Proper views on hell

I stand corrected. I’ve done a bit of research myself, and the closest I could find to the alleged Edwards quote is:

*"One of these two things are certainly true, and self-evidently so: either that it is most just, exceeding just, that God should take the soul of a new-born infant and cast it into eternal torments, or else that those infants that are saved are not saved by the death of Christ. For none are saved by the death of Christ from damnation that have not deserved damnation. Wherefore, if it be very just, it is but a foolish piece of nonsense, to cry out of it as blasphemous to suppose that it ever is [just], because (they say) it is contrary to his mercy.

Now such I ask, whether it is contrary to his mercy to inflict punishment upon any according to their deserts, and whether it was contrary to God’s mercy to damn the fallen angels. There was no mercy showed to them at all. And why is it blasphemous to suppose that God should inflict upon infants so much as they have deserved, without mercy, as well as [upon] them?MS: “as they”; the reference is to the fallen angels, whereas the preceding “they” refers to infants. If you say, they have not deserved it so much, I answer: they certainly have deserved what they have deserved, as much as the fallen angels; because their sin is not accompanied with such aggravating circumstances, so neither shall their punishment be so aggravated. So that the punishment of one is every whit as contrary to God’s mercy as [that of] the other. Who shall determine just now much sin is sufficient to make damnation agreeable to the divine perfections? And how can they determine that infants have not so much sin? For we know they have enough to make their damnation very just."

*edwards.yale.edu/archive?path=aHR0cDovL2Vkd2FyZHMueWFsZS5lZHUvY2dpLWJpbi9uZXdwaGlsby9nZXRvYmplY3QucGw/Yy4xMjo0OjEud2plby41NjQ4NTI=

I would disagree with this and agree with Jerry-Jet here. I would say rather that “it’s a state of hatred of God and other people that lasts forever.” This is in one sense a more horrible picture of hell (given the choice, I’d rather have unrequited love for God forever than have hatred of God forever), but a much less horrible picture of God. It is not only morally repugnant but alien to Scripture and Tradition to argue that the damned love God (it’s morally repugnant because it says that God eternally rejects people who love Him).

You and Jerry-Jet are both right, literally speaking. My phrasing was not clear: I was referring to God’s unrequited love for us. A person in Hell certainly cannot love God, though he will certainly feel the eternal pains of separation. There’s a reason why Christ refers to the state as “outer darkness”.

I’ll also agree that the “pain of the senses” has been consistently taught by the Church and the Church Fathers, with the exception of a very few. The Catechism chooses not to emphasise them, but the Catechism does not overrule this teaching.

Have you ever experienced “hell”?

I would say that you haven’t since hell is not separation from God, spiritual death is separation from God.

Do you think/believe that Jesus went to hell or do you think/believe that Jesus only went thru the physicality of the cross rather than the spirituality concerning taking the sins of humanity upon Himself?

Do you think that God became One of us for only some of us?

I would also say that you have never experienced “spiritual death” since you don’t seem to have a clue just how horrible “spiritual death” is.

Hell and spiritual death are not the same, not even close, but they are both horrible beyond words.

Since it is written that “It is God’s Will that ALL be saved”, do you think/believe that Jesus’s Incarnation was in vain seeing as you seem to think/believe that God’s Will will not come about?

Remember when Jesus was asked to teach us to pray that part of that prayer was to pray, “Thy Kingdom come, Thy Will be done on earth as it is in heaven”, ever thought about taking not only the whole prayer to heart but also this part of the prayer that God-Incarnate taught us?

“The captives shall be released and the dead shall rise”, ever thought that this might tie in with the “mission” of Jesus’s Church which is that “the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against It”?

Thanks for that. Edwards’ point, clearly, is that it is possible for infants to be damned, and not contrary either to God’s justice or mercy. That’s not necessarily the same as claiming that they will, but one can see how one of Edwards’ many critics, probably in the 19th century, might have produced a vivid paraphrase of his position which has taken on a life of its own.

