Hell

If God is being itself and hell is eternal separation from God, how can those who are in the state of hell continue to exist? Wouldn’t they cease to “be” if they were separated from “being”?

Was wondering how to answer that one.

Also, if the deceased are all one day going to be bodily resurrected, how can hell not be a physical place? I’ve heard hell is a state of being, the eternal separation from God, and not a place; this seems problematic if those left for hell will be bodily resurrected.

So…

  1. How can it be that people will be eternally separated from “being” and yet still “be”?
  2. How can hell only be an eternal separation from God (being) as opposed to a place if there is to be a bodily resurrection?
  1. They are separated from God with respect to beatitude (i.e. their final end), not with respect to being. The abridged story is this: Human beings have teleology or “directedness” to their lives. Specifically, all human being are naturally directed towards happiness. But grace elevates that final end up from being natural to being supernatural. Supernatural beatitude is a happiness befitting to God! At any rate, if a human being fails the utter purpose of their lives – which cannot happen until death – by rejecting happiness, they suffer a loss of beatitude. But supernatural beatitude is an infinite happiness. It turns out that a result of this is an infinite pain of loss. I’m sure there are other scholastics with different opinions. That was basically the opinion of St. Thomas Aquinas. It’s a separation from God as the ultimate good of graced human being, but not with respect to being, except insofar as the loss of heaven and the loss of happiness is a loss of being.

  2. There are a variety of opinions on this subject. Many of the scholastics said Hell is essentially a condition, but also a place. Perhaps some said it is just a condition. But I don’t know of any who said it is just a place (then it wouldn’t be Hell for anyone.) Consider this truth also: the angels suffer the same damnation, in essence, as human beings. Yet angels do not have bodies. So damnation, in essence, is not bodily. However, for bodily creatures, it is often taught there are bodily pains in proportion to the sins committed.

Separation here means no union. After the general resurrection the bodies of the damned, must be in some place, where they will receive the eternal punishment.

Catechism
1033 We cannot be united with God unless we freely choose to love him. … This state of definitive self-exclusion from communion with God and the blessed is called “hell.”

1044 In this new universe, the heavenly Jerusalem, God will have his dwelling among men.634
634 Cf. Rev 21:5.

1047 The visible universe, then, is itself destined to be transformed, “so that the world itself, restored to its original state, facing no further obstacles, should be at the service of the just,” sharing their glorification in the risen Jesus Christ.640
640 St. Irenaeus, Adv. haeres. 5,32,1:PG 7/2,210.

I do not know what you mean by “seperating from God.” Can any one unite with God? If you say by love! Is that physical? No. Then there is no an action through physical perhaps morally or by heart.

Hell is a physical place. People who go in Hell seperate from God as morally and from God’s Mercy and Grace. People in Heavens unite with Grace and Mercy(or benefit from grace and mercy). On the other hand people in Hell unite with punishment of God!

Catechism

“One Body”

790 Believers who respond to God’s word and become members of Christ’s Body, become intimately united with him: "In that body the life of Christ is communicated to those who believe, and who, through the sacraments, are united in a hidden and real way to Christ in his Passion and glorification."220 This is especially true of Baptism, which unites us to Christ’s death and Resurrection, and the Eucharist, by which "really sharing in the body of the Lord, . . . we are taken up into communion with him and with one another."221

45 Man is made to live in communion with God in whom he finds happiness: When I am completely united to you, there will be no more sorrow or trials; entirely full of you, my life will be complete (St. Augustine, Conf. 10, 28, 39: PL 32, 795).

When Catholics (and I believe Christians in general) speak of union with God, we are speaking about the perfect alignment of our wills with the eternal will of the Father. It also means to be in the direct presence of God, and experience Him to His fullest (at least as fully as we are capable of experiencing Him as non-eternal, non-triune beings).

Hell is a physical place. People who go in Hell seperate from God as morally and from God’s Mercy and Grace. People in Heavens unite with Grace and Mercy(or benefit from grace and mercy). On the other hand people in Hell unite with punishment of God!

Currently, Hell is not a physical place. It couldn’t be physical, because our souls lack physicality when they are departed from our bodies. However, after the general resurrection, our souls are reunited with our bodies, and Hell will become a physical place.

