Friday, January 21, 2022

A fallacy in Balthasar (Updated)

In his influential book Dare We Hope “That All Men Be Saved?”, theologian Hans Urs von Balthasar gives the following argument:

If it is said of God that: “God our Savior … desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.  For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all” (1 Tim 2:4-5), then this is the reason for the fact that the Church should make “supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings … for all men” (1 Tim 2:1), which could not be asked of her if she were not allowed to have at least the hope that prayers as widely directed as these are sensible and might be heard.  If, that is, she knew with certainty that this hope was too widely directed, then what is asked of her would be self-contradictory.  (pp. 23-24)

This is the basis for Balthasar’s famous view that we can at least hope for the salvation of all.  For if we are commanded to pray, for all, that they will be saved, it must be possible for all to be saved.  Otherwise we would be praying for something impossible, which we would never be commanded to do.  (Note that Balthasar does not take the universalist view that all must and therefore definitely will in fact be saved, which would be heretical.)

However, the argument is fallacious, as can be seen by comparison with the following examples.  Suppose you watch as ten people are asked to draw straws, in order to determine who is going to carry out some unpleasant task.  It is reasonable for you, with respect to any one of the ten, to hope that he is not the one to draw the short straw.  For there is nothing about any one of the ten that makes it necessary that he will be the one to draw it.  But it would not be reasonable to hope that none of the ten draw it.  Somebody is going to draw it, even if there is nothing about any one of the ten people that determines that it must be him, specifically, who will do so.

Or suppose a forest fire is raging toward a small town which has a hundred buildings in it.  For any one of those buildings, it might be perfectly possible for it to be saved from the fire.  There may be nothing special about any one of them that entails that it, specifically, will be destroyed.  Hence you could reasonably hope, for any one of the buildings, that it will be saved.  But it might at the same time be true of the fire – given its size, speed, the layout of the town and so forth – that it will inevitably destroy at least some of the buildings.  Hence it would not be reasonable to hope that none of the buildings is destroyed. 

Similarly, from the premise that, for any particular human being, it is reasonable to hope that he will be saved, it doesn’t follow that it is reasonable to hope that all human beings will be saved. 

Now, it might be claimed that there is a crucial disanalogy here.  In the case of drawing straws, the setup guarantees that not everyone can avoid drawing the short straw.  And in the case of the fire, the way I have described the scenario guarantees that not every house can be saved.  By contrast, it might be argued, in the case of salvation, there is nothing that guarantees that not everyone will be saved.

There are two things to be said in response to this.  First, even if it were true that there is nothing that guarantees that not everyone will be saved, Balthasar’s inference is still fallacious.  The fact that, for any man, we should pray (and thus hope) for his salvation, simply does not by itself entail that all might in theory be saved. 

But second, in fact it seems we do have a guarantee that not all will be saved.  For the clear and consistent implication of both scripture and tradition is that some people will be damned.  Christ tells us that few find the way to life and many go the way of destruction (Matthew 7:13-14); he warns that many who seek to enter the Kingdom of God will not be able to (Luke 13:24); and so on.  It’s not like we don’t have evidence one way or the other and thus are free to hope.  We do have evidence, and it all points in the direction of some being lost.  This is true even if we were to concede (as we should not) that we don’t have good reason to think, of any specific person, that he in particular is lost.  For the clear implication of the relevant texts (which are set out in the articles just linked to) is that some people are lost, whether or not we know who they are.  (The reason we should not concede that we lack such knowledge of any particular person is that scripture and tradition also clearly do imply that certain specific people are lost – Judas, for example, and the beast and false prophet of Revelation, not to mention the demons.)

So, we are in fact in a position analogous to that of someone watching the ten people drawing straws, or someone watching a fire approach the town.  You can reasonably hope, of any particular person, that he will not draw the short straw, but not that no one will.  You can reasonably hope, of any particular building, that it will not burn down, but not that none of them will.  And even if you can reasonably hope, of any particular person, that he will be saved, you can’t reasonably hope that everyone will be.  In all three cases, we have positive evidence against there being hope for all, even if we can still reasonably have hope for any particular individual.

What has been said so far shows only that Balthasar’s hope is in vain, but it might otherwise seem harmless.  But is it?  In The Syllabus of Errors, Bl. Pope Pius IX condemned the proposition: “Good hope at least is to be entertained of the eternal salvation of all those who are not at all in the true Church of Christ.”  To be sure, with blanket condemnations of long lists of propositions (which is what we have in the Syllabus), not all the propositions will necessarily be problematic in the same way or to the same degree.  For example, they may not all be heretical, but merely rash, ambiguous, or the like, and thus potentially misleading.  Hence the proposition that we can have “good hope” for the salvation of all might be problematic even if it is not strictly heretical.

Why?  Well, suppose, in the case of the fire raging toward the town, that someone went around telling all the homeowners that there was good hope that all the buildings would be saved.  Suppose that some of them protested that this was unlikely, that it was in any event a waste of time to speculate about such an optimistic scenario, and that what was urgently needed instead was to get busy and do what was necessary to save as many buildings as possible.  And suppose the optimist simply doubled down on his happy message, criticizing the skeptics for worrying the other homeowners, and rehearsing for them all the reasons for hope while minimizing the evidence of grave danger.  Suppose that some of the homeowners, reassured by the optimist’s message, opted to sit there listening to him in order to calm their nerves, rather than taking urgent action to save their homes.

What would result from this?  Obviously, that those who sat around listening to the optimist would be far more likely to end up losing their homes, whereas those who were more pessimistic and took urgent action would be far more likely to save their homes.  The optimist would bring about the destruction of many homes, precisely by trying to convince everyone that all of the homes would probably be saved.

I submit that we are in an exactly parallel situation where preaching and theological discussion about hell are concerned, even in otherwise conservative contexts.  I once heard a parish priest give a sermon on one of Christ’s dire warnings that many would be lost, on a Sunday when such a Gospel passage was among the lectionary readings for the day.  His message was similar to Balthasar’s.  Though Christ himself, in the Gospel passage that was read, warned: Be very careful, you could wind up in hell, the pastor, in commenting on the passage, reassured his congregation: Don’t worry, you probably won’t end up in hell.

What the hell? 

This sort of thing is extremely common.   Conservative Catholic priests, prelates, and theologians are careful not to endorse universalism or otherwise to teach heresy where the doctrine of hell is concerned.  They suppose they have thereby done their duty, and then immediately go on to deemphasize the doctrine, treating hell as if it were merely an abstract possibility.  This is as delusional and dangerous as reassuring the homeowners in my example that losing their homes is merely an abstract possibility.  Scripture and tradition consistently treat hell as far more than that – as a clear and present danger that we must be gravely concerned about.  Doing one’s duty vis-à-vis Catholic teaching requires doing the same.  There is no surer way to send people to hell than to reassure them that probably no one goes there.

UPDATE 1/22: In the comments section, a couple of readers accuse me of misreading Balthasar, and hold that rightly understood, his argument commits no fallacy.  One of them says:

I disagree with Balthasar.  Nevertheless, Feser here commits a strawman.  This is Balthasar's argument:

P: The Church prays for all to be saved

Q: It must be possible that all will be saved

1. If P, then Q

2. P

3. Therefore, Q

In Feser's misrepresentative construal he substitutes an entirely different P, namely, "The Church prays for each one, separately, to be saved."  This is clearly not the proposition that Balthasar is concerned with.  If Balthasar had been utilizing this strawman then he would indeed have committed a fallacy.

End quote.  But this won’t work.  The problem is that “all” is ambiguous, and Balthasar reads it in a question-begging way.  As the reader implicitly acknowledges, the proposition:

P: The Church prays for all to be saved

will support the proposition:

Q: It must be possible that all will be saved

only if “all” in P means “all, collectively” as opposed to “each one, individually.”  But no one who does not already agree with Balthasar would concede that P is true in that sense.  All we are entitled to assume, in a non-question begging way, from scripture and tradition, is P interpreted in the weaker, “each one, individually” sense.  And then Q won’t follow, for the reason I gave in the original post.

Another reader accuses me of holding a Calvinist view of predestination.  But nothing I said presupposes anything about the topic of predestination, and certainly not a Calvinist view.  It presupposes only that God knows what will happen in the future, including who will be saved and who will be damned.

I suspect that the reader was thrown off by my reference to a “guarantee” that not all will be saved.  He seems to think that I meant “guarantee” in some metaphysical sense.  But in fact I meant it in an epistemological sense.  I don’t mean that it is guaranteed that some will be damned in the metaphysical sense that God will cause this to happen.  I mean that it is guaranteed in the epistemological sense that we can know that some will be damned because it has been revealed that some will be.

Related posts:

How to go to hell

Does God damn you?

Why not annihilation?

A Hartless God?

No hell, no heaven

Hart, hell, and heresy

No urgency without hell

Scripture and the Fathers contra universalism

Popes, creeds, councils and catechisms contra universalism

Geach on Hell

205 comments:

  1. @Prof Feser

    It is rare I disagree but I do.


    The problem with ye argument here Professor Feser is it can only be true IMHO if Calvinism was true. That is if God unconditionally predestined people to Hell and thus made it so some people HAD to go to Hell by necessity. God only can send people to Hell conditionally thus universal salvation is in theory possible even if remotely likely.

    If God actually saved everybody then the Bible verses you cite that warn of damnation could be given another interpretation.

    As Cardinal Dulles said Von Balthazar's view is not against the Faith nor is it formally condemned.

    Pope Pius IX did condemned the proposition: “Good hope at least is to be entertained of the eternal salvation of all those who are not at all in the true Church of Christ.” But that begs the question. Nobody is saying those not at all in the Church of Christ can be saved. Even the invincibly ignorant who are not formal members of the Church can be saved so in the case of Hypothetical Universalism. So if God somehow saved everybody then by definition they would not not be in the Church.

    Also I propose a counter analogy. If I flipped a billion coins is it remotely possible all of them could turn up heads. If they did it would not negate the more likely possibility some or many could have turned up tails.

    Or if 10000 very very young children played alone in 10000 separate kitchens with a boiling pot of water on the stove it might be remotely possible they might escape touching the stove and getting burned but if all of them escaped that it would not change the fact they where all in real danger of it nor negate their mommies telling them touching the stove will burn them.

    Anyway like I said this argument could only work if Unconditional predestination to damnation was true(Calvinism). Which is a problem because it make damnation a necessity and thus a final cause and I learned from Brian Davies and Aquinas God cannot make evil a final cause.

    So even thought it is vastly more likely some or many or even most will be damned I must believe in principle salvation for all is possible and barring a formal explicit condemnation of Bon Balthazar's view from the Church I will continue to believe it possible. I may even hope for it.
    Thought I don't personally think is it likely.

    Cheers boss.

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    1. "For there is nothing about any one of the ten that makes it necessary that he will be the one to draw it."

      "Anyway like I said this argument could only work if Unconditional predestination to damnation was true(Calvinism). Which is a problem because it make damnation a necessity and thus a final cause..."


      “the way is hard, that leads to life, and those who find it are few”

      I think Jesus Christ was talking about what was happening in real time.

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    2. Hi Son of Yakov,

      Three points:

      1. The argument in no way presupposes anything like Calvinist predestination, or any other claim about predestination. It presupposes only God’s knowledge of the future. Just as God timelessly knows whether I will freely choose to have coffee tomorrow morning, he timelessly knows whether or not I will, as a result of my free choices, be damned. You don’t know it, which is why it is reasonable for you to pray that I will not be damned. But he knows it, and that’s why scripture contains the warnings it does (e.g. in Matthew 7:13-14, Luke 13:24, etc.).

      2. As I made clear in the original post, the points I was making do not require claiming that Balthasar’s position was heretical, but only that it is problematic in some lesser way. So to say that it hasn’t been formally condemned etc. is a red herring.

      3. I don’t buy that interpretation of Pius IX’s condemnation for a moment. Do you really think Pius would have said, in response to such a proposal: “Oh, if that’s what you mean, then that’s OK. Never mind”? The interpretation makes Pius’s position tautological: “Only those who are in the Church of Christ are saved – because all those who are saved must by definition be in the Church of Christ.” The view he was condemning was referring to the visible Church, not some “anonymous Christianity” view about who makes up the Church.

      Note that I am not saying that Pius taught that all those outside the visible boundaries of the Church will be damned; he did, after all, teach about invincible ignorance. I am saying that he clearly meant to teach that it is wrong to hold that we may have good hope that all those outside the visible boundaries of the Church will be saved.

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    3. God cannot timelessly know that you will freely choose to have coffee tomorrow unless every "choice" you ever make is timelessly true.
      That may not be predestination in the Calvinist sense because it doesn't in and out of itself entail that God predetermined your choice, but it does entail that every choice is in fact predetermined in that there is only one possible path for any choice.
      The usual cop-out that " if i were to choose tea instaed of coffee, God would know that" does not work because you choice of coffee is timelessly true, even though you may not know it, at this very moment it is true that you will have coffee tomorrow.
      Your position here is dangerously close to molinism, which is incompatible with libertarian free will.

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    4. Prof Feser,

      My counter points(BTW let me say it is a high honor for moi to spare with someone like yerself who is clearly above my intellectual weight class. It can get boring sparing with Gnus as they are not a challenge. So thank you for that great one.
      Cheers to you. You remain my hero.:D)

      I am not sure you understand Calvinist Predestination vs Catholic Predestination and my objection? Certainly I am not nor would I accuse you of conscience heresy or having anything other than a Catholic intent when you write. Just to be clear there.

      But your examples and analogies make it unconditionally necessary somebody must be damned. That is Calvinism. God predestining to damnation unconditionally rather than conditionally is Calvinism. God can only predestine to damnation conditionally that is dogma. You need an option by which one of the ten refuses to pick a straw,

      If everybody somehow is save via the Von Balthazar speculation then it would simply mean God elected everybody. Warnings of Hell still apply to the elect and can be instrumental causes in them avoiding Hell.

      I do not have a problem with you saying Von Balthazar's view is problematic anymore than as a fellow Thomist I would have a problem with you saying Molina's view is problematic. But if we agree neither is heresy then we are on the same page.

      Pius IX's words are ambiguous. They could be aimed at persons who are not formal members of the visible Church and the phrase "good hope" could be analogous to I not having a "good hope" a billion coin toss will all come up heads. Not being Catholic formally has great spiritual disadvantages that could make salvation very very very hard.
      But in either case it is still possible.

      OTOH since Pius IX explicitly taught the possible salvation of nonbelievers by negation via extra ordinary grace (which caused heretics like Fr. Feeney to label him a heretic) then it seems more than plausible he was referring only to those who die absolutely outside the Church in mortal sin & non-belief by opposition. Thus he is rebuking Universalist heresy proper that we can hope such obviously damned persons might be saved after the fact.

      We don't know and I don't buy yer not buying my interpretation because there where Universalist heretics proper in Pius IX's day as well as religious indifferentist heretics. So it could go either way.

      Also I should remind you that you cited Von Balthazar saying "we can hope" but nowhere do you cite him claiming we can have a "good hope".

      Which now that I think of it is another flaw in yer argument. I have a small hope some scientist somewhere will in the next 24 hours come up with a cure for autism for my kids. But it is not a good hope.

      So I think my objections still largely stand. Yer free to disagree till the Holy Church settles the matter and then we will both submit to Her unconditionally.

      Cheers boss.

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    5. Hi again Son of Yakov,

      You keep bringing up predestination. But as I said before, my point has nothing to do with predestination, or the differences between the Catholic and Calvinist views on the subject. It has to do instead with divine knowledge. It’s not that God wills that some will be damned, it’s that he knows that some will be damned.

      I suspect you are being thrown off by my reference to a “guarantee” that not all will be saved. You seem to think that I meant “guarantee” in some metaphysical sense. But in fact I meant it in an epistemological sense. I don’t mean that it is guaranteed that some will be damned in the metaphysical sense that God will cause this to happen. I mean that it is guaranteed in the epistemological sense that it has been revealed that some will be damned.

      (Notice that this could be true even if we completely denied predestination, denied that God was timeless, went for a deist view on which our actions float entirely free of divine causality, etc. but still attributed to God a kind of infallible clairvoyance by which he could see what we would choose to do in the future, and then revealed this to us. Again, the point has nothing to do with predestination, divine causality, and related matters, but only with God’s knowledge of the future.)

      You are perhaps also misled by the straw analogy. I was only making a narrow point with that particular analogy, viz. that the fact that it is reasonable to hope for any particular individual does not entail that it is reasonable to hope for all. I certainly was not claiming that the case of salvation is in all relevant respects like the case of drawing straws. (Note that, later in the post, when I discuss the lack of urgency that the Balthasar view can lead to, I focus on the fire analogy and don’t use the straw analogy. That was deliberate.)

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    6. @Prof Feser,

      Thanks guy for the clarification. But I still think yer answer to Von Balthazar is a wee bit flawed. If ye will indulge me (& if not that is OK. Yer a busy man and I greatly appreciate ye taking the time to go back and forth with me. Again it is an honor.).


      >It has to do instead with divine knowledge. It’s not that God wills that some will be damned, it’s that he knows that some will be damned.

      Well God knows what He Knows and what God knows He knows in an absolute infallible manner. No question. But I might still think it begs the Question. We don't know what God knows so we don't know if He knows all will be saved.