Insofar as there’s a standard, classic Reformed position it seems to be that God has the same freedom to choose or not choose infants that He has with regard to those who live into maturity, and that we can be confident that the children of believers are elect. The implication appears to be that the children of nonbelievers are not, but as far as I can see early Reformed theologians didn’t generally say so explicitly–they just didn’t think they had any way of knowing that for sure one way or the other.

By the time of Charles Hodge in the mid/late 19th century, the standard position had softened–Hodge thought that we could reasonably hope for the salvation of all infants, and Hodge was by the standards of his time a conservative (though not as extreme as some–for instance, he also believed that Catholic baptism was valid, which many other Presbyterians did not).

You and Jerry-Jet are both right, literally speaking. My phrasing was not clear: I was referring to God’s unrequited love for us.

Sorry. I wondered if you meant that and shouldn’t have jumped to the other conclusion.

I’ll also agree that the “pain of the senses” has been consistently taught by the Church and the Church Fathers, with the exception of a very few. The Catechism chooses not to emphasise them, but the Catechism does not overrule this teaching.

The Church’s teaching indeed seems clear that the final state for everyone will be one that is not purely “spiritual” by our limited, dichotomous way of thinking.

Edwin

I believe Catholics are called to meditate daily on the four last things; death, judgement, heaven and hell. Obviously if you focus on hell to the point you doubt God’s mercy then maybe you need to re-evaluate yourself. If you do not focus on hell to the point where you presuppose Gods mercy then you will want to re-evaluate yourself. To be honest I don’t believe one can overdue thinking about hell if they’re thinking with a correct understanding.

it’s never too late to learn what might have been missed

Jesus died a horrible death to give us Himself in the Eucharist so we can consume Him body blood soul and divinity. We can’t get closer to Him than that this side of heaven…by His design. Consider the following with regards to one saying they don’t “feel” the presence of God when they pray. In Jn 6, Jesus followers came after Him after He fed the 5000 on a few loaves and fish. They couldn’t get enough of Him so they went after Him… Jesus gave them the rest of the story. They stood face to face with God incarnate, the one who spoke in the beginning, and all that is, came into existence. God in the flesh, audably taught them the realities of the Eucharist. They heard His voice. No one could say they didn’t hear Him. They even argued with Him because they didn’t like what He was teaching them. . And what did they do with that encounter? They left Him. Just walked away from God. They said who could believe this.

And notice, after restating Himself over and over again for effect and further clarification because of theuir disbelief, when they walked away, Jesus didn’t go after them. He let them go. He wasn’t going to force them to stay. He didn’t force them to believe. Afterall, He gave them free will. But He did turn and ask the question of the apostles. …are you going to leave me too? He asks that to all of us as well…

There is supernatural reality to the Eucharist. Start over with this. Go to confession, and don’t purposely miss mass again. Jesus has done a ton for us. Why not give Him thanks in return, and receive Him literally, as He established. We as Catholics can do that daily. One doesn’t have to wonder if they receive Jesus in their heart by saying a sinners prayer. We know we receive Jesus body blood soul and divinity EVERY time we receive the Eucharist. What are you waiting for?

ever been to a school that never gave a test on any of the subjects being taught? Who’s the test for anyway? The school? No. The teacher? Not per say. Oh it will aid in telling the teacher if they are effective in teaching the subject. But who are the test(s) really for? It’s the student.

the same with life. That’s the way God set it up. God knows inadvance, who will pass and who will fail. We otoh, don’t know that. He doesn’t cause anyone to fail. He doesn’t predestine anyone to fail. He desires everyone to be saved and come to the knowledge of truth, but forces no one. He loves us always, but we otoh, have a condition that shows our love for Him John 14:15 , John 14:23 [FONT=Calibri], [/FONT]John15:10 , John15:9

As I understand it, the church teaches that there will be pain of the senses in addition to the pain of separation. In order for the pain of the senses to occur, God must restore our bodies, sustain the eternal existence of a physical place of torment as well as sustain the eternal existence of the physically tormenting elements, i.e. unquenchable fire. How are those not choices made by God in order to inflict suffering on people?

I am pretty confident that Catholics are not required to believe in “literal” fire in the sense of a created material substance.

