May someone please help me to understand "God using evil to do good?"

St Paul posed a similar question in Romans:

1 What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? 2 By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? 3 Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. 5 For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. 6 We know that our old self was crucified with him so that the sinful body might be destroyed, and we might no longer be enslaved to sin. 7 For he who has died is freed from sin. 8 But if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him. 9 For we know that Christ being raised from the dead will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. 10 The death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. 11 So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus. (Romans 6:1-11)

You bring up a good point to think about. John M. Roll, the chief judge for the United States District Court for the District of Arizona, was murdered by Jared Loughner in the attack in Tucson in 2011 that wounded Representative Gabrielle Giffords. I never met him but look quite a bit like him, apparently, because I’ve had people in the Tucson courthouse become very startled when they first meet me due to the resemblance, and so I’ve had a chance to talk to people who knew him well. Judge Roll was a daily communicant, and had just come from Mass when he stopped at the shopping center to say hello to his friend, Gabrielle Giffords. He died sheltering another person with his own body. I doubt that he knew when he woke up that morning that it would be his last day on earth, and I don’t doubt that he died in a state of Grace, and in martyrdom as well.

For every one of us, we will wake up one day and it will be our last. How we spend our hours matters.

As I suspect the evil in the world is created by us, and our sins, a sign of God’s love and magnanimity is that He works to transmute that evil into good. To argue that we should commit evil to give God raw material to work with is like saying you should steal the money your father lends you so he has the opportunity for greater acts of charity and forgiveness.

Coincidentally, I was just watching the (interesting) film adaptation of Phillip K. Dick’s novel “A Scanner Darkly,” where one of the characters says near the end: “God’s M.O. is to transmute evil into good. If He is active here, He is doing that now, although our eyes can’t perceive it; the process lies hidden beneath the surface of reality, and emerges only later.”

Amen, sometimes an artist needs to use a jack hammer to remove unwanted weights from his creation.

Yes, exactly.

Dear Po18guy,

The Church has traditionally taught that hell is both a place and a state of being. If you don’t believe me, then please read what St. Thomas Aquinas teaches about hell. Only after V2 have people started with this business about hell only being a state of being. They are going against tradition.

I don’t quite understand what you are saying in your last sentence. Are you saying that you don’t think that anybody is in hell at the present time?

Yours in Mary Immaculate Queen,

The only resurrected Body is that of Christ - the first fruits of the resurrection. A body that has decomposed in the earth cannot be in either heaven or hell, can it? Bodies in the earth remain in the earth until the resurrection. Their spirits are somewhere else, or else their spirits would either be dead/non-existent (impossible), or still living in their bodies. The exorcist priest may very well have been speaking of the present time (and I suspect that he was), rather than after the resurrection, when all will receive their bodies back.

Is this a little clearer?

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!”

1038 The resurrection of all the dead, "of both the just and the unjust,"623 will precede the Last Judgment. This will be "the hour when all who are in the tombs will hear [the Son of man’s] voice and come forth, those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of judgment."624 Then Christ will come “in his glory, and all the angels with him. . . . Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate them one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, and he will place the sheep at his right hand, but the goats at the left. . . . And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

1059 “The holy Roman Church firmly believes and confesses that on the Day of Judgment all men will appear in their own bodies before Christ’s tribunal to render an account of their own deeds”

Bodies, once cast into hell, cannot leave. To leave hell would imply hope and we know that there is no hope in hell. Aquinas is the greatest theologian of all time. Yet, what he taught and believed, unless encapsulated as doctrine, was opinion, no matter how divinely informed. I find nothing in the catechism which teaches that hell is a physical location today. It clearly will be at the resurrection, as it must then contain the bodies of the damned.

I will gladly entertain any Church teaching beyond, or contrary to my opinions.

Dear Po18guy,

Though there may be no bodies in hell at the present, there are souls presently dwelling there. You agree that there are souls presently dwelling in hell, don’t you? God bless you.

