Does the fear of Hell make the world a better place

Now i am firstly not arguing about Hell being unnecessary, there are i really believe some souls who are so wedded to sin that they will never repent even if they saw a vision of Heaven and it’s glories. What i am saying is does the idea of Hell motivate people to do good that they would otherwise not do? The Catholic Encyclopedia seems to think so " if all men were fully convinced that the sinner need fear no kind of punishment after death, moral and social order would be seriously menaced. This, however, Divine wisdom cannot permit." I mean is it not the grace of God that causes the person to be good in the first place, that a person could theoretically be good out of their own will without any expectation of reward or fear of punishment?

We see that in many parts of the world across history where there was little if any fear of Hell, at least an eternal Hell. We also can look at the past across many Christian countries and see many instances of immorality, clearly the fear of Hell was not keeping them from doing evil, could they have done more evil had they not believed? perhaps but the matter of the fact is that when someone does good they do it because God has given them the grace to do it, not because they have a fear or an expectation of a reward so is it time we saw the argument that the fear of Hell makes the world a better place as an outdated one?

This is asking the wrong question. We shouldn’t be asking whether the fear of hell makes the world a better place. We should be asking if hell exists, and if it does, is it rational to be afraid of it? I think the answer to both questions is yes.

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I have no idea what you just said. All I know is that I don’t drive in the HOV lane because the highway patrol will nail you every time with a ticket and a pretty significant fine. We use the law for a reason. The first use of the law, to identify how people are supposed to live and enforce compliance with the threat of judgment works. When I look at society and how we are removing such things as legal punishment for minor crimes, and even social shame, and see how society reacts by being much more licentious as a whole, it seems that Hell is not an outmoded concept. Also, God has revealed that this is an eschatological reality, so there’s that…let’s just stick with proclaiming the doctrine as we have received it.

There is not a complete corruption of human nature due to original sin so a person can do good before receiving actual grace or sanctifying grace. The idea of complete corruption was condemned as an error of the Reformers and of the Jansenists.

God to be honest is completely capable of getting people to do good without fear of any punishment, with good reasons only known to God and the saints he has chosen to create a world where people sin, i think our justice system on the other hand has to be looked at less as a punishment and more as a system of keeping people safe from unstable elements in society but that is a subject for another thread. Think about history and how in medieval times when there was a greater fear of Hell there was still a lot of crime and immorality, now things are barely better now but if it was not for the grace of God keeping people good there would probably be total breakdown with everyone out for themself. Also the eschatological reality is that Hell is there for those who do not want to live with God, not there to deter sinners from sinning.

I agree that Hell does not exist for the sole purpose, or even the main purpose of influencing people to behave. That being said, many people across the world do behave well in the civil realm because of the threat of some sort of eternal punishment for their actions, just as the average citizen obeys our civil laws in part because they fear the consequences of the law should they violate it. Generally speaking, people misbehave when they think they will either get away with wrongdoing, or if there is no penalty. Where there is no fear of law, evil increases.

What difference does the grace of God do then? because that is what causes a person to do good acts, it is the grace of God working in them, not fear otherwise no one would still choose to do wrong and no one would go to Hell!

Well, first, you would need to define what you mean by good acts, and what you mean by grace. I think that you and I probably are using those terms somewhat differently. I do agree that people who don’t fear God yet follow aspects of the law, do so by God’s grace. Romans 1 indicates so. But it doesn’t say how that grace works. The inherent knowledge that there is an afterlife and that our actions have eternal consequences may be the mechanism of grace that allows for many people who don’t necessarily believe in Christ to nevertheless obey the law. This does make the world a better place. Imagine if no one believed that there are consequences for things such as murder, rape, theft, etc. The world could be far worse if that was the case. And again, with the population increasingly becoming more secular, I think we are seeing a rise in licentiousness. I would not blame this completely on whether they believe in the concept of heaven and hell, I think much of it has to do with the sin of determining for ourselves what is good and evil, but I do think the rejections of ideas of heaven and hell contribute. My point is that we don’t need to redefine what God says about these things because somehow it is “irrelevant.” We need to proclaim what God has revealed in scripture and let the proclamation of God’s Word do what He intends for it to do.

There was a debate on here a while back about what causes people to do good and the answer was the grace of God is what gives people that feeling, that inspiration to do good. If Gods grace was efficacious in everyone we would all do good and we would all avoid Hell and our motivation for doing good would simply be to please God, but we don’t live in such a world yet because God does not give everyone efficacious grace and so many will fail to persevere in their goodness out of their own fault but also as a choice that God has made to not grant that all saving grace, it is grace that stops me from robbing people in the streets, why it has not stopped me from thinking lustful thoughts i do not know but at least Gods grace has stopped me from doing some very immoral things.

Hell was created originally for the devil and his angels.

Matthew 25:31-34 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.”

Matthew 25:41 “Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.”

So we can see that Hell was originally prepared for Satan and the rebellious angels. But, since Adam and Eve gave into the devil’s schemes, all humans by original sin, without God’s grace, also deserve a part in the eternal fire. (Now Christ paid for our salvation from this.)

As for making the world a better place…God can certainly inspire us to do good out of love for Him and not for fear of Hell. But Hell exists, and as Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.”

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I think that fear of punishment in general tends to keep people in line (when you look at the behavior of large groups).

But to figure out a particular person’s motivation in the moment, you’d have to talk to them and get to know them and decide how truthful they are.

How much punishment is needed to keep people in line? i think the idea of being ostracized or imprisoned temporarily is enough to deter most people from committing crimes, some will still go ahead with the crimes even though they know they run a real risk of entering Hell. There is only one thing that will stop people from committing crimes and that is Gods grace.

I guess it depends on the person

The answer is yes.
‘He who loves God with all his heart does not fear death or punishment or judgment or hell,
because perfect love assures access to God. It is no wonder that he who still delights in sin fears death and judgment. It is good, however, that even if love does not as yet restrain you from evil, at least the fear of hell does. The man who casts aside the fear of God cannot continue long in goodness but will
quickly fall into the snares of the devil.’ - The Imitation of Christ

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I don’t have the quote handy. I remember watching Peter Hitchens a number of years ago and he said something to the effect of “For those nations which don’t believe in hell, hell pretty quickly comes into existence.” He was referring to the communist nation-states.

Hell is an understanding that evil actions lead to bad consequences. I think people are worse off for not having a belief in it. While Origen was a very good writer and speaker, his theory on apocatastasis (everybody will be saved) was ultimately rejected.

Servile fear is a very good thing. But filial fear is better.

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Anyone want to admit that they didn’t do something because they were afraid they’d go to hell?

I will admit that my personal sense of right and wrong does not always align with Church teaching.

And, if not for Church teaching I would have been at my sisters wedding.

In this insane world, any level of contrition is a plus.

I’ll admit it.

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