Saint Thomas reasons like this. The only way for a rational creature like a human to change his mind is to have new information added, or the ability to consider old information in a new light. at the moment of death when you enter the afterlife, especially if you are bound for hell, there will be no more new information given to you and your mind will be made up in such a way that you will not be able to consider old information in a new light. As I say This is a very reasonable argument. However, when I studied epistemology in college, I learned that there are at least five sources and grounds for knowledge. They are as follows. Perception, testimony, memory, introspection, and reason. Now, even if we were to assume that there would be no perception and no testimony in hell, there would still be the other three sources and grounds for knowledge, all three of which can lead to either new information or the reconsideration of old information in a new light. Introspection, memory and reason all serve these functions in our minds right now. All Three extend our knowledge into new places. In other words, they move the mind from what is known to what was previously unknown. So, I think there is good reason for rejecting Saint Thomas’ argument for why a rational mind could not change in hell. It is a psychological argument, that I do not find it successful.
From Catholic Answers; The Hell There Is!
The doctrine of hell is so frightening that numerous heretical sects end up denying the reality of an eternal hell. The Unitarian-Universalists, the Seventh-day Adventists, the Jehovah’s Witnesses, the Christadelphians, the Christian Scientists, the Religious Scientists, the New Agers, and the Mormons—all have rejected or modified the doctrine of hell so radically that it is no longer a serious threat. In recent decades, this decay has even invaded mainstream Evangelicalism, and a number of major Evangelical figures have advocated the view that there is no eternal hell—the wicked will simply be annihilated.
Any practicing Catholic who refuses to believe in eternal hell, is simply in total denial! And worse still, is in complete denial of the Church’s founder, Jesus Christ. Numerous times he spoke of the eternal fire, or eternal punishment in hell. I don’t ever recall Him saying that this is temporary, that eventually all will be saved. Although I do recall Him saying; “The Son of man shall send his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all scandals, and them that work iniquity. And shall cast them into the furnace of fire: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then shall the just shine as the sun, in the kingdom of their Father. He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.”
Again, those who for whatever reason continue to deny these truths are in for one hell of a rude awakening…no pun intended!
Please read; Bible quotes on Hell
Mark, that is actually a great pun. You should totally embrace that! As I have said several times throughout this thread, there is no necessary reason to deny the reality of hell, but there are several reasons for denying the everlasting nature of it as far as humans are concerned. The chief of which of course is God‘s infinite love, grace and mercy.
And I’m sure you do recall the universal nature of the way in which God’s salvation was expressed in the sacred Scriptures. “For God so loved the world…” And “…God our savior who desires that all people be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth…” That Christ died for all is one of the most consistent messages of the new testament that you could point to. It is a message that is hammered over and over by pretty much every single new testament author. However, what is not nearly as common are the references to Gehenna or the emphasis on God as the harsh end-times judge. God‘s justice must be accomplished, no doubt. However, as I have also said several times here, love is a higher good than justice. Mercy trumps judgment, always. These are also consistent messages of the Scriptures.
The god you believe in creates humans, tries to reach them with his love and then punishes his own creatures for a neverending period of time if they reject his love in this lifetime, knowing the entire time that these humans would be banished from his love and suffer an everlasting torment. That’s a god, I suppose. Not quite sure it’s the God though.
I believe that Hell is the absence of God, which is the punishment. Never being able to feel close to Him.
Hellfire itself seems to be part of that deal.
Are you Catholic? If not, no point in continuing. If you are, show me one church document, one pope, one Catholic Saint theologian who supports your claim that hell is not everlasting.
Yes, I’ve been been Catholic for 15 years-entered thru RCIA in my late twenties. Earlier in the thread I pointed out two very prominent individuals who espouse the view that I am suggesting here. One of them is von Balthasar, who was made a cardinal by Pope John Paul II after he had published his views on the subject. The other is bishop Robert Barron, who also made his similar views public when he was a priest, which means he was promoted to auxiliary bishop after he publicly supported the view that yes, we dare hope that hell will one day be emptied of human souls.
