May Catholics Hope That Hell is Empty?

January 16, 2024 00:40:57
May Catholics Hope That Hell is Empty?
Crisis Point
May Catholics Hope That Hell is Empty?

Jan 16 2024 | 00:40:57

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Hosted By

Eric Sammons

Show Notes

Recently Pope Francis said that he likes to think of Hell as empty and hopes it is. What are the theological and practical implications of such a view?
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Episode Transcript

[00:00:16] Pope Francis recently said that he hopes that hell is empty, and he likes to think of it as empty. What are the theological and practical implications? Patience of this belief. That's what we're going to talk about today on crisis point. Hello, I'm Eric Simmons, your host editor in chief of Crisis magazine. Before we get started, as usual, I ask that you would smash that like button. Subscribe to Channel don't bother hitting the notification bell because you have a life and you shouldn't have your phone telling you what to do each day. Also, you can follow us on social media at Crisismag, and you can go to our website, crisismagazine.com, and subscribe to our newsletter to get our latest articles right to your inbox. Okay, so I want to talk about something. Well, okay, first of all, let me take a step back. [00:01:03] People seem to think sometimes that people like me who comment on what's going on in the church, we like it when Pope Francis says something or does something dumb or controversial or whatever, because that gets us more clicks and we can talk about it and get everybody upset about it. I can't speak for anybody else, but I can speak for myself, and that is just simply not true. [00:01:26] I almost always have an idea for this live podcast each Tuesday that I think of a few days ahead of time that is not about the latest controversy or anything like that. But then on Monday morning, I typically then look at the news, say, is there something that I think we should talk about instead that's going on? And lately, it just happens to be a lot of times something that Pope Francis has said or done. And so I do feel like it's necessary to talk about these things and so that we know what's going on in the church and we understand the implications of what happens here. So that being said, okay, Pope Francis this weekend, he said, and this is a translation, but I think it's reliable, he said, this isn't dogma, just my thought. I like to think of hell as being empty. I hope it is. [00:02:20] So he says, I like to think of hell as being empty. I hope it is. Now, first of all, this statement should come as no surprise to anybody who's followed Pope Francis during his pontificate or even beforehand. He has suggested many times, multiple times, I should say, that very few people, if anybody goes to hell, whether or not hell even exists, I mean, he basically has implied many times that he tends to think of hell as not being the destination for most people, for anybody. So the fact that he said this, that he thinks that he likes to think of hell being empty. I hope it is, I think is very consistent with what he has said and done in the past. Now note, he says at the beginning, this isn't dogma. Just my thought. So for all the pope explainers out there, you don't have to do your whole song and dance where you explain why it's theologically, okay, what he said, it's not a heresy. And whatever he said himself, it's not a dogma. You don't need to explain why it really doesn't undercut the entirety of the catholic faith, that the pope said some heresy or something like that. Okay? There's just not a need for it. He himself kind of eliminated that. [00:03:34] It's just his opinion. It's just his thought that he likes to think of it. I mean, I like to think of having $10 million in my bank account. [00:03:43] It's not a dogma and it's not true. [00:03:47] But I like to think about it. Actually, I don't. But anyway, he likes to think about it. Now that doesn't mean, though. And some people might say, well, why not just ignore what he said then? Well, because it has implications. First of all, he is the pope. And when he says anything related to the faith now, he said, this isn't dogma, but it's related to the faith, the doctrine of hell. [00:04:09] And whether or not there are people in it is part of the catholic faith, whether we like it or not. I mean, in fact, it's one of the most important aspects of the catholic faith in the sense of the entirety of the faith is directed towards our life after death, what happens to us. [00:04:28] And the church has always taught that hell is one of those options. So any statement on hell by the pope is going to be taken as a theological statement. It has implications. We can't just act like, oh, it's not a big deal, what he said, because there are definitive implications of a belief or a hope. Even the hell is empty, both theological and practical. And that's my point. People need to understand that, that this has implications. I noticed a lot of people were saying, oh, why are you big mad about the fact that he thinks hell is empty? Do you want everybody to be in hell? And that's a complete straw man. It has nothing to do with what we want or don't want. I think anybody who's just a normal person desires the people. They don't desire hell for anybody. [00:05:19] Because if you understand exactly what hell really is, eternal separation