Is it true the road to hell is paved with good intentions?


#1

I’ve heard this expression used before but didn’t understand how it could be reconciled with Catholic doctrine which says that someone in invincible ignorance can and will be saved. If someone has good intentions, then clearly they believe what they are doing is right and are not convinced that they are commiting a grave sin, which means that the three requirement for mortal sin (hell) can’t be fulfilled. Someone who defies Church teaching because they think they know better clearly doesn’t believe they are sinning in doing so (invincible ignorance since they aren’t convinced), so how can they be commiting a mortal sin?


#2

It must be true.

My mother must of told me that 1000 times
and she would never lie.


#3

[quote=mcliffor]I’ve heard this expression used before but didn’t understand how it could be reconciled with Catholic doctrine which says that someone in invincible ignorance can and will be saved. If someone has good intentions, then clearly they believe what they are doing is right and are not convinced that they are commiting a grave sin, which means that the three requirement for mortal sin (hell) can’t be fulfilled. Someone who defies Church teaching because they think they know better clearly doesn’t believe they are sinning in doing so (invincible ignorance since they aren’t convinced), so how can they be commiting a mortal sin?
[/quote]

Not believing that you are sinning does not invincible ignorance make.

The idea of this axiom is that you may have a go intention to do something but you don’t follow through on it. An example would be this:

You have a good intention to pay the rent.
You don’t pay the rent.
You and yoru family get kicked out of your home.

This is what the saying is refering to.


#4

[quote=mcliffor]I’ve heard this expression used before but didn’t understand how it could be reconciled with Catholic doctrine which says that someone in invincible ignorance can and will be saved. If someone has good intentions, then clearly they believe what they are doing is right and are not convinced that they are commiting a grave sin, which means that the three requirement for mortal sin (hell) can’t be fulfilled. Someone who defies Church teaching because they think they know better clearly doesn’t believe they are sinning in doing so (invincible ignorance since they aren’t convinced), so how can they be commiting a mortal sin?
[/quote]

Why does it have to be reconciled with Catholic doctrine?

This is a popular expression not a Bible verse.

It is usually incorrectly attributed either to Dr. Samuel Johnson or confused with Matthew 7:13 -

“Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it.”

Blessings,
Richard


#5

I’ve always understood the phrase to mean cutting corners, shaving the truth, doing what one knows is wrong for “good” reasons. Like “I didn’t do my homework because I took my little sister to the movies for her birthday”, or “I stole something from Old Man Jones because he’s a greedy old goat and needs to be taught a lesson”.


#6

Good intentions or not, the road to Hell is surely paved.

VociMike, I agree with you. We must have HOLY intentions.


#7

It may also be a rather skewed version of the sin of not being sorry for the things we ought to have done which we didn’t do. Does that make sense? :slight_smile:


#8

[quote=mcliffor]invincible ignorance since they aren’t convinced, so how can they be commiting a mortal sin?
[/quote]

That’s not how invincible ignorance works. Such a person as you describe above would be guilty of vincible ignorance

CCC 1791
"This ignorance can often be imputed to personal responsibility. This is the case when a man ‘takes little trouble to find out what is true and good, or when conscience is by degrees almost blinded through the habit of committing sin.’ In such cases, the person is culpable for the evil he commits."

As you can see, people have a certain responsibility to find the truth. A Catholic denying a Church teaching on morals is doubtless guilty of sin.


#9

Here’s an example I came across.

A Catholic woman, in ‘good standing’ in her parish had a daughter who decided to have an abortion. Since the girl was adamant, the mother went with her to hold her hand and support her emotionally throughout the ‘procedure’.

She became outspoken in her opinion that sometimes abortion is the best solution to the problem, ie an unwanted pregnancy. She is now using the same justification in favour of legalising euthanasia, that sometimes it is the most compassionate thing to do.

Unfortunately, the PP likes this woman and stands up for her. He has stopped advertising pro-life prayer vigils outside an abortion clinic in the parish notice because it might upset her.

She started out with good intentions, and is now in danger of losing her soul and starting others down the same ‘paved’ road.


