I’ve been wondering why hell is eternal. I understand why one goes there, because you refused to repent of something you know to be wrong. However why is this punished by an eternal hell with no chance of post life repentance? I’m not trying to argue against catholic doctrine rather seeking to understand. God bless.
God gave us immortal souls, and He wouldn’t contradict Himself by destroying the soul He gave that person. People choose to be away from God, and thats exactly what they get.
I don’t understand why an omnipotent, omnibenevolent god chooses not to annihilate that which it finds abhorrent. Rather than annihilate evil and suffering though, God chooses to sustain their existences forever.
Some might hold that the existence of Hell serves as a deterrent, but that reason goes out the window once mankind no longer exists except in either Heaven or Hell.
Because people at the end of their lives make the choice wether they accept God or not. This decision is final and is made by how we love our lives now
Since Eternal Life IS Eternal, both Heaven and Hell are therefore also Eternal.
That’s my understanding of this, anyway. I’m no theologian, but I pray every night that I will receive the Apostolic Pardon on my death bed, and avoid even Purgatory! If I cannot have that most special blessing, I pray I will end in Purgatory. Hell isn’t even an option. I don’t want to go there, do all I can to serve the Lord, and love Him. I am Consecrated to Jesus through Mary, so all the good I do, she gives to Jesus and dispenses. I can no longer ask for things for myself. Even the partial Indulgences I gain are hers to dispense, but I have prayed to her for the grace to die in the Love of Jesus and be worthy of Life in Heaven.
We only know what God, his Son and the Church has told us of hell. The church has also said that through God and his Son all things are possible.
I often think this fear is based on what we know about our imperfect system of justice at the hands of a secular state government. God knows more about us than we know of ourselves. The fact that you even worry about this speaks volumes about yourself. If I am to be judged, I want to be judged by someone who knows all about me and my actions. He knows our motivations, our fears and hopes.
They say the way is narrow, but given the amount of cruelty on earth, for those of us who try to live the example of Christ, for those who from time to time lose hope, only to regain it later I would venture to guess that we will be looked after. We are judged by our actions and deeds and also what is inside our hearts.
God the father who is perfect, is the best and fairest judge there is. I guess what I am trying to say is, there are no accidents in hell, no poorly executed defenses. Is hell really eternal? Only God truly knows this, and whatever it is, it is fair.
They already had a chance to repent, but they refused to do so. Nowhere in Heaven, or in God, the angels, and so on can there be darkness and evil; that’s why Mary was born without Original Sin so that she may have given birth to Jesus. Since Jesus is God, there can be no evil or darkness within him. Mary was conceived without sin because, if she wasn’t, the Original Sin would have been passed on to Jesus; and then he would not be one of God. So if you die in mortal sin, can you go to Heaven? No. That mortal sin scars your soul forever. Of course, God does not want you to go to Hell; but you choose where to go. You can also go to Purgatory where you pay for your venial sins and then go to Heaven. Mortal sins are polar opposites of venial ones. In order for there to be a mortal sin:
- It must be of a grave (or serious) matter.
- It must have been done with full consent.
- It must have been done with full knowledge.
I hope I answered your question. God bless!
The Great Divorce by C.S. Lewis.
The reason why hell is eternal is because that’s where its residents PREFER to be.
You see hell as a punishment, but they do not see it that way. It’s like prison - why would anyone want to be in prison? But some people look at it as three free meals, a roof over their heads, and a bed. There are people who commit crimes just to be sent to prison. It’s where they WANT to be. People in hell are the same way.
People in hell have REJECTED God. Why do we imagine that they somehow change their minds in hell and DESIRE God? Why should God yank them out of hell (where they chose to be, of their own complete free-will) and force himself upon them? This would be a form of assault!
Nobody is ever dragged into hell kicking and screaming that there has been some mistake. Nobody in hell WANTS to be in heaven.
Exactly. Anyone who wants to understand hell needs to read this (very short) book.
Because existence is better than non-existence. Annihilation says, “you didn’t choose what I wanted you to choose, so I’m gonna wipe you out of existence”; that seems less characteristic of justice than allowing people to choose how they live out eternity. :shrug:
Perhaps consider a slight adjustment to your reasoning:
“…because you refused to repent…” implies the possibility of future repentance because the refusal occurred in the past.
Instead consider “…because you refuse to repent…” or “…because you will always refuse to repent…,” since refuse implies present tense and continual and always encompasses any afterlife actions.
As long as one refuses to repent, s/he never wants to be righteous. Hell is deserved because there is an everlasting refusal to repent for the wrongdoing.
Thank you for sharing a great question for reflection! I really enjoyed pondering it, and I look forward to further discussion!
I’ll add my initial reaction to the excellent responses you’ve received so far.