from God, that's ultimately what it is, then you're not going to desire it for anybody, even your worst enemy. You don't desire hell for it. You would pray for their salvation. So it's not a matter of, oh, we want a bunch of people to be in hell. It's what does the church teach and what are the implications for thinking that hell might be empty? [00:05:44] Now, to note what Pope Francis is saying isn't an uncommon belief these days among Catholics or non Catholics. In fact, I would say it's probably the common belief. Well, I should say I would be, and I've seen studies on this, wrote my book, deadly indifference. I did a lot of research on this topic because it has to do with whether or not non Catholics can be saved and what does the church teach on this and things of that nature. And so ultimately, obviously, if non Catholic can't be saved, where are they going? That means they're going to hell. So it's the common view of most Catholics. Polls have shown this over and over again, that they believe other religions lead to heaven and they believe hell exists, but most of them would put very few people in it. Now, most people probably wouldn't necessarily. Most Americans, I should say, wouldn't necessarily say hell is empty, but they would only think hell is reserved for the worst of the worst. The Hitlers, the Stalins, the Donald trumps. That last one's a joke. But actually, I do think there's probably people who think he's up there with Hitler and Stalin. [00:06:52] They would think it's only reserved for the very few. But I think a lot of people, and more and more over time, would reject the idea of hell. And by a lot of people, I also mean a lot of Christians, because the natural conception of God among Christians, including among Catholics, is an emphasis on an all loving, all merciful God. [00:07:17] And the definition that most people have in their heads of merciful and loving would preclude eternal punishment in hell, eternal separation from God. And so what we see is know, I think it's a common view. So what Pope Francis is saying is not that radical, controversial in the sense of it's commonly held. [00:07:38] However, when we put in the context of church history, church tradition, as Chesterton said, the democracy for the dead, we put it in light of what Catholics have always believed up until now. It's a very uncommon view. It's not unheard of, but it's uncommon. There are some, even like St. Gregory of Nyssa, who is a church father. He likely believed in the idea of an empty hell, including the demons. Everybody would eventually be saved? Origin. He had some funny thoughts on a lot of things, but he kind of tended that direction as well. [00:08:16] More recently. Like I said, a lot of people believe it, but it's been given some theological weight to it. Hans ers von Balthazar, one of the great theologians, catholic theologians of 20th century. And by great I mean just brilliant, very intelligent. I'm not saying everything he said was right or anything like that, or in conformity with catholic doctrine, but he was one of the great catholic theologians of the 20th century. He had the famous book, dare we hope that all men be saved? Which is sitting on my bookshelf right over there right now. [00:08:48] And I've read it, and he postulates this idea, are we allowed? Can we hope for the salvation of all men? [00:08:55] And more recently, Bishop Barron has kind of taken that mantle. Now, he doesn't as explicitly say as like the pope does, but he's definitely taken that mantle of the possibility that all are saved. And so what we see here is that it's a common view today. It's been held. The idea of hell being empty, or at least very few people in it. It's been held even by Catholics over time. Every once in a while, however, it is by far the tiny minority view when taken in the context of all of church tradition. If you read the fathers, you read the doctors, you read the saints, you read the theologians, you read the scholars, you read the popes, whatever the case may be, from the first century through about the middle, early, middle 20th century, you will see, is dominated by the assumption that people go to hell. [00:09:52] In fact, it's not even like it has to be explicitly stated most of the time, because it's the assumption that people are in hell and more will be going to hell, and we're all in danger of going to hell. It's a real danger. It's not hypothetical or a scare tactic, but it's a real thing. So that's something to note. And we have to keep that in mind because why is that? Why is it the common view? And ultimately, what we're going to see is because it comes from our Lord himself. [00:10:21] And so it has to be the view of Catholics. It's not something that we are just free to say, well, I hope that all men are saved. No, that's not actually a possible view of somebody who wants to be faithful to the words and teachings of Jesus Christ. [00:10:35] Now, one thing I noticed was there's a lot of misinterpretations of what is meant here by the idea of hell being empty. It's not denying a hope for any specific individual to be in heaven. It's often said that the church has declared certain people to be in heaven, but never declared anybody to be in hell. I think that's a little debatable when it comes to Judas. But at the same time, let's just grant that the fact is the church is not in the business of condemning people to hell in