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How did we forget about hell?

Two theologians bear much of the blame, as a new book shows

By on Wednesday, 16 January 2013

El Greco depicts hell as an animal’s mouth (c 1570s)

El Greco depicts hell as an animal’s mouth (c 1570s)

In the late 1990s I wrote a history of the Knights Templar and, after a year or two immersed in the Crusades, was struck by how real was the fear of hell among Catholics at the time, and by what extreme measures they were prepared to take to save their souls. So central to their faith was this fear of damnation that present-day post-Vatican II Catholicism seemed in this respect like a different religion.

Six years later, I expressed my perplexity on the subject in an essay published together with other collected writings by Darton, Longman and Todd as Hell and Other Destinations. I asked how it was that the clear teaching of the Church (and of the monks at Ampleforth where I went to school) that those who die in a state of mortal sin would be damned, that many were called but few chosen, that the hard and narrow path leads to salvation and the broad and easy road to damnation, all now seemed to have been replaced by an assumption that salvation is a universal entitlement with hell either empty or reserved for world-historical monsters like Genghis Khan, Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot and, possibly, General Pinochet and Mrs Thatcher.

My essay was an amateur effort and the question I put received no answer. That is, until now. Dr Ralph Martin is an associate professor of theology at the University of Notre Dame, director of graduate theology programmes in the new evangelisation and a consultor for the Pontifical Council for the New Evangelisation. He is, in other words, a man at the cutting edge of the current drive to convert non-Catholics to the Catholic Faith. In this endeavour, however, he has clearly faced a problem. What is Catholicism’s unique selling point, other than the conviction of Catholics that what they believe happens to be true? What makes up for its inconveniences such as its strictures on sex and the obloquy Catholics must endure for their perceived misogyny, homophobia, indifference to Aids in Africa and so on if, in the long run, as we now seem to believe, everyone will end up in heaven?

Dr Martin’s book is called Will Many Be Saved? What Vatican II Actually Teaches and its Implications for the New Evangelisation. Theological cognoscenti will recognise the reference to Dare we Hope “That All Men Be Saved”? by Hans Urs von Balthasar, a book in which the Swiss theologian claims not just that we dare hope that no one is in hell but that we should hope that no one is in hell and, in fact, can assume that no one is in hell.

Dr Martin treads carefully with von Balthasar, said to be the favourite theologian of Blessed John Paul II, but his critique of his writing on the subject is devastating. In his book Balthasar “departs from the content of revelation and the mainstream theological tradition of the Church in a way that undermines the call to holiness and evangelisation and is pastorally damaging”. Martin is equally critical of the teaching of Karl Rahner, whose heavy tomes of theology, impenetrable to the lay Catholic, have done much to change our beliefs on the question of salvation. It is Rahner’s concept of the “anonymous Christian” that put the final nail in the coffin of extra Ecclesiam nulla salus – outside the Church there is no salvation.

Both Rahner and Balthasar make much of paragraph 16 of Gaudium et Spes, which teaches that members of other religions, and even atheists, may be saved; but here, says Martin, there is some cherry-picking and sleight of hand. “Rahner’s completely optimistic description of the conciliar teaching on the salvation of non-Christians is only possible when the complete text is ignored…” With great delicacy and repeated protestation of respect Martin shows how both Rahner and von Balthasar have allowed their wishful thinking to distort, even pervert, the teaching of the gospels and the Church.

Paragraph 16 of Lumen Gentium states that non-believers who “seek God with a sincere heart” and “do his will as they know it through the dictates of their conscience” will be saved. So far so good. But, as Martin points out (with the aid of other commentators), both theologians wilfully ignore what follows: “But very often, deceived by the Evil One, men have become vain in their reasonings, have exchanged the truth of God for a lie…” Note the “very often”. Note, too, Lumen Gentium’s reference at this point to St Paul’s First Letter to the Romans, in which he uses “unnatural intercourse” as an instance of where such vain reasoning can lead: “men doing shameless things with men and getting an appropriate reward for their perversion”.