Little flower, I agree with you that that is what the hell is. It is the absence from the good, which is God. The only matter that I have been debating here is the everlasting nature of that realm of existence.
Well, I guess it’s like time out, right? Kids do naughty things you stick them in time out and low and behold, they’ll be good.
Life is that cycle, until we all kick the bucket. Confession and leading good lives is being allowed out of time out.
Once we are dead, maybe there is a small period where we could repent sincerely but once timeout (Hell) begins that’s it. This timeout just doesn’t go away. Because once we are in timeout we would promise the world.
We are in this world to do good. Once we are dead that opportunity is gone, no? Except for if we are saints, and can intercede. But we are to toil for the reward in this life. Work hard in this life.
On the other hand, maybe not many people truely die in complete mortal sin. We don’t know. Maybe many people are truely sorry everyday. I think of sexual abuse victims in the church, who had their spiritual needs (and much more) just decimated.
Will God look at them unkindly? What about the poor person who stole bread to feed their baby? Or killed their baby back in the Middle Ages because of a famine and they didn’t want their baby to starve a slow death? Their true anguish, their sincere grief and sorrow is real. We are pretty certain God is merciful.
Hans Urs von Balthasar and Bishop Barron’s beliefs are meaningless. There’s currently (see below) a German bishop who proposes blessing gay unions!!! Bishops are not infallible, and are capable of promoting error, and even heresy. Give me a church document, a quotation from a pope, or Doctor of the Church.(Aquinas, Augustine etc.). Good luck finding just one!
The gate is narrow.
Little flower, I like a lot of what you have to say here. And yes, if there is anything that I am certain of, it is that God’s love is infinite and that his mercy endures forever. I am always going to err on the side of God’s mercy. That is the message that is consistently shown in the sacred Scriptures and in the life of the church itself.
The analogies that I try to make in my own mind with regard to purgatory and hell are the hospital and the prison. In my mind, purgatory is not so much punitive as it is rehabilitative. It is like the hospital. Through some form of neglect or another you injured yourself and you’re gonna have to stay on the hospital bed until the treatment to cure you brings you back to a fullness of life. And then you can go play with the others in heaven… But hell itself would have more of a punitive nature to it, possibly. But just as no human court in a civil society would issue a cruel and usual punishment as a consequence of a crime, no matter how many are the crimes and no matter how grave, just so God would not issue a cruel and unusual punishment. His mercy endures forever. An everlasting Hell as a consequence for a finite crime is cruel and unusual punishment taken to the nth degree. Or so it seems rather evident to me.
Sacred Scripture and the Church also show that hell is permanent thing.
Hang on a second, Mark. You came to this thread to engage me. I responded. You asked for examples from several categories, including theologians. I gave you two examples. And these aren’t run of the mill, little know theologians either. Bishop Barron is the founder and head of one of the most influential apologetical /evangelical Catholic ministries today—Word on Fire. His online presence is vast. He’s no small potatoes. And Hans Urs von Balthasar is universally acknowledged to be one of the top three most influential Catholic theologians of the 20th century. Pope John Paul 2 was very fond of and very influenced by the thought of von Balthasar. Again, far from small potatoes. Potatoes don’t really grow much larger than Balthasar. But more to the point, it’s not my job to convince you of anything. You jumped in this conversation, made some points, which I believe I’ve refuted. If you need an authority to tell you what to believe before you feel free to believe it, then that’s on you. I feel no such restrictions. If ascenting to every jot and tittle of the CCC is how you arrive at your Catholic beliefs, more power to you! What do I care. In this thread, I’m trying to give the Catholic Forums reasons for disbelieving (or at least questioning) their belief in the everlasting duration of human souls in Hell. If you don’t like my arguments, try refuting them! Or don’t… But don’t tell me it’s my job to find the sources for YOUR Catholic beliefs. When I was learning the rosary 15 years ago, I was surprised by one of the prayers recited toward the end of each decade (or the end of the rosary, whichever way you do it). It goes, “Lord Jesus, forgive us our sins, save us from the fires of hell. Lead all souls to heaven, especially those in most need of thy mercy.” So, there is a Hell. And we pray for Jesus to save us from it and to lead ALL souls to heaven, especially those who most need his mercy. There is so much theological tension contained in that little prayer.