When we leave this life we either go to purgatory or we enter eternity. We no longer live in time … we are outside of time. Whether in heaven or hell we live in a different environment, one in which there is no change. If we prefer hell then that is where we will live, but we will not be living a temporal existence. We will live an eternal existence wherein time will have no meaning.
You make it seem like Hell isn’t held to be a state/place of eternal punishment. See CCC 1034.
Let’s say I choose to reject God, but I also choose not to be tormented for all of eternity for that decision and rather choose to be annihilated. Why doesn’t God permit that free choice?
Because God gave us all an Eternal Soul, which He will not destroy. Why would you prefer annihilation to Eternal Happiness? He set down the rules, made the Covenant with Moses and Israel, then Jesus came and gave us His New Covenant. If you follow it, believe and love God, you don’t need to choose Hell. If you choose Hell, God lets you use your free will to choose that destination, but it is not a thing you should desire! Instead, follow the Lord, believe, practice your Faith and we’ll all be together in Eternal happiness and joy. The Soul He gave us is from Himself. He will not destroy it, but YOU have to choose what you are going to do with His Gift. Make that choice wisely.
More to my original point…
I wasn’t referring to God annihilating persons. I was asking why God would choose to sustain the existence of evil and suffering for all of eternity. In other words, even though God supposedly abhors evil and suffering he nevertheless sustains the existence of those things for all of eternity – by sustaining the existence of Hell. For as long as there will be God, there will be evil and suffering – by his choice.
“If one exists they must’ve been non-existant. And both the existant and the non-existant are in suffering.”
It’s never made any sense to me and seems illogical that heaven and earth will pass away and Hell. A created place doesn’t. Sounds like a scare tactic to me. That which has a beginning has a middle and end.
As I understand it, my soul didn’t exist before God created it. If that’s true, then I see no logical reason why he can’t also destroy it and leave me in the same state that I was in before ensoulment.
Any sin against God is an INFINITELY wrong act because God is INFINITE.
If God were only just He would demand not only eternity in Hell but an INFINITE level of punishment in Hell. God is merciful and doesn’t make the punishment of Hell infinite.
If anyone sins they don’t make just a small mistake–they CHOOSE infinitely offending God who is perfect love.
People who argue that God should be satisfied with people in Hell being just simply put out of existence have NO CLUE the price that Jesus–who is INFINITE and was able to pay the INFINITE penalty for us on the Cross.
The scriptures say that Jesus “bore our sins in His body on the tree”. Think of all the billions of people who have ever lived–think of the countless sins they commit all the days of their life.
Can you imagine how Jesus’ humanity felt bearing ALL those sins?!
Have you ever sinned and felt remorse? You know that it hurts your conscience.
Jesus HAS been in everyone’s shoes–in His humanity He FELT all the sins throughtou all history–He did this out of love–He didn’t have to come to Earth to bear all of our sins.
Now if a person dies in mortal sin they don’t get ripped off or gyped and go there because they just made a human mistake–NO if anyone goes to Hell they go there by their own knowledgeable choice. They REALLY do choose the fires of Hell OVER the perfect LOVE of Jesus that bore their sins and the sins of the whole world throughout all time on the Cross!!!
The scriptures say that “love does not demand its own way”. God values the freedom of our human wills SO much that He LETS people choose Hell over the PERFECT love of Jesus’ sacrifice for us on the Cross!
Hell really is eternal because the people there NEVER want to be in "heaven with Jesus–they really do WANT to be in Hell.
In Hell the door is locked from the INSIDE!!!
In Heaven the Elect love God so much that they rejoice in his Justice as well as His mercy.
It is a mystery but God wipes away ALL sadness from us so that even if our closest relatives are in Hell–we will not feel bad about it!!! If you don’t believe me then you don’t believe St. Thomas Aquinas because that’s what he said about it!
Some may ask: why did God create some people KNOWING that they would wind up in Hell–even if it was by their own choice?
Apparently God in his wisdom calculated that it was a better thing that even if only a FEW would make it to heaven AND IF many made it to hell that it was a GOOD thing because those who wind up in Hell WOULD have the chance at being with God and would even have SUFFICIENT grace for that to happen and IF they still chose Hell over Jesus’ infinite love then at least they HAD A CHANCE at heaven which is better than never having that chance by never existing.
That is just my guess but on the other hand Jesus said about Judas “it would have been better for that man if he had never been born”.
All I DO KNOW is that all of us should ask for the Lord’s mercy and love Him with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength for He has done MORE than that for us.
Universalism is wrong! Non Eternity in Hell as a possibility is wrong!
Get with the program! Pick up your cross and journey to Heaven!
Its eternal because God said it is eternal. God’s word is good enough for me.