the sense that they're saying, okay, Napoleon is in hell, or Hitler is in hell, or whatever. Pope honoris or anything like that are in hell. [00:11:22] Dante did that, but the church has never done that. And I think that's an important point. I think it's something important to remember, because the fact is that we cannot know the eternal destination of any person who's not canonized with any certainty. [00:11:40] So, for example, we can't know with certainty that Adolf Hitler is in hell. Now we can say with certainty that Adolf Hitler lived a life that was deserving of hell, that he rejected God in his actions, and that unless he had a deathbed repentance and the fact that he likely commits suicide makes that unlikely, it is possible that he ended up being saved after a long purgatory. Of course. [00:12:11] And that is important because we definitely can desire the salvation of any individual. We also can hope for, in a certain sense, the salvation of every individual. [00:12:26] That's not the same thing, though, as saying we hope that hell is empty. This is where I think most people get tripped up with the distinctions here. I've used this analogy many times. I use it for years. I remember using this analogy like 1015 years ago when this debate was coming up on the catholic blogosphere. [00:12:45] I make this analogy of, okay, I'm a Cincinnati Reds fan. For those who don't follow professional baseball, they play 162 games, the best record ever in the history of baseball. In 162 games, I think was some team one. I think the Seattle managers won 116 games in 2001. I think that's the most any team's ever won. So what that means is they lost 46 games. So even the best team ever lost 46 games. Now, going into a season, I hope that the Reds win every single game. I do hope that. However, before every game, I hope that they win that game. However, I know the reality is hoping for a 162 and season is ridiculous. It's just not reality. It's just not possible. [00:13:40] Likewise, I can hope for the salvation of every individual. I encounter every individual. However, that's not the same as saying I hope for hell to be empty, because that's simply not realistic. That's not reality. That's not going to happen. And I know that's not going to happen because of the way Jesus Christ talks about hell, because the way the church is taught about hell. There's a big difference with hoping individuals are saved and even hoping that every individual is saved, than debate, than hoping that hell is empty. It's not the same thing. It's the difference between corporate and individual. It's the difference between saying, okay, this individual and that individual. And you say it about every single person. I hope that person is in heaven, that's fine. But then that's different than saying, I hope everybody is in heaven in the sense of like, that nobody is in hell, that hell is empty. Because that then invalidates a lot of the teachings of church and teachings of Jesus Christ. [00:14:46] Because to hope that hell is empty is to believe that it's impossible to go to hell. [00:14:57] Because we know in the history of man there have been a wide range of what people have believed and acted as far as their actions, of whether or not they rejected, how much they rejected God. We know with certainty people have rejected God with their lies, categorically and lived horrific evil lies. I think sometimes honestly, living in the, in the comfortable western world, 20th century, we forget how evil man can be because we don't see it directly that often. [00:15:30] But if you're real about how the world has operated since the fall, it's gravely evil on ways that we can't even talk about. [00:15:43] But what you're saying if you hope hell is empty, you're hoping that basically it's impossible for any of those people to be damned. You're hoping it's impossibly damned. You're also now, technically speaking, if you're hoping hell is empty, that means you also hope that you're saying that the devil, Satan and the demons are not in hell. Now, I personally don't think Francis thinks it out that much like he might when he said he hopes hell is empty. He's talking about people like Humans, not talking about the angelic, the fallen angels. [00:16:16] But technically speaking, if you hope hell is empty, that means you also hope that Satan himself, that it's impossible for him to be in hell as well, at least permanently, actually, where would he be if hell is empty? If you hope hell is empty, that means it's empty right? Now, where is Satan? Do you not believe in mean you have to reject, if you think hell does not include Satan, I mean, it's empty. Then you have to reject the existence of Satan. Right? Because if you think he's in there now, but he will eventually be saved from hell. That definitely rejects church teaching, because the church has been very clear the hell is eternal, that if you are in hell, you will never get out. So are you saying Satan is in purgatory? [00:17:03] That makes no sense. You see, already I haven't even gotten to all the implications, but there's an implication right there. To think hell is empty really makes a mess of our belief about Satan and the fallen angels and where they are. [00:17:20] So what are some of the implications and problems with a belief that hell is empty? I want to talk about the theological and the practical. First is the theological problems. [00:17:31] We