#10

Let’s take this situation. A person is in mortal sin(eq. missing mass). He is intending to go to confession-is on his way now. In route he gets killed in an auto accident, he had turned off the road in order to miss a school bus. I would say because of his intention to go to confession, his sins will be forgiven.–nicolo


#11

[quote=nico1089]Let’s take this situation. A person is in mortal sin(eq. missing mass). He is intending to go to confession-is on his way now. In route he gets killed in an auto accident, he had turned off the road in order to miss a school bus. I would say because of his intention to go to confession, his sins will be forgiven.–nicolo
[/quote]

Yeah but this is completely different than what the old axiom is addressing.


#12

[quote=mosher]Yeah but this is completely different than what the old axiom is addressing.
[/quote]

Exactly.

This addage has NOTHING to do with Catholic theology or doctrine.

Blessings,
Richard


#13

[quote=Eileen T]Here’s an example I came across.

A Catholic woman, in ‘good standing’ in her parish had a daughter who decided to have an abortion. Since the girl was adamant, the mother went with her to hold her hand and support her emotionally throughout the ‘procedure’.

She became outspoken in her opinion that sometimes abortion is the best solution to the problem, ie an unwanted pregnancy. She is now using the same justification in favour of legalising euthanasia, that sometimes it is the most compassionate thing to do.

Unfortunately, the PP likes this woman and stands up for her. He has stopped advertising pro-life prayer vigils outside an abortion clinic in the parish notice because it might upset her.

She started out with good intentions, and is now in danger of losing her soul and starting others down the same ‘paved’ road.
[/quote]

But the woman in this case no longer believes that the teachings of the Church are true, probably in the same way a Protestant doesn’t, so wouldn’t she be in invincible ignorance?


#14

So can only Catholics commit mortal sins? Of course not. All people need to act in accord with their conscience, but they also need to form it properly.


#15

[quote=mcliffor]But the woman in this case no longer believes that the teachings of the Church are true, probably in the same way a Protestant doesn’t, so wouldn’t she be in invincible ignorance?
[/quote]

In my experience, it is usually after someone has done something that violates Church teaching, or strongly desires to, that they begin trying to justify their actions and saying that the Church is wrong in its teaching. I have experience in the area of abortion & post-abortion counselling. And what I have found is that she would either leave the Church, or become a dissenter while remaining in the Church, trying to change teaching to justify her actions.

Actually, another example is Bishop Kevin Dowling from South African who supports the use of condoms against HIV/AIDS on humanitarian grounds.

Bp Dowling argues that abstinence in marriage should be reconsidered “in a diocese full of desperately poor women with few options beyond prostitution to feed their children.”


#16

[quote=mcliffor]But the woman in this case no longer believes that the teachings of the Church are true, probably in the same way a Protestant doesn’t, so wouldn’t she be in invincible ignorance?
[/quote]

No


#17

It seems that Jesus spells out fairly cleary in the Sermon on the Mount what does pave the road to hell

"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.
Therefore, if you bring your gift to the altar, and there recall that your brother has anything against you, leave your gift there at the altar, go first and be reconciled with your brother, and then come and offer your gift. Settle with your opponent quickly while on the way to court with him. Otherwise your opponent will hand you over to the judge, and the judge will hand you over to the guard, and you will be thrown into prison. Amen, I say to you, you will not be released until you have paid the last penny. " The road to hell is paved with the cherishing of anger and contempt for other people. Condemnation is obtained, as is often stated in the gospel, by the refusal to forgive others.

That doesn’t mean that living in sin doesn’t carry serious temporal consequences even if the person living that way does it with tolerance of other people. But not all consequences include eternal damnation.

peace

-Jim


#18

I always heard that Karl Marx used that phrase a lot.

He certainly should have known.


#19

I thought it was paved with yellow bricks. Little people scare me.


#20

[quote=mcliffor]. If someone has good intentions, then clearly they believe what they are doing is right and are not convinced that they are commiting a grave sin, which means that the three requirement for mortal sin (hell) can’t be fulfilled. ?
[/quote]

Just having good intentions is not enough, right intentions must be followed by right action. I should pray, I should read scripture, I should do something to help the poor, I should be kind to my neighbor, I should forgive my brother. All good intentions, but until they are put into action they are worthless. A person who knows what he should do, yet fails to do it, is in more danger of hell than someone who does not know what he should do.


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