You can go to hell

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... if you choose to do so

Please don't take this personally! When I say, "You can go to Hell," I mean me, too.

Not one person, apart from the Person of Jesus, Who is God the Son, enters Heaven on merit.

Mary was saved by grace, not by anything she did before she was conceived.

No one can enter Heaven except through Jesus. He is "the way, the truth, and the life" (Jn 14:6). "No one came come to the Father except through me" (Jn 6:44). "I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved" (JN 10:9).

In the end, reality is binary, not "fifty shades of grey." All who have accepted the unmerited gift of God's love will be with Him in Heaven; all who freely choose to reject God's love will experience God's presence within them as the fires of Hell.

Hell is a doctrine revealed by Jesus. Neither the doctrine of Heaven nor Hell is as clear in the Old Testament as in the New Testament. Through Jesus' teaching and through His death and resurrection, the inchoate materials in the Old Testament became clear.

Someone noted that there are two kinds of people in the world: Those who say to God, "Your will be done," and those who say, "My will be done." God says to each one of us, "What do you want? Be it done unto you according to your will." If we want Heaven, on Heaven's terms, God will grant us Heaven; if we want to be left alone, God will leave us alone.

No one is in Heaven against their will.

No one is in Hell against their will.

A state of being

The difference between Heaven and Hell is spiritual, not spatial. The great, unbridgeable chasm between the two (Luke 16:26) is constructed by the decision of the damned not to accept the love that God offers them.

CCC #1033
We cannot be united with God unless we freely choose to love him. But we cannot love God if we sin gravely against him, against our neighbor or against ourselves: "He who does not love remains in death. Anyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him."612 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.613 To die in mortal sin without repenting and accepting God's merciful love means remaining separated from him for ever by our own free choice. This state of definitive self-exclusion from communion with God and the blessed is called "hell."
John Henry Newman
"The sinner would not enjoy heaven if he went there; not till he has turned from his sin and is once more looking towards God" (Malcolm Muggeridge, Conversion, 32).

The Fall of the Angels is Certain

This is a dogma.

There are angels who have turned against God.

There is a devil, and there are demons.

This means that Hell is not "empty" (be careful of thinking spatially about the state of permanent alienation from God, self, and others!).

"Your will be done."

"Hell: Oppression or Justice?"
[Some say:] “I refuse to believe that a just and loving God would condemn anyone to eternal suffering.”
[Defenders of the orthodox view say:] “People choose hell by utterly and irrevocably rejecting God. Given the willingness of people to choose evil in this life, even when it makes them unhappy, I don’t see why it’s hard to believe that some people would reject God permanently.”
Those who believe in hell (a belief we might term “conservative” theologically) see hell as a matter of justice and free will: Some people will reject God, and if they choose to do so, then justice and free will demand that God allow them their condemnation. Thus, the “conservative” belief is based, like many other conservative beliefs, on a conviction that we can be pretty sure that some people will do evil, and that the application of justice will necessitate those people being punished.

Will Many Be Saved?

