Thoughts of a Catholic convert

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Friday, August 23, 2013


- Constantine

There's a post at Vox Nova - Living in Fear of Hell - about an article by Mark Shea - Scruples and the Fear of Hell. The Vox Nova post takes issue with some of what's in the Shea article, and I thought I would too. Shea writes ...

[...] Jesus' diagnosis is that our race is sick with sin. Hell is the fruition of a life obstinately ordered toward sinful selfishness. The endstage of sin is hell just as the endstage of cancer is death. It’s not an extra added punishment for sin. It's just what sin fully is. So it’s not something God does to us. It’s something we do to ourselves. God is not Daddy Dearest, standing there threatening to shove you into the box of scorpions forever “to teach you a lesson” if you don’t clean up your room this minute. He is the guy on the beach waving his arms and trying to get the oblivious (and contemptuous) bathers out of the surf and into the Land Rover that will speed them to high ground before the tsunami makes landfall ..... He doesn't want you to be afraid any more than you want to be afraid ..... He hates hell more than you do, because he loves you more than you do.

The argument attempts to place God within, and powerless to act against, a system that actually was created *by* God and which he stands outside of. It attempts to blame the victims for their eternal punishment (it’s not something God does to us. It’s something we do to ourselves) but the NT shows a God who does indeed send people to a scary hell against their will (Luke 16:19–31, Matthew 25:46). No argument can logically square a good God - a Jesus who preaches forgiveness, non-violence, and love - with one who forces people into an eternal and awful punishment, so these kind of arguments instead try to move the goal posts.

I guess I too go off the rails - I want to believe there *is* no hell. The difference between me and the people who justify hell is that I'd rather believe in a God who never created it than try to make him look good while having done it.


Anonymous Richard said...

Life can be hellish for sure, but I really can't imagine a Hell, it just doesn't seem to fit with life as I understand and experience it. I can't imagine it so I guess I don't worry about it much. I hope you don't either :)

2:07 PM  
Blogger crystal said...

Hi Richard,

I try not to worry but I guess I do. So many people seem sure of what will happen after death or at least sure of what God is like and maybe that's why they don't worry. I have fears but hopes too - I can imagine all my pets being there to greet me :) Did you ever see the movie What Dreams May Come?

4:57 PM  
Anonymous Richard said...

Thanks Crystal, I just watched about 15 min on Netflix so far. I like Robin Williams and I like the attractive way it is filmed. And I like the idea behind it. When I was a kid I used to worry about death and being separated from the people (and animals) I loved and hoped fervently I would never really lose those relationships. I think that wish still lies dormant.

7:56 PM  
Blogger crystal said...

One thing I disliked about the movie was the idea that people go to hell if they commit suicide. It had some neat visual images though. Sorry - didn't mean you 'should' watch it :)

8:30 PM  
Anonymous Richard said...

All in all, I liked the movie (Max von Sydow!) I think the suicide angle was kind of a maguffin for the love conquers all theme. This may be an issue where the Catholic Church has become significantly more charitable although I know it was not always so. Not crazy about the hell, but not a bad heaven and at least dogs get in:)

7:10 PM  
Blogger crystal said...

Yeah, I asked a priest once about the church's stance on suicide and he said it was thought that if someone was that depressed, they weren't responsible for their actions - it's one of those situations where movies tend to keep using popular misconceptions, I guess.

Max von Sydow - did you see The Seventh Seal? :)

11:57 PM  
Anonymous Richard said...

I did, a couple of times along with Virgin Spring, Wild Strawberries, and, of course, The Exorcist

9:56 AM  
Blogger crystal said...

Me too. My college boyfriend was a fan of Bergman and took me to see many of his movies. Max von Sydow must be like 100 by now - the most recent movie I saw him in was Shelter Island :)

1:24 PM  

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