Dr Martin is a specialist on evangelisation and at first sight his book is a merely a scholarly contribution to his area of expertise. But, of course, it is much more than that. Evangelising is at the heart of what it means to be a Catholic. Presenting the Catholic faith as “an optional enrichment opportunity”, instead of “a precious and urgent opportunity to find salvation and escape damnation”, is to distort both the gospels and the teaching of the Catholic Church.

A riddle remains. Why, if Martin’s critique is correct, has the teaching on salvation of Rahner and Balthasar not been condemned by the Church? Cardinal Avery Dulles described Balthasar’s position as “adventurous” and the then Cardinal Ratzinger talked of Rahner’s “astonishing optimism”: he also warned Catholics against reading Scripture “contrary to its own intentions”. But these are mild criticisms if the two theologians have got things so wrong. Dr Martin’s book is now endorsed by four cardinals and two archbishops but, given that the subject is of such paramount importance, should there not be a clear statement by Pope Benedict or Archbishop Gerhard Müller, the prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, about what we must do, or not do, to be saved?

Piers Paul Read is a novelist, historian and biographer

  • Paul

    The case of Judas Iscariot is uncertain, as the Lord said it would be better for that man if he hadn’t been born?

  • Paul

    In his first appearance in the Bible, the ancient serpent enters with a question:  ‘Did God really say …?’ (Genesis 3:1).  Or, as the KJV puts it,  ‘Yea, hath God said …?

    His enduring penchant for rubbishing the word of God has done a great deal of damage and led countless numbers astray.  Theologians, beware of emulating him.
      

  • JeremyWibblesticks

    “Padre Pio, I don’t believe in hell.”

    “You will when you get there.” was the Padre’s reply.

  • JabbaPapa

    I have had some private revelations myself, so that this is a particularly thorny question for me, and one that I’ve thought about a great deal …

    (you will understand that I must be very careful when discussing this, and I can only crave your indulgence and the forgiveness of Our Lord for any unintentional slips on my part of what is private into the public, though I pray that Our Lord Christ will preserve me from errors)

    Basically, just read the commentary from Cardinal Ratzinger in the Fatima document I linked to — it deals with the question in a very sensitive, cohesive, and exhaustive manner.

    I understand that there are no new public revelations after apostolic times

    Not *quite* accurate — rather the fullness of the Revelation was made Flesh in the Incarnation of Our Lord, insofar as God’s Desire for us is fully manifest in The Christ.

    The Revelation is an Attribute of God, and it resides with Him, and not essentially in the texts that we have describing it, but it exists there only descriptively.

    If all of these texts were to suddenly burn into ashes, none of the Revelation would vanish.

    This is partly why Pope Benedict XVI describes Jesus in his Jesus of Nazareth trilogy as being the Torah (the Law).

    But God is a living being, not an abstract series of concepts — and in His Love for us, He can and He has from time to time (through the Saints) made certain clarifications concerning some parts of the Revelation that were hitherto misunderstood due to our own errors and sinfulness, and He has provided us with certain more Fatherly teachings not necessarily touching on the doctrines themselves, and He has given certain particular revelations to individuals or groups of individuals for their own needs or purposes only, not those of the Church as a whole — which is not to say that private revelations are received for the good of the individuals *only*, because all revelations are ultimately for the Church, even though not all revelations are destined to be made public ; but the needs and purposes of those individuals in the light of these private revelations are needs and purposes towards our Faith and our Church.

    I can’t really describe what He saw fit to gift me with, unworthy though I was to receive it, but NONE of it is either contrary of nor different to the contents of the Revelation as it has been provided to our Church through the Scripture, through the Saints of our Church, nor through the Tradition and the Magisterium — to the contrary, it is all of it identical both in generals and in detail to the relevant Catholic doctrines.

    You see, a true private revelation will not be contrary to the public Revelation, nor will it add anything new to it, nor will it change it, because the Revelation is in Eternity where it resides with God — In initium erat Verbum, et Verbum erat apud Deum, et Deus erat Verbum.

    Again, I can only recommend the document I linked to earlier.

  • JabbaPapa

    Indeed — I was really referring in that mention to the very long tradition of both mystical and theological meditations on the case of Judas Iscariot ; remember, he too received all of the graces of an Apostle.