Clearly there are difficulties in the view that God raises the wicked to embodied existence knowing that this existence will only be one of torment. But I do not think that I am capable of understanding what the End will be like. I will accept what the Church says I must believe on the subject. I will not submit myself to morally repugnant speculations that are not binding dogma, however ancient they may be.

Edwin

Something for all of you out there who want to run away from pain of the senses in Hell:

There have been many saints who claim that the pain of PURGATORY is greater than any pain ever experienced on Earth!

Now just think about that: If PURGATORY hurts that much and Jesus loves the souls in PURGATORY:

then how much will Hell hurt?!!!

Jesus said “weeping and gnashing of teeth”. Can we all at least agree with Jesus’ description and state that Hell must BOTH hurt more than PURGATORY and since Jesus says “weeping and gnashing of teeth” that Hell must HURT a lot?!!!

I’ve never been to Hell or purgatory but I do respect what the saints have to say and ADORE Jesus’ word as Total Truth!

Sure does seem as if quite a few people’s idea/definition/thoughts on God’s Justice are not even close to any kind of Justice but a few, to put it mildly, steps past absolute vindictiveness.

I just can not imagine how some can have such an opinion of God and than say just how “Good” that they profess God to be.

One of the things that I am extremely thankful for is that quite a few, it seems, seem to know pert near nothing about God except for God’s Name.

Jesus went to hell and He suffered death, not just physical death, think that there just might be a reason or so for Jesus to have went thru this?

Ever given any thought to God’s Mercy and that God’s Justice and God’s Mercy are so intertwined as to be One?

As I have said before and I repeat, “The captives shall be released and the dead shall rise”.

The problem with this theory is in the afterlife, we are in spirit form, so we dont have teeth to be gnashed. Only 2 people have ever entered the afterlife in bodily form. (Jesus and Enoch).

Hell is a separation from God, there is no indication this includes any kind of physical pain though, more of a mental thing IMO, and better yet, who or what would be inflicting this torture?

GEEZ, after reading this, it literally shakes my faith and makes me question whether or not I should even be a christian!!! How can a God that claims to be all forgiving and all loving go to such an extent as to put us back in our physical bodies JUST so it is possible for us to experience all kinds of horrible tortures and suffering? LOL This does not sound like a deity I want to be associated with.

But logical suggests otherwise, that is why I do not buy into this kind of thing. It doesnt make sense following some things in the bible.

The Church teaches that the final state for everyone will be embodied, although we don’t quite know what that means. It’s probably better put in negative terms: not disembodied. that is to say, we will not end up as “ghosts”–just spirits flitting around. That has to do with how God made us in the first place–God made us as body and soul together, not just souls.

There is no Church teaching that I know of saying that God does this punitively in order to inflict more suffering on the wicked. That was a common opinion for much of church history, but has never been officially taught that I know of. Like you, I find that view morally repugnant and horrifying.

Perhaps you should check out the work of Fr. Robert Barron. He holds the view (as I do) that we do not even know for certain that anyone will go to hell. While some folks here think that some of his views are “dubious,” he’s a Catholic priest in good standing whose orthodoxy has never been questioned by the Magisterium that I know of. In fact, the theologian most associated with this view, Hans Urs von Balthasar, was a huge theological influence on Pope Emeritus Benedict (that doesn’t mean that Pope Benedict agreed with this particular view of von Balthasar’s, of course–it’s just a positive association that should make people slow to say that this view is blatantly heretical).

You are worrying about stuff that is just pious opinion and not binding on Catholics. That’s my opinion as a longstanding “almost Catholic” who hopes to drop the “almost” soon. (I.e., my opinion in itself doesn’t carry much weight, so check out sources with weightier opinions, like Fr. Barron).

Whenever you come across an issue like this that makes you re-evaluate whether you want to be a Christian, it’s helpful to ask the question: of which of the following things am I most sure?

  1. That this particular belief is wrong?
  2. That this particular belief is necessary in order to be a Christian (or specifically a Catholic)?
  3. That Christianity/Catholicism is true?