      In which case this turns on the classic interpretation of Holy Writ & Divine Revelation that some or many in fact will be damned as a foretelling as opposed to a mere warning which I assume is Von Balthazar's interpretation.

      >You seem to think that I meant “guarantee” in some metaphysical sense. But in fact I meant it in an epistemological sense.

      100% correct here. That is what I was thinking. Again thanks for the clarification.

      Still this gets into the weeds of interpreting Holy Writ and Divine revelation. You are assuming the traditional interpretation. Which is valid IMHO but not absolute. As I noted from Ott the reality of Reprobation is not formally defined, but it is the general teaching.

      Verses that appear to support the reality of reprobation would have a different non-literal meaning if God knows He is going to save everybody.

      So on this I am back to hoping for the salvation of all and praying for it(even thought I don't think it will happen). If Christ can pray for the Cup to pass from him as Man and deny his own pray as God then I dinny see the harm in praying for the salvation of all or hoping for it.

      I am content with the mystery here. I don't how sufficient grace that is not efficacious is truly sufficient outside of divine revelation telling me so. Also it cannot formally or logically be proven to me such grace is not sufficient. Nor proven metaphysically it is not. So I trust revelation here.

      Thus I the suborn Scot that I am unchanged in my opinion till the Church Formally tells me otherwise.

      Cheers.

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    7. Walter, this is false and the proposed "cop-out" is a strawman. If we're in world 1 where I chose the coffee and in world 2 where I instead drank the tea, from a timeless point of view its eternally true that at t I either drank the coffee or tea. The choice isn't determined, but contingent, we merely have a timeless proposition about the time t. If I were to choose the one over the other, the proposition about that would timelessly have its content.

      Since this has no bearing on the proposition's contingency, the timelessness has no effect either. It's for the same reason why eternalism or in general specific theories of don't contribute anything to the debate about free will

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    8. Dominik

      In this world it is true that I choose coffee and this was true long before I was even borne, so whether it is technically determined' or not, there is no way that, in this world, I Will choose tea.


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  2. When do priests teach least about hell; as if the very fact of having a hope that hell is empty eliminates its dangers?

    They teach least about it on Easter and Christmas when there is the most potential for disagreement.
    -It is one thing to teach the faithful to love and not judge people who might be going to hell.
    -It is another thing to see people marching toward their doom and not warn them, all the while claiming the merit of love and forgiveness for yourself and holding those people marching to their death as truly wise and a model for us to follow (As Pope Francis has done in pleading for the "marginalized" to be heard in the synod).
    -And yet another thing to abandon people who persecute the truth to the stubbornness of their ways.

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  3. Heavens, something to think about. I think may have to take salvation more seriously.

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  4. Pope Pius II (yes that is II) also condemned the proposition "All Christians will be saved."

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    1. Is that Pape Pie onze? or Papillion? Who knows?

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    2. Pope Pius II, Letter 'Cum sicut accepimus', November 14, 1459 (DS 1361-69) (Condemned propositions of Zaninus de Solcia). The relevant condemned proposition is DS 1362, 'All Christians are to be saved'. ('Et omnes Christianos salvandos esse.')

      So it would appear to be the position of (at least) the Ordinary Magisterium that the proposition contradictory to this error must be true: 'It is not the case that all Christians are to be saved.' Some Christians will be lost.

      Interestingly, another condemnation in this letter (DS 1367) is footnoted (17) by the 1976 CDF document 'Persona Humana' as evidence of 'what the Church has always understood and taught' (in this case on fornication) - so Pius II's Letter is still viewed as 'relevant' by the recent Magisterium (for those who may think magisterial documents have a 'use-by date').

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    3. Thanks for digging it up! I was too lazy.

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  5. additional: Some random thoughts.

    The problem is Universalism heresy proper is condemned & nobody remotely orthodox disputes this. The false doctrine that we know for certain nobody will be damned and or that damnation is not at all really possible. That is a lie. You can potentially go to Hell.

    The Von Balthazar speculation allows for damnation & I submit is an entirely different proposition. Indeed all things being equal and given Von Balthazar's premises. There is no reason why it might not turn out that everybody
    is saved but Your Truly Moi might not be? A responsible priest who brings up Von Balthazar's speculation should warn his listener even under this scheme damnation is possible. We ought not to presume.

    Hoping for the salvation of all is nor the problem. Not having a proper fear of Hell is the problem.

    I am not sure the hope for pseudo Universal Salvation is really a vain one as Professor Feser says? Jesus prayed in Matt 26:39 "And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as thou wilt.”

    That is odd. Jesus prayed for something as a Man He must have known as God He would not grant? He prayed if possible for the Father to save Him from suffering and still redeem mankind in the process. Which God could have done. Yet God the Father clearly did not grant this? ? Was Our Lord's prayer in vain? Why would Jesus do something in vain?

    Well given this verse I still don't see how hoping for the salvation of all is a problem even if it doesn't happen?


    OF course there is the other side of the coin. The Pseudo Feeneyite revised restricted view of salvation. Fr. Feeney's view on the absolute impossibility salvation of non-Catholics and his extreme restricted view of EENS was formally condemned by the CDF. He was forbidden to teach his view and yet he did it anyway and got excommunicated....hilarity ensued...we all know this tale.

    What you might not know is among his followers who have been reconciled with the Church and reintegrated there are theologians among them who have taught a revised restrictive view. These people admit it is possible for persons who are not formally Catholic to be saved but given the objective need for the sacrament as the ordinary means of salvation it is extremely rare for this to happen if not near non-existent. This is the other side of the coin.

    The thing is if Von Balthazar's speculation is to be tolerated with the proper caveats then Retrictivist of the St. Benedict Abby view must also be tolerated.

    Thought the majority teaching has been that the majority of people will not be saved according to Ott the Church has permitted some theologians to teach the majority might be saved.

    Also Ott said the reality of Reprobation is not formally defined, but it is the general teaching
    of the Church.

    Cheers all.

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    1. Hey Son, lets have fun:

      "That is odd. Jesus prayed for something as a Man He must have known as God He would not grant? He prayed if possible for the Father to save Him from suffering and still redeem mankind in the process. Which God could have done. Yet God the Father clearly did not grant this? ? Was Our Lord's prayer in vain? Why would Jesus do something in vain?"

      Could not this passage be used against Balthasar view? Our Lord knew that He being spared from the cross, while modaly possible, would not happen but He prayed for it anyway for other reasons*, could not them something like the Fatima Prayer be a pious pratice even while its desire, that all be saved, is for something that will not really happen?

      Like, perhaps we really should not intellectualy believe that all will be saved but still pray for it and desire it because of other reasons we don't know. If one, as i do, take Fatima as authentic them Our Lady showed the little shepherds that several go to hell and still gave they the prayer, so i could see this view working.


      *for showing His humanity and for moving us to see and understand His suffering for instance. Can one see the passage and not feel these effects?

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    2. Short answer. Sure it can be used against the Von Balthazar speculation. The advantage of being Catholic is the Church could formally rule on this one day then it will be settled. Note Thomists and Franciscans dinny debate the Immaculate Conception since the reign of Pius IX.

      Maybe God in His Providence will move the Church to rule on the matter and He will protest Her as always from teaching error.

      I am into it.

      The thing about the Von Balthazar speculation is not hoping however improbable everyone will be saved. That is not the problem. Rather one needs to put emphasis on the fact even Von Balthazar taught under his scheme damnation is still possible. We need to have holy fear so as not to fall into the error of presumption.

      Revised Restrictivism can be twisted to lead Catholics to despair and Von Balthazar can be twisted to lead them to presume.

      What we must do is simply correct those errors rather then condemn the theories. Leave the theories to the Church to judge.

      Cheers.

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    3. Oh, i agree. Unless the Church formally rules out Von Balthazar view one can't call it heretical even if, as i think, it is not very reasonable to believe in that going from that Scripture and Tradition say. But even them i think that most catholics agree that something like the Fatima Prayer is a very good pratice and reflects divine love well.

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    4. I would argue that it has been ruled out not only by Pius X but by the entire weight of Tradition.

      As Brandon noted above, even the "soft" HvB position seems to be "hoping" that both Sacred Tradition and Sacred Scripture turn out to be wrong, which is difficult to reconcile with orthodox belief.

      But I would go further, because HvB argues that should even a single man go to hell eternally, it would mean that Christ's mission had failed. Since that is impossible, every man *must* be saved. But how can one, with orthodox beliefs regarding the Trinity and the Incarnation merely "hope" that Jesus does not turn out to have been a failure? There seems to be more than a little slight of hand going on.

      This is just one example. The logic of all HvB's arguments are for an "hard" not "soft" universalism, but he (I think disingenuously) at the last instant simply pretends that they don't.

      I would recommend reading Fr White's article on Balthasar and Journet for one critique of this, and Pitstick's book "Light in Darkness" for a critique of his [heretical] Trinitarian theology, which is really at the back of all this.

      HvB says many interesting and orthodox things, but he also says many offensive and heterodox things, which for reasons I can only speculate, the Church hierarchy has mostly ignored, and allowed to spread if not precisely with endorsement, at least with lack of fresh condemnation and lack of enforcement of the various past censures and condemnations of which he runs afoul.

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    5. To be clear, I am not saying that "dare we hope" as a kind of slogan is heretical. There are formulations of that while they might cause me to raise an eyebrow, I would not raise the word heresy.

      My claim is more narrow, that argument HvB makes necessitate universalism, while he implausibly claims that they do not.

      It is sort of logical category mixup. He argues deductively, while simultaneously asserting that his conclusion is no more than a hopeful probability.

      At best that is nonsense. Universalism is not a new argument anyway, but this "hopeful" sort is on round 2 (at least), as in the late 1800's Dr Farrar published "Eternal Hope" which espoused a view sort of resonant with HvB's (though without, that I am aware at least, anything like Hv's quasi-Gnostic Trinitarian theology). The famous Edward Pusey responded with a book "What is of Faith Regarding Everlasting Punishment" which is still worth reading, but in the introduction, he has a line which I think could be quite justly leveled at HvB and his modern champions, like Bishop Barron:

      "[He has] happily contented himself with stating that he was not a Universalist, while he did not observe that all the arguments which he used were Universalist, extending even to what he intended to exclude from his consideration, the restoration of Satan. … [His book] must, as far as it has influence, teach the Universalism which its writer does not believe.”

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    6. Interesting reflection on how the balthazarian view can be dangerous. I could see one using his reasoning to go to complete universalism, i had not thought of that before.

      Well, thankfully HvB never saw that possibility!

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  6. Of course the next move after semi-universalism is to assure people that only the worst of the worst (the Adolf Hitlers and Jeffrey Dahmers of the world) go to Hell. No one could possibly go to Hell for getting a divorce or detracting against one’s neighbor, (or even for failing to be charitable to one’s neighbor like the rich man and Lazarus) etc.

    God willing, there will be an ecumenical council one day that will put this dangerous idea to rest, but if there is, I pray that there is sufficient foresight to predict all possible heresies that de-emphasize the very real possibility of Hell for all of us.

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    1. A future pope that, trying to call the modern world to taking sins serious, started his reign by straight up starting a formal dogmatization of the view that some will be lost would sure be based.

      But enough day-dreaming, there is still things to discuss.

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  7. The de re / de dicto distinction strikes again! The logic here would have been clear to many of the Medievals, and clear again to late 20th C. (I'd say more specifically "post 1963," since I don't think the conceptual issues were widely understood until after the formal developments of Kripke's model theory) students of modal logic.

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  8. I once had a priest who seemingly preached every Sunday on the reality of hell and the very real possibility of our damnation. Under normal circumstances I would say he was overemphasizing hell in the same way that other priests deemphasize it. But because, in fact, most priests do deemphasize hell, I found his preaching to be very good and much needed.

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  9. So hell could be empty, eh? I suppose that such folk who hope this also imagine that purgatory is little more than saying three hail Marys, then "off you go to St Peter!"

    I suppose the next thing they will tell you is that the devil will likely be saved too and all the visions of eternal punishment granted to so many saints was just a matter of God fooling around.

    In fact all of salvation history is just one extended gag by God, and the joke was on us... "I was just kidding!" He thunders from his throne at the end of time. "I will make everything comfy for you now and you will ALL freely love and obey me by my command. You too, Hitler. What shegetz you were back in that little war!. And you, Stalin, you naughty little guy! No matter. Shazam!". Sounds like a DC or Marvel comics script.
    Maybe i shouldn't be wasting my time on the state of my soul. 'Pray and hope' sounds has so much easier!

    I can imagine von Balthazar greeting Alice Hildebrand as she recently entered eternal life, saying "Honey, things don't turn out quite the way we thought..."

    Enough joking. We are told to pray that all may be saved because we can't know which ones will be (including me). End of.

    I sometimes wonder if people understand what human beings actually are. Are we free moral agents or not? Can we not permanently choose our own wills in preference to His? Are not our wills fixed at death? Is it plausible to hope that EVERYONE at their death has said "thy will be done" to God?

    Hope away if you wish, but i recommend spending that time in fasting and prayer instead.

    Sorry if my humor is a little banal tonight. (It's been a long day).

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    1. I remember reading a story about a bunch of people waiting around on Judgement Day waiting for God to speak. When He spoke He said he would save everybody. Then many people got into a huff about it and stormed off into Hell in anger because they saw it as an "extended gag by God." rather than see it as an unmerited and extremely generous act of supreme mercy.

      It was an Evangelical Christian story as I recall. It basically explains why people go to Hell in the first place. They want the world they create in their minds over the one God has actually given them. Hell is their own self chosen unreality. Their suffering is them trying to live in it and failing miserably forever....

      I hope God will save everybody but it most likely will not happen.

      But I can hope and fear for my own soul.

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  10. I'm probably missing something, but I am not sure I follow your argument attributing fallacy to Balthasar. He seems to reason thus:

    1. God desires all men to be saved and we ought to pray that all men are saved. (1 Tim 2:1-5)
    2. We ought to pray that all men are saved only if there is a hope that all men are saved.
    3. Therefore, there is a hope that all men are saved.

    That's straight modus ponens. No fallacy there.

    To your objection, I don't see the Balthasar quote as claiming anything like "we ought to pray for each man, that he is saved", unless that is logically equivalent to "we ought to pray that all men are saved". It isn't obvious that the two are equivalent (to mea at least).

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    1. The objection is that all can be taken in two senses and is being used equivocally. We can pray and hope that all are saved in the corporate sense that we do not exempt praying and hoping for any particular individual. That is the sense in premise two, illuminated by other parts of Scripture explicitly saying that there are sheep and goats, that even the elect will be deceived in the last days, that blasphemers of the Holy Spirit are not forgiven in this life or the next, and so much more.

      Premise three is using all in the sense of the sum total of all human beings. On this reading, there are no goats. There are no clay pots built for destruction, as in Romans 9.

      I can pray for all people to be healed and not die, and I can hope that all people will be healed and not die in a corporate sense, but it would be severely mistaken to think that I can hope that the sum total of all humans will not get sick and die, ever.

      I’d also go further than Feser. My understanding of the heresy of Universalism is not strictly “All must be saved,” but that “All will be saved.” I don’t see any reason in Church history to associate that heresy with that strict, more limited understanding. Balthasar’s proposal, in my understanding, is the hope for heresy to be true, without affirming heresy to be true–which is casuistry. To hope there are no goats, when Jesus says that there are goats, is to hope and will contrary to the explicit teaching of Christ.

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    2. Wesley Chambers,

      What Brandon said. And see also my reply to Anonymous at 11:30 am below.

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    3. Professor Feser,

      Brandon’s clarification makes sense. I see what you mean now. Thanks!

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    4. Thank you so much, professor Feser, for addressing von Balthasar's argument directly, and thank you Brandon for a very clear and important point of clarification.

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    5. The belief we in fact know all will be saved is heresy. The belief there is no potential for anybody to be damned is heresy.

      Hoping everybody will somehow be saved is not the same proposition or one that has been formally condemned. So it is not heresy.

      The Calvinist view on Irresistible Grace is condemned formally & Infallibly by Trent. But as Garrigou-Lagrange pointed out the concept of Irresistible Grace as taught by Banez (i.e. grace that is merely sufficient can be resisted but efficacious grace by nature is irresistible in that is never fails to infallibly secure the conversion of the will) is not the same proposition and does not contradict Trent.

      Just because it is similar dinny makes it the same.

      No doubt many a Molinist extremist considered Banez a Calvinist with Rosary beads but I dinny. It is not the same proposition.

      If the Church ever formally condemns Von Balthazar's theory the way it condemns Calvin I am on board. If it dinny then it seems if it is ever brought up one should still warn one's audience even Von Balthazar's scheme still allows for the potential for damnation. Indeed maybe God will save everybody but you specifically. So you must keep Holy Fear.

      So don't doubt the power of God to save maximally. Hope for it and pray for it for the sake of others but for sake of Christ's Holy Wounds dinny presume on it fur yerself or others.

      It is not hard.

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  11. In general I agree with Dr Feser here. Even when Jesus birth was announced by the angel, it was an announcement of “Pax hominibus bonae voluntatis (Peace on earth to *men of goodwill*). This used to also be in the old mass, and although I think Catholics who fundamentally set themselves up against Vatican II are going against the wish expressed by Jesus, I do agree that this is an example where the old version is better.

