Heaven, hell and damnation. What Christians Believe?

To answer the questions clearly and concisely about what the Church believes to be hell and damnation, and to try to answer the question of whether “hope of an empty hell” is compatible with the Catholic faith, it is best to to start all over again.

We could simply quote the points of the Catechism of the Catholic Church (see CCC 1033-1037) and add to it a handful of quotes from various theological publications in this field, but instead – of course taking the Catechism as the basis and binding text – we will try to outline the problem as clearly as possible. rule”. So let’s go…

Who is the guy?

We know from Revelation (that is, from Scripture and Church tradition) and therefore we believe that man was created by God as a spiritual and physical being (it is worth noting that with physicality the whole psychophysical reality of Man). He was created in His image and likeness – in the image and likeness of God who is the Trinity in unity, that is, the Community of loving persons – Father, Son and Holy Spirit.


So man is called to exist in a love relationship with God and other people. This is the calling, purpose and meaning of human existence. So only by existing and functioning in this way – that is, by staying true to God’s creative plan regarding him and carrying out this plan – can man attain happiness.

Freedom – a condition for love

In order for man to carry out this creative plan of God enshrined in his nature, that is, to exist and function in relationships that will be relationships of love, he must be free. That is why God gave him free will, freedom when creating man.

The paradox of this gift – necessary for a man to love (because only a free being can love) – is that it presupposes at the same time the possibility of man rejecting this creative plan, your calling; the ability to deny the meaning and purpose of one’s existence; the ability to reject the love of God and people (both love for them and the love with which he is loved by them).

This rejection of love is the Bible, and the tradition of the church behind it he calls sin.

Sin and redemption

Man has sinned with the original sin, which is vividly told in the third chapter of the book of Genesis. His nature was severely wounded and henceforth carries within it a tendency to sin, that is, to reject love – its purpose, meaning, vocation and happiness.

God has not left man in this tragic and hopeless condition. Finally he sent his Son, who in the Incarnation itself became man and as a true God, and at the same time a true man, restored what men could not restore on their own strength. He solved it through an act of ultimate love for God and people (to the point of forsaking himself and his life), which was the Passover of his suffering, death, and resurrection. Thus he became our Redeemer and Savior. He “opened” us again the possibility to love God and people – that is: achieving our purpose, meaning, vocation and happiness.

We cannot do it alone, but we can do it while remaining in unity with Him through the faith (which the Church bestows upon us) and the sacramental life (thanks to the sacraments administered by the Church, which itself is the “sacrament is of Christ). If man is truly united to Christ in the manner described above, he lives by the assurance of the salvation that God offers him in Christ.

Redemption and Heaven

Redemption is real the ultimate achievement of the purpose of his existence by manrealizing its meaning, fulfilling his calling – figuratively speaking: reaching the point where he is and will be happy forever with a happiness impossible to lose.

And here we run into the first serious “problem” or “threshold” that we have to deal with. The point is that the “network” of our perception is the categories of space and time. That’s why we usually think of salvation as a place and time. We use the term “eternity”, but understand it de facto reflexively as simply “infinitely long”. We speak of ‘heaven’ because Christ speaks of ‘the kingdom of heaven’.

Only that he is concerned with the kingship of God, that is, reality “fitted” entirely according to God’s plan, and not some other worlds that look and are arranged in any way. In short, the point is that the essence of salvation is not to find yourself in a certain space or time, but to enter into a love relationship with God and people – completely and irrevocably.

Let’s keep in mind that while we can’t do it on our own (we need Christ’s intercession through His Church), this entry is our a completely voluntary decision. Because it is impossible to truly love except voluntarily.

ALL SAINTS, FRA ANGELICO

damnation and hell

Likewise (and consistent with what we wrote above about human freedom), condemnation is the result of man’s final rejection of love. It is also voluntary.

Therefore, while the Catechism correctly states that it is the Lord God who decides and “judges” our salvation or condemnation, it must be recognized that in a way that “approves” the effects of our own decisionwhich consists of decisions we make during our mortality.

Our mind-body nature is capable of making and executing decisions over time. Therefore, this life is the time (sic) of our decision. It ends with the moment of death. What our “love decision” doesn’t get will be purified and completed in an experience we call purgatory.

But if our attitude to life and decisions boil down to that rejection of the love of God and peopleit is in this way that we ourselves choose damnation and hell, that is, “the state of ultimate self-exclusion from union with God and the saints” (CCC 1033).

What we call ‘Hell’s Punishment’ is actually a result of our choice. Paradoxically, God “had to” create hell, the possibility of damnation, so that we could choose redemption. Because it’s about a choice between love and no loveand for that you need freedom.

All saved or damned

All people will be saved or damned. In all its spirit-carnal nature. Salvation or condemnation will not be purely spiritual, but intellectual, only emotional, mental or merely physical.

They are embraced, relevant and experienced by the whole person. And the for eternity. Through eternity, which should not only be understood as “infinitely long”, but above all perhaps as the depth and intensity of this experience.

Human responsibility

At this point we need to emphasize two things clearly. First, God made man to desire his salvation. God’s plan and desire is salvation, the eternal happiness of man in love. The necessary condition for the realization of this idea by man is his freedom. Its extreme consequence is (and must be) the possibility of man rejecting love and redemption and choosing condemnation.

So what the church believes and teaches about salvation and condemnation, maximizes human freedom and responsibility. Responsibility is primarily understood as the ability to give an answer to your Creator and His desire – a positive or negative answer.

Only now can we try to outline the answer to the question is it possible for everyone to be saved?; so that hell can ultimately remain empty. You will read about it soon in the second part of this material.

Body, Ascension

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