"It is...Our will that Catholics should abstain from certain appellations which have recently been brought into use to distinguish one group of Catholics from another. They are to be avoided not only as 'profane novelties of words,' out of harmony with both truth and justice, but also because they give rise to great trouble and confusion among Catholics. Such is the nature of Catholicism that it does not admit of more or less, but must be held as a whole or as a whole rejected: 'This is the Catholic faith, which unless a man believe faithfully and firmly; he cannot be saved' (Athanasian Creed). There is no need of adding any qualifying terms to the profession of Catholicism: it is quite enough for each one to proclaim 'Christian is my name and Catholic my surname,' only let him endeavour to be in reality what he calls himself." -- Pope Benedict XV, Ad Beatissimi Apostolorum 24 (1914)

Saturday, December 29, 2012

The Logic of Hell

April 1, 2009 By Fr. Dwight Longenecker

A friend commented the other day, “I was doubting the reality of hell. I wondered how it could be that an all loving God would be able to allow for hell. Then, at Mass, I gazed at the crucifix and it all clicked. I had an ‘aha’ moment. If there were no hell there would be no need of the cross. Why the cross if we did not need salvation, and what were we to be saved from if not hell?”

Indeed. The next day, having dinner with some friends a fellow priest commented, “The most deadly heresy of our day, a heresy that is destroying our church and our culture is the heresy of universalism. This sentimental belief that God will not condemn anyone to hell and that everyone is going to heaven undermines everything. It is a lie direct from the Father of lies.”

I’ve often thought that the people who think that God will not send anyone to hell really believe that God will not send someone like them to hell. It’s all couched in suitably sentimental concern for other people. They’re really just worried about their own skin.

Finally, it has always seemed incongruous to me that atheists blame believers for being on Fantasy Island and that we are duped into wishful thinking–that God is our big Sugar Daddy in the sky who will take us to glory one day. That may be the God of the eternal security born again crowd, but the Catholic God is the Almighty Judge before whom all will tremble one day. Before him none shall stand and every knee shall bow, and he might send us to hell.

This doesn’t sound very much like wishful thinking to me. Instead, the person who imagines that there is no life after death, no heaven to win and no hell to pay and that they can just quietly ride off into the sunset without paying their debts.

Now that really sounds like wishful thinking. to me.

The Logic of Hell – 2
April 2, 2009 By Fr. Dwight Longenecker


After the last post on hell someone asked, “So did God create Hell just so there could be the cross?” No, the logical connection between the cross and hell assumes that hell already existed and that is why the cross was necessary.

So did God create Hell? Not really. The Bible does say that hell was ‘prepared’ for the Devil and his angels, but I don’t think Hell is created in the same active way that God created the world. instead Hell is a sort of a by product of God’s creation. The logic works like this: God is Love. Love is not only what He is but what He does. Love is not only what He does, but what He is. One of the most important attributes of Love is that it is fruitful. Therefore God is a creator. He creates man and woman in his image. Part of being in God’s image is that we are given a little smidgen of his omnipotence. This is called free will. Within the boundaries of our human condition we can do what we like.

We can therefore reject God. If we reject God then we cannot be in his presence. Indeed if God were to make us go to heaven it would not be heaven for us because in rejecting God we also (ultimately) reject all things good and beautiful and pleasurable and true. If we reject all those things we will end up with all things miserable and ugly and painful and false.

If we are created in God’s image, then we not only have a smidgen of his omnipotence, we also have a smidgen of his eternal life. That means we will live forever somewhere. If we reject God and all that is good, where will we spend eternity? We must spend it in a place where God is not, where good is not, where beauty is not and where love is not. This is the place we call Hell.

Christ died on the cross to save us from this place.

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