    However one important caveat. Sometimes men of bad will become men of good will through the example, actions or words of men of good will. Victor Hugo’s example of the thief in Les Miserables is a shining example of this. Valhean is released from prison, and offered shelter from the cold street, and food, by a bishop. Once the bishop is asleep, the thief steals his silver cutlery, and is then caught by the police who are watching him. When they bring Valjean to the Bishop and explain that they caught him with the bishop’s silverware, the bishop says that he gave all that to Valjean, but that he had forgotten to take this silver candlesticks. This act of extravagant mercy and generosity turned Valjean from a man of bad will into a man of good will, open to god’s grace.

    I use this as an example against the opposite of universalism, which is just as wrong. Only by having a hope that the image of god within each person can be restored, are we ourselves able to be ‘men’ of good will in the example of Jesus. Whilst most of us find it very difficult to be like Hugo’s bishop, we can at least make sure we try to break through our natural instinct to see others as if we are the judge. By assuming that the thief could be saved, by having hope, the thief was saved.

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    1. Very good reflection. The command to pray for our enemies does reflects that, grace is way more powerful that what we imagine. Did not Our Lord example on His passion convert a thief as well?

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    2. Very good points. In fact, for each one of us who is a sinner but who receives absolution in confession, we DO in fact turn from being a man of bad will to being a man of good will.

      And yet: it was a story, and we know also of (sometimes) ourselves, and of other people in our orbit, who have perfectly good opportunities to repent of evil and turn to the good - and don't. That fact is critical here: God doesn't appear to arranged the world to MAKE SURE AND CERTAIN that each and every person will have an event that will in fact have the effect of turning them from evil to good, which condition will last to the end of their life. There is nothing in revelation or doctrine that says He does. It seems, rather, the opposite.

      I think that Talmid's point also is good: of causes of grace which may turn a bad person to the good, surely one of his enemies praying for him is one of the best and most likely.

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  12. "God Desires X" comports to a claim upon the status of Being such that at the root of all things (Being) we find, well, not logical contradictions/impossibilities. God Himself desires that all be saved and in fact it is logically impossible for God to “Desire” a “logical impossibility” and we therein know that Universalism is ((at the very least)) not just possible but, given the claim upon God as the Necessary Being, *necessarily* possible.
    ~

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  13. I disagree with Bathasar. Nevertheless, Feser here commits a strawman. This is Balthasar's argument:

    P: The Church prays for all to be saved
    Q: It must be possible that all will be saved

    1. If P, then Q
    2. P
    3. Therefore, Q

    In Feser's misrepresentative construal he substitutes an entirely different P, namely, "The Church prays for each one, separately, to be saved." This is clearly not the proposition that Balthasar is concerned with. If Balthasar had been utilizing this strawman then he would indeed have committed a fallacy.

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    1. There is no strawman. As Brandon explains in his response to Wesley Chambers above, the problem is that “all” is ambiguous, and Balthasar reads it in a question-begging way. The proposition:

      P: The Church prays for all to be saved

      will support the proposition:

      Q: It must be possible for all to be saved

      only if “all” in P means “all, collectively” as opposed to “each one, individually.” But no one who does not already agree with Balthasar would concede that P is true in that sense. All we are entitled to assume, in a non-question begging way, from scripture and tradition, is P interpreted in the weaker, “each one, individually” sense. And then Q won’t follow, for the reason I gave in the original post.

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    2. Hi Feser. Thanks for your reply.

      I think Balthasar is clearly intending "all" in the sense of "all, collectively." If his intent is clear and you are construing his "all" in the sense of "each one, individually," then you are committing a strawman.

      Secondly, I don't think Balthasar's argument is question-begging. You and Brandon are conflating two different arguments. Scripture tells us that there are "goats," and this defeats Balthasar's conclusion (that we should hope that all will be saved). But this secondary consideration does not impact the validity of the argument I provided above, which is Balthasar's. It would be as plausible to claim that your assumption that "all" means "each one, individually," is question-begging.

      If we accept the terms in Balthasar’s argument as he defines them, then his argument is valid, not fallacious. It also happens to be unsound due to a consideration that is extraneous to the argument itself, namely the existence of "goats." But these are two separate arguments, and Balthasar himself addresses them separately.

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    3. Hello again Anon,

      Again, there is no strawman. Balthasar obviously intends to be appealing to a premise that his opponents share – there’s no point in giving the argument otherwise. He’s saying “We both agree on this premise, now let me show you what follows.” The trouble is that the premise is ambiguous, and either way we disambiguate it, the argument fails. If the “all” in the premise means “each one, individually,” then the conclusion won’t follow, for the reason I gave in the original post. If the “all” means, instead, “all collectively,” then the conclusion will follow, but the argument will now beg the question, since no one who doesn’t already agree with Balthasar would concede the premise, if interpreted that way.

      Balthasar himself doesn’t say all this, of course, but that is precisely because he didn’t see the ambiguity. It isn’t a strawman to point out that someone is guilty of a fallacy of ambiguity and/or begging the question. You might respond “But he didn’t intend such a fallacious argument.” Well, of course he didn’t. Most people who commit fallacies don’t intend to commit them. But that doesn’t mean that they don’t commit them anyway, and to point out that they (no doubt unintentionally) commit them is not strawmanning. (Otherwise no argument would ever be fallacious. Surely you’re not committed to the premise that “If it’s fallacious, the speaker must not have intended it.”)

      Furthermore, the scriptural references to “goats” is a secondary point, and even if we ignored it, Balthasar’s argument would remain fallacious, for the reason I just gave. Indeed, it remains fallacious even if we read it the way you claim it should be read. In other words, suppose Balthasar said “Oh no, there’s no ambiguity at all. I intend ‘all’ in the premise to mean ‘all, collectively,’ and not ‘each one, individually.’” Then the argument will not commit a fallacy of equivocation, but it will commit a fallacy of begging the question, since, again, Balthasar’s critics will not agree that the premise is true if read in that way. In particular, they will not agree that scripture and tradition support the premise if read that way.

      You seem to think that an argument is not fallacious if the conclusion follows from the premises -- as if all fallacies are failures of deductive validity. That is not the case. When the fallacy of begging the question is committed, the argument is in fact usually valid. The problem is rather that a premise presupposes precisely what is at issue.

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    4. I would also add that even prayers on behalf of the unknown damned or the living but might end up damned could hardly necessarily be vain (they would still be acts of charity). So long as men live we may pray for them, of course, even though not all may be saved; and even after people die, we pray for them, unless by some private revelation we know them to be damned.

      Moreover, the immediately preceding context of the "pray... for all men" is clearly about people who are still alive. Saint Paul might be thinking of these prayers in the context of prayers for those still living and, indeed, seems to be the case as he just finished talking about two saints (i.e. members of the Church, formerly) who had fallen into blasphemy. The verse makes it clear they are definitely on the road to perdition (Saint Paul explicitly says he handed them over to Satan). The next part after the exhortation to pray for all men talks about praying for kings and officials, etc., and we all know this from Mass that it's talking about current/present rulers. In fact, the "thanksgivings" from 1 Tim 2:1 is just the Greek word, "Eucharists." I mean I don't know how any Catholic couldn't see this without reference to the Mass.

      Arguably, God could certainly encourage us to pray for all even if some are certainly damned, as arguably perhaps for the Church's prayer sake they receive lesser torments or, as an act of charity and faith in complying to God's will, God bestows increased grace and credits it to the Church, which the Church could use as in, e.g., the case of indulgences - at least in Catholic thinking (I am a little rusty, admittedly, on how the purgatorial and indulgence oikonomia logic works). But when we're talking about prayers on behalf of others, I think Catholics should probably consider it within that whole context (intercessory prayers, prayers for the dead, purgatory and indulgences and so on).

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    5. Hello Feser. Thanks again for taking the time to respond.

      First, you are correct. I mistakenly inferred that all fallacious arguments are invalid arguments. Thank you for correcting me.

      Second, you claim that if we prescind from "goats" the argument remains fallacious. I disagree. This is because the reason "Balthasar's critics will not agree that the premise is true" is because revelation gives us positive knowledge that there are "goats." If we truly prescind from goats then he is not begging the question, and it is crucial to note that Balthasar attempts to answer the "goats" objection later on. Again, the two arguments need to be separated.

      Finally, according to the natural sense of language, Balthasar's interpretation of "all" seems much more plausible than yours. If I say, "You can pray for anyone," I am saying something quite different than, "You can pray for all." Yet your blog post seems to abandon the word "all" and replace it with "anyone," which is very obvious in your example of pulling straws. That is, it is not clear to me that your "each one, individually" can legitimately be said to be a form of "all."

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    6. ...to be curt, "All" means "All". There is no ambiguity between different kinds of "all", and the premise that Balthasar assumes his opponents share is scripture itself, namely 1 Timothy.

      In the first instance one could claim that Balthasar wields some concept other than "all" and thus commits an invalid inference. In the second instance one could claim that Balthasar intends the unambiguous and uncontroversial meaning of "all", but that in doing so he begs the question against his opponents.

      Both approaches meet with serious difficulty. The former case misrepresents Balthasar, who intended to adhere to the 'all' of scripture. The latter case abandons or else eisegetes the scripture that grounds Balthasar's position.

      Obviously in all of these debates, whether they are about universalism or limited atonement or anything in between, tensions between different scriptural texts need to be identified and adjudicated. A theologian of Balthasar's caliber certainly didn’t found his position on a mundane logical fallacy.

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    7. (A) "...we...pray...for all..."

      vs.

      (B) "God desires that all be..."

      While the bulk of the discussion seems to center on (A), the ontologically weightier topography is (B). Perhaps. With that in mind, see http://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2022/01/a-fallacy-in-balthasar.html?showComment=1642879526439#c6425690067315646207

      ~

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    8. Hi Ed,

      Here's a quote from "The Population of Hell" by Avery Cardinal Dulles, who was anything but a universalist:

      The fact that something is highly improbable need not prevent us from hoping and praying that it will happen. According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church , “In hope, the Church prays for ‘all men to be saved’ (1 Timothy 2:4)” ( CCC §1821). At another point the Catechism declares: “The Church prays that no one should be lost” ( CCC §1058).

      End quote. Now, even if you wanted to construe "The Church prays for all men to be saved" to mean "The Church prays for each man to be saved," you cannot possibly construe "The Church prays that no one should be lost” as having this meaning.

      May I also point out that St. Vincent Ferrer (after whom I was christened) maintained that Judas may have gone to purgatory rather than hell.

      Cheers.

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    9. Not a bad response Vince. Well done.

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    10. BTW thanks for nothing confusing Gary like you did. I will remember that buddy.

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  14. The issue here is that the Apostle obviously says to *pray* for all men and nowhere to just hope for them. The immediately preceding verses (1 Tim 1:13-20) are about how St. Paul is a debtor to God's grace for converting him, a "chief" sinner (1 Tim 1:15), then later how he actually turned two Christian men over to Satan because they were 'blasphemers' (1 Tim 19:20), which is the very same word and crime Saint Paul said he was also guilty of (1 Tim 1:13) before his conversion. Immediately next St. Paul writes: "I urge, THEN, first of all that petitions," etc., "be made for all men" (1 Tim 2:1). The parallels are obvious: St. Paul himself was a blasphemer who by God's grace was converted, then after becoming Apostle he eventually meets two men saind, who had "made shipwreck" of their faith and had become 'blasphemous,' whom St. Paul therefore "handed over to Satan" (1 Tim 19-20). So St. Paul goes from blaspheming sinner to saint; these men go from saints to blaspheming sinners: "I urge, then.... that petitions, prayers... be made for all men," writes Saint Paul, presumably so that blasphemers like those he had just mentioned might, like he, be brought by God's grace to conversion, as he was. Conclusion: if you actually want all men to come to salvation, you better get on your knees and start praying for them, with "supplications... intercessions, thanksgivings [Greek word = Eucharists]..."

    I agree with Bal. that we have sufficient reason here to think it is possible that all sinners could be saved; that it's a possibility, even something God himself desires (1 Tim 2:4). But God is hardly helpless. My point here is that men can certainly be "made shipwreck," (1 Tim 1:19) by their own fault, as Saint Paul affirms, by becoming, e.g., 'blasphemers' (which again is the reason Saint Paul handed over the two men "to Satan" (1 Tim 1:20)). I would argue these verses give the logic, at best, of 'pray' (1 Tim 2:1), then hope that God will save even those who have "made shipwreck," (1 Tim 1:19) as he also saved Saint Paul.

    Finally, who is Bal. to connect those two verses that way? He is putting words in God's mouth. His form is: "If 'verse 1,' then that is why 'verse 2" - and if you disagree with me then you are accusing God of contradicting himself!" Yeah, okay bud. Go back to writing in your journal.

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    1. >I agree with Bal. that we have sufficient reason here to think it is possible that all sinners could be saved; that it's a possibility, even something God himself desires (1 Tim 2:4).

      Yeh I agree too. It is probably not going to happen and I still believe God is not obligated to save anybody. So he could in fact let the majority of the human race be damned and only save a minority.

      Obviously God cannot damn everybody without exception because some are obviously saved(Mary, the Good Thief etc) and Saints are canonized by the Church so Universal Damnation is impossible and logically absurd.

      We just don't know and even if we admit it is possible God might save all we must never presume on it.

      We are not meant to Know. If we knew for certain the Majority or Everybody will be saved we would fall into the sin of presumption and not be saved.

      If we knew with absolute certainty the vast majority of people would go to Hell we would be tempted to despair. So I think we are not meant to know. We are meant to Hope in God and Fear God & of course repent.

      That is all ye need. The rest will all come out in the wash at judgment day.

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    2. If Hell and eternal damnation are real, Christians are to be commended for warning the world of what lies ahead of them after death. If, however, Hell and eternal damnation are nothing but superstitions, shame on Christians for terrifying little children and gullible adults with this teaching.

      My point: If you are going to preach and teach that such horrible concepts exist, please demand VERY good evidence for their reality.

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    3. Gary, I agree. I've read Five Proofs and TLS, which are both very good -- I'm convinced! That's why I read Feser's blog. But when it comes to the nitty-gritty of Christian teaching (or any other organized religion, for that matter), it just seems to me to be superstitious gobbledegook. I find it hard to understand how anyone can believe all this stuff if they haven't been indoctrinated in their youth. I guess I should just stay away from these posts because I don't want to be a troll, but at the same time, where's the evidence? "Philosophical" evidence just won't cut it.

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    4. @Son of Ya'Kov

      We are not meant to Know.

      I agree. This exercises the Church's charity, at minimum: it prevents presumption (universalism) but also hopelessness and despair.

      If I am on the right track in my thinking, the economy of salvation laid out by God almost seems to condition any hope or possibility of universal or near universal salvation - in which we might reasonably hope for - on each and every individual Christian's willingness to actively strive, pray and make sacrifices and offerings for and on behalf of others, whether living or dead.

      At minimum, this would rebound to the welfare of all (e.g. an outpouring of graces and mercy on at least those God seems fit and worthy to bestow it/the elect). Being thus motivated by faith, hope and sincere love of God and neighbor/charity, we too would also increase in faith, hope and love. Our motives to, e.g., attend Church services frequently is increased: we are co-operating with God in the salvation of mankind in a wholly spiritual and active way, stimulated to good corporeal works also and motivated all the more to pray more fervently and frequently in private as well. This helps lead into the logic and indeed perhaps wisdom of the Church's doctrines on purgatory, indulgences and the communion of saints. It makes sense with scripture and sacred tradition.

      It seems in some mysterious way God wills for the Church to be active participants in the salvation of mankind: the greater our response to God's love with our own selfless acts of love, then the greater reason we have to hope for each other's salvation.

      Finally, I think part of the controversy over Bal.'s soteriological vision is found in the very title of his book: "Dare we hope that all men will be saved?" But in effect it really means: "Dare we hope that all men are saved?" No thank you, Mr. Balthasar, I am not going to play truth or dare over the question of the salvation of the human race with you.

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    5. @Median Joe

      The Gospels quote Jesus as saying that the path to eternal salvation is narrow and few there are who find it. Scientists estimate that 117 billion humans have been born on earth. If only a "few" of those circa 120,000,000,000 humans have been saved from eternal damnation, (let's be generous and say that 10% qualifies as "a few") that means that circa 110,000,000,000 human beings are in Hell or soon will be. Since the earth is a sphere, we can calculate the volume of the earth which is 1,083,206,916,846 cubic kilometers. The average human being has a volume of 62,000 cubic centimeters. I'll let you do the calculations, but as you can see if there is a Hell, and it is "down there" as the Bible infers, then we should have arms and legs sticking out of the ground. The earth is stuffed full of the damned!

      Some apologists will counter that Hell isn't really "down there". They will laugh that my calculations are a waste of time. Silly skeptic, Jesus was using culturally appropriate language when he talked about "descending" into Hell. Informed modern apologists know that Hell is in another dimension.

      Really? The evidence??

      This is what happens when you believe "by faith" instead of by evidence. You so desperately want the Jesus Story to be true that when the evidence contradicts this ancient tale, you are forced to reinvent the story. It's sad. But what's worse is that little children are taught these superstitious tales as if they are facts, scaring the crap out of children for the rest of their lives: if they do not obey "the Faith", they will suffer unspeakable eternal torment. That isn't just sad, that is deplorable.

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    6. Well said sir Tim. I might remark the bare bones of Von Balthazar's theory is not heresy as expounded by Dulles or Barron. However his book DARE WE HOPE etc is reputed by Ralph Martin to be of appalling bad scholarship. The later gives it a good fisking.