have to note what we mean by hope. Now, here's where you could kind of pope explain what Francis said in that the word hope commonly is used interchangeably with the word wish. [00:17:47] I wish hell was empty. Okay? I do, too. I wish nobody was evil. I wish nobody rejected God. I wish all of us lived with unicorns and had rainbows flying about us. [00:18:05] I don't actually wish for unicorns and rainbows, but you get my point. [00:18:10] But hope does not mean the same thing as wish. [00:18:15] Hope, we have to remember, is a theological virtue. What makes faith, hope, and love theological virtues is they're all directed towards God, and therefore they have to be consistent with the nature of God. [00:18:30] That's why, for example, if you say, I love evil, that is a contradiction in terms, because love is directed towards God. And if you love evil, that's directed against the opposite of God, towards the opposite of God. Therefore, it's not love. [00:18:48] To hope for something that goes against the nature of God, that goes against his purposes, is actually an invalid hope. It's not something that you can do. It's like a four sided triangle. [00:19:02] So I can't say I hope that the Catholic Church one day ceases to mean I can say it, but it's nonsense to say, theologically speaking, it's nonsense. [00:19:18] Hope has to be directed towards God, has to be in conformity with the nature of God as we know him. Therefore, it has to be conformity with the justice, holiness of God, the words of God that he's given us to us in the sacred scriptures, and through the words of his son, Jesus Christ. [00:19:39] And so, therefore, that's a theological problem. When you say I hope for something that goes against all these different attributes of God, you're undermining what the word hope means, what it truly means theologically. Now, again, I'm willing to say that in Pope Francis'case and in a lot of people's case, they're basically just using interchangeably with wish. I don't know the italian word. I think he said this in Italian. I don't know where to. [00:20:06] So I want to be clear that this is not simply about what Pope Francis said, but this is a common belief of people. [00:20:15] Obviously, you know, balm, Balthazar talks about it, Bishop Baer and others talk about hoping the hell is empty. [00:20:21] But here is the bigger problem, I would say, when it comes to the idea of hell being empty is it makes our Lord Jesus Christ a deceiver. What do I mean by that? It makes his words nonsensical at best and deceptive at worst. If you read the sacred scriptures, you read the gospels. [00:20:48] Jesus talks about hell more than he talks about heaven. Notice, in the words of Jesus, he very rarely, if ever, really describes heaven or talks that much about it. However, he does describe hell in some detail, and he talks about it a great deal. [00:21:06] If hell is empty, that means jesus knew it was empty when he was here. He knew it was always going to be empty. He knew it was impossible for somebody to go to hell. If it's true that hell is empty, the thing you're hoping for, Pope Francis and others, that means that it's always been empty, always will be empty. And jesus knew that. [00:21:29] And what that means is his words become nonsensical. Let me just pull up one example. I could have literally spent this whole podcast. I could have spent an hour or more speaking of the words of Jesus. I just want to use one example, and this is from Matthew 13. [00:21:44] He's telling the disciples some parables. He's telling everybody some parables. Another parable he put before them, saying, the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field. But while men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed seeds among the wheat and went away. So when the plants came up and bore grain, then the weeds appeared also. And the servants of the householder came and said to him, sir, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then has it wheats? He said to them, an enemy has done this. The servant said to him, then do what you want us to do, and then do you want us to go and gather them? But he said no less. In gathering the weeds, you root up the wheat along with them. Let them both grow until the harvest. And at harvest time, I will tell the reapers, gather the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn. Then he left. The crowds went into his house, his disciples came to him saying, explain to us the parable, the weeds in the field. Notice I've actually skipped a few verses there. There's a couple other parables in there. I'm stopping here for a second to make it clear. [00:22:44] Our lord just gave a parable. When our lord gives a parable, he's talking in metaphorical language. They're not to be taken literally. His words are not to be taken literally when he talks in parables. And so we can do a lot of danger when we take a parable of our Lord and we push it too far in a literal interpretation of it. However, in this case, the disciples actually ask him to explain the parable. What this means is our Lord is going to give the literal interpretation of the parable meaning. The words he uses to explain the parable are to be taken literally. They're not metaphorical anymore. It makes no sense to say, okay, explain a metaphor. And he just gives another metaphor. What he's saying here is, therefore, it should be taken literally as he says