Yours in Mary Immaculate Queen,

Certainly! But, souls are immaterial spirits. Only material objects require a physical location. Certainly hell will be a physical location, in order to contain the bodies of the damned, but is it a physical place right now, today?

The problem is that we are in the prison of time. God has no such limitation. He waits for nothing. Looking at it from the limits of time, there are no bodies there “yet.” God sees all who will dwell there, as their souls and there dwelling place are always present to Him.

We are looking through the peephole. God has the bird’s eye view.

But hell is also a place – the Church has always taught this. I’m afraid that you are being influenced by Modernism if you think that hell is only a state of being. When Satan and the devils fell fiery hell was created for the purpose giving them a new permanent dwelling place(there was no longer a place in heaven for them – yes, even heaven is a real place and not just a state of being). Even in our Creed we say that Jesus descended into hell, of course not the place in hell where the damned are, but to the place of hell next to it. You must read St. Thomas Aquinas and other reputable theologians of old (not newer Modernist theologians) because you seem to still doubt that hell is an actual place, which it is. God bless you.

Here is what I found in the Catholic Encyclopedia:

Where is hell? Some were of opinion that hell is everywhere, that the damned are at liberty to roam about in the entire universe, but that they carry their punishment with them. The adherents of this doctrine were called Ubiquists, or Ubiquitarians; among them were, e.g., Johann Brenz, a Swabian, a Protestant theologian of the sixteenth century. However, that opinion is universally and deservedly rejected; for it is more in keeping with their state of punishment that the damned be limited in their movements and confined to a definite place. Moreover, if hell is a real fire, it cannot be everywhere, especially after the consummation of the world, when heaven and earth shall have been made anew. As to its locality all kinds of conjectures have been made; it has been suggested that hell is situated on some far island of the sea, or at the two poles of the earth; Swinden, an Englishman of the eighteenth century, fancied it was in the sun; some assigned it to the moon, others to Mars; others placed it beyond the confines of the universe [Wiest, “Instit. theol.”, VI (1789), 869]. The Bible seems to indicate that hell is within the earth, for it describes hell as an abyss to which the wicked descend. We even read of the earth opening and of the wicked sinking down into hell (Numbers 16:31 sqq.; Psalm 54:16; Isaiah 5:14; Ezekiel 26:20; Philippians 2:10, etc.). Is this merely a metaphor to illustrate the state of separation from God? Although God is omnipresent, He is said to dwell in heaven, because the light and grandeur of the stars and the firmament are the brightest manifestations of His infinite splendour. But the damned are utterly estranged from God; hence their abode is said to be as remote as possible from his dwelling, far from heaven above and its light, and consequently hidden away in the dark abysses of the earth. However, no cogent reason has been advanced for accepting a metaphorical interpretation in preference to the most natural meaning of the words of Scripture. Hence theologians generally accept the opinion that hell is really within the earth. The Church has decided nothing on this subject; hence we may say hell is a definite place; but where it is, we do not know. St. Chrysostom reminds us: “We must not ask where hell is, but how we are to escape it” (In Rom., hom. xxxi, n. 5, in P.G., LX, 674). St. Augustine says: “It is my opinion that the nature of hell-fire and the location of hell are known to no man unless the Holy Ghost made it known to him by a special revelation”, (City of God XX.16). Elsewhere he expresses the opinion that hell is under the earth (Retract., II, xxiv, n. 2 in P.L., XXXII, 640). St. Gregory the Great wrote: “I do not dare to decide this question. Some thought hell is somewhere on earth; others believe it is under the earth” (Dial., IV, xlii, in P.L., LXXVII, 400; cf. Patuzzi, “De sede inferni”, 1763; Gretser, “De subterraneis animarum receptaculis”, 1595).

Dear Po18guy,

I did you the favor of searching the Catholic Encyclopedia on the subject of hell. I hope this helps. Best wishes!