      Cheers.

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    7. "Silly skeptic, Jesus was using culturally appropriate language when he talked about "descending" into Hell. Informed modern apologists know that Hell is in another dimension."

      Well, if we go by the Biblical evidence, Samuel is clearly a spirit when he is channeled by the witch in the Old Testament (Saul can't see him), even if they did associate Sheol with "down there."

      In the New Testament, it is clearly taught that both the saved and the unsaved will not be bodily raised until the end.

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    8. @Gary

      Why are you here buddy? Is it just to troll and be a pest? Because we have enough of that.

      >The earth is stuffed full of the damned!

      Yeh we can tell you where an ex-Fundamentalist. Yikes! The problem is thought your former Christianity was clearly intellectually unsophisticated and inferior. It seems self evident yer current Atheism/Agnosticism is equally unsophisticated and inferior.

      Do yerself a favor laddie. Go read some Oppy and some Schmid(real Atheists) then come back and give us a good philosophical argument and you might earn some respect.

      If yer just gonna recycle some tedious positivist arguments dinny bother. Nobody here is interested in embracing a fundamentalist form of non-belief. It would be silly and intellectually unsatisfying.

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    9. @ Gary

      ...I am not going to go into a detailed critique of your virtual idolizing of scientists theories, as that would be tedious are way of course. Just a few quick points:

      1. We are talking about resurrected/spiritual bodies and matter to which the ordinary laws of physics do not apply.

      2. Since you seems to like science, you also have to accept non-Euclidean math and geometry, which makes space non-absolute; that is, a space we would normally think of as relatively small could well actually be quite large or vice-versa. So I am really unsure why you would be worried about volume capacities even without its being beside the point when talking about spiritual bodies.

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    10. @ Son

      Please forgive my fundamentalist ignorance.

      Please enlighten me: Where is Hell?

      Please provide actual evidence for your answer not Bible passages or statements by Church Fathers. Is Hell in the center of the earth? Is hell in another dimension?

      If you can't answer that question, your sophisticated-sounding philosophical arguments are nothing but hot air.

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    11. @Deuce

      "Well, if we go by the Biblical evidence, Samuel is clearly a spirit when he is channeled by the witch in the Old Testament (Saul can't see him), even if they did associate Sheol with "down there." In the New Testament, it is clearly taught that both the saved and the unsaved will not be bodily raised until the end."

      Why would the spirit of Lazarus ask Abraham for water if he were just a spirit? So spirits need water to survive? And, if one is a spirit (lacks a body which experiences pain), how does one burn? Or do you believe that the souls in Hell are not currently burning but will only burn after the Day of Judgment? I'm confused!

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    12. @Gary

      So basically I war right you are just here to Troll.

      >Please forgive my fundamentalist ignorance.

      Since you have no manifest intention of being one you will not be forgiven. That is not how forgiveness works.

      >Please enlighten me: Where is Hell?

      https://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2011/02/to-louse.html

      A dumb question on the level of Young Earth Creationists (which I am sure you must have been in yer time. Obviously you have NOT improved) who ask "Can you show me a Monkey that gives birth to human babies? No? Then you have no "evidence" for evolution".

      >Please provide actual evidence for your answer not Bible passages or statements by Church Fathers. Is Hell in the center of the earth? Is hell in another dimension?

      Sorry but yer question assume materialism and physicalism which you have not established to be true by strong philosophical argument.

      Also what is yer working theory of epistemology? Because so far all I see is radical unchecked skepticism which is also self referential?

      >If you can't answer that question, your sophisticated-sounding philosophical arguments are nothing but hot air.

      I am sure you said the same thing. Back in yer Young Earth Creationist days when you challenged the wee Evolutionist to produce a monkey who gives birth to human and he failed to deliver.

      Gary we value intelligent Atheists and skeptics here.

      Yer just not up to snuff. Sorry buddy.

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    13. So let me get this straight: Even though the Old Testament strongly implies, and the New Testament teaches outright as doctrine, that the dead are disembodied spirits until the general resurrection, the rich man asking for water in Jesus' parable means that we have to accept your "calculations" that hell isn't real because the arms and legs of reanimated dead people would be visibly sticking out of the ground if it were, unless we follow all your little rabbit trails and answer every red herring you can come up with to your satisfaction?

      At this point I have to agree with Son of Ya'Kov that you're an angry bad-faith troll.

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    14. @The Deuce,

      You just summed him up better than I could. Well done sir.

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    15. Come on, guys, these calculations should had make Gary lost a few minutes, i be pissed as well of no one cared about it.

      Not that anyone needed theology or Scripture here, i'am sure that Gary would reconsider is conclusion after seeing how full the buses can be here were i live. Sometimes they make you mistake it for hell itself!

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  15. It would appear to me from the update and my experience that the most common fallacy in the Church and one that did not get much attention before our generation is the bait and switch fallacy. This is where one will make an argument with a word ambiguous between two meanings where one of them is a meaning that makes the statement in question true say: "I hope that all men will be saved" or "pastors should be pastoral" with the meaning of the most trivial sense of good will or a tautology. Yet the author of these statements will apply his own meaning to this and look down on you and treat you as simple for not catching his true meaning, I.e. Goodwill requires that one believe that all men are saved and pastors should lie whenever they feel like it. But when he is disagreed with he will switch back to the trivial meaning and treat you as being pedantic for pointing out that the two meanings viciously contradict.

    Two more points: I have noticed that it is only the least involved with the progressive movement that say something that is trivially true when using "weasel words". Pope Francis for example will say with more skill something that requires more thought to tease out, such as accusing someone of neo-gnosticism. Now I don't walk around with an idea of what neo-gnosticism means in my head (or I didn't before the encyclical); yet the principle is the same: trading on the ambiguity between a broad sense of being spiritual and ascetic and the act of literally believing random stuff about a demiurge.

    Finally I have yet to analyze this yet but the experiences I have had make it to true to my sight to deny. There is some sort of contagion in this kind of speech that makes it very hard to disagree with. And also anyone who listens to it too much starts to talk in this manner.

    Pax

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  16. If the semi-Universalism of Von Balthazar is a possible or remotely plausible theory I should remind you lot that the Pseudo Feeneyite view is equally plausible.

    Now Feeneyism proper is heresy condemned by the CDF. That would be the condemned view God absolutely cannot or does not save persons who are not formally Catholic. That is non-believers by negation whom God might communicate extra-ordinary Grace to salvation as taught by Pius IX whom Feeney said was in error. Also I am not sure if Feeney taught this, but many of his schismatic followers deny Baptism by desire which flatly contradicts Trent. One suspects it is because it opens the door for the possible salvation of non-Catholics.

    Now some Feeneyites have been reconciled to the Church. But rather then profess the heresy attributed to their founder. They held on to what they believe is the true Catholic Spirit underneath (Bishop Sheen said heresies are truths exaggerated to an extreme or diminished to a defect.) that Feeney was aiming for.

    Basically they are restrictivists. They hold the classic view the large majority of humanity will be lost. They admit the theoretical possibility invincibly ignorant non-Catholic persons could be saved by extra-ordinary grace but believe being outside the formal Church makes it very hazardous & hard that it rarely happens. Or at best a non-Christian might obtain Limbo. This view makes conversion to Christ and initiation into the Visible Church very important (which they are objectively even under inclusivist schemes).


    I don't believe or disbelieve this view but I acknowledge there is a certain utility in this view. Better to be an orthodox Catholic who is a pseudo Feeneyite and be wrong, then to presume on people's salvation and be wrong.

    If ye ask me if Priests wish to share Von Balthazar's speculation with their flocks. The restrictive view equally deserves a hearing.

    Now that is not to say that view might not cause problems of its own but I am an advocate we should all have a well rounded theology.

    Theology always has some risk.

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  17. The 'good news': most of humanity will suffer eternally.

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    1. So child rapists & other wicked people burning in Hell bugs you?

      Oooookkkkkkyyyyyy......

      That is weird.

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    2. @Son of Ya'Kov

      I agree with you that child rape is a horrible crime and it should be severely punished. But what would be a just punishment for this horrific crime? If the punishment for child rape was being slowly and repeatedly burned with a hot iron on different parts of the body, what would be a just total amount of time to burn the criminal, in your opinion? Burn him repeatedly for thirty minutes? An hour? Twenty-four hours? A week? A month? Or more? Please be specific. I'm curious to see your definition of just punishment.

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    3. Most universalists accept the existence of hell. So no, assuming the above anon is a universalist, people going to hell needn't bug him.

      As Gary points out, though, the question is what sort of punishment fits the aforementioned and similar crimes, not to mention what the purpose of punishment is. Infinite punishment for finite crimes is grossly disproportionate. And a punishment that does not have as its object either correction or deterrence, such as an infinite or eternal one, is sheer vengeance and has nothing to do with justice.

      It's also very telling about the psychology of the typical infernalist that it's only "other people" who deserve such a fate as eternal suffering.

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    4. You have been watching too many Clive Barker and Freddie Kruger movies buddy. You have a child's understanding of Hell.

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    5. I am curious: how long should a person be punished who goes on and on and on hating God, forever?

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    6. it is a common complaint: finite sins don't deserve infinite punishment. But think about this. Finite and infinite are quantitative terms. They refer to something that can be numbered. So how do we count the number of sins? Does a lifetime of apathy count as one sin or many? When a sin is counted, do we considered the amount of time that the sin took? Should you count the number of years that the sin impacted someone? How do you choose punishment that matches? Does a person get one hour of punishment for each sin? What calculation should be chosen? How is punishment to be decided?

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    7. @Tony:

      "I am curious: how long should a person be punished who goes on and on and on hating God, forever?"

      Yup; many people simply assume that the punishments of Hell are *merely* for the unrepented, unforgiven sins of this life, which is not correct.

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    8. @universalist anon

      "And a punishment that does not have as its object either correction or deterrence, such as an infinite or eternal one, is sheer vengeance and has nothing to do with justice."

      That is begging the question against the christian tradition, no? Is not a retributive theory of punishment what you find on ancient judaism, the Bible and most church fathers?

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  18. Scary news indeed. Dare we hope that many will go to purgatory with an eventual place in Heaven? Else it would seem to be a religion of despair...

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    1. What is the typical stay in Purgatory? The priest used to come by my great-grandmother's house and ask for an offering for him to masses for my deceased great-grandfather who had not been a good Catholic during his lifetime. The priest said the prayers would get Great-Grandpa out of Purgatory. The priest came by for YEARS! Was my great-grandfather BURNING in Purgatory for all those years? That doesn't sound comforting to me. How is that different from Hell other than the burning eventually (after many years) ends?

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    2. @Gary

      According to yer own blog "I grew up in a fundamentalist Baptist family."? You are an ex-fundamentalist not a Catholic.

      Yer nonsensical post sounds like the warmed over stories Protestants would tell about Tetzel.

      So forgive my skepticism but I think yer just here to troll and not offer Philosophical criticism of Classic Theism.

      We are not Fundamentalists here. Fundamentalist Protestantism is most certainly wrong.

      If you don't know any philosophical arguments for the existence of God then yer pleas for "evidence" are tedious. You are like the wee Baptist begging the Biologist to show him a monkey that gives birth to human beings as "proof" evolution is true.

      If ye haven't read any Graham Oppy or even some Joe Schmid then yer version of Atheism/Agnosticism is just too low brow for us.

      We need something more sophisticated.

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    3. I have never heard of a priest coming by someone's house to request that someone "request" masses. It sounds like the priest was simply looking for money (i.e. the Mass stipend money).

      On the other hand: we simply don't know how long any one person will be in Purgatory. The temporal punishment due for sin, unmet by supernatural assistance (like the masses) may indeed last for decades or even centuries, so far as we know.

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    4. @Tony.

      So Purgatory doesn't sound like too much of an improvement over Hell.

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    5. The Catechism clearly affirms the Church’s belief in Purgatory and the purification of the soul after death: “All who die in God’s grace and friendship, but still imperfectly purified, are indeed assured of their eternal salvation; but, after death they undergo purification, so as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of Heaven. The Church gives the name Purgatory to this final purification of the elect, which is entirely different from the punishment of the damned.” (Cf. #1030-32). From this basic teaching, we must always remember that (1) a person’s stay in Purgatory is temporary, (2) purgatory is different from Hell, and (3) a person in Purgatory undergoes purification for venial sin and the hurts caused by sins.

      What does this purification entail? Like Hell, there is the pain of loss and the pain of sense: however, the severity of these pains between Hell and Purgatory is vastly different. The pain of loss for those in Purgatory is the temporary deprivation of the Beatific Vision. Each of us longs to be with God, see Him, and be enwrapped in His love. The Apostolic Constitution Benedictus Deus (1336) promulgated by Pope Benedict XII, defined that the souls of the just “…see the divine essence with an intuitive vision and even face to face, without the mediation of any creature by way of object of vision; rather, the divine essence immediately manifests itself to them, plainly, clearly, and openly, and in this vision they enjoy the divine essence.” Therefore, the souls in Purgatory long for this vision, and that longing and deprivation is what torments their soul.

      The pain of sense involves some sensible suffering. While not defined, traditionally this pain of sense has involved some purifying fire, which causes torment.

      Catholic source: https://catholicstraightanswers.com/do-we-know-what-happens-in-purgatory-is-there-really-a-fire/

      Anyone ever burn there hand on a stove? Very painful! Now, imagine that pain for years, decades, or centuries. That is Purgatory. Now imagine that pain for all eternity. That is Hell.

      What a sick belief. Yet, you cannot tell us where these place of torment are located. Why not just admit it: These concepts are ancient tall tales, meant to scare the ignorant masses into obeying the Church's teachings.

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    6. Wow Gary you are a fundamentalist to the core. So when you read God saying He will enfold us in his wings in Psalm 91 you literally believe God has literal wings and must therefore be some Cosmic Mega Chicken?

      Wow what a stupid way to be an Atheist. I mean there are a lot of other religions out there and I may not believe in them but even I know many if not most have allegory and metaphors as part of their tradition. You are a hyper literal fundamentalist threw and threw.

      Except none of us are. You only show the rest of us yer not here in good faith.

      You think the Fires of Hell or Purgatory are literal combustion manifested in light, flame, and heat?

      I was never taught that and I don't think the source you link too teaches that either.

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    7. additionally: You should check more authoritative sources Gary.

      https://www.catholic.com/encyclopedia/purgatory

      Quote"At the Council of Florence, Bessarion argued against the existence of real purgatorial fire, and the Greeks were assured that the Roman Church had never issued any dogmatic decree on this subject.

      Well that settles that.

      In the West the belief in the existence of real fire is common.......How this fire affects the souls of the departed the Doctors do not know, and in such matters it is well to heed the warning of the Council of Trent when it commands the bishops “to exclude from their preaching difficult and subtle questions which tend not to edification, and from the discussion of which there is no increase either of piety or of devotion” (Seas. XXV, “De Purgatorio”).END QUOTE

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    8. @Gary

      "So Purgatory doesn't sound like too much of an improvement over Hell."

      I know that this will soundsilly and crazy to you, it would sound that way to younger me as well, but nah, you are wrong, hear me out:

      You see, i have a friend who has way more love and dedication to God that i, even if she would not like to hear me say that, but who does experience some fear when dealing with eschatological themes. One day see says to me that she read a small text on purgatory that scared her a bit and sends it to me so i can see it as well. It was late so i only look rapidly at it before reading it completely the next day. On this first preview i did see something interesting that kinda crushed any fear i could still have of purgatory, as i said to her latter.

      The text mentioned that the souls on purgatory are suffering but they understand now that this suffering is a way to they to become better and get united with Our Lord, very diferent from what someone on hell must think. This actually made me very happy because it is difficult to me to accept suffering like the saints can do, so how awesome was to hear that perhaps even i could have the chance to finally take my cross with a hurtful but real smile! It made me radiate joy and still do!

      People on hell clearly do not see things that way, so it sucks way more even ignoring the eternity thing. Therefore, you are wrong.

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  19. Fr James O'Connor also has a good critique of Balthasar. He mentions there were Fathers at VII who wanted both 48 in Lumen Gentium make clear some are in fact damned. The response was that was already clear in the text from the citation of Scripture verses that use the future indicative.

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  20. You can either trust God himself and his historical church when it comes to hell or you can trust your own view of mercy. The entire view of Catholicism is based on authority. Even the most heterodox prelates demand obedience; Yet they are least likely to obey the historical precedent of hell themselves. Let us pray that obedience and respect does not lead us to sin. And let us also pray that we do not become so engrossed with obeying our conscience that it is malformed and we trust ourselves too much.

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    1. Thank you for your honest answer, Bill. If only more Christians/Catholics would follow your example. You believe in Hell for one reason: the Church tells you to believe it. Evidence be damned. If more Christians would be this honest there would be no need for skeptics to "troll" Christian blogs.

      It is when Christians claim that there is evidence for their superstitions that we skeptics feel compelled to debate. Truth matters.

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    2. Seems "justice" itself is a superstitious belief. If there is no Just Judge, it is either a magical emergent property of advanced conscious primates or make believe.

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    3. Justice is a herd decision, like it or not.