It was physical in OT times. See Numbers 16:31-33. Hell is/was somewhere below the modern country of Jordan. :slight_smile:

rossum

31
No sooner had he finished saying all this than the ground beneath them split open,
32
and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed them and their families and all of Korah’s people with all their possessions.
33
They went down alive to Sheol with all belonging to them; the earth closed over them, and they disappeared from the assembly.

Well, there are a couple important distinctions to make.

#1: Sheol is not the same thing as the Christian Hell. It is the place of the dead, who died before the time of Christ. In Jesus’s parable about Lazerus and the Rich Man, we see that Sheol contains both damned souls and the souls of the righteous dead.

#2: There can always be exceptions to this type of thing if God wills them. After all, we’re told that the gates of Heaven were not opened until Christ’s Sacrifice on the cross.; however, prior to this we see both Elijah and Moses, fully glorified (that is, having obtained the beatific vision) during the transfiguration (Matthew 17.) We also know that both Elijah (or was it Elisha?) and Mary were assumed into Heaven with their bodies. Jesus himself also ascended with his physical body. This shows that it is entirely possible for Heaven to have a physical aspect to it, so I would assume the same would be true for Hell. I was making more of a generalized statement. After all, God created this reality, and He will create the hell at the end of time which is both physical and spiritual, so it seems reasonable that if a special case permitted it, He could create a “physical Hell” for special cases.

You didn’t really address the main point of my post though. In the Christian understanding, we are a body-soul composite. Our bodies are not some shell that we put on, they are an integral aspect our us. When we die, we are separated from our bodies for a time, however, after the general resurrection we will be reunited with them. When that happens, both Heaven and Hell, as a whole, will take on a physical nature to accommodate this new state, whereas prior currently they only required a spiritual reality. Again, there may be special exceptions to this, but for the most part I would argue that we can safely assume that both Heaven and Hell are primarily spiritual realities for the time being.

This from Douay-Rheims: “33 And they went down alive into hell the ground closing upon them, and they perished from among the people.” (emphasis added)

rossum

This gives a better explanation than I could.

catholic.com/qa/did-sheol-become-gehenna-after-the-resurrection

In short, prior to Christ is was just the abode of the dead; after Christ is became Hell as Christians understand it.

Again, not addressing the primary point of my post… Namely, without a body, there’s no need for Hell to be physical.

So to answer your first question, God sustains all things in being because God is also all loving. Ultimately it is an act of God’s love to keep things in being. I once heard a quote from a priest who’s name slips me at the moment. He said: “To Be is to be known… By God.” That is, one can still exist and not know or see God. All that is required is for God to know and see that particular being.

Thus the concept of Hell fits perfectly with the idea of being separated from Being Itself, yet still to be. We just have to remember also that Love, Goodness, Mercy, Justice, Being are all really the same thing, namely God, just looked at from different perspectives.

To answer your second question, in the book of Revelation, we see our physical reality being united with our spiritual reality. The two become one -new:

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. 2 And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying,

“See, the home of God is among mortals.
He will dwell with them;
they will be his peoples,
and God himself will be with them;
4
he will wipe every tear from their eyes.
Death will be no more;
mourning and crying and pain will be no more,
for the first things have passed away.”

Rev 21:1-4 (Emphasis added)

This is the culmination of the human story. It goes on to describe the Lord as saying “It is done!” and declaring that he has made all things new. So essentially, Hell as it is right now will be changed to accommodate corporeal beings, as will Heaven. To learn more about this concept, I suggest your read Edward Feser’s articles How To Go To Hell and Why Not Annihilation?. Feser is a world renowned Thomistic philosopher and does an excellent job at explaining these complex topics.

In addition, you will learn that Hell is not merely eternal separation from God. It’s quite that, but it is also eternal punishment inflicted by God. This corresponds to God’s Justice in obtaining retribution for the damned person’s sins.

Hope this helps. God Bless!

Contrary to common belief, God is not “not present” in Hell. God is omnipresent.

Rather, in Hell, sinners are completely cut off from the love and grace of God, which those in Heaven enjoy constantly and those on earth also enjoy constantly to a limited degree (if we on earth had God’s grace, love, and protection completely removed at any moment we would instantly notice).

Guys, you have totally derailed the thread. Please return to the topic.

My apologies.

Agreed. My sig sometimes does that. Apologies.

rossum

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.