, and things future in the order in which they shall be accomplished. Admitting, therefore, the proof which events happening as predicted afford, I do not disbelieve, t I believe, obedient to God, whom, if you please, do you also submit to, believing Him, lest if now you continue unbelieving, you be convinced hereafter, when you are tormented with eternal punishments; which punishments, when they had been foretold by the prophets, the later-born poets and philosophers stole from the holy Scriptures, to make their doctrines worthy of credit. Yet these also have spoken beforehand of the punishments that are to light upon the profane and unbelieving, in order that none be left without a witness, or be able to say, “We have not heard, neither have we known.” But do you also, if you please, give reverential attention to the prophetic Scriptures, and they will make your way plainer for escaping the eternal punishments, and obtaining the eternal prizes of God. For He who gave the mouth for speech, and formed the ear to hear, and made the eye to see, will examine all things, and will judge righteous judgment, rendering merited awards to each. To those who by patient continuance in well-doing seek immortality, He will give life everlasting, joy, peace, rest, and abundance of good things, which neither hath eye seen, nor ear heard, nor hath it entered into the heart of man to conceive. But to the unbelieving and despisers, who obey not the truth, but are obedient to unrighteousness, when they shall have been filled with adulteries and fornications, and filthiness, and covetousness, and unlawful idolatries, there shall be anger and wrath, tribulation and anguish, and at the last everlasting fire shall possess such men. Since you said, “Show me thy God,” this is my God, and I counsel you to fear Him and to trust Him.

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