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    4. Where is yer evidence for that Gary?:D

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    5. @Mark Well you could define justice as a specific habit toward the good specified to what is owed by the good. Everyone believes in habits and if you don't believe there's such thing as a good, even a good of pleasure you might want to reconsider that kind of miserable existence. Whatever the case, it's not nearly as emergent and "magical" as a belief, such as atheism or "morality doesn't exist". Where do beliefs reside? I cant make a neural net with belief; all I can do is assign it weights. At least you can imagine justice as an act or behavior and a computer can have a habit very easily. Have you ever heard of an electrical amplifier? In fact pretty much all attempts to reduce the mind to material things reduce everything down to behaviors.

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    6. @gary I assure you Gary I believe in evidence and good judgement. I assume you believe in truth, because you seem to value it. But the reasons you believe in it are probably far more tendentious and what you would probably call magical than you realize. Where does the truth about things reside in your neurons? The best definition people can come up for the truth is reality and I guarantee the universe does not reside in your brain. Of course people can always be a skeptic by doubting a position but that doesn't mean you're smart or intelligent it simply means (in most cases) that your just stamping your foot and refusing to accept the "evidence"; Because it's too spooky or something. Let people be wise and don't trouble us with your inability to reason further than some muddled view of: "only what I can touch is real and touch itself also doesn't exist etc..."

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    7. @gary also let me predict what's going to happen next and I've experienced this myself so I know: "alert! alert! computation limit exceeded: entering anger and insult mode -Repeat last output phrased differently"

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    8. Oh and I forgot to add "incoming data = ignore"

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    9. @Bill
      >Well you could define...

      (If I was a skeptic I'd say you can't define something into existence.)

      >justice as a specific habit toward the good specified to what is owed by the good. Everyone believes in habits and if you don't believe there's such thing as a good, even a good of pleasure you might want to reconsider that kind of miserable existence.

      If I read you correctly, I'm going to reject the notion of a social contract that rewards the base human habit of pleasure seeking. That cannot be the foundation of justice.

      Importing "good" into the definition just begs the question of morality. I'm not saying objective good/morality can't exist in an atheist worldview, but it is either non-binding as a social obligation to an individual who disagrees with the framework or it is necessary to impose it as a social contract on an individual. I don't think either option arrives at the virtue of "justice". It relativises justice to the power holder (and how they define good), namely a herd or other authority which Gary admits. (At this point the holocaust card get played and the conversation ends.)

      The point of comment was to show, as Ya'kov points out, that the epistemology of Gary is untenable. But I do appreciate you trying to salvage Gary's atheism with what he lovingly describes as sophisticated philosophical hot air and magic.

      > In fact pretty much all attempts to reduce the mind to material things reduce everything down to behaviors.

      "the mind is reducible to (computer-like) programmed behaviors." This lacks explanatory power of all the mind is capable of and also lacks explanatory power of the universals the mind grasps.

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    10. @Mark Im confused to you believe in justice or not? If you don't, it can be argued for. If you do, do you believe in a philisophical definition or justice/ morality by fiat? I could argue for all 3 but it might save me some trouble if I know where you stand or we might even be agreeing. Of course if you believe philosophy is hot air it would be quite difficult to have a philosophical argument and I'm wondering how you even found this fringe (as far as main stream philosophy goes) and fairly technical site.

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    11. @Bill My apologies, as my first comment was not directed against your comment perse, but in response to @ Gary who said the following: "It is when Christians claim that there is evidence for their superstitions that we skeptics feel compelled to debate. Truth matters." I should have been more clear.

      Yes, I believe in justice. I'm a CT Catholic. So I would call it (one of the four) a classic virtues. It is morality in the sense of what we "owe" to each other.

      The point of my first comment was to try to figure out how to respond to @ Gary's request for evidence. Gary assumes justice exists, but goes on to demand "evidence" that "isn't sophisticated philosophical hot air". So my original point is, according to the epistemological constraints he places upon the evidence for hell, justice itself cannot exist. I hope that clears things up.

      Although I do wonder how humanist patch a system that measure a good in a meta analysis of greatest common good for humanity against an appeal to justice which is normally considered what is morally owed to an individual person. There seems to be an inherent conflict of philosophical principles. But that is OT rambling.

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    12. @mark Thanks for clearing that up!

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  21. Those who follow BAlthasar on this point now also appeal to LG 16 as suggesting that it is reasonable to hope that everyone might just end up in heaven. That reading of LG 16, however, is a false reading as it would constitute a rupture with Tradition and Scripture just as Feser noted. Ralph Martin devoted his doctoral dissertation to this question and it was published under the title Will Many Be Saved? The book was highly endorsed by several prelates who recognized the need for the book to correct false readings of LG 16. In the work, Martin calls attention to the important conditions for the salvation of non Catholics which include invincible ignorance. From what I have seen from those in the Balthasar camp, they ignore these conditions rather than factoring them into their theological position.

    Martin also thoroughly examines Balthasar's position and notes how Balthasar essentially dismisses the distinction developed by St. Maximus the Confessor and adhered to by St. John Damascene and St. Thomas between God's antecedent and conditional will. Balthasar also gives inadequate attention to the need to cooperate with grace and, in this, belies the influence of Karl Barth whose reformed theology has little to no place for cooperation with grace. Although a deemphasis on the need to cooperate with grace is in line with Barth and Balthasar, it is not the teaching of Scripture or the Church's tradition. If we take seriously the warnings of our Lord and our Lady about hell, we would be more likely to cooperate with grace and emphasize to others the need to cooperate with grace. If we diminish the real dangers of spending an eternity in hell, we also diminish the need to cooperated with grace and suggest that God will unilaterally keep us from choosing hell. Again, that position is perfectly in line with Barth and Balthasar, but it is not in line with Scripture and Tradition or a reading of LG 16 that is informed by Scripture and Tradition.

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  22. I will offer a semi-whimsical parable on choosing theological guides on this issue. The Church Fathers and medieval scholastics commonly referred to Christians as wayfarers or viators. This is not our home as St. Peter teaches in his epistle and we are journeying toward our true home in Heaven. St. Thomas' prayer Ante Studium asks God to protect him from the two fold darkness into which he was born, sin and ignorance. Eliminating sin and ignorance helps us on our journey. If we were in a car traveling through the desert, sin and ignorance would be the sort of things that would cause the car to break down.

    Among the aids that we have for preventing breaking down and getting stuck in the desert are the the teachings of the Saints and doctors of the Church. They model piety, helping us to avoid sin, and they teach us, helping us to avoid ignorance. If my car were to break down due to some error in my thinking (that is stalling my mind in its journey to commune with Truth), I could look to Saints and doctors to help fix the car and get it moving again. For example I could look to St. Augustine, St. Anselm, and St. Thomas Aquinas. If I did this I would be triple A covered for breakdowns. If I still needed help, I could add St. Athanasius and St. Ambrose for additional assistance. Someone taking this approach would be wise and quickly set back on their journey.

    Alternatively, if I had doubts or questions that were stalling the engine. I could look to Balthasar and Origen over and against the saints that I named. Neither of these are saints and one of them has positions regarding eschatology that have been condemned. Rather than getting you on your journey, Balthasar and Origen are simply likely to leave you sitting with BO. Perhaps I might add another "great" thinker for comfort like Barth. Now Barth is not a saint and is not even Catholic and he is disagreeing with men of far greater wisdom and piety than he himself had. This of course would not help. Instead Barth, Balthasar and Origen, would leave you with bad BO (BBO for short).

    If I compare the lives of these non saints and non doctors to the lives of the saints (AAAAA), I would find inspiring piety and virtue in the saints and doctors of the Church and significant imprudence, grave sin, and scandal in the lives of BBO. For example Barth developed a scandalous relationship with his secretary in his own home with his wife there. Balthasar had a very irregular relationship with Adrienne Von Speyr who omitted the words “extra quam nulla salus” during the profession of faith when she came into the Church. Origen's self castration was a severe example of zeal lacking the moderation of prudence and wisdom. Contrast this with St. Thomas who drives a prostitute out of his room with a burning log while his own family tries to tempt him to sin against chastity so that he won't become a monk.

    Why do such examples matter? Because theological wisdom and charity grow together. I can trust St. Thomas and St. Augustine and the rest of the A team in the unified judgement on an issue because it is the unified judgement of men who are wiser and holier than myself. This is the sure path to guide us on our journey as viators. Once we read LG 16 against this backdrop rather than insisting on a Balthasarian interpretation, we can arrive at a synthesis of the Tradition with authentic developments at VII rather than reading VII as a rupture because of having the Church fathers mediated through Balthasar's very skewed analysis of those he wishes to pull into his camp with Barth and Origen. The alternatives are triple A coverage or bad BO.

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  23. Well it seems to me the spirit of Origen, after having been channeled by the witch of Endor has now been more than sufficiently critiqued. Or perhaps it's been Origen reincarnate all long? Either way, I think it's unlikely we've seem the last of him.

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  24. @ Son

    I never claimed to be Catholic. I claimed my great-grandparents were Catholic. My Catholic grandfather married a Baptist and that is why I grew up Protestant. (women usually determine the religion of their children)

    Someone else brought up the subject of Purgatory, as an alternative to most of humanity going directly to Hell, which is the topic of this post. I simply asked what is the typical length of stay in Purgatory. I then gave the example of my great-grandmother's Catholic priest who seemed to believe that my great-grandfather was going to be there for years, being burned alive until he got out.

    I don't do philosophical debates regarding religion for this simple reason: The most important philosophical debate is the existence of a creator god. And on that subject, the experts, scientists, have not come to a consensus on the origin of the universe. So until the experts reach a consensus on the origin of the universe and by extension the existence of a creator god, I don't see philosophical discussions regarding gods and their activities as an intelligent use of one's time.

    So if I comment on this blog, I will make sure it is always on topic but it will never be philosophical.

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    1. @Gary

      Let me be blunt. I think yer full of it & I think yer a troll. Either that or you are just uneducated and dull.

      >being burned alive until he got out.

      I have been Catholic all my life and I never heard of "Being burned alive" in regards to purgatory even from my elderly Old World Catholic relatives both Irish and Italian. Again this sounds like the Tezel stories Protestants tell their kids.

      >I don't do philosophical debates..

      Then why are you posting on a Philosophy blog? That is like me showing up at a blog that discusses evolution and I said "I don't debate or discuss biology or science when I discuss evolution". Yeh they would laugh me out of there and fire bomb me with well deserved mockery. WTF?

      >The most important philosophical debate is the existence of a creator god. And on that subject, the experts, scientists, have not come to a consensus on the origin of the universe.

      Mistake number one. The existence of God according to Classical Theism is entirely a philosophical one not a scientific one. No "scientific" so called "god" exists. We are all Atheists toward that sort of positivist "deity". If you don't know any philosophical atheism to counter our Classic Theism then all yer objections by definition will be non-starters at best and category mistakes at worst.

      But if you have no problem looking stupid well that is on you....

      >So until the experts reach a consensus on the origin of the universe and by extension the existence of a creator god, I don't see philosophical discussions regarding gods and their activities as an intelligent use of one's time.

      Except here you are assuming two unargued Philosophical positions here not scientific ones. One is positivism the belief only scientific knowledge(quantitative knowledge) is valid knowledge (vs qualitative knowledge). A view which itself cannot be verified scientifically thus it is false by its own standards.

      Also the anti-Philosophy philosophy which is also self refuting and rationally incoherent.

      >So if I comment on this blog, I will make sure it is always on topic but it will never be philosophical.

      This is a blog about Scholastic, Essentialist and Aristotelian philosophy. With lashing of moderate realism. Thus by definition yer posts will default be off topic. Just so you know.

      This is too much stupid for the day. I would like to believe you are sincere & just misguided but Gnu Atheist trolls like to come here and blather their lowbrow version of non-belief.

      We only do high quality non-belief vs belief.

      Go read a book. Again Oppy and Schmid for starters. Or live with the mockery till Feser stops letting yer nonsense threw his filter.

      Delete
    2. If I were questioning the existence of a creator god, you would have a point. I am not. I believe it is perfectly rational at this time in history to believe in the possible existence of a Creator God. Therefore, I have no argument with Classical Theism. I would not debate you on the existence of a Creator God. I would simply say, "You may be right. I don't know. I am undecided on that issue."

      But the topic of this post is Hell and eternal damnation, not Classical Theism. I am asking for evidence for Hell, not the Creator God. So you either have evidence for Hell, or you don't. Put up or...

      Delete
    3. Gary yer trolling is tedious and beneath you.

      >f I were questioning the existence of a creator god, you would have a point. I am not.

      You just contradicted yerself since you said it was the most important question? You brought it up. Not me. Now you want to back peddle?

      .>I believe it is perfectly rational at this time in history to believe in the possible existence of a Creator God.
      Therefore, I have no argument with Classical Theism. I would not debate you on the existence of a Creator God. I would simply say, "You may be right. I don't know. I am undecided on that issue."

      What astounds me is you backpedal and expect me not to notice? This is not my first rodeo chief.


      >But the topic of this post is Hell and eternal damnation, not Classical Theism.

      Yes Dr. Feser as a Catholic is addressing fellow Catholics on the issue within the Church. He does not have to make a case for anything. He can assume it. Just as if two evolutionary scientists wish to debate the Neo Darwinism of Dawkins vs the Punctuated Equilibrium of Gould they don't have to open the conversation with an extensive proof of the Truth of evolution. They can assume it.

      >I am asking for evidence for Hell, not the Creator God.

      But the post isn't about evidence of Hell for non-believers? It is an exploration of what Catholic doctrine demands or forbids and or what it may or may not potentially tolerate? Ergo by yer own plainly stated standards yer question is off topic.


      > So you either have evidence for Hell, or you don't. Put up or...

      Why do I have to show you evidence since it is off topic? The post nowhere discusses how to convince non-believers about the reality of hell nor is it about Christian Apologetics or epistemology. Therefore by yer own standard it is off topic. Show me where Feser brought up Christian apologetics? Well? Put up or .....you get the idea.

      So two evolutionary scientists are discussing Gould vs Dawkins and some YEC twat gets to show up and derail the conversation and demand everyone prove evolution to him in 3000 letters or less without appeals to science or biology?

      I think not laddie. Really you are getting boring.

      Delete
  25. Dr. Feser: Where is Hell? If there is no good evidence that this place exists, aren't philosophical arguments about what goes on there superfluous? While you and your Christian colleagues engage in fascinating philosophical debates on this subject, little children are being indoctrinated to fear this place for the rest of their lives. Is that just?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Really Gary would it kill you to ask intelligent questions? Or do you just want to be this idiot in the link below?

      https://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2011/02/to-louse.html

      This brain dead nonsense is Papalinton levels of Stupidity.

      Here is some advice. There is a an ex-Catholic turned Agnostic named Ficino who posts here sometimes. He is an expert in reading Aristotle in the original Greek and an academic in his own right. Be like him and less like yerself...K'ay?

      >If there is no good evidence that this place exists,

      Ditch the Positivism too. If I denied all gods tomorrow knowing what I know I would be asking yer lame questions. I have my pride.

      https://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/search?q=scientism

      Delete
    2. edit: I would NOR be asking yer lame questions etc etc...

      Delete
    3. I will try again: Where is Hell?

      If you don't know the answer, how can you know what goes on there???

      Clever Mormons and Muslims use sophisticated philosophical arguments for the veracity of the claims in their holy books. I doubt you take these arguments seriously. Christian apologists such as yourself use philosophy as a convenient "rabbit trail" to evade having to explain why you teach little children to fear a place you can't prove exists.

      Delete
    4. >I will try again: Where is Hell?

      Do you think if a Young Earth Creationist keeps asking an Evolutionist to "Show me a Monkey that gives birth to human babies" that somehow in some way the Evolutionist will start to think it is an intelligent question? I doubt it.

      That question is beneath me to answer & it is beneath you & or any intelligent Atheist to ask it.

      You just show everybody here yer a mere troll and not a person of good will. My friend Ficino or Atheist philosophers like Joe Schmid is worth 100 of you.

      So beneath me...

      Delete
  26. @Son

    "If you don't know any philosophical arguments for the existence of God then yer pleas for "evidence" are tedious."

    I neve once questioned the existence of a creator god, which you assume to be your God, Yahweh/Jesus/the Trinity. I questioned the existence of Hell, the topic of this post. Where is Hell, Son of Ya'kov?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You just said above: "The most important philosophical debate is the existence of a creator god. And on that subject, the experts, scientists, have not come to a consensus on the origin of the universe."?

      My best friend's Father of happy memory said if yer going to fib don't be forgetful.


      Gary we have enough Gnu Atheist trolls here. Yer better than this or you could be. It is up to you son.

      Oppy and Schmid. Go read them then get back to us.

      Delete
    2. There is nothing contradictory about my two statements. I do not, here or on my own blog, debate the existence of a creator god. I will freely admit that a creator god may exist. I will accept the consensus opinion of cosmologists and other scientists on that issue if and when a consensus is reached. If they reach a consensus that an Intelligent Designer created the universe, I will accept that.

      Now, where is Hell?

      Delete
    3. You are clearly contradicting yerself and moving the goal posts.

      Intelligent Design? We don't do that here buddy. We reject Paley.

      https://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2011/03/thomism-versus-design-argument.html

      ANSWERS IN GENESIS is over there mate. They are more your speed.

      >Now, where is Hell?

      What is the atomic weight of Einstein's theory of relativity?

      Yer question is a category mistake like the one above. So it is intrinsically irrational and silly.
      Sorry but you need an IQ above 3 to post here.