it. [00:23:36] So Jesus answered, he who sows the good seed is the son of man. The field is the world, and the good seed means the sons of the kingdom. The weeds are the sons of the evil one, and the enemy who sowed them is the devil. The harvest is the close of the age, and the reapers are angels. Okay, so we got all the imagery. We know exactly what everything means. [00:23:55] The good seed are the sons of the kingdom. The weeds are the sons of the evil one. So these are people who follow the evil one. These are actual human beings. Both the good seed and the weeds are actual human beings. [00:24:08] Just as the weeds are gathered and burned with fire, so it will be at the close of the age. The son of man will send his angels, and they will gather out of his kingdom all causes of sin and all evildoers and throw them into the furnace of fire. Their men will weep and gnash their teeth. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their father. He who has ears, let him hear. He will throw them into the furnace of fire. Their men will weep and gnash their teeth. Our lord is saying, there will be men who will be thrown into the fire. [00:24:42] If he knew that was impossible, that literally would not never happen. [00:24:47] That never in the history of mankind would anybody actually be thrown into the fire. Then that would make him, frankly, kind of a monster. I apologize for saying that by our lord. Obviously, I don't believe that myself, but that's the implication, because think about it, he knows that nobody's actually going to hell, but somehow he's going to try tell them little stories to make them fear hell, even though he knows there's no chance. What kind of person does that? [00:25:15] Think about a Parent who did that? If a father threatened their kid with punishment that they knew would never happen, said, oh, son, if you do not do what I say, then tonight in the middle of the night, a monster will come out from under your bed and will eat you. Think about if you have a five year old son, you told that to him. What kind of terrible father are you? Because you know that's not going to happen. It's not possible. I mean, obviously, if you're a father and you say, son, if you play with that knife, you're going to cut yourself. That's being a good father, because it could happen. [00:25:52] But making up boogeymen who don't exist, and punishments that are impossible, terrible punishments that are impossible. And remember, Jesus talks about this all the time in the gospels. He talks about there being eternal fire. Look at Matthew 25, the sheep and the goats. The goats go to the eternal fire. He talks about the weeping and gnashing of teeth. Very realistic imagery. Again, this is his explanation for a metaphor, not the metaphor itself. [00:26:19] So the idea that all of a sudden people are in, that nobody is going to hell, and Jesus knows that nobody's going to hell, but yet he threatens people with hell, I think just makes him monstrous. [00:26:34] That's probably the biggest problem with this, hope that hell is empty, because the problem is that we change what Jesus is like. [00:26:45] We make him, in our image, a nice, fatherly, tolerant, like fatherly in a sense of like a tolerant, let your kids do whatever they want kind of person. And that person would never send anybody to hell. And so we hope the hell is empty because we cannot imagine Jesus sending somebody to hell. But that's a problem with us, that we don't have a proper understanding of God, a proper understanding of hell, a proper understanding of Jesus Christ. [00:27:14] So probably the biggest implication, worst implication of hoping that hell is empty makes Jesus a deceiver. It makes him, frankly, monstrous for saying the things he said, knowing that hell is empty, knowing that nobody actually would go there. [00:27:33] Further, the theological implications is it really does undercut a large purpose of the church. [00:27:42] Remember, the church is here for our salvation. It's here to help unite us to God so we can live for him here in heaven and be with him forever in the next life, if we're guaranteed to be with him forever in the next life. [00:27:55] It kind of undercuts the whole reason for the church. It also undercuts the assumption of the church. For 2000 years, it has been an integral part of our tradition that hell exists. And people go there. I mean, heck, the greatest poem ever written, Dante's divine comedy, a whole third of it, the most famous third of it, in fact, is about people being in hell. Now, I'm not saying that's church teaching. A poem isn't. But the fact is that the reason that that poem resonates so much with the human person is because we know hell is real. We know down deep that hell is real and is a real possibility. And the reason that somebody like Dante can exist and create this is because he lived in a time where people understood this and they acknowledged this because the church acknowledged it and taught about. [00:28:51] You also mentioned the private revelations, Fatima. Now, I am one who's always been loathe to bring up private revelations to prove anything, because they are private revelations after all. However, when they back up what the church has always believed and they are a private revelation that has been given a great importance in the church like Fatima has, then I do think it's another data point among a million data points that shows that