To abandon the Faith for this reason you would need to be more sure both that the belief is false and that the Faith requires you to believe it than you are that the Faith is true. (Of course, more often no one such issue causes people to abandon the Faith, or to embrace it–it’s generally a “cumulative case” on both sides.)

Edwin

Quite right.

There is no Church teaching that I know of saying that God does this punitively in order to inflict more suffering on the wicked. That was a common opinion for much of church history, but has never been officially taught that I know of. Like you, I find that view morally repugnant and horrifying.

I’ve posted what the Catechism says a little earlier on this thread. That’s pretty much the “state of the art” for Catholics. Anything beyond that is a valuable testimony, but it’s not necessary teaching.

Perhaps you should check out the work of Fr. Robert Barron. He holds the view (as I do) that we do not even know for certain that anyone will go to hell.

Now we move to a different question: “how many will be saved?” To which Jesus Himself had one answer: “Try as hard as you can.” He didn’t give us a number, because that’s something that only God knows. We are not meant to know or speculate on it.

To say “we don’t know for certain if person X is in Hell” - even if X is Judas, Hitler or Osama Bin Laden - is quite correct (though tradition, following John 17, has logically assumed that Judas is, indeed, in hell). Only God can judge and decide the ultimate fate of each individual. We can warn and admonish, but we can never dogmatically declare that X is in Hell (technically, a Pontiff could do this, but I don’t think it’s ever been done.)

However, to conclude from the above statement that “Hell is empty” (or nearly empty) is a leap of logic that has little basis in fact. Christ did say that “many” would follow the way to perdition, and even if “many” is taken in the light of passages like Luke 15 and 1 Timothy 2, it’s certainly not a minuscule number.

To those who are finding some of the slavering fervour on this thread a little unsettling: stick to the Catechism. Anything else - even if it’s a private revelation or a quote from a Saint - must be interpreted in the light of intention, consistency with Church teaching, and the Catechism, as well as the language and culture of the times. Rejecting the Christian faith because of an Internet poster’s opinions on Hell is like rejecting the Bible after visiting Richard Dawkins’ website. :smiley:

Indeed.

I am certainly not concluding that hell is empty, but I do not interpret Jesus’ words as a statement about people’s final state, but rather an exhortation not to be complacent. “Hopeful universalism” has been proposed a number of time in Catholic circles in recent years (besides Fr. Barron, the late Fr. Neuhaus also espoused it) and has yet to be condemned. I dislike that term, actually, because it implies that this is fundamentally the same as straight universalism, and because “hope” is ambiguous. In Christian theology, the strongest sense of “hope” is a confident expectation based on God’s promise. I agree that we have no such basis for hope that everyone will be saved. But I don’t think the possibility can be ruled out.

Edwin

This sounds like a very reasonable view to me. :thumbsup:

I personally consider myself a “maximalist” - I don’t believe in an empty hell or even a hope “that all be saved” (cf Von Balthasar), but neither do I believe that the ratio of the saved to the damned is 1: 30,000 or 1: 60,000 (as some still confidently assert). To believe in the former is presumption - but to believe in the former is to give Christ a hollow victory indeed, and contradicts texts such as Romans 5: 17-19 and 1 Timothy 2:4. (Not to mention that it sounds uncomfortably like the Jehovah’s Witnesses’ figure of 1,44,000!) Instead, I believe that God will save many, and that those who choose Hell do so on their own, because they have persisted in turning away from Him.

As for the nature of the sufferings in Hell, Daniel 12 provides an interesting clue:

“And many of those that sleep in the dust of the earth, shall awake: some unto life everlasting, and others unto reproach, to see it always.” (DRV)

“And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.” (KJV, followed by RSV / NRSV)

To weep and gnash teeth can be a sign of shame and disgrace, as well as of physical pain.

It’s possible to go too far with this (cf. J. P. Holding), but it’s still an idea… :wink:

I think you’re probably right about the teeth-gnashing. Certainly there is language in Scripture that uses imagery evocative of physical pain, but the gnashing of teeth is probably more about chagrin and shame and regret. The Daniel passage is a great one for that–this point of this language obviously is that the wicked thought they had made the wise choice and were on top of the world, but at the Judgment everything will be turned upside down.