      Sorry you question is always going to be silly.

      Delete
    4. @ Gary, according to the Wikipedia entry "Hell in Christianity", there are many interpretations of hell, even in Catholicism, including the view that it's a place, not merely a state. It's Son of Ya'Kov who is the troll, not you. He forgets that the vast majority of Catholics (or adherents of any religion, for that matter) are not theologically sophisticated. Most of them absorb the popular conception of hell as place of eternal fire, because that's what they learned as children, when they didn't have the capacity to question. I guess Son must also be contemptuous of these "morons" too.

      Delete
    5. Hi Gary and Son of Ya'Kov,

      The question, "Where is Hell?" is a perfectly legitimate one. There is no category mistake. If (as the Church maintains) Hell contains bodies, then it must be a place. It could be outside our cosmos, but the traditional view is that it's under the earth, as The Catholic Encyclopedia explains in its article on Hell:

      "The Bible seems to indicate that hell is within the earth, for it describes hell as an abyss to which the wicked descend. We even read of the earth opening and of the wicked sinking down into hell (Numbers 16:31 sqq.; Psalm 54:16; Isaiah 5:14; Ezekiel 26:20; Philippians 2:10, etc.). Is this merely a metaphor to illustrate the state of separation from God? Although God is omnipresent, He is said to dwell in heaven, because the light and grandeur of the stars and the firmament are the brightest manifestations of His infinite splendour. But the damned are utterly estranged from God; hence their abode is said to be as remote as possible from his dwelling, far from heaven above and its light, and consequently hidden away in the dark abysses of the earth. However, no cogent reason has been advanced for accepting a metaphorical interpretation in preference to the most natural meaning of the words of Scripture. Hence theologians generally accept the opinion that hell is really within the earth. The Church has decided nothing on this subject; hence we may say hell is a definite place; but where it is, we do not know."

      (Hontheim, J. (1910). Hell. In The Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company.)

      Delete
    6. No Vincent it is not a legitimate question. Since when are Catholics materialists and physicalists? Since when is the soul a material thing that is "somewhere". That is some Cartesian horse crap.

      BTW you left out this bit from the same article which I post in bold "The Church has decided nothing on this subject; hence we may say hell is a definite place; but where it is, we do not know. St. Chrysostom reminds us: "We must not ask where hell is, but how we are to escape it" (In Rom., hom. xxxi, n. 5, in P.G., LX, 674). St. Augustine says: "It is my opinion that the nature of hell-fire and the location of hell are known to no man unless the Holy Ghost made it known to him by a special revelation", (City of God XX.16). Elsewhere he expresses the opinion that hell is under the earth (Retract., II, xxiv, n. 2 in P.L., XXXII, 640). St. Gregory the Great wrote: "I do not dare to decide this question. Some thought hell is somewhere on earth; others believe it is under the earth" (Dial., IV, xlii, in P.L., LXXVII, 400; cf. Patuzzi, "De sede inferni", 1763; Gretser, "De subterraneis animarum receptaculis", 1595)."END QUOTE.

      Ye get that? Pope Gregory the Great would not dare try to settle the question. The Fathers themselves said the idea it was literally in the earth was mere opinion. The article gives no rational reason as to why it cannot be a metaphor. But it is well known the Catholic Encyclopedia is a bit limited and somewhat bias IMHO against Thomists in favor of Molinists.

      Stop feeding the Atheist anti philosophy troll. It is not a legitimate question at all.

      Delete
    7. Thank you for answering my question, Vincent. Your honesty is refreshing.

      For almost 2,000 years the Church has taught that Hell is a real place inside the earth; a place of eternal torment, possibly involving real fire. If this is true, there are a hell of a lot of bodies stuffed into the earth, probably over 100,000,000,000 bodies. If you say they are not bodies, but only ghost-like souls, then they should not experience physical pain. Yet the Bible describes people in Hell as having thirst and feeling real pain from the fires. So do spirits (ghosts) feel pain and have thirst or not?

      Can't you see, folks? Hell is an ancient tall tale. It does not exist. It is the invention of ancient, scientifically ignorant people. Your sophisticated philosophical discussions about what percentage of humanity will be "saved" from going to this imaginary place is a lot of hot air, no different than arguing about how many angels can dance on the head of a pin.

      Delete
    8. @Vincient Torley

      additionally:

      >The question, "Where is Hell?" is a perfectly legitimate one. There is no category mistake.

      Really? Given Gary is an ex-Christian fundamentalist who rejects philosophy what if he asks what does the Bible teach about the movement of the sun around the earth? Or does the bible teach geo-centracism? Ye gonna tell him "yes"?

      Dude stop feeding the troll. The Catholic Encylopedia tells us "We don't know where hell is" the Popes themselves wouldn't settle the question & plainly said their speculation was mere opinion. They clearly knew intuitively Hell is not a "place" as we understand the term place. As if I could get in my car and drive there or drill down into the Earth or fly a Buzzard Ramjet to Heaven?

      Fundamentalism is not how Catholics read the Bible Vince and I am not interesting in feeding a troll who wants us to defend heterodox fundamentalism instead of dealing with us as Catholics. We have enough trolls here who do that.

      To deal with Catholics requires learning philosophy and Vince you do not do Gary any favors encouraging him to embrace a low brow form of non-belief. He would be better off learning philosophical Atheism so he can compete on our level.

      It is a category mistake since the Divine is compared to creatures by way of analogy not univocally. So Hell is not a "place" like the Andromedia galaxy. It is wholly other....it is not another dimension. We don't know if we live in any sort of Block Universe. Enough of the Star Trek crap!

      The Bible is not a scientific text. Concodinant interpretations are always daft as Fr. Stanley Yaki showed. If you interpret the Bible as a scientific text by way of metaphor you have to revise yer interpretation once the science changes. So enough of that.

      Delete
    9. @Median Joe

      "the vast majority of Catholics (or adherents of any religion, for that matter) are not theologically sophisticated. Most of them absorb the popular conception of hell as place of eternal fire, because that's what they learned as children, when they didn't have the capacity to question. I guess Son must also be contemptuous of these "morons" too."

      Exactly. If Hell is nothing more that a state of mind; a feeling of loneliness due to eternal separation from God, then teach that to the masses! Stop terrorizing them with images and stories of a fiery Hell. In particular stop indoctrinating and terrorizing little children with tales of this scary place of torture.

      Catholic Christianity has many wonderful attributes: a concern for the poor, the sick, and the disabled. Hospitals, orphanages, senior homes. Anti-capital punishment. Passivism/anti-war. Dump the scary superstitions and keep all the good of Catholicism.

      Delete
    10. You see Vince you are misleading Gary? Thanks for nothing.

      @Gary

      >For almost 2,000 years the Church has taught that Hell is a real place inside the earth;

      How is expressing an opinion teaching? That is not how Catholicism works. What part of "We are not Fundamentalists" do ye nor understand?

      According to Vince's own source which I cited Pope St Gregory the Great said ""I do not dare to decide this question. Some thought hell is somewhere on earth; others believe it is under the earth" and St Augustine said ""It is my opinion that the nature of hell-fire and the location of hell are known to no man unless the Holy Ghost made it known to him by a special revelation",END

      So the Pope in the 6th century refused to rule on it. So how is it teaching?

      Laddie the Church more plausibly taught Geocentracism then it taught Hell was literally in the Earth.

      >If this is true, there are a hell of a lot of bodies stuffed into the earth, probably over 100,000,000,000 bodies.

      If? And if me Gran has wheels she would be a wagon.

      > If you say they are not bodies, but only ghost-like souls, then they should not experience physical pain.

      How do you know? Have you ever been a disembodied soul? Also your soul feels pain now? How? If it does how do you know those metaphysical mechanisms aren't applied in Hell?

      >Yet the Bible describes people in Hell as having thirst and feeling real pain from the fires. So do spirits (ghosts) feel pain and have thirst or not?

      So what? Catholics don't believe the Bible is clear or perspicuous. The Bible can use symbolic language and since the Pope refused to rule on the matter and even the Fathers who take this passage literally are cited as giving merely an opinion?

      I am sorry but Vincent has mislead you.

      >Can't you see, folks? Hell is an ancient tall
      tale. It does not exist.

      That is a specious argument even if we don't take the passages about Hell being in the Earth literally and even if we do.

      >It is the invention of ancient, scientifically ignorant people.

      Based on that specious reasoning because Democretus the ancient Greek Philosopher who was an Atheist believed in a Flat Earth therefore Atheism is false and a fairy tale.

      Gary your arguments are crap.

      >Your sophisticated philosophical discussions about what percentage of humanity will be "saved" from going to this imaginary place is a lot of hot air, no different than arguing about how many angels can dance on the head of a pin.

      Yep a troll. (Thanks for nothing Vincent)

      Delete
    11. @Gary the Troll writes:

      >Exactly. If Hell is nothing more that a state of mind; a feeling of loneliness due to eternal separation from God, then teach that to the masses!

      Obviously Gary has never read Origen who taught the pain in Hell was spiritual(may Fathers taught that) and Catholic Mystics taught the spiritual pain in Hell was worst than the mere physical. One even wrote if you could give the souls in Hell the Beatific Vision but left every other punishment they could with ease endure it. Also if you at the same time took the Beatific Vision away from the souls in Heaven but left every other reward they would hurl themselves down into Hell just to get the beatific vision back.

      > Stop terrorizing them with images and stories of a fiery Hell. In particular stop indoctrinating and terrorizing little children with tales of this scary place of torture.

      So telling kids if they die they will cease to be and all they ever loved will be forgotten and they will be completely gone and nothing they did was worth it is better? The void of nothingness will eat them. Atheism doesn't tramatize them? I beg to differ. I have read stories from converts from Atheism who where raised atheist and where terrified of dying and not existing. How is that terror any better?

      Also I remember the 1980's and the fear of Nuclear War. That scared me. We shouldn't go out of our way to needlessly tramatize kids but truth is truth and Hell is the Truth. If it isn't yer alternative is no better.

      >Catholic Christianity has many wonderful attributes:

      Gary you insult us by projecting yer bad experiences as a Fundamentalist Baptist on us and assuming we are identical. We are not.

      >Dump the scary superstitions and keep all the good of Catholicism.

      The superstitions are in yer former religion boss. Catholicism isn't fundamentalism which is inferior and wrong.

      Delete
    12. Additionally Gary..

      >Yet the Bible describes people in Hell as having thirst and feeling real pain from the fires. So do spirits (ghosts) feel pain and have thirst or not?

      God also says in Psalm 91 he will enfold us in his wings. So God is a giant Chicken then according to our Fundamentalist Atheist friend? Yer fundamentalism is tedious. BTW I can assure you no Catholic theologian or Father teaches God has literal wings.

      Here Gary. Read it for yourself on Hell.

      https://www.newadvent.org/cathen/07207a.htm

      Also Vince leaves out the CCC.

      1035 The teaching of the Church affirms the existence of hell and its eternity. Immediately after death the souls of those who die in a state of mortal sin descend into hell, where they suffer the punishments of hell, "eternal fire." The chief punishment of hell is eternal separation from God, in whom alone man can possess the life and happiness for which he was created and for which he longs.

      The physical pains mean nothing. The spiritual Pain of being separated from a God you now hate and cannot not hate is the true pain.

      Like it says in THE FOUR LAST THINGS by Fr. by Martin Von Cochem if the damned had the Beatific Vision(i.e. being united with God and perceiving Him directly) in Hell every other pain would be meaningless to them.

      Heck even the souls in Purgatory if they feel physical pain still feel at peace.

      Gary stop reading yer Protestant Fundamentalism into our religion. It is disrespectful and offensive!

      Delete
    13. @Median Joe.

      It is clear who the trolls are...and it is nor moi.

      > It's Son of Ya'Kov who is the troll, not you. He forgets that the vast majority of Catholics (or adherents of any religion, for that matter) are not theologically sophisticated.

      Yes and they are not scientifically sophisticated either. How many people erroneously believe "Man evolved from Apes" when the correct view is Man and Apes have a common ancestor? How many think Big Bang was a literal explosion in space and not a surge of Matter, energy, space and time that took place everywhere?

      That people have erroneous ideas about true things means we should correct the errors not coodle them.


      > Most of them absorb the popular conception of hell as place of eternal fire, because that's what they learned as children, when they didn't have the capacity to question. I guess Son must also be contemptuous of these "morons" too.

      No I reserve my contempt for bad religious teachers and the American Church for not taking religious education more seriously.

      I don't applaud ignorance. One wonders why you do? Well?

      Delete
    14. The words of wisdom from a Catholic I personally don't much like. Mark Shea. But when he is right he is right.

      https://www.ncregister.com/blog/will-there-be-pains-of-sense-in-hell

      "There’s no getting around the basic fact that hell is horrific. And yet horrific as that is, what is even more frightening is that the Tradition clearly warns that the pains of sense are not the main horror of hell: the loss of God is."



      Delete
    15. Hi Gary and Son of Ya'Kov,

      While the loss of God is indeed the principal punishment of Hell, the weight of tradition nevertheless affirms that the fire of Hell is real and corporeal. If you doubt me, look it up in Aquinas, Summa Theologiae, Supplement, q. 69, q. 70 and q. 97. (Note: the Supplement to the Summa, which was completed after Aquinas died in 1274, was probably compiled by his companion and friend Fra Rainaldo da Piperno, and was gathered from St. Thomas's commentary on the Fourth Book of the Sentences of Peter Lombard. Hence it truly represents his thought.)

      In Suppl., q. 69, art. 1, Aquinas explains that "though after death souls have no bodies assigned to them whereof they be the forms or determinate motors, nevertheless certain corporeal places are appointed to them by way of congruity in reference to their degree of nobility," and he adds that separated souls "are in place after a manner befitting spiritual substances, a manner that cannot be fully manifest to us." So somehow, separated souls can be in a place. (See https://www.newadvent.org/summa/5069.htm#article1 .)

      In q. 70, Aquinas explains that a separated soul can be tortured by a bodily fire, by being
      chained to it unnaturally. (Naturally, of course, the soul is meant to be united to the body.) He writes that "as the instrument of Divine justice it [hell fire] is enabled to detain it [the separated soul] enchained as it were, and in this respect this fire is really hurtful to the spirit, and thus the soul seeing the fire as something hurtful to it is tormented by the fire." (See https://www.newadvent.org/summa/5070.htm#article3 )

      In Suppl., q. 97, art. 5, Aquinas approvingly quotes Pope St. Gregory the Great, who writes (Dial. iv, 29): "I doubt not that the fire of hell is corporeal, since it is certain that bodies are tortured there." Aquinas adds: "whatever we may say of the fire that torments the separated souls, we must admit that the fire which will torment the bodies of the damned after the resurrection is corporeal, since one cannot fittingly apply a punishment to a body unless that punishment itself be bodily." (See https://www.newadvent.org/summa/5097.htm#article5 )

      In Suppl., q. 97, art. 6, Aquinas adds: "it is clear that the fire of hell is of the same species as the fire we have, so far as the nature of fire is concerned," although "it may differ specifically from the fire we have, considered materially." (See https://www.newadvent.org/summa/5097.htm#article6 )

      In Suppl., q. 97, art. 7, Aquinas defends the view that the fire of hell is beneath the earth, and that the bodies of the damned are housed there: "Nor is it unreasonable that God's power should maintain within the bowels of the earth a hollow great enough to contain all the bodies of the damned." After relating various opinions on the location of Hell, he writes: "It is, however, more in keeping with Scripture to say that it is beneath the earth." (See https://www.newadvent.org/summa/5097.htm#article7)

      The Catholic Encyclopedia, while leaving open the possibility that hellfire is metaphorical, prefers the view that it is a material fire, and so a real fire, declaring: "if our soul is so joined to the body as to be keenly sensitive to the pain of fire, why should the omnipotent God be unable to bind even pure spirits to some material substance in such a manner that they suffer a torment more or less similar to the pain of fire which the soul can feel on earth?"

      The CCC is thankfully very circumspect on the subject of hellfire. But my point is that the literal view was taught by most theologians, including Aquinas.

      Delete
    16. Thank you for that detailed account of the Catholic position on Hell and hellfire. It is my hope that a future pope or council will once and for all abandon this ancient fear-based superstition.

      Delete
    17. @Vincent Torley

      So what? What does this have to do with Gary's clear Category mistake?

      You wrote:
      >While the loss of God is indeed the principal punishment of Hell, the weight of tradition nevertheless affirms that the fire of Hell is real and corporeal.

      Except no Fathers claim what is called "fire" here is unequivocally the same as mere natural fire even if it is physical to bodies after the resurrection. Also Tradition is unanimous in saying it is the spiritual pain of the loss of the Beatific Vision and the guilt over one's sin is the greater pain. The fire in Hell even if taken literally is clearly not natural fire nor is the burning taking place a natural process since it does not consume the souls or bodies of the wicked that are burned after the resurrection.

      Indeed one could speculate physical pain is a mercy added to distract one from the greater spiritual pain.

      >The CCC is thankfully very circumspect on the subject of hellfire. But my point is that the literal view was taught by most theologians, including Aquinas.

      That is clearly not Gary's point considering his absurd questions, hyper literalism and self stated former Fundamentalism. He sees the fire as a literal natural thermal combustion involving oxygen being combined with other elements.

      Your own citations above show this is not the case. Every quote you give above, without exception, shows the "fire" here is supernatural and or "burns" the souls in a supernatural fashion.

