There are two things I don't understand about Hell


#1
  1. I understand the notion that Hell is a God-less place where a sinner may choose to go if he chooses to reject God. However, if God is the giver of life, then does this not mean that if you go to Hell, ALL of you will die. If you reject God, you reject life, so why does your soul still ‘live’ in Hell?

  2. Why is such responsibility placed on finite creatures? We have no appreciation of what our choices really mean. This is both true for Heaven and Hell.

Can anyone help out?


#2

americancatholic.org/e-News/FriarJack/fj041406.asp

scborromeo.org/ccc/p123a12.htm

Both of these links deal with the question of hell.
Both admit, that no one has any concept how serious a choice we make when we reject God…and die in mortal sin.

But we have to start taking this notion very seriously…Jesus told us the gate is narrow, and we need to make a serious conversion if we wish to be happy one day with Him in heaven.

But we daily make choices to move away from Him, because we are not God-centered, rather self-centered. If we are all to move to become saints…people in heaven…we need to become more God-centered without reservation or excuse or procrastination. We don’t know when we will die…"death will come like a thief in the night."
Asking why we as mortals should have to make this choice…is something possibly an immature person or a teen would say…wake up and smell the coffee…no one else can make that choice but yourself. There is no going around it…we are all destined to die, but how we will spend eternity is all up to us and God’s great mercy.

Why is it a surprise to someone who is baking a cake…
If they have all the ingredients to make a cake, but they leave something very important out, like eggs or flour, or baking powder…that the cake doesn’t become a cake, or forget to put it in the oven itself.

The same is true for us as who were created by God, to know Him, love Him, and to serve Him, and to one day be happy in heaven…and we end up in hell because we chose not to love Him, or choose not to know Him or forget about serving Him…and still we expect heaven??? You need all parts in your life to merit the inheritance that was freely given to us, when Jesus died on the cross for us, rising from the dead. Pray on it.


#3
  1. Hell is Godless in that it is complete separation from God’s love, however, God is constantly and actively keeping the entire universe in existence, and that includes Hell and everyone in it.

  2. I would contest the notion that we have no appreciation of what our choices really mean. Certainly we cannot fully comprehend the perfect happiness of Heaven and the perfect hell of Hell, but we can have a small idea of it.


#4

I asked my mother (Catholic) who taught me from the beginning to love and serve God, all sorts of hard questions throughout my childhood and young adulthood. She always managed to answer them to my satisfaction. But at the end of her life I asked her to define Heaven and Hell and her answer surprised me, “They’re a state of mind”. If that is accurate enough, then I still don’t know if we “get to” that state of mind, or move in and out of it throughout our lives, but I do know that I’ve experienced states of mind that certainly felt like hell and heaven. But rather than ask questions about what the places are like, ask yourself what the world would be like if we knew for certain that heaven and hell didn’t exist. It’s like C.S. Lewis said, and I paraphrase: If none of this is true, we’re not supposed to know about it. So keep believing and don’t worry about the small details. The word, mystery, has a really big job.


#5

Stbruno, I will read your articles but I will respond first to this post since it is short and quickly responded to.

In reference to the 1st point, you have not really addressed my point. If God grants a sinner’s wish to be separated from God, this seems to imply the death of the soul as well. Why is there this exception? You are separated from God in ALL aspects EXCEPT life…

As for the 2nd point, I did not mean ZERO appreciation, although this would be close to the truth. Whatever finite appreciation we have seems to amount to zero when you look at the eternal consequence.


#6

I have been reading recently the Diary of Saint Faustina. She has actually, with God’s permission and protection, visited hell and purgatory. In her diary she explains what happens over there and how souls are tortured in their constant seeking of God’s presence…but in vain (for the people in hell).
I think what she is trying to say is that the soul remains a soul in order to experience this torture that came upon it through God’s justice.
Well, i am sure you will get a clearer view if you read it yourself.
To know more on St. Faustina’s life check this link faustina.ch/

I also recommend everyone to recite the Chapel of Divine Mercy, a chapel greatly encouraged by our Lord for the mercy on our own soul and mankind’s.

God Bless:)

Rana


#7

I’m sorry to say that I did not find any answers in your links or your post.

People can be self-centered but people can change. Life is made up of choices and is bound by time. Do we know God terminates (biological) life when our last choices reflected our true nature?


#8

hehe…

I am not really asking “what these places are like”. I am asking why is there this apparent contradiction and how can our fate be fair/just?


#9

I have actually read that particular section in her diary. This solves a problem (ie. why the soul isn’t destroyed) but creates a new one… why is God’s just punishment eternal? This relates back to my 2nd issue (in the OP)- why is such responsibility placed upon us?


#10

When you reject God, you reject His invitation to be a member of His family. You don’t reject life.

  1. Why is such responsibility placed on finite creatures? We have no appreciation of what our choices really mean. This is both true for Heaven and Hell.

You have been given this responsibility because, with the grace of God, you have the power to carry it out.


#11

Thanks! It’s funny how the shortest response satisfied me the most. However, I am not completely enlightened yet :p:

Why don’t you reject life when you reject God?


#12

I suggest *Every Thing You Ever Wanted to Know About Heaven *by Peter Kreeft. It covers both heaven and hell.

  1. Kreeft points out, "Hell is not just punishment for sin; Hell is sin itself in its consumation. Sin is its own punishment just as ‘virtue is its own reward.’ It is the state of spiritual death. The wages of sin is sin.

"The popular concept of Hell is eternal life with pain rather than eternal death. The popular concept comes from Greek philosophy, which believes the soul cannot die because it is its own source of life, a little god. Scripture derives the soul’s life from God. Thus souls can die when cut off from God, just as bodies can die when cut off from their source of life, the soul.