"Comments by Dr. Ralph Martin on Fr. Robert Barron’s Review of Will Many Be Saved?"
  • I am not speculating or offering any opinion in the book about the relative numbers of the saved and lost.
  • I am not claiming to know that there are more people in hell than heaven, or vice versa.
  • I am not claiming hell is “densely populated,” although it very well may be.
  • I think Fr. Barron’s column gives the impression by the way comments are juxtaposed that I am arguing for a position on how many are or will be in hell. I’m not.
  • All I am claiming, with Vatican II, is that “very often” people find themselves in a perilous situation regarding salvation and we can’t presume they will be saved without coming to explicit faith, repentance and baptism.
  • I also want to indicate that the teaching of LG 16 specifically locates itself in continuity with the scripture and doctrinal tradition of the Church and needs to be interpreted within the hermeneutic of continuity.
Lumen Gentium, §16
Finally, those who have not yet received the Gospel are related in various ways to the people of God. In the first place we must recall the people to whom the testament and the promises were given and from whom Christ was born according to the flesh. On account of their fathers this people remains most dear to God, for God does not repent of the gifts He makes nor of the calls He issues. But the plan of salvation also includes those who acknowledge the Creator. In the first place amongst these there are the Muslims, who, professing to hold the faith of Abraham, along with us adore the one and merciful God, who on the last day will judge mankind. Nor is God far distant from those who in shadows and images seek the unknown God, for it is He who gives to all men life and breath and all things, and as Savior wills that all men be saved. Those also can attain to salvation who through no fault of their own do not know the Gospel of Christ or His Church, yet sincerely seek God and moved by grace strive by their deeds to do His will as it is known to them through the dictates of conscience. Nor does Divine Providence deny the helps necessary for salvation to those who, without blame on their part, have not yet arrived at an explicit knowledge of God and with His grace strive to live a good life. Whatever good or truth is found amongst them is looked upon by the Church as a preparation for the Gospel. She knows that it is given by Him who enlightens all men so that they may finally have life. But often men, deceived by the Evil One, have become vain in their reasonings and have exchanged the truth of God for a lie, serving the creature rather than the Creator. Or some there are who, living and dying in this world without God, are exposed to final despair. Wherefore to promote the glory of God and procure the salvation of all of these, and mindful of the command of the Lord, "Preach the Gospel to every creature", the Church fosters the missions with care and attention (emphasis added).
Lumen Gentium, §16, broken up into separate points
Finally, those who have not yet received the Gospel are related in various ways to the people of God.
  • In the first place we must recall the people to whom the testament and the promises were given and from whom Christ was born according to the flesh. On account of their fathers this people remains most dear to God, for God does not repent of the gifts He makes nor of the calls He issues.
  • But the plan of salvation also includes those who acknowledge the Creator.
  • In the first place amongst these there are the Muslims, who, professing to hold the faith of Abraham, along with us adore the one and merciful God, who on the last day will judge mankind.
  • Nor is God far distant from those who in shadows and images seek the unknown God, for it is He who gives to all men life and breath and all things, and as Savior wills that all men be saved.
  • Those also can attain to salvation who through no fault of their own do not know the Gospel of Christ or His Church, yet sincerely seek God and moved by grace strive by their deeds to do His will as it is known to them through the dictates of conscience.
  • Nor does Divine Providence deny the helps necessary for salvation to those who, without blame on their part, have not yet arrived at an explicit knowledge of God and with His grace strive to live a good life. Whatever good or truth is found amongst them is looked upon by the Church as a preparation for the Gospel. She knows that it is given by Him who enlightens all men so that they may finally have life.
But often men, deceived by the Evil One, have become vain in their reasonings and have exchanged the truth of God for a lie, serving the creature rather than the Creator. Or some there are who, living and dying in this world without God, are exposed to final despair. Wherefore to promote the glory of God and procure the salvation of all of these, and mindful of the command of the Lord, "Preach the Gospel to every creature", the Church fosters the missions with care and attention (emphasis added).
  • I also want to point out that people don’t live in a neutral environment but are acted upon by the powerful effects of original and actual sin, the work of the devil who continually assaults us with “fiery darts” and is going about like a “roaring lion seeking to devour souls,” and the “world” characterized by a post-Christian, often aggressively hostile culture to Christ and the Church, which immensely influences people to take paths away from Christ and the Church and to “love the darkness rather than the light.”

No middle ground

Our imaginations innocently trick us into thinking that there is some neutral ground between Heaven and Hell, but there are only two final states for all human beings, Heaven or Hell. There is no middle ground between them where we can remain poised and indecisive.

The Gates of Hell stand at the Gates of Heaven. To leave one kingdom is to enter the other immediately. After death, there is no "middle earth" between them.

Leaving judgment to GOD alone

The Church does NOT say
- All Protestants are going to Hell.
- All gays are going to Hell.
- All murderers are going to Hell.
- All rapists are going to Hell.
- All racists are going to Hell.
- All who commit incest are going to Hell.
- All who commit adultery are going to Hell.
- All who commit suicide are going to Hell.
- All who have sex before marriage are going to Hell.
- All Hindus are going to Hell.
- All Buddhists are going to Hell.
- All Jews are going to Hell.
- All Muslims are going to Hell.
- All divorced people are going to Hell.
- All who masturbate are going to Hell.
- All who use pornography are going to Hell.
- All who have had an abortion are going to Hell.
- All who use drugs are going to Hell.
- All drunks are going to Hell.
- All priests who give long homilies are going to Hell.

And so on and so on.

There are people of a certain mentality who will immediately hear this and say, "Well, if the Church does not teach that such people are going to Hell, then that means that the Church approves of Protestantism, same-sex activity, murder, rape, racism, incest, adultery, suicide, fornication, Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, Islam, divorce, masturbation, pornography, abortion, drugs, drunkenness, and long homilies."

I am tempted to say that everyone who reasons like that is going to Hell, but I must resist the temptation. They are wrong, demonstrably wrong, stupidly wrong, but, even so, I have not been assigned by God to take over His sovereign role as the judge of who is and who is not within reach of His mercy.

If I hate them, I become like them.

If I hate them, I become hateful.

When God forgives sin, He does not declare evil good or good evil.

When God forgives sin, He reveals to us "the exact nature of our wrongs" (AA, 5th Step).

God's mercy identifies what is evil in us--that which would destroy us and turn Heaven into Hell for us--and separates us from the real evil that we have done.

This is what C. S. Lewis calls "The Great Divorce."

God does not excuse our sins.

God removes them.

He sets us free: "In the tender compassion of our God, the dawn from on high shall break upon us, to shine on those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death, and to guide our feet into the way of peace" (Lk 1:78-79).

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