    His fate in the afterlife is, however, beyond our knowledge.

  • Inquisator

    Perhaps it is the case that in every parish you have visited in Europe and North America, the parishioners are not as miserable as you!

  • Tieh Ard

    Martin misses the point that Rahner, Von Bathasar and Ratzinger were involved in drafting Gaudium et Spes ans maybe know something of its meaning.

  • Tieh Ard

    but Hell is  a reality…. only countered by Our Blessed Lord …we are saved through his Grace alone

  • Nesbyth

    Logically, if there’s a Heaven then there must be a Hell.

    Jesus Himself mentioned Hell a fair few times, both in parables and in his teachings.

    The most notable parables are Dives and Lazarus and The Sheep and the Goats.

    While in His teachings Jesus tells us that, “Every one of men’s sins and blasphemies shall be forgiven, but blasphemies against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven.”

    And again, when talking about people leading astray “little ones” (actually meaning those who teach false doctrine) Jesus warns that it were better that a millstone be hanged about his neckand be cast into the sea than to lead these little ones astray.

    Some of the great Saints have had visions of Hell, and apart from the Children of Fatima, Teresa of Avila said she had had a vision of Hell which “was the cause of the very deep distress I experienced because of the great number of souls who are bringing damnation upon themselves…”
    And from that time, for the next 18 years, she undertook many arduous journeys all over Spain and lived in great poverty in order to set up tiny convents where the Blessed Sacrament might be reserved.

    Saint Teresa of Avila is rare amongst women.  She is, apart from being a Saint and Mystic, also a Doctor of the Church.

    Piers Paul Read has opened up this debate again and about time too. We are “neither hot nor cold” these days but very keen to shut our eyes to following truly all that Christ has taught us, especially if it’s not “politically correct”

  • Paul

    Many thanks.  This explains it very clearly.
      I agree with everything you say, though I balk at none of the Revelation vanishing if all these texts were burned to ashes.  I think I see what you (and Pope Benedict) mean.  Christ is himself the complete Word and everything in Scripture serves to explicate that.  But for me none of the biblical texts are there by accident.  And he did say that man shall live by Every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God …  

  • JabbaPapa

    :-)

    though I balk at none of the Revelation vanishing if all these texts were burned to ashes

    It’s a periphrase derived from I can’t remember which traditional source … ;-)

  • Scholar

    How can “a Lord of all Kindness” as the lyrics of the hymn City of God condemn his own creation to eternal damnation. What does it say about this God who claims to practise “unconditional love” and is the God of forgiveness and mercy.

    Even a criminal on his death bed if he confesses will be forgiven of any mortal sins…

    hell is actually here on earth. Nothing more. The devil is in our midst. Why do we have to wait to die to go to a hot roaring place. Heaven exists otherwise you cannot explain where Jesus ascended to and also the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him) But hell, the earth of the end at the judgement day becomes hell.

    After all in the orthodox depiction of hell, on Easter Jesus is seen going down to hell to empty it. So he won the contest with Lucifer, and hell might be empty. With a loving, merciful and kind God heaven is overflowing and hell is empty…

  • Biblical Scholar

    all these are early church fathers who spoke about hell as a way to bolster the authority of the church and to expand Christianity. They spoke about a God to be feared and its now changed to a Giod to be loved. Where in the bible does it say sir, that God created hell. Even in Geneesis when god created the world in 7 days, did he create hell? did he “forget” to create one. Hell is in the imagination of the church and the early church fathers. Refer my other post where I say the current earth is hell because Satan is ever present. Though I am sure the webmaster will delte it. he likes to dlete and censor things that he doesn’t agree with. So we can seldom have a discussion in this paper! 
    Sir, Apart from one line which you quote above above from the Ephesians nothing is biblical. Sorry you are a known SSPX supporter claiming to be the true church as we are all imposters of the Latin rite. Is this the best the SSPX can do?

  • Nesbyth

    Yes, quite so.
    As in the Parable of The Sheep and the Goats.

  • JabbaPapa

    “unconditional love” is an invention of Protestants and atheists.