“When the soul leaves the body, the body is neither annihilated nor remains a body; it is transformed into a corpse. And when the life of God leaves the soul, the soul is neither annihilated nor remains a soul; it dies. It becomes spiritual garbage, and Hell is the dump where the garbage is burned.”

I have to disagree with davidv when he said, “When you reject God, you reject His invitation to be a member of His family. You don’t reject life.” While the first sentence of that is true, to reject God is to reject life. We are told many times in scripture that to choose God is to choose eternal life. Rejecting God is not choosing eternal life. It is choosing mere existence. Think of the parable of the vine and the branches. The branches that don’t produce fruit are cut off from the vine (the source of life) and burned. Now, the branches still exist, but they have no life flowing through them.

When God grants a gift, he does not take it back. One gift he has given us is our creation. We are, however, capable of throwing away his gifts, except for one. It is impossible to throw away the gift of one’s own creation, that is, one’s existence.

  1. I would argue that such responsibility is not placed on us, at least not completely. It was completely placed upon the angels when they had to choose whether or not to love God. After all, they knew God far better than we do. And they fully knew the consequences of their choice. Yet some still chose to reject him.

But you don’t see God dying on a cross for them. That is something he did for us.

I would also argue that it’s mistaken to think “We have no appreciation of what our choices really mean.” We can, for example, see certain consequences for sin right here on earth. A man who is devoted to sin has no joy. Saints, however, have joy even in the midst of persecution.


#13

There is a quote which Jesus mentioned in the Diary of St. Faustina ’ if you escaped My Mercy you will not escape My Justice’ (ok maybe it is not the exact wording here since i am translating this from the arabic version that i read).

In here, what is concluded is that through God’s mercy we will have temporary torture (i.e. purgatory), but if we did not take this second chance and asked for God’s Mercy THEN there is eternal punishment (hell, which came upon us through God’s justice ). Isn’t it logical?

Why is such responsibility placed upon us? Because (as i can see it) we are the children of God and accountable to our Creator. Just like our own children are accountable to us. Our actions should be accounted for, this is the nature of things. You are not alone here or a product of nothingness.

Well, hope i have answered you :slight_smile:

Rana


#14

I agree that when you reject God you reject “eternal” life. My response related to our earthly life, which if we reject God, we live on “our” terms rather than His.


#15

There is a quote which Jesus mentioned in the Diary of St. Faustina ’ if you escaped My Mercy you will not escape My Justice’ (ok maybe it is not the exact wording here since i am translating this from the arabic version that i read).

In here, what is concluded is that through God’s mercy we will have temporary torture (i.e. purgatory), but if we did not take this second chance and asked for God’s Mercy THEN there is eternal punishment (hell, which came upon us through God’s justice ). Isn’t it logical?

Why is such responsibility placed upon us? Because (as i can see it) we are the children of God and accountable to our Creator. Just like our own children are accountable to us. Our actions should be accounted for, this is the nature of things. You are not alone here or a product of nothingness.

Well, hope i have answered you :slight_smile:

Rana


#16

Thanks for clearing this up! I wouldn’t want the OP to get the idea that hell is eternal life.


#17

We didn’t bring ourselves into existence, so we remain in relationship to the One Who IS and gave/gives us life whatever our final destination.

So, those in Hell have freely chosen to separate themselves from God, but He is present to them for His love for all He has created never changes. The separation the damned have chosen is from their side and thus His love them can only be experienced as eternal fire and torment. There is nothing in them that corresponds to His love. Consider Scripture’s words that “our God is a consuming fire” - in order to survive in and find joy and salvation in that fire one must himself (by correspondence to His grace) become one with the fire of Divine Love - this the damned cannot do.


#18

I believe you already answered this question through reading St. Faustina’s diary.

Your disagreement is stemming from a differing definition of “life”. You take it to refer only to existence in Heaven, while davidv uses it to refer to both Heaven, and existence in Hell. His use is understandable, because in our experience, we really can’t separate a conscious existence from life. A corpse may exist, but it’s not conscious. Also, we can’t take the parable of the vine and branches too far, because if the branches are burned thoroughly enough, they are no longer branches. Indeed, they are dead, unconscious.


#19

No, I call being in Heaven life and being in Hell existence.

His use is understandable, because in our experience, we really can’t separate a conscious existence from life. A corpse may exist, but it’s not conscious. Also, we can’t take the parable of the vine and branches too far, because if the branches are burned thoroughly enough, they are no longer branches. Indeed, they are dead, unconscious.

Also not what I meant. The branches are burned eternally. Since they are in an eternal state (God created them, and as I pointed out, he does not take back his gift of creation), they eternally remain branches. Such a thing can be–after all, God appeared to Moses in the burning bush, but the bush was not destroyed. So the concept of branches burning without destruction is there.

FCEGM hit the nail on the head by pointing out that the damned experience the fire of God’s love as pure torture. The saints experience it as pure ecstasy.

Basically, it works like this: When you die, if you are perfectly in line with God, you experience his burning love as pleasure. If you are completely out of line with God, you experience it as pain. If you are partly out of line with God, you also experience pain until those parts of you that are out of whack are purged and brought into line with God (purgatory).

God is love. God is always the same. Because God can’t be what he isn’t, he always loves us. You cannot stand outside his love. When we die, God isn’t any different. He can’t stop loving us, even if we have chosen not to love him.


#20

No, I call being in Heaven life and being in Hell existence.
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One cannot live in Heaven without existing, therefore it is proper to talk about existence in Heaven.


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