New International Version
Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.
New Living Translation
"Don’t be afraid of those who want to kill your body; they cannot touch your soul. Fear only God, who can destroy both soul and body in hell.
English Standard Version
And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.
The only way that I have been able to come to terms with Hell is viewing it in a simmilar way the Orthodox do. Basically that we all are united with God when we die, but to someone who rejects God, then God’s love to them is miserable. A fire if you will.
My Catholic beliefs??? lol. No sir, YOUR catholic beliefs!!! YOU sir are the one on here contradicting consistent Catholic teaching with this “hell isn’t permanent” thinking. The reason why you can’t find these sources that I suggested to you to back up your claims, is because there ARE NO SOURCES to back up your claims…full stop.
Mark, you need authorities. I’ll briefly list the ones that Balthasar lists, but I encourage you to read his small book yourself. From Church history, he lists Didymus the Blind, St. Gregory of Nyssa, Mechtilde of Hackeborn, Julianna of Norwich, Angela of Foligno, Mechtilde of Magdeburg, Adrienne von Speyer and Edith Stein as all being, as he is, open to hoping that all humans will eventually be saved. But there’s also no denying that more saints and theologians through history have advocated the view that Hell is everlasting (no exit). So now that you have some saints and theologians from Church history who were amenable to the view of Balthasar, so what? None of this addresses the actual arguments I’ve given above. It’s all just various appeals to authority.
Providing your own reasons for believing in an infinitely loving God who banished his own creatures from his presence forever is what I’d like to hear. Providing a reason for believing in a disproportionate application of justice (where the punishment of everlasting torment somehow fits the crime of finite sin) would also greatly interest me. Or, you could try to counter my arguments above, like my argument against St Thomas Aquinas’ psychological argument. But, let’s be done with the appeals to authority. That gets us no where interesting.
Wkj, yes, that’s a view similar to CS Lewis—the door to hell is locked from the inside. That is a rational take on hell. It is a position that is philosophically and theologically defensible. I can see why some adhere to it. I would even say that Balthasar’s position is consistent with it. He simply believes (as I do) that God’s mercy endures forever, and human souls endure forever. Put those two things together and yes, we as Catholics are free to hope that God’s desire to save all men will eventually be accomplished.
How about this. It’s called Church Authority.
Catechism of the Catholic Church
THE PROFESSION OF FAITH
1034 Jesus often speaks of “Gehenna” of “the unquenchable fire” reserved for those who to the end of their lives refuse to believe and be converted, where both soul and body can be lost.614 Jesus solemnly proclaims that he "will send his angels, and they will gather . . . all evil doers, and throw them into the furnace of fire,"615 and that he will pronounce the condemnation: "Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire!"616
1035 The teaching of the Church affirms the existence of hell and its eternity. Immediately after death the souls of those who die in a state of mortal sin descend into hell, where they suffer the punishments of hell, "eternal fire."617 The chief punishment of hell is eternal separation from God, in whom alone man can possess the life and happiness for which he was created and for which he longs.
I believe it’s you who is in dire need of authorities. And please, don’t point to Barron and von Balthasar again. Enough already. But do take a long hard look at CCC 1035; especially this sentence:
1035 The teaching of the Church affirms the existence of hell and its eternity.
Hell and its eternity!!! Just like the RCC has always taught. And just like everyone on this thread is able to grasp…with the exception of you of course. I’m all done here.
This is very much my view as well. Cardinal Newman said that the warm light of God’s love in which the saints bask is the same light that is experienced by the damned as hideously painful fire. This has the ring of truth to me.