One big problem with the way hell language (and for that matter sin language) has been used often in the history of the Church is that originally, in the Bible, such language is primarily used to signify a reversal of values and a calling to account of those who think they’re above accountability. But it’s often been used, understandably, to promote social order, which means that it bears hardest on those who are at the margins of the social order already.

For instance, my parish has been helping a guy who spent some time in prison on a DUI conviction. Now he’s divorced, thousands of dollars behind on child support, and furthermore suffering from a brain tumor. He has no drivers’ license. He subsists on odd jobs. A while ago he said to one of the members of the church, expressing gratitude for our help: “You guys are going to heaven, because you are such good people and have been so good to me. But I’m going to hell, obviously, because I’ve been such a sinner.”

Now you know who I think is most likely to go to hell? Whoever, by word or deed or unspoken manner, did anything to plant such a twisted, demonic notion in the head of this man created in God’s image and bought with Christ’s blood.

The threat of hell is supposed to wake up those who are asleep, to call to repentance those who think they don’t need repentance. Instead, too often, it is used to crush those who are already broken.

Edwin

“Jesus bore our sins in His Body on the Tree” according to the letter to the Hebrews.

What do you think that felt like to Jesus? When a sin is on your conscience you can FEEL physically weighted down and that is with ONE sin. How do you think that felt to Jesus with all the billions of sin committed throughout all of eternity?

Now all you people who think that God is being vindictive with Hell know that everytime we sin against God we sin INFINITELY because God is INFINITE.

Jesus BORE in His body the weight of BILLIONS of sins–each one times the Infinity of God!

He LOVED us that much!

When a person sins he doesn’t just make a slight mistake–the GRAVITY of his sin really IS times INFINITY.

Hell HAS to hurt or there is no Justice! The price that Jesus paid is THAT INFINITE.

People who do not understand that have NO CLUE of the price that Jesus paid upon the Cross–the INFINITY that was the PERFECTION of the loving sacrifice He made there.

That’s one of the reasons we CELEBRATE the SACRIFICE of the Mass–if our sins weren’t that big of a deal then why would we offer the SACRIFICE of the Mass?What many do no understand is that there is an INFINITE difference between God’s PERFECTION and Sin.

When Jesus said regarding Lazarus being in the boson of Abraham and the Rich man being in Hell that a CHASM is affixed so that no one could cross from one side to the other–that chasm is made by the INFINITY that just one sin is away from the INFINITE PERFECTION of God.

God really is THAT Perfect!

I’m sure Satan doesn’t believe that! And I’m sure that Satan wants people to believe that there isn’t a big difference between Sin and the INFINITE PERFECTION and LOVE of God.

Because of God’s INFINITE Love and Perfection and the sacrifice that Jesus made–without a painful Hell there WOULD be no Justice! And God is not only a God of Perfect Mercy but He is a God of perfect Justice!

And God is even merciful with Hell because the people that go there DESERVE eternal INFINITE pain and while God has them suffer eternally He does not have them suffer INFINITELY which is what they DESERVE!

And now we have Satan’s apologists trying to tell us that Jesus only speaks in hyperbole and that we can in no way take His words as LITERAL.

Would these people be akin to the same sort of people who tell us that we should not LITERALLY take Christ’s word when Christ says “This IS my body and this IS my blood”?!

If people aren’t afraid of Hell do you think that Satan would be Happy? Of course!

Tell me how it glorifies God to minimize the Sacrifice that Jesus made on Calvary and to MINIMIZE the Sacrifice that is offered in the Mass!

The greatest miracle of God is reconciling a sinner to such a perfect degree that even though he has INFINITELY offended God by His sin that God can restore the sinner to PERFECTION!

And one last thing: God does not force ANYONE to go to Hell–people REALLY do CHOOSE to go there on their own! Now some of these same apologists for a less than hurting Hell will say–what sense does that make?

It is TRUE–it makes NO SENSE–but what sense did the original sin of Adam and Eve make? Why would ANYONE want to sin in the first place–it isn’t logical–it didn’t make sense but it DID HAPPEN!