hell is not empty. And the visionaries, the Fatima visionaries, the young children, they saw people falling into hell. [00:29:28] And again, if hell is empty, if you think that's a legitimate revelation of our lady, and you think hell is empty, then our lady is also a monster for making those young kids see that when it's not true, when it's not really happening. [00:29:46] And so I really believe that if you pull an occupied heaven, I'm sorry, occupied hell out of the teachings of the church, the teachings of our Lord, then I do think it falls apart. That doesn't mean the existence of hell and people in it is the foundation of the church. But think about the church teaching as a tapestry, and I'm sorry, but hell is weaved into that, the existence of hell and the fact that people in it is weaved throughout the tapestry. You pull that string out and the whole tapestry does fall apart. [00:30:22] Jesus becomes a monster. [00:30:25] What people have believed for 2000 years becomes nonsensical and frankly, the purpose of Jesus's life. Why did he die on the cross if it wasn't to save us from hell? What was the purpose of doing it? Was it all just a song and dance, all just a show, knowing you're going to get in heaven anyway? [00:30:45] It just doesn't make any sense whatsoever. Now, I do want to note something. [00:30:51] It is natural, especially us moderns like me, like you, to rebel, to resist the idea of hell. [00:31:05] Hell is not something, like I said, we want for our worst enemies. [00:31:09] We don't want to think of it being populated. That is natural. But to reject it, to reject hell and reject anybody's in there is to reject Jesus Christ. It is to reject the purpose of what he came for is reject church teaching is reject the purpose of the church. It's reject all of it. You might not realize you're doing it, but theologically that's exactly what you're doing. You may not like acknowledging hell. You might not like acknowledging people go there, but we're not given an option. [00:31:40] Now that's some of the theological problems with the hope the hell is empty. They're also practical problems. I wrote about this in depth in my book deadly indifference. There it is up there. I recommend you get that if you haven't already. You can buy it at my website, ericsammons.com, or go to sophiainstitute.com and buy it there. I go into detail about this, but I want to just give the highlight. And that is, it's not harmless to think, to hope that hell is empty. People said, well, who cares if the pope thinks that hell is empty? Who cares if he hopes that? I mean, he's not a psychopath who wants everybody in hell. So why not hope that? The problem is it's not harmless. It has consequences, has dramatic consequences. Because what we've seen is we've seen how it changes how people live. And that makes sense. We live by our hopes. [00:32:36] We live by our desires. And ultimately, that's what Pope is saying here. He hopes that hell is empty. He desires that to be true. [00:32:44] We make decisions on how we live based on our hopes and desires. [00:32:49] If you, for example, let me think this is one example. Let's say you're in a situation where you're dating a girl. You're not married yet, you're dating a girl, and you hope and desire that she's going to be your wife. You haven't asked her yet, but you hope and desire that. [00:33:10] Are you going to make decisions? Aren't you going to make decisions based upon the possibility, the real possibility, that you're going to get married someday? In other words, let's say you got a job offer on the other side of the country, away from her, in which, you know, it would make it strain your relationship. There's a good chance you're not going to take that job, right? Because your desire, your hope is to get married. We do this all the time. We live based upon our hopes and desires. Therefore, if you hope, if you desire that hell is empty, if you hope that you're going to live differently than if you acknowledge it's not empty. And we see that extremely clearly in the history of the church. Until about the middle of the 20th century, Catholics believed that hell was very real and lots of people would be going there. Read, for example, the writings of St. Isaac Joe, the great missionary to North America, who sacrifices life to save people. If you read what he wrote, he came here to baptize the native Americans to save them from hell. He believed, rightly or wrongly, that basically the native Americans were all going to hell, and he wanted to save them from that. And that is why he did what he did. His life was based upon his hopes and desires. His hope and desire was to save these people because he knew they could go to hell. If he hoped and desired that hell is empty. And he didn't have to do anything to make that happen, because if hell is empty, you don't have to do anything to save anybody, he wouldn't have come over here. [00:34:40] And what we see is, till the middle of 20th century, we saw that and then became the belief that the catholic church was not necessary for salvation, that people could. That basically got more and more the idea that it was easy to get to heaven, and then finally nobody's going to hell. And what do we see in conjunction with that? We see the collapse of the missions and we see the collapse of people remaining catholic. We see millions of people leaving the church. I don't think that's a