  • Tieh Ard

    sorry it was Henri de lu Bac  not Von Balthasar who was theolgian at Vat 11 … de lu Bac is very clear in his work Catholicism (that influenced the Holy Father who said it opened his eyes more than any other book and it influenced  Rahner and Von Balthasar) he empahsises  that the Church is the narrow gate that all the world religions will enter and the gate is Jesus in his Church.  He thought Buddhism was the highest state man can achieve in this world but it matters little as the perfect buddist  is still so far away from Gods Redemption like an ant from the sun. He also argues that it is through God’s redemptive action that this will come about hence we have Every Knee shall bow in the Psalms. 
    Friends what strikes me is that a little learning confuses us all including Mr Martin.  Lets take God at face value (as the Holy Father advises in his latest volume of  Jesus). Johns epistle states even if we condemn ourselves we have one who will speak up for us and that is Jesus, and also the Paraclete as we know means advocate or Lawyer.. he will speak for us…
    Benedict also states that theolgians often do the Devils work, St Francis didnt want his brothers to waste time on theology,
    reading some of your posts the devil is posting here as well..

    theology wont save you
    Jesus will

  • whytheworldisending

    When you talk about “Jeus going down to hell,” and the place of “Eternal damnation,” you are confusing 2 different words, each translated as the word “Hell” in the Bible, but with different meanings. Your conclusion that the hell of eternal dammation is empty, is therefore not sound. 

  • Lewispbuckingham

     Are you sure you don’t mean conditional love.
    Christ was the example of unconditional love.He predates Protestants and the modern Atheist.
    For some Protestants, if you were not good , God did not favour you,  so you were not successful in life, or your business failed.In that sense God’s love could be conditional.
    For the thinking Atheist God’s love is outside material examination.Since its outside such examination it, in any form, conditional or unconditional, does not exist.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/PWZKI7JBARE4DDT3NQ22RWMOJE Benedict Carter

    Dear Biblical Scholar,

    It is customary to use an avatar that correctly expresses one’s stance or even (like my own), one’s own name. 

    It is not usually used to promote untruth.

  • JabbaPapa

    Unconditional love is a doctrine in some forms of Protestantism that Faith alone provides salvation, or a strawman argument deployed by atheists against Christianity.

    In Catholicism, Love is conditioned by its nature and its specific attributes, that provide the source of the moral teachings.

  • Jon Brownridge

    Things are even worse than I imagined. Discussions among putatively intelligent people about Heaven and Hell as if they were physical locations with actual coordinates in the Universe – oh please! Pope John Paul II did at least try to throw some light our way, probably with some trepidation, given the thinking level of the average Catholic:

    “During his weekly address to the general
    audience of 8,500 people at the Vatican on July 28, 1999, Pope
    John Paul II rejected the reality of a physical, literal Hell
    as a place of eternal fire and torment. Rather, the pope said Hell is separation, even in this life, from the joyful communion
    with God. According to an official Vatican transcript of the pope’s
    speech, Pope John Paul II noted that the Scriptural references
    to Hell and the images portrayed by Scripture are only symbolic
    and figurative. Only a week earlier
    the pope stated that Heaven is neither ‘an abstraction nor
    a place in the clouds, but a living, personal relationship of
    union with God’ “.

  • JabbaPapa

    Discussions among putatively intelligent people about Heaven and Hell as
    if they were physical locations with actual coordinates in the Universe

    If you had taken the effort to comprehend what is written in here, you would know that your characterisation is a gross fallacy.

  • Peter

    “should there not be a clear statement by Pope Benedict or Archbishop Gerhard Müller, the prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, about what we must do, or not do, to be saved?”

    If we ignore the seriously poor – not harm them, just ignore them – we go to hell.

    The world is full of seriously poor in every respect and so we are given unlimited opportunities to avoid damnation.  Yet many of us who practice our faith on a daily or weekly basis ignore the poor, focussing instead on other more topical issues which we deem important.

    It is possible for a non-believer with genuine compassion for the poor to achieve salvation while a practising believer who ignores them will be damned.

