Is there a hell? If there is, are we all going there?
There is much debate on the nature and even existence of hell. Monsignor Charles Pope has no doubts on the subject.
- Msgr Charles Pope
- December 13, 2012
As most of you know, there has been a rather vivid discussion recently in the blogosphere on the subject of hell. As one who has written rather substantially, on the topic of hell, and our need to recover a more biblical notion regarding judgment and hell, I pray that you will tolerate me adding my own voice to the recent discussions.
Those who read this blog regularly, will know that I have spoken on the topic of Hell on any number of occasions. For example:
The Hell of It ——–Hell Has to Be——Will Many Be Saved? ——–Sinner Please Don’t Let this Harvest Pass ——–The Fire Next Time ——–The Mystery of Iniquity ——–Ignoring Two Words Devastates Evangelization
In all these posts, over the past several years I have argued, that our modern notion that Hell is a remote possibility, and a sentence likely incurred by only a very tiny number, is an unbiblical notion, and one that also runs contrary to almost the whole of Christian Tradition, beginning with the early Fathers of the Church, all the way forward until about 50 years ago.
I was thus very excited and pleased when Dr. Ralph Martin, a great teacher of mine over the years, published his recent book, Will Many be Saved? In this book, as I have already detailed, there is a great survey of the Church’s teaching, and traditional understanding of the topic of judgment and Hell. Ralph Martin also details in a respectful way recent trends, which have influenced a great many Catholics, and others to discount the biblical teaching, as well as the Christian Tradition of over 1900 years, prior to modern reconsideration.
I will not rewrite all the articles that I have referenced above, and re-defend the teaching on Hell, as I have done before, and Ralph Martin has done ably and thoroughly in his book.
But permit just a few summary bullet points:
- The biblical teaching, that there is a Hell, and that many go there is in no way ambiguous. When asked directly whether many would be saved Jesus answers soberly, and I would suppose with great sadness, that “many” were on the wide road that led to perdition, and that the road that led to salvation, was narrow, and difficult and that “few” found it.
- Jesus the main source – No one loves us more than Jesus Christ, and no one has worked more to save us than Jesus Christ. Yet no one spoke of Hell more than Jesus Christ, or warned of judgment with greater sobriety.
- Words mean things – However one may wish to interpret the biblical data, “many” does not mean few, and “few” does not mean many.
- Hell is, in a sense, necessary if human freedom is to have any meaning. All while Hell has mysterious aspects, understanding its existence must be rooted in the fact that God respects the freedom he has given us, even if he may regret the choices we make. But we are summoned to love, and love requires freedom, and freedom requires that our choices be about real things.
- That hell is an eternal reality is also mysterious, but is caught up in the mystery of the eternity itself. It would seem that as we move from this temporal world toward eternity, our decisions become forever fixed and final.
Devastating – It does not require an advanced degree in sociology to understand that, to remove the unambiguous biblical teaching on the very real and possible outcome of Hell, is to remove strong motivation to seek a Savior and salvation. It is therefore no surprise that as the teaching on Hell has been largely set aside by the modern world, that recourse to the sacraments, prayer, Church attendance and any number of spiritual remedies have suffered significant declines during the same period.
Source: Archdiocese of Washington