AN ETERNAL HELL IS A BLASPHEMY

 

We all know the experience of hell--what it is like to live separated from God. On some level, we who acknowledge ourselves to be sinners (by very definition) are choosing to believe in separation from God and our neighbor. We, and the whole of humanity, are in need of salvation from that kind of hell. Pope John Paul II has already established that hell is not necessarily some place where people go; he said the same thing about heaven and purgatory. He clearly asserted that the thing that makes heaven, purgatory and hell what they are is essentially the condition of our relationship with God and neighbor.

A woman in the choir asked one day, "Why did they kill Jesus? He wasn't hurting anyone, was he?"

My answer is: "Oh, yes he was! He was asserting (and I believe the doctrine of the Blessed Trinity confirms it) that THERE IS NO SEPARATION THAT CAN OVERCOME THE LOVE OF GOD."

Think about it. Every power of this world--every last power of this world--uses the threat of separation in order to control the people they love and serve. Yes, government and religious authorities use separation to control. But, even my mother used the threat of separation to get me to behave--for my own good, of course. Yet, it still was control. It is always control--for whatever motives. Perfect love, I submit, cast out all fear and control.

Jesus was the supreme threat to every single authority of this world and its ability to control. That is why martyrs are able to walk into the mouth of death--they don't believe that the grave can separate them from what matters to them most. Yet, even good people, as long as they still believe in separation, are always wanting to control the people they love.

GUIDELINES FOR THE KIND OF CONTROL THAT IS "LOVING"

Of course, there is a need to control little children and even adults at times; the motive must always be to bring about love, but the control itself is never love.
1.  The situation must be life threatening or very SERIOUS.
2.  The control must always be TEMPORARY (even if it is open-ended).
3.  The control must be POSSIBLE (without causing more harm than good).

MORTAL SIN

The Catholic Catechism would say that IF a person dies in "Mortal Sin," that person would suffer eternal hell. However, the big "IF" is so big that it makes an eternal hell impossible to defend even for those who are still tied to Greek philosophy. In the first place, we all know that the Church teaches that there are three conditions for  a mortal sin: Serious matter, sufficient reflection and full consent of the will. It is possible for wise moral theologians to determine what constitutes "serious matter." However, every theologian has to admit that it is ABSOLUTELY IMPOSSIBLE for anyone (including the sinner) to know for sure what has been "sufficient reflection" or "full consent of the will." The Church has declared many people to be in heaven. But, the Church has NEVER declared that any human being is suffering an eternal hell.

PURGATORY

I submit that in the bible and in the early days of the Church, the word "hell" did not always mean ETERNAL. Note that in the Apostle’s Creed, it says that Jesus "descended into hell." Why would he do that if it was eternal? Surely, he did not go there to gloat. Also, it was said that Jesus "overcame" and "destroyed" hell. But, theologians kept pushing and pushing until they ruined the word "hell" by making it eternal. At that point, the Church had to come up with another word for consequences of sin that is NOT ETERNAL. The new word is "Purgatory."

So, in conclusion, I will not only say that an eternal hell is not possible, I insist that it is blasphemy. My denial of an eternal hell is not based on the common complaint: "How could a good God send someone he loves to hell?" My denial is based on the fact that only God is supreme and the supreme God is Love and Love will not allow any separation except the temporary, artificial separation that dumb creatures are capable of doing to God's good life with their overblown idea of Free Will. In his First Coming, we were able to tear him to pieces on the cross and stuff him in the grave; but he demonstrated in his resurrection that he cannot be separated. Now, in his Second Coming, we can tear him to pieces and make him, and ourselves, miserable; but, it cannot last. THERE IS NO ETERNAL HELL!

 

In speaking of HOPE (Oct. 4, 2017), Pope Francis made a statement that confirms the basic wrongness of trying to defend the idea of an eternal hell. He said that a “real Christian” is not whiny and angry, but is convinced by the power of the Resurrection that “no evil is infinite, no night is without end, no person is permanently in error, no hatred is stronger than love.”

 

 

 © 2017 Rev. John Vogler