      Stop feeding his fundamentalism. Teach him Catholicism for God's sake. I dinny care if he is an Atheist but HE WILL by God disbelieve in the God we believe in and not pester us with the false one he falsely worshipped as a wee fundie Prot.

      Ye feel me down under boi? Don't make me go the full Scottish. I will....(notice angry Scottish face...well you canny see it but it is scary take me word).

      Now carry on my wayward son. Cheers and God bless.

      Delete
    18. See VJ?

      Gary writes:
      >It is my hope that a future pope or council will once and for all abandon this ancient fear-based superstition.

      The Church is infallible and that is not going to happen. The possibility & danger of going to Hell is an infallible dogma(see Ott) as it the just nature of the punishments potentially visited upon the potentially and or actually damned. Even under Von Balthazar's hopeful but improbable scheme this is true(fallen Angels are still in Hell according to explicit infallible Church teaching even if no human winds up going there).

      Gary still thinks the "fire" in Hell literally burns you in the nature way you burn yer finger while frying "Shrimp on the Barby" like you lot do at the bottom of the world(wait you live somewhere else now don't you? Dinny care my point stands).

      Dude dinny encourage fundamentalism. Gnu Atheism is a stupid way to disbelieve and if I lost my faith tomorrow I WOULD NEVER embrace it. I would prefer to be a smart Atheist than a fundie infidel. Just saying...

      Come on man! I know yer more skeptical these days but go with the high end stuff not the nonsense? You want to be Graham Oppy or Myers or Dawkins?

      To me it is an easy choice like choosing to be Benny Hinn vs Aquinas.

      I am out. Peace!

      Delete
    19. @Yakov

      The idea that you somehow know that separation from your god is more painful than being burned alive shows the absurdity of your thinking. Wake up. No amount of sophisticated sounding philosophy can cover up your illogical superstitious thinking. A sophisticated superstition is still a superstition!

      Stick to the wonderful humanistic teachings of Jesus and dump the superstitions. You are making a fool of yourself, Yakky. I'm done talking to you.

      Delete
    20. @Gary

      And like most fundamentalists ye end with an appeal to emotion and personal testimony sans rational argument.

      Gary you really should start reading Oppy and Schmid if ye want to credibly polemic Catholicism. Pretending we are Fundamentalist Baptists is nor gonna help ye. Attack the God and Religion we actually believe in not the one you wished we believe in. I dinny mind. It is you doing the later that is tedious.

      It is nor intellectually satisfying. This is a philosophy blog. Refusing to learn any philosophy or argue anything philosophically makes you look like ye did back when ye where a fundie Baptist arguing with the wee Evolutionists and not learning an ounce of science or biology.

      It is nor a good look. Peace be with you.

      Delete
    21. "Stick to the wonderful humanistic teachings of Jesus and dump the superstitions. "

      You know, you be suprised if you saw Who is the person that talks more about hell on the Gospels...

      Delete
  27. Feser: “The argument in no way presupposes anything like Calvinist predestination, or any other claim about predestination. It presupposes only God’s knowledge of the future. Just as God timelessly knows whether I will freely choose to have coffee tomorrow morning, he timelessly knows whether or not I will, as a result of my free choices, be damned.”

    This attempt to distinguish your view from Calvin’s fails. If God timelessly knows that, in this world I will freely choose my own damnation, then His choice to create this world is (inter alia) a choice to make my eternal damnation a reality. Which is to say, He wills my damnation.

    An analogy: If I somehow knew that, were I to have another child, that child would make free choices leading to her eternal damnation, and I chose to have here anyway, I would be choosing her eternal damnation. And the fact that her choices were free would not in any way remove my culpability.

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    1. Anon:

      Both Calvinists who are also Classic Theists (like Paul Helm) and Thomists believe God timelessly knows what we will do.

      >This attempt to distinguish your view from Calvin’s fails. If God timelessly knows that, in this world I will freely choose my own damnation, then His choice to create this world is (inter alia) a choice to make my eternal damnation a reality. Which is to say, He wills my damnation.

      >This attempt to distinguish your view from Calvin’s fails. If God timelessly knows that, in this world I will freely choose my own damnation, then His choice to create this world is (inter alia) a choice to make my eternal damnation a reality. Which is to say, He wills my damnation.

      Yes as Brian Davies said God can be said to be the formal cause of evil but you are the true secondary cause of yer will to be damned to it is one you. God creating you in essence is a good since He will you have being. You are the one who wills yer damnation dude. Doesn't matter if he knows it. Boethus dealt with this.

      Me seeing Socrates sitting is not me causing Socrates to sit. God foreknowing yer choice is not God willing on yer behalf.

      God is not obligated to create. No being is so God to merit God creating it and non so bad that as long as it partakes of being God should refrain from creating it.

      >And the fact that her choices were free would not in any way remove my culpability.

      God has culpability to whom? God has no obligations to creatures? That is classic theism 101.

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    2. @Son of Ya'kov: "Me seeing Socrates sitting is not me causing Socrates to sit. God foreknowing yer choice is not God willing on yer behalf."

      Hey Jim. I forget all the discussions we've had, but I don't remember your addressing the implications of factive verbs in true statements.

      If "I know that P" is true, then P necessarily is true, because "know" is factive. You cannot know that which is not true. So if you know that P, P must be true.

      Sentences like "x knows that the Son of Man will be betrayed" necessarily entail that the Son of Man will be betrayed.

      You'll want to say that Judas by free will was the efficient cause of the betrayal, not God. The controversial point is the "by free will" claim. I think we can agree that Judas' making a decision is irrelevant, since the question is, was the decision ἐφ'αὐτῷ (in his power) in an unqualified sense. If God foreknows that Judas will betray Jesus, then it cannot be case that Judas will not betray Jesus. We then have to account for how Judas' will can be "free" in any standard sense of "free", since we cannot have the conjuction of:
      A. Judas can will either to betray or not to betray
      and
      B. it cannot be the case that Judas will not will to betray Jesus.

      After years, it still seems true to me that the claim, "God moves the creature's will to choose P freely", just slips in a non-standard sense of "freely."

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    3. @Ficino!

      Thank God somebody challenging. Bless you man. The nonsense about "Where is Hell?" was lowering the collective IQ in the room. Thanks for raising it guy.

      Anyway the analogy of Boethus shows us God's mere knowledge of X is not a direct cause of X(thought it is a formal cause in some sense). Also free will by definition involves determination. If I choose X at time Y I cannot at the same time not choose X at Time Y. The issue is not wither or not it is foreknown I will choose X but wither or not I am the true cause of that choice.

      The use of Free Will here denotes a Self movement & God merely causes the reality of Self Movement to exist and operate within its nature.

      >After years, it still seems true to me that the claim, "God moves the creature's will to choose P freely", just slips in a non-standard sense of "freely."

      No we are merely using the classic definition not the modern post enlightenment one. Remember we don't confess Libertarian Free Will the way modern philosophers do.

      Cheers.

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    4. You should spell out you're and your. You sound like an imbecile.

      Delete
    5. Son of Ya'Kov,

      Your reply to me misses the point. Here is the relevant distinction:

      1. God's timeless knowledge of Socrates' sitting does not cause Socrates to sit.

      2. God's creation of Socrates causes Socrates and hence his free sitting.

      I'm interested in 2.

      On Feser's view, God has willed a world in which many human beings suffer eternally and hence has willed their eternal suffering.

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    6. Two is God formally causing Socrates to sit. Like I might formally cause a bank to be robbed if I have a son who grows up to be a bank robber.

      God formally willed a world where beings He fore knew who freely choose to hate him would hate him for eternity and thus cause their own suffering.

      He is only formally causing their suffering. That is indirectly not directly as a final cause in and of itself.

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    7. @Son of Ya'kov: "God merely causes the reality of Self Movement to exist and operate within its nature."

      As I recall, we've debated this before. Thomists hold that the agent brings potency to actuality in the patient (brings a patient that is potentially F to be actually F) according to the mode of being of the patient. But it begs the question, when the patient's free will is that question, to say that rational natures exercise their wills freely. Yer cain't smuggle free will inter yer conception of rational nature and then say you've demonstrated that the rational creature has free will.

      cheers, F

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    8. I don't see how if my will is a true secondary cause of my actions? God doesn't do it in my stead so I am not seeing it?

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    9. The thing about free will is either I am the true secondary cause of my choices or I am not and something else chooses for me. God is the first cause in that he causes my choices to be free. Or has Brian Davies said he is the cause of the reality of free will. But I am the true secondary cause. Like God causes fire to exist and have the properties it has to burn wood so God is first cause of wood burning but the fire is the true secondary cause.

      The idea God is burning the wood and not really the fire. That the fire only gives the appearance of burning the wood is the semi-pantheism of divine occationalism.

      I am the true secondary cause of my own choice ergo I have free will. It doesn't matter that God knows from all eternity what I will choose. The choice is still mine. Given my changeable nature if God told me what I would ultimately choose I could also use my intellect to make another choice and God would still know from all eternity what my "New" choice would be.

      God knowing my choice isn't Fate. It is just a feature of omniscience. The only fate involved is I am the true secondary cause of my own fate. So I have free will.

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    10. SoY,

      The final state of creation is its telos. And if that final state includes the eternal damnation of the reprobate, then that is (part of) creation's end. It follows that God intends eternal damnation.

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    11. @AnonymousJanuary 25, 2022 at 6:08 AM:

      "God has willed a world in which many human beings suffer eternally and hence has willed their eternal suffering..."

      Or God willed that man be a radically and truly free creature that could love him wholly and truly but - for this to be true/possible - it required that a man could choose instead to suffer and be separated eternally from him. In this case God doesn't directly will the eternal suffering of the damned.

      A parent can will and choose to have children that may in turn chose to love or hate him or her and choose to be good or bad but presumably it doesn't follow that any parent can be said to will children to have children that hate them or end up bad.

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    12. @Anon

      >The final state of creation is its telos.

      Do you mean the final state is the final cause? In what sense?

      >. And if that final state includes the eternal damnation of the reprobate, then that is (part of) creation's end.

      Composition fallacy. If a 100 foot high wall is mad up of 6"inch height bricks it doesn't logically follow the wall is 6 inches High.

      Including the damnation of the reprobate does not make damnation a final cause per say but at best per accident.

      The Goal of creation is the triumph of divine justice and the divine mercy. Considering the divine simplicity those attributes are both in essence the same and goal of creation. Damnation is an accidental consequence given free will and not directly intended since sufficient grace is given to the potential damned.

      God does not intend eternal damnation unconditionally. Rather God intends to let free beings damn themselves if they resist grace.

      Anyway none of this has anything to do with free will.

      Some nutter over at Strange Notions used to argue like this. It wasn't impressive. I encourage you to do better.

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    13. @Son of Ya'kov: "The thing about free will is either I am the true secondary cause of my choices or I am not and something else chooses for me. God is the first cause in that he causes my choices to be free."

      I may be missing something, but I don't think this works. If the rational creature's will is ἐφ' αὑτῷ, in its own power (as Aristotle puts it many times), then it is the FIRST cause of Decision A. There are conditions that must be fulfilled in order for the creature to will do to A - the creature has to be alive, be rational, the object of A must exist, etc etc - but those conditions are not CAUSES of the decision to do A if the will is free. That's just what it means for the creature's προαίρεσις, rational choice, to be ἐφ' αὑτῷ.

      So far I am convinced that St. Thomas' own doctrine about hierarchical causal series ordered per se obligates him, if he'll be consistent, to allow that the will is a secondary cause WITHIN a causal chain determined and controlled by the First Cause. He's not obligated to affirm occasionalism. But a secondary cause within a hierarchically ordered causal series cannot initiate any causal influence that is not already determined by the first cause - otherwise the hierarchically ordered series is blown open. It's as though the king gives the order for A, the messenger decides not to deliver it, and we're still saying that the king's order caused A. Check out De Principiis Naturae.

      Since acts of intellect and will are in a certain sense motions, you can't hold both the doctrine of Unmoved First Mover as is needed for cosmological arguments AND grant causal autonomy to intellect and will as is needed for free will arguments.

      This is a different issue, and more at the heart of the matter, than the problem of foreknowledge and free will.

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    14. @Ficino

      You never disappoint with the challenging questions Ficino. I hope the local Gnu trolls are taking notes. This is how it is done boys!!:D

      > If the rational creature's will is ἐφ' αὑτῷ, in its own power (as Aristotle puts it many times), then it is the FIRST cause of Decision A.

      Are you sure? I can say my car moves "under its own power" but that doesn't deny God is causing the material that makes up the car to exist here and now, have the properties it does. Causes the fuel that runs it to exist here and now with its properties that power it etc...(granted this analogy is imperfect because cars are artifacts but I am too lazy to redo the analogy with a gerbil. I made my bed.).

      So God can cause a rational substance to exist and give said rational substance its own volition the later is analogous to it's fuel that moves its choices.

      Mind you I don't mind confessing my own ignorance to you since you are a worthy dialog parter/foe/friend who disagrees etc but I am still working out Concurrentism vs Premotion.

      > but those conditions are not CAUSES of the decision to do A if the will is free. That's just what it means for the creature's προαίρεσις, rational choice, to be ἐφ' αὑτῷ.

      But the intellect moves the will? I dinny do volunteerism guy.

      >So far I am convinced that St. Thomas' own doctrine about hierarchical causal series ordered per se obligates him, if he'll be consistent, to allow that the will is a secondary cause WITHIN a causal chain determined and controlled by the First Cause.

      Divine Providence does control the human will but it is also the cause of the will acting freely. Thus is the mystery and paradox.

      >But a secondary cause within a hierarchically ordered causal series cannot initiate any causal influence that is not already determined by the first cause -

      Except the first cause here does cause the will to act freely as that is the nature of will. The thing is we can say what a will does and what a free will does but nobody can say what a free will is in essence. Can we make one?

      I mean I like science fiction but could we really make an AI "programed" with free will? I have heard that trope in Scifi but is it nonsense like FTL travel or gravity plates or force fields(go Hard Scifi or go home)?

      Because the last I checked physicalists and materialists by definition must deny free will since everything to them is a determinate physical mechanism like all reality as they envision it.

      Now I can doubt materialism and I dinny have to believe in God to do so (see Nagel). But I don't see how a rational substance and will which I dinny take to be material can't be caused to be free by God? God can control and operate things by their nature and by doing so not negate their nature.

      So I think that is my answer to ye. Cheers.

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    15. SoY,

      Yes, the final state of creation is its final cause, its telos. As Aristotle observes in the first book of the Ethics, the end of a productive activity is for the sake of the thing produced, the finished product. By analogy, God's creative act is for the sake of the 'finished creation,' i.e. for the final state of creation: the new heaven and earth, the eternal beatification of saints, and (on Feser's and your view), the eternal damnation of sinners. Ends are necessarily intended, so God intends that final state of creation, including the eternal damnation of sinners.

      'Fallacies' of composition are not, of course, formal fallacies. And I'm not relying on any such principle of composition. My point is that, if God intends the final state of creation, he intends it, all of it.

      It's not entirely clear, but it appears you are attempting to employ the principle of double effect to get God off the hook. But that won't work here, and for more than one reason. First, if we treated God like any other agent, he would still be culpable because the intended end, the salvation of the few, far outweighed by the accidental consequence, damnation of the many. (This is usually called the proportionality requirement.) Second, and more importantly, God is not like any other agent; He is Goodness Itself, and so even a secondary effect of His action cannot be evil in a final way, as the eternal suffering of a single soul would be.

      You ad hominem presumes an arrogance that, as far as I can tell, is unearned. At any rate, it in no way strengthens your position.

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    16. @Son of Ya'Kov: adding:
      There are many other passages that pretty clearly support what I wrote earlier. E.g. ST 1a 105.5 c: “semper secundum agens agit in virtute primi; nam primum agens movet secundum ad agendum. Et secundum hoc, omnia agunt in virtute ipsius Dei; et ita ipse est causa actionum omnium agentium,” [Always the secondary agent acts in virtue of the first; for the first moves the second to acting. And according to this, all act in virtue of God Himself; and thus He Himself is the cause of the actions of all agents"] and ad 2: “sed nihil prohibet quin una et eadem actio procedat a primo et secundo agente [but nothing prohibits one and the same action from proceeding from the first and the second agent].

      In the second of these we get denial of occasionalism. In the first we get affirmation that the first cause is the cause of effects wrought proximately by secondary causes.

      But if the will of the secondary cause is "free," as Thomism wants to have it, then the causal series initiates from that secondary cause. To say that the first cause determines the second cause to act freely simply plays around with the sense of "freely" so as to render it contentiously equivocal.

      I am seeing a system that wants to have its cake and eat it too. Show me how that's not so without bringing in the unargued assumption that the will of the rational creature is autonomous from the will of God.

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    17. @ Son of Ya'kov,

      I think you do a good job of distilling what I too understand as the Thomistic position on the relation between God as First Mover/Cause and the rational creature's will (arbitrium) as free. I remain unconvinced by the Thomistic position because it continues to hold incompatible theses. Maybe some other Thomist has successfully made them compatible, I don't know, but so far I haven't seen such a result.

      Your appeal to the mystery and paradox of Providence's controlling the will to act freely is a sign that the Thomist position does in fact try to combine incompatible theses.