Now WHY did Christ suffer and die on the cross? Why did He bear the sins of all mankind throughout all eternity–He was God–couldn’t He have gotten around that? NO! If God got around that sacrifice God WOULD NOT BE JUST!

See People don’t make a Boo-Boo and spend eternity in Hell–the Truth of the matter is IF a person who would wind up in Hell was given all knowledge of sin and All knowledge of God’s Love and were to choose ONCE to embrace the Infinity of the badness of Hell or the Infinity of the goodness of Heaven they would CHOOSE Hell over Heaven!!

And God would LOVE THEM SO MUCH that He would RESPECT their choice to NOT Love God!

God isn’t vindictive when it comes to Hell–God loves the damned so much that He lets them pick against Him!

See you could visit Hell right now and ask ANYONE in there if they would like to have another chance and choose God over Hell and EVERYONE of them there would say NO!!!

Now am I going to tell you that I understand that? No! I don’t understand it–but I don’t know why our first parents Adam and Eve picked sin in the first place! And I don’t know HOW the bread and wine becomes the body and blood of Christ–and I’ll never FATHOM the DEPTH of the MERCY of Our Lord Jesus’ sacrifice for us on Calvary or WHY Mary didn’t pick sin like Eve did or HOW God created everything out of nothing or HOW the TRINITY works.

But just because I don’t understand everything–all I can say is what St. Peter said when Jesus said “Do you want to walk away too?” after teaching them about the Eucharist…Peter said “Lord you have the words of eternal life”.

Believe Jesus’ words. Believe what the Doctors of the Church over the centuries have taught.

They never did teach universalism or that God put people out of existence. I’ll bet my soul on what they taught–not what others have taught–even if some of those teachers are more Modern–MODERNISM leads to Hell!

The nice thing is that God gives EVERYONE SUFFICIENT grace to avoid Hell! Thanks Oh God for LOVING us so much to redeem us! Your Mercy Endures forever and your justice does, too!

So Jesus didn’t really bear our sins?

The point of Jesus bearing our sins is precisely that God is not vindictive. God is not the one piling on the punishment to make people hurt. God is the one taking on the burden of our sins in order to deliver us. And as you say, that does not lead to downplaying the seriousness of sin:p

That’s one of the reasons we CELEBRATE the SACRIFICE of the Mass–if our sins weren’t that big of a deal then why would we offer the SACRIFICE of the Mass?

As a sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving?

You know, as in the word “Eucharist”?

When Jesus said regarding Lazarus being in the boson of Abraham and the Rich man being in Hell that a CHASM is affixed so that no one could cross from one side to the other–that chasm is made by the INFINITY that just one sin is away from the INFINITE PERFECTION of God.

One sin deliberately held on to, yes.

God really is THAT Perfect!

The problem is that the perfection you’re painting isn’t a perfection of love, but a perfection that sounds like the kind of false perfection Jesus criticized. If Jesus criticized religious leaders whose sense of “holiness” involved looking down on the “impure,” why would the God whom Jesus reveals be like those religious leaders but much more so? That’s not the perfection proclaimed by Jesus at all.

I’m not sure we differ as much as I’m making it sound. But your words are potentially scandalous, and so I need to make it clear that what it sounds like you’re saying is not orthodox Christian teaching, but a particular distorted take on that teaching. I don’t think you actually mean to be saying that God is like that. I get that you are concerned with people downplaying the gravity of sin and the holiness of God, and I get that the nature of God is a mystery and a paradox and our words will never do it justice.

I’m sure Satan doesn’t believe that! And I’m sure that Satan wants people to believe that there isn’t a big difference between Sin and the INFINITE PERFECTION and LOVE of God.

I avoid trying to read Satan’s mind. It’'s both a futile and an unhealthy practice. But it would be very surprising if Satan were not delighted by the effect of some of your words on some of the other posters in this thread. Satan is, after all, the accuser. Wouldn’t Satan (if we must mind-read him) be happy that people are becoming convinced that God is vindictive and unmerciful and that God delights in the sufferings of the wicked?