  • Peter

    If one is a Catholic one believes in the resurrection of the body, whether we are saved or damned.  This resurrected physical body will need a physical location, whether in heaven or in hell.

  • Scholar

    Really? You really buying that? What language did Mary speak to the children in? mary could only speak Aramaic. The children we described as illetrate so they could not read and write. If they spoke anything it would be basic Portuguese or Spanish. Where is the COMMON language needed dor two parties to communicate. Its all a load of codswallop

  • JabbaPapa

    Your claims towards salvation by works are contrary to Catholic teaching.

    From this last Sunday’s Gospel :

    1 Corinthians 12:4-11

    4 There are many different gifts, but it is always the same Spirit;

    5 there are many different ways of serving, but it is always the same Lord.

    6 There are many different forms of activity, but in everybody it is the same God who is at work in them all.

    7 The particular manifestation of the Spirit granted to each one is to be used for the general good.

    8 To one is given from the Spirit
    the gift of utterance expressing wisdom; to another the gift of
    utterance expressing knowledge, in accordance with the same Spirit;

    9 to another, faith, from the same Spirit; and to another, the gifts of healing, through this one Spirit;

    10 to another, the working of miracles; to another,
    prophecy; to another, the power of distinguishing spirits; to one, the
    gift of different tongues and to another, the interpretation of tongues.

    11 But at work in all these is one and the same Spirit, distributing them at will to each individual.

    It is wrongful to claim that performing this or that good work of the Spirit, or not, can be the primary determinant of one’s salvation — whereas the Christ’s first commandment is to love God with all our strength, all our will, and all our soul.

    The manifestations of this love for God will be multiple, each according to each particular charism, grace, or other gift received in the Spirit — NOT some sort of Protestantised one-size-fits-all cod spirituality.

    Certainly, those with charisms, gifts, and the grace to care for the needy should do so — as one of the needy myself though, I cannot agree with your romantic claim that ignoring any of my personal needs (for example) will lead anyone who has done so to damnation.

    In my heart and in my soul, I beg for Christ to give his forgiveness to all of those who may have shunned caring for those needs.

  • JabbaPapa

    Apart from the rest of your rather ill-informed rubbish :

    Mary could only speak Aramaic

    Yeah ?

    Can you prove this ?

  • Peter

    Contrary to Catholic teaching?  Not according to the Catechism:

    “Our Lord warns us that we shall be separated from him if we fail to meet the serious needs of the poor and the little ones who are his bretheren” (CCC 1033).

  • JabbaPapa

    They are contrary to Catholic teaching insofar as you are claiming that if these or those don’t commit some specific actions, regardless of any other circumstances and regardless of their gifts in the Spirit they will be damned, whereas those unbaptised and uncatholic who do so will be saved.

    What you are misunderstanding in the Catechism is one little word :

    “Our Lord warns us that we shall be separated from him if we fail to
    meet the serious needs of the poor and the little ones who are his
    brethren”

    That charity is a collective task is NOT a cop out — but the one who has received a gift in the Spirit of “utterance expressing knowledge” for example, whilst his neighbour may have received a gift of caring for the poor and needy in Christian charity — then the second should do his own work, whilst the first should accomplish the task allotted to him according to that gift of his own.

    We are a Church, and we are in Holy Communion with God and with each other in His Church — and not just a bunch of separate individuals.

  • Peter

    “That charity is a collective task is NOT a cop out — but the one who has received a gift in the Spirit of “utterance expressing knowledge” for example, whilst his neighbour may have received a gift of caring for the poor and needy in Christian charity — then the second should do his own work, whilst the first should accomplish the task allotted to him according to that gift of his own.”

    It is incumbent upon each and every one of us on pain of damnation to care for the poor, regardless of other gifts.  There is no opt-out by practising other charisms.

    A pastor who causes his flock to ignore the poor will suffer damnation as will his flock.  That is why priests have such serious responsibility.