coincidence. I'm not saying it's the only cause or it's the only reason. However, I am saying it's not a coincidence those two things coincide with each other, because it just makes sense. [00:35:22] If you believe that there's a good chance everybody's going to heaven, no matter what you do, you're not going to do anything to help them get to heaven, because they're going there anyway. [00:35:31] Likewise, you're not necessarily going to practice your faith very strongly, because essentially what happens is, if everybody's going to heaven, all catholicism is, is a nice social club here on earth, with some nice ceremonies to make you feel good. There's no other purpose to it. I mean, ultimately the sacraments are meaningless because who cares? I mean, yeah, maybe you act a little bit better here on earth. That might make you feel a little bit better, but ultimately you're going to spend eternity in heaven. So who cares about a few little things that go wrong here? And so what we see is, practically speaking, the increase in hope that hell is empty has led to a great decrease in the practice of the faith, both individually and also in sharing the faith with others. So it's not a harmless hope. It's not like a no big deal thing. It's a big deal. [00:36:22] Now, I want to say again that I acknowledge hell is a hard topic because our view of God is very warped. It's not the traditional view of God and our view of love, which, of course, God is. Love, is very warped. We cannot imagine how an all loving God could send people to hell. Eternal separation from him. But that doesn't mean it's not possible. It just means we don't understand God. That's what we really don't understand. We don't understand justice, we don't understand mercy, we don't understand why God created us. That's our problem, not God's problem, because we want to blame God. Like, how could you, God, send people to hell? No, the problem is we don't understand what all this means, what it means to be human. [00:37:08] One book I would recommend is the great divorce by C. S. Lewis. C. S. Lewis, the great anglican writer of the 20th century, well known. Obviously he's not catholic. I'm not saying the great divorce is a theological text on the existence of hell. However, it's a story, and he even says it in the foreword to the book. C. S. Lewis says, this is not theological. I'm just kind of positing my thoughts in a story form. But what it does, what the great divorce does, it does a very good job of showing how ultimately we choose hell. If we go to hell, we choose it. And I like this thing. The door to hell is locked from the inside, meaning they don't want to get out. When you're in hell, actually, you don't want to leave. [00:37:55] As terrible as hell is, you believe being with God is more terrible because you've rejected him. And so hell really is something that we choose for ourselves. [00:38:07] And also another thing, when we think about how horrible hell is, and we don't want to think about anybody being there with all the implications I've talked about before that make it the whole catholic faith, nonsensical, without any belief in that people are in hell, I'd leave. My final point is this is that hell is the ultimate proof that God gave us free will. [00:38:34] Hell is the ultimate proof that God gave us free will. [00:38:38] If we are all guaranteed to go to heaven, then we can't really know that we love God. Because ultimately, you go to heaven because you love God, you freely choose him. [00:38:52] If there's no possibility to reject him, how can you have freely chosen him? Because what that means is somebody who spends their life rejecting God, hating God, doing everything he can to reject God, will go to heaven anyway. [00:39:06] Then it was just a farce. The whole thing is just a game, a cruel game. Frankly, it's crueler to imagine a God without hell than to imagine a God with him. That's something that we don't really want to think about or acknowledge. But it's actually crueler because if there is no hell, we're all robots. We're all robots playing this game. The puppet master up there just doing this like, oh, these people act good, these people act bad, but ultimately, I'm just going to have them all with me. I don't really care what they do. I'm going to basically torture them on their life here and then I'll bring them up to heaven because they're just my puppets. [00:39:46] And that diminishes the beauty of heaven as well. [00:39:51] So the fact is that hell really does acknowledge and bring forth the love of God. As crazy as that sounds, that's the reality. [00:40:04] Now, finally, I just want to say we should pray for all souls. The phantom of prayer lead all souls to heaven. That's exactly what we should be praying. We want God to lead all souls to heaven. That's not the same, though, as I said at the beginning, as hoping the hell is empty. So let's pray for all souls, especially those that your loved ones who are particularly far from God, pray for their salvation. [00:40:26] Nobody is separated from God while they're here on earth completely. Everybody has a chance to get to heaven who is still here on earth. That is something we know for sure. So pray for everybody. Pray for especially those souls here on earth who are the furthest away from God. Okay, well, that's it for now. Until next time, everybody. God love.

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