Hell (infernus) in theological usage is a place of punishment after death. Theologians distinguish four meanings of the term hell:
•hell in the strict sense, or the place of punishment for the damned, be they demons or men;
•the limbo of infants (limbus parvulorum), where those who die in original sin alone, and without personal mortal sin, are confined and undergo some kind of punishment;
•the limbo of the Fathers (limbus patrum), in which the souls of the just who died before Christ awaited their admission to heaven; for in the meantime heaven was closed against them in punishment for the sin of Adam;
•purgatory, where the just, who die in venial sin or who still owe a debt of temporal punishment for sin, are cleansed by suffering before their admission to heaven.

The present article treats only of hell in the strict sense of the term.

The Latin infernus (inferum, inferi), the Greek Hades, and the Hebrew sheol correspond to the word hell. Infernus is derived from the root in; hence it designates hell as a place within and below the earth. Haides, formed from the root fid, to see, and a privative, denotes an invisible, hidden, and dark place; thus it is similar to the term hell. The derivation of sheol is doubtful. It is generally supposed to come from the Hebrew root meaning, “to be sunk in, to be hollow”; accordingly it denotes a cave or a place under the earth. In the Old Testament (Septuagint hades; Vulgate infernus) sheol is used quite in general to designate the kingdom of the dead, of the good (Genesis 37:35) as well as of the bad (Numbers 16:30); it means hell in the strict sense of the term, as well as the limbo of the Fathers. But, as the limbo of the Fathers ended at the time of Christ’s Ascension, hades (Vulgate infernus) in the New Testament always designates the hell of the damned. Since Christ’s Ascension the just no longer go down to the lower world, but they dwell in heaven (2 Corinthians 5:1). However, in the New Testament the term Gehenna is used more frequently in preference to hades, as a name for the place of punishment of the damned. Gehenna is the Hebrew gê-hinnom (Nehemiah 11:30), or the longer form gê-ben-hinnom (Joshua 15:8), and gê-benê-hinnom (2 Kings 23:10) “valley of the sons of Hinnom”. Hinnom seems to be the name of a person not otherwise known. The Valley of Hinnom is south of Jerusalem and is now called Wadi er-rababi. It was notorious as the scene, in earlier days, of the horrible worship of Moloch. For this reason it was defiled by Josias (2 Kings 23:10), cursed by Jeremias (Jeremiah 7:31-33), and held in abomination by the Jews, who, accordingly, used the name of this valley to designate the abode of the damned (Targ. Jon., Gen., iii, 24; Henoch, c. xxvi). And Christ adopted this usage of the term. Besides Hades and Gehenna, we find in the New Testament many other names for the abode of the damned. It is called “lower hell” (Vulgate tartarus) (2 Peter 2:4), “abyss” (Luke 8:31 and elsewhere), “place of torments” (Luke 16:28), “pool of fire” (Revelation 19:20 and elsewhere), “furnace of fire” (Matthew 13:42, 50), “unquenchable fire” (Matthew 3:12, and elsewhere), “everlasting fire” (Matthew 18:8; 25:41; Jude 7), “exterior darkness” (Matthew 7:12; 22:13; 25:30), “mist” or “storm of darkness” (2 Peter 2:17; Jude 13). The state of the damned is called “destruction” (apoleia, Philippians 3:19 and elsewhere), “perdition” (olethros, 1 Timothy 6:9), “eternal destruction” (olethros aionios, 2 Thessalonians 1:9), “corruption” (phthora, Galatians 6:8), “death” (Romans 6:21), “second death” (Revelation 2:11 and elsewhere).

I am using the catechism. Do you have a better source?

Yes, the traditional teaching of the Catholic Church. What’s wrong, you insist on going against the traditional teaching of the Church? Obviously, there is nothing I or any saint or any sound theologian (see Catholic Encyclopedia) can say to change your opinion. I hate to say this, but you are in the Modernist camp. Please reconsider your view. I’m afraid I can no longer help you. God bless you. I am leaving this thread, with hope that others believe the sound teaching of the Catholic Church as traditionally taught. Here is a dose of that tradition: “Then he will say to those on his left hand, ‘Depart from me, accursed ones, into everlasting fire which was prepared for the devil and his angels’” (Matthew 25:41).

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