  • Kevin Corbett

    When I see how much importance the likes of the SSPX and other so-called traditionalists place of Fatima, I start to feel very uneasy about it. I have always wondered in particular why the Virgin did not exhort the children to acts of charity and compassion for others, but mainly to praying the rosary and doing other acts of reparation. Of course, the Church says the secrets are worthy of belief, but as the fellow above mentioned, one is not bound to believe in the validity of private revelation.
     

  • Jon Brownridge

     “If you had taken the effort to comprehend what is written in here…” My comment seems to have been removed. Are you referring to the comments attributed to Pope John Paul II? Is there another interpretation? It has been widely reported that Pope John Paul believed Heaven and Hell to be figurative representations of much deeper and more important concepts.

  • Joe Zammit

         The Bible continually warns of a place
    called HELL.

     

         There are over 162 references in the New
    Testament alone which warn of HELL. And over 70 of these references were
    uttered by the Lord Jesus Christ!

         If there were no people in hell, Jesus wouldn’t have even mentioned it. What for? No one is there and no one will go there!

         And Jesus warned us:

         “If your hand causes you to stumble, cut
    it off; it is better for you to enter life crippled, than, having your two
    hands, to go into HELL, into the unquenchable fire” (St Mark, 9:43).

         “If your foot causes you to stumble, cut
    it off; it is better for you to enter life lame, than, having your two feet, to
    be cast into HELL … where their worm does not dies, and the fire is not
    quenched”  (St Mark, 9:45,48).

         “If your eye causes you to stumble, throw
    it out; it is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye, than,
    having two eyes, to be cast into HELL, where their worm does not die, and the
    fire is not quenched” (St Mark 9: 47-48). 

     

         “If your foot causes you to stumble, cut
    it off; it is better for you to enter life lame, than, having your two feet, to
    be cast into HELL … where their worm does not dies, and the fire is not
    quenched”  (St Mark, 9:45,48).

         “If your eye causes you to stumble, throw
    it out; it is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye, than,
    having two eyes, to be cast into HELL, where their worm does not die, and the
    fire is not quenched” (St Mark 9: 47-48).

     

     

  • Joe Zammit

    Biblical Scholar

    “Even in Geneesis when god created the world in 7 days, did he create hell? did he “forget” to create one.”

    Are you serious?

    When God created the world or, to be precise, the universe, hell was already in existence!  So much so that the devil tempted Adam and Eve to breach God’s commandment.

  • Jon Brownridge

     If we followed this literally there would be a lot more lame, blind, handless Catholics around. It’s a question of what is to be taken literally and what is purely figurative language. Scripture is full of metaphor and symbolism such as in the passages you quote.

  • JabbaPapa

    It is incumbent upon each and every one of us on pain of damnation to care for the poor, regardless of other gifts.

    This is an Error — it is incumbent on each of us to perform charitable works according to the charisms that each has received.

    A pastor who causes his flock to ignore the poor will suffer damnation as will his flock.

    This statement is overtly heretical.

  • JabbaPapa

    here = this thread

  • JabbaPapa

    Because praying the rosary and doing other acts of reparation ARE acts of charity towards others.

  • Macolvin

    Where did yesterday go? God created time and space and every time and place is both present and in the present to Him. Jesus said “Before Abraham was I am.” Are we separated from our earthly selves in eternity? And if so can we still be the same person? If eternal life is a share in God’s life then could every point in my existence is present in heaven or hell. The difference being my relationship with God. Heaven is somewhere maybe it can be right here. Note the question marks in case this is heresy.

  • Joe Zammit

    There are a number of private revelations by saints who saw hell and recognised Judas in hell, and he is in the most horrible and cruel part of hell.

  • Joe Zammit

    Jon

    You  are right. We must understand the meaning and the message. But Christ is here insisting on our denying ourselves continually to please him. We have to carry our cross daily and deny ourselves. That’s the meaning. But then, if we do not deny our evil inclinations and succumb in temptations and remain in sin, we shall end in hell.

    Those in hell are there because they died in mortal sin. They did not repent although Christ insisted with them to convert even at the last second of their lives. But they did not want. They wanted to go to hell.