Because of God’s INFINITE Love and Perfection and the sacrifice that Jesus made–without a painful Hell there WOULD be no Justice!

You don’t explain the logic of this. It seems to me that the opposite is true, if anything. If Jesus’ death both fully reveals who God is and pays for our sins, then how does Jesus’ death lead to the need for a painful hell?

And God is even merciful with Hell because the people that go there DESERVE eternal INFINITE pain and while God has them suffer eternally He does not have them suffer INFINITELY which is what they DESERVE!

I would agree with this in the sense that hell is a limitation of the effects of our sinfulness.

And now we have Satan’s apologists trying to tell us that Jesus only speaks in hyperbole and that we can in no way take His words as LITERAL.

Surely the best apologists for the Accuser are those who lead us to despair of God’s mercy? I know that’s not your intention. But it is the effect of your rhetoric on many.

Tell me how it glorifies God to minimize the Sacrifice that Jesus made on Calvary and to MINIMIZE the Sacrifice that is offered in the Mass!

It doesn’t. But that’s what you are doing when you say that beyond that sacrifice God also demands the “sacrifice” of eternal human suffering in order to satisfy what you (with your flawed human language) call His “justice.”

The greatest miracle of God is reconciling a sinner to such a perfect degree that even though he has INFINITELY offended God by His sin that God can restore the sinner to PERFECTION!

Agreed there.

And one last thing: God does not force ANYONE to go to Hell–people REALLY do CHOOSE to go there on their own! Now some of these same apologists for a less than hurting Hell will say–what sense does that make?

I don’t know who those folks would be. I for one entirely agree with you. You are creating straw men, I think.

God isn’t vindictive when it comes to Hell–God loves the damned so much that He lets them pick against Him!

Then I’m not sure how we disagree.

However, your position does indeed make no sense if you think of hell primarily in terms of physical suffering. No one chooses physical suffering. But people choose to be shut up in the prison of themselves. They choose themselves over God. And that has effects, mental as well as physical.

That’s what I mean when I say above that I’m not sure we really disagree fundamentally. But your language is causing scandal, because you’re so afraid of people not taking hell seriously that you’re making people think Christians believe in a vindictive God who wants people to suffer. You’ve made it clear above that you don’t believe that.

They never did teach universalism or that God put people out of existence

Actually St. Gregory of Nyssa was a universalist. St. Maximus the Confessor may or may not have been a universalist. But generally the great Eastern Fathers did not teach a retributive hell–at least the ones I’m most familiar with. St. Athanasius spoke of those who reject God “returning to nothing,” but I am not claiming that he literally meant that they cease to exist.
Edwin

Agreed. Sometimes, one can go overboard in defending Church teaching. We must remember that the road to hell is also paved with (wait for it) good intentions.

Actually St. Gregory of Nyssa was a universalist. St. Maximus the Confessor may or may not have been a universalist. But generally the great Eastern Fathers did not teach a retributive hell–at least the ones I’m most familiar with. St. Athanasius spoke of those who reject God “returning to nothing,” but I am not claiming that he literally meant that they cease to exist.

True. And Saint Jerome also had some “unorthodox” (if we define orthodoxy as "the Gospel according to St. Jerry-Jet) ideas about Hell. That didn’t stop any of them from being Saints.

Very true. :thumbsup:

Consider the way the concept of Hell is used in the Bible:

  • To warn us against occasions of sin (Mark 9)
  • As a condemnation of those who believe in their own ability to attain salvation (the condemnation of the Pharisees in Matthew 23)
  • To teach us not to fear and revere earthly powers above God (Luke 12)
  • As a punishment for wilful unbelief and disobedience (2 Thessalonians 1)
  • As a reality for those who, having seen what God can do, still reject him (Matthew 12, John 8)

It is never used to crush people such as the sinful woman (Luke 7), the woman taken in adultery (John 8), the man who confesses his unbelief and asks for help (Mark 9), the tax collector (Mark 2) or Zaccheus (Luke 19).

Imagine the following
“Zaccheus, come down from that tree and start studying St. Leonard’s sermon, otherwise I’ll chuck you in Hell!” :smiley:

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