  • JabbaPapa

    Note the question marks in case this is heresy

    LOL — no, that’s some fairly decent spiritual meditation on the subject IMO :-)

  • Antal Otto

    To the author…

    The article miss a few very important points.
    Does anyone believe that the billions of Christians usually read Rahner or Balthazar or any other theologists?
    There was something else what changed peoples feeling towards hell.
    First, in the middle ages (or even 100 years ago) illness, starvation and death was common in people`s life. They saw dieing people in their family, neighborhood, etc.
    Fear from hell was obviously much more important than nowadays when we almost have the opportunity to hide from the fact of death.

    Technology has changed or life and lifestyle dramatically in the past decades. Than came the drug, sex and rock`n roll, and so on.
    Currently life seems very convenient. We have food as much as we want, home, warm inside, no lethal sickness, entertainment, etc. even Christians are not interested in important things like heaven and hell. Life is good here, so God is OK, why would we worry about afterlife?
    I definitely would not judge 2 theologists for the things that have changed in the 20th century.

    In my belief Rahner`s concept of the anonymous Christians is vital in the 21st c.

    I became Catholic Christian in 2004. Before I was atheist but I was always looking for the truth. I became an environmentalist and started study environmental engineering at the University. There I realized that science and technology won`t help to find the solution to save our Planet.
    I started to read to find the Truth. It took me 3 years to find (obviously with God`s help) the religion which contains it. There are so many religions and false prophets out there! But so many really good people as well. Most of them don`t even know how to read (around 70% of the earth`s population can`t read and write!) how could they found Catholic Christianity!?
    In many parts of the world people can`t meet with it.

    Do you want to judge them?

    That is why Rahner`s concept is so important. Teach us not to judge people. Teach us not to believe that everything is right if we are Christians, and tell us that there are so many good people out there, some of them we meet, many of them we don`t.
    As Jesus told us: ” for the one who is not against you is for you” (Mark 9, 40) (Luke 9, 50).

    The problem of how we see hell refers to our convenience and the change of our lifestyle in the past decades.

      

  • Peter

    There is no error nor heresy in the Cathechism:

    “All that the wicked do is recorded, and they do not know. When “our God comes, he does not keep silence.”. . . he will turn towards those at his left hand: . . . “I placed my poor little ones on earth for you. I as their head was seated in heaven at the right hand of my Father – but on earth my members were suffering, my members on earth were in need. If you gave anything to my members, what you gave would reach their Head. Would that you had known that my little ones were in need when I placed them on earth for you and appointed them your stewards to bring your good works into my treasury. But you have placed nothing in their hands; therefore you have found nothing in my presence.”
    CCC1039

  • Peter

    Heaven and hell are real places, not on this earth, where we spend eternity with our real physical resurrected bodies.  In heaven our bodies are glorified with all the attributes that Jesus displayed in his resurrected body.  In hell I don’t know the state of our resurrected bodies, only that we will suffer the anguish of separation from our Creator.

  • JabbaPapa

    There is no error nor heresy in the Cathechism

    No — only in your statements.

  • Peter

    It is uncomfortable, I know, to feel that one is doing good through one’s other charisms, only to find that such actions are useless without meeting the serious needs of the poor.

  • Peter

    Here we differentiate between particular judgement and final judgement.

    When one dies the soul is separated from the body and undergoes particular judgement, where it is consigned straight to heaven, to purgatory or directly to hell.  Since the soul is not corporeal it cannot be consigned to any physical place, but rather to a state of being.

    However, at the end of time, when Christ comes again, the final judgement will take place of the living and the dead.   The dead will be resurrected into their physical bodies which will live forever either in heaven or in hell. 

     Heaven and hell will no longer be incorporeal states of being but physical states, with heaven being closeness to Christ, and hell being separation from Christ..

  • Peter

    “First, in the middle ages (or even 100 years ago) illness, starvation and death was common in people`s life. They saw dying people in their family, neighborhood, etc. ”

    This is still true in large parts of the developing world.  Add in deaths from persecution, oppression, war and strife, and you will find that much of humanity suffers no less than in the past.

  • JabbaPapa

    Can you please refrain from inducing others into doctrinal error.

    You are compounding your previous overtly heretical statement by reinforcing it in this manner.