      I never said that the rational creature's will wasn't moved by that creature's intellect. But to agree on this doesn't bring us to agreement, since the creature's intellect itself is moved by intelligible objects, and they in turn have God (God's mind, which is God) behind in them in ways too complicated to get into in a combox.

      You come down to what I spoke about earlier when you write, "Except the first cause here does cause the will to act freely as that is the nature of will. The thing is we can say what a will does and what a free will does but nobody can say what a free will is in essence."

      You are laying it down as a premise that the nature of will is to act freely. As I said in earlier posts, this element in a descriptive definition of will begs the question when used, as you're using it, in an argument seeking to prove that the will is free.

      I'll also note that your sentence, "Nobody can say what a free will is in essence," debars you from your earlier statement that the nature of the will is to act freely. You can't say what a thing's nature is without knowing its essence.

      I suggest that something must be given up. Calvinists as you know give up free will and hold nevertheless to responsibility, but you can't agree with them since they are heretics.
      You might try to develop the ancient notion of freedom as a thing's doing what it is determined to do by its essence when its essence is fully actualized. But then I think you'll need premises that are contentious on other grounds, like certain doctrines about soul, etc.

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    18. @Son of Ya'kov, adding (I wish Blogspot allowed us to edit our posts):

      The issue is not so much whether God gives the rational creature free will simpliciter, in a blanket sense, so that God determines the will to have the property, freedom. The rub is in particular cases, Fred's choosing to do some A or not to do that A. "God determines Joe to chooses to do A" contradicts "Joe chooses freely to do A," because "freely" just means "without being determined by another." If "freely" has some other meaning, you have to argue for that other meaning.

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    19. @ Anon 1/26/22

      Well I will give you props for trying to argue God can't be good if He makes evil a final cause as opposed to the foolish way some idiot Gnus I know assume God is a moral agent and find moral error in his actions but you don't succeed here IMHO.

      >Yes, the final state of creation is its final cause, its telos.

      That begs the question. Is the final state damned souls or divine justice? If a lion eats a lamb is the final state a dead lamb or a nourished lion? I think your confusing a result with a final cause.

      Do lions eat lambs just to make dead lamb or for sustenance? Does God send wicked souls to Hell for shites and giggles or to satisfy justice? So I am afraid merely allowing evil as a consequence doesn't make evil a final cause.

      Unless you are like this lolcow Gnu I know who ad hoc argues God's goodness means God cannot allow any evil whatsoever? In his world view God is evil or not purely good if He allows me to stub my toe. Oh honey no....

      >It's not entirely clear, but it appears you are attempting to employ the principle of double effect to get God off the hook.

      Ah no! That would presuppose a Moral Agent God who is morally good in the univocal way a virtuous rational creature is morally good. I am an absolute strong Atheist when it come to belief in such a "god".

      If yer argument is based on a "god" that somehow has obligations to His creatures then by definition yer refuting a "god" neither of us believes exists.

      >First, if we treated God like any other agent, he would still be culpable because the intended end, the salvation

      No such "god" exists. No good Classic Theist believes in such a "god".

      >econd, and more importantly, God is not like any other agent; He is Goodness Itself,

      God is metaphysically Good and ontologically good. God is not morally Good in the univocal way virtuous rational creature is morally good.

      Sorry wrong "god". Argue against the God I believe in not the one you wished I believed in.

      >the final state of creation is its final cause..

      The final state is the triumph of Divine Mercy and Divine Justice both of which are God and only notionally distinct in God not really distinct.

      The final state is not damnation that is merely a consequence. Just like dead lambs eaten by lions is not the goal or final cause.

      OTOH.

      BTW I note you are equivocating by equating yer own term "final state" with the Thomistic concept of a "Final cause".

      God cannot given his nature in Classic Theism make evil a final cause. But he can make it a "final state" as you nebulously present the term.

      Ye equivocations don't move me. But you did better trying to recognize you have to attack the God I believe in by trying to show He make evil a final cause. You just didn't succeed.

      But good try.

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    20. PS I get to you soon Ficino. Yer stuff is worth an answer. Well done.

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    21. SoY,

      My claim that the final state of creation is its telos, a.k.a. its final cause, doesn’t beg any questions. The finished pot is the final cause, the telos, the ‘that for the sake of which’, the potter engages in the activity of pot making. Analogously, the finished creation, the final state of creation, is the final cause, the telos, the ‘that for the sake of which’, God creates.

      Your attempted contrast with a dead lamb misses the mark in several ways. Consider this: When is creation finished? That is, when is God’s creative intent fully realized? At the creation of matter-energy? The Big Bang? The formation of our solar system? The emergence of life? The emergence of human beings? Some moment in the history of man? Or the final ordering of all things under the Father (1st Corinthians 15)? I think it’s the last. Only then will God’s purpose in creating be accomplished. That final ordering is what I have in mind as the final state of creation. That is what I take to be analogous to the finished pot. In this instance, the terma and telos of creation are the same.

      You give an example in which the (apparent) terma of the lamb: death in the jaws of the lion, is different than its telos: ‘lamb flourishing.’ So, as you present it, it is not comparable to my view of the final state of creation. (I do happen to believe that all of creation, including the devoured lamb, will be redeemed in the end; so the true terma of the lamb is also its true telos; but that’s a separate discussion and we should avoid complicating matters.)

      Additionally, you suggest that God sends wicked souls to Hell to satisfy justice. To assert that requires a total equivocity between human and divine justice, in which case, the claim that God is ‘just’ is devoid of meaning. Any human notion of justice, an infinite punishment is infinitely disproportionate for a finite crime, and so could not be just. (This too is a different argument than the one we are having, and should be set aside.)

      My point in our conversation is, again, that God necessarily intends the final state of creation. And if that final state includes the eternal damnation of sinners, then God intends the eternal damnation of sinners. So, we’re faced with an either/or between Calvin’s god and universalism.

      I don’t believe divine ‘goodness’ and human ‘goodness’ are univocal. Neither are they equivocal. They are, as everyone in the tradition holds, analogical. But on that analogy, it must be false to say that God intends any evil. And for that reason, I cannot admit that he intends the eternal damnation of a single soul.

      You say, “The final state is the triumph of Divine Mercy and Divine Justice both of which are God and only notionally distinct in God not really distinct.”

      I agree with these words, but not with your understanding of them. I don’t see how God’s perfect mercy (Mercy Itself, which is indeed identical to God’s power, goodness, justice, knowledge, essence, existence, etc.) is logically compatible with an unending punishment. I would love to hear your explanation.

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    22. Sorry no Anon.

      The final cause of creation is Divine Mercy and Divine Justice for the Glory of God. The final state is not its final cause anymore than the death of the lamb is the final cause of the lion eating it.

      If God created some being with immortal souls made in the divine image then immediately sent them to suffer positively in Hell right after creating them without even giving them a life to live, or laws to follow or break or a choice to make or even merely sufficient grace to do these goods and avoid evil then that would be God making damnation a final cause.

      As Wesley said to a Calvinist "Your God is my Devil" and that would make God Azathoth not YHWH. Sorry wrong God. And don't bother quoting Scripture at me. Catholics reject private interpretation.

      >I don’t see how God’s perfect mercy (Mercy Itself, which is indeed identical to God’s power, goodness, justice, knowledge, essence, existence, etc.) is logically compatible with an unending punishment.

      That is because infinite punishment is compatible with His Justice. They are still notionally distinct and logically distinct remember?

      God is not obligated to create anybody or anything. No created being is so good God ought to create it/him/her not even the BVM Herself. None is so evil that as long as they partake of being God should refrain from creating them. God creating anything is good because what He creates has being. So God creating idiots who will freely choose Hell does them good and they do themselves evil.

      So wrong.

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    23. SoY

      None of what you last wrote actually addresses anything in my previous comment. You simply reassert your earlier claims.

      So wrong?

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    24. @Ficino

      "The issue is not so much whether God gives the rational creature free will simpliciter, in a blanket sense, so that God determines the will to have the property, freedom. The rub is in particular cases, Fred's choosing to do some A or not to do that A. "God determines Joe to chooses to do A" contradicts "Joe chooses freely to do A," because "freely" just means "without being determined by another." If "freely" has some other meaning, you have to argue for that other meaning."

      What you means by "determines"? From what i got from Aquinas, God action is a necessary condiction to any creature existing at all, so one can't really take the creature as isolated and them say that God interfers on it.

      It is not like God does some kinda of violence(on a aristotelian sense) to the creature, rather His action is the means by which the creature have inclinations at all. I think that i remember one thomist comparing it to a father who is helping his son learning to write and so takes his hand and helps him write what he wants,can't remember who said that.

      The free will condition seems that one does not get any extrinsic interference on the willing, like on the naturalist laws of nature. Giving that on classical theism God is truly "closer to me that i'am to myself"*, them i suppose it does not apply.


      *can't remember if this is the St. Augustine quote

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    25. @Anon January 27, 2022 at 5:29 PM

      Then I'll see you around troll. We are done. I have to work on a reply to Ficino. He at least has something interesting and challenging to say. Unlike some of us.

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    26. PS Anon you must argue against the religion I believe in. Not the one you wish I believed in.

      From the Online Catholic Encylopedia.

      Final cause of creation
      Since the production of something from nothing, the bridging of the chasm between non-existence and existence demands infinite power, and since the reason for the action of an infinite being must lie within that being Himself, the primary subjective motive of creation must be the Creator's love of His own intrinsic goodness. The love of that absolute good is conceived by us as "inducing" the Creator to give it an extrinsic embodiment (creation in its passive sense, the universe). The type-idea according to which this embodiment is constructed must exist within the Creator's intelligence and as such is called the "exemplary" or archetypal cause of creation (passive). The objective realization hereof is the absolute final objective end, or final cause, of creation. In the material universe this realization, exhibited in the purposiveness of each individual part conspiring to the purposiveness of the whole, remains imperfect and is but a vestige of the original design. In the rational creature it reaches a certain completeness, inasmuch as man's personality, with its intellectual and volitional endowments, is a sort of (analogous) "image" of the Creator, and, as such, a more perfect realization of the creative plan. Moreover, in man's consciousness the creative purpose comes to explicit manifestation and reflective recognition. His intelligent reaction thereon by reverential attitude and orderly conduct realizes the absolutely final purpose of creation, the actual "formal glorifying" of the Creator, so far as that is possible in the present life. But even as the orderly or normal activity of the individual organisms and subordinate parts of the universe develop and complete those organisms and parts, so man's rational conduct perfects him and, as a consequence, results in a state of happiness, the full complement whereof is attainable, however, only in a life beyond the present. This completion and happiness of man are said to be the relatively ultimate end of creation, and thereby the creative plan is absolutely completed, the Creator finally explicitly formally glorified by the return of the creation, carried up by and in man to conscious inter-communion with the Source and End of the creative act. Lactantius thus sums up the hierarchy of finality in creation: "The world was made that we might be born. We were born that we might know God. We know Him that we may worship Him. We worship Him that we may earn immortality. We are rewarded with immortality that, being like unto the angels, we may serve Our Father and Lord forever, and be the eternal kingdom of God" (Instit., VII, vi). When man is said to be the (relatively) ultimate end of creation, this obviously does not exclude other coexistent and subordinate purposes.END

      Nothing about yer nonsense.

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    27. @Talmid: by "determines" I mean "causes." Just what are the details of the mechanism - or pick some other noun- by which God as Unmoved First Mover/Uncaused First Cause causes rational creatures to will things is not specified anywhere I know, and need not be for the argument I am making. SCG III.88-89 Aq says that motions of human will are caused by God, though not by violence from outside, and not by removing contingency from them; same at ST 1a2ae 6.4.

      We already see in Aquinas, and Son of Ya'kov has acknowledged this, that God moves the will of agents to choose to do some A. Aquinas notes that if choices and acts of willing of the intellectual substances, and bodies, are not under God’s providence, providence will be utterly nullified, SCG III.90.3. ST 1a 83.1 ad 2: “liberum arbitrium ad hoc [sc. willing or running of the guy in Romans 9:16] non est sufficiens, nisi moveatur et iuvetur a Deo.” [free will re running or not running is not sufficient, if it is not moved and aided by God.]

      Do we have evidence or argument that God as first mover ever is NOT the first mover/cause of some causal series hierarchically ordered per se? If so please supply. Answers like "Well, Fred choose freely to do A because Fred is rational" don't cut it, just sayin'.

      Note that there A-T does not posit a conflict between God's agency as first cause of a created act of will and the rational creator's making that act of will: "“Insofar as the created act of the will is without defect, it can have two efficient causes, provided that the causes are not of the same order. The Creator operates, and the spiritual creature cooperates, there being no real conflict. … The spiritual creature's real contribution does not logically preclude the antecedent operation of God's transcendent efficient causality. (See St. Thomas, S.Th., I, q. 83, a. 1, ad. 3.) If we were dealing only with efficient causes of the same order of being (univocal), however, there would be a real philosophical problem.” This is from Peter Pagan.

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    28. SoY,

      Others may find your rhetoric abrasive and juvenile, but not me. I find it . . . amusing. Thanks for the conversation.

      Anonymous Universalist

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    29. @Anon,

      I was actually going for abrasive and cruel. For me to be juvenile would require me to call you a poopy pants. Which I would never do.
      I would just call ye a Jerk and be done with it.

      PS Do better with yer objections. Be like Ficino.

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  28. Forgive my ignorance of Boethus: I will try to get better informed. But with regards to the analogy being discussed, why create a system that you know will result in the majority ending up in eternal suffering?

    Not that God answers to anyone, but this brings to mind this passage: "But woe to that man who betrays the Son of Man! It would be better for him if he had not been born.” Would it not be fair to ask whether it would have been better for the majority of these souls in hell to have not been born?

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    1. We don't actually know the majority will end up in eternal suffering? That is the point. Even if we throw Von Balthazar out the window many orthodox Catholic Theologians have argued the majority will be saved.

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    2. That's a relief! I thought that the line of argument was that the main article's quoted passages ["few find the way to life and many go the way of destruction (Matthew 7:13-14); he warns that many who seek to enter the Kingdom of God will not be able to (Luke 13:24); and so on...] were meant to imply the majority would not find their way in. Perhaps the passages mean that many may find themselves in purgatory first before eventually making it in?

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    3. @Blue

      Passages that seem to indicate the majority will not be save could simply refer (as on poster named Jamine said above) to Jesus Christ talking about what was happening in real time.

      The majority of Jews didn't not accept Jesus in the First century. Few found him and the majority did not. Wide is the road that leads to destruction could literally refer to the destruction of Jerusalem (which the Jewish Christians fled from) or damnation of the wicked.

      Similar interpretations are allowed by the Church. I hold the third opinion. We are not meant to know if the majority or minority are saved. If the majority are saved how does that benefit you or I if we happen to go down with the minority? OTOH we won't complain if the minority are saved and we are among their number. What is important is we get right with God. He will handle is His Justice and Mercy and He will do it infallibly.

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    4. Very interesting. Thanks!

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    5. Another reason for the same result Son gives: it is possible that at any one time most living people are in a state of sin and on the road to hell. But the average lifespan is 70 to 80 years long, and it only takes being right with God AT THE END to be saved. Thus it is possible for 95% of all people to be in the state of sin 95% of their lives, and yet 90% (or any other %) of them end up saved. That would qualify for a description that "most people ARE ON the road to Hell" without meaning most people END UP in Hell.

      We don't know.

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    6. That would certainly fit with the case of the "Good thief" getting into Heaven from the cross...

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  29. Thoroughly in agreement. For conservative contexts in theology, and conservative prelates etc., the term orthodox is really better.

    Conservatism doesn't merely mean what conservare means in Latin, to preserve something. Conservatism in general now means the defence of the world of ideas and institutions that began its hegemony in the early Eighteenth-century. This is a world that is fundamentally opposed to Catholic orthodoxy.

    The Church of orthodoxy and the Christian society it informed was around before conservatism, which it will also outlive.

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    1. I agree that "orthodox" is a better name overall, but it seems to have two problems:

      1. His contrary would be "unorthodox", but there are theological views that are not conservative but still orthodox. The view that limbo does not exist, for instance.

      2. It makes one remember the greeks. They would not like to be confused with us!

      What about using "traditional", them? It even sounds cooler.

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    2. Indeed, not all unorthodox notions are conservative, nor are all conservative notions unorthodox.
      The solution to the Greeks of course is to use term orthodox in the lower case. The same goes for traditional, another word that has sinister meanings when capitalised.

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    3. Good tip on the use of orthodox, on the use of traditional it works as well. These type of details are tiny but they do matter sometimes, "conservative" can make the average person make the wrong connection.

      And you are right in the use of tradition. One even needs to be extra careful here, gor from what i can see some of they prefer to be confused with us...

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  30. @Son of Ya'kov and Blue: just a quickie, you guys mean Boethius. There was also a Boethus of Sidon, who was a different ancient philosopher. He was a Peripatetic (in the school of Aristotle) who lived in the first century BCE. Boethius, though heavily influenced by Aristotle (he set about to translate the logical works into Latin), was a Christian and died in 524 CE.

    OK, more on foreknowledge anon.

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  31. "That all may saved" has always had a special resonance for me because, truly, we want all to be saved, BUT what does that mean?
    Does it mean all to be saved REGARDLESS of what they think or believe or have done?
    No. To me it means that ALL have the opportunity for salvation (no one is borne dammed and there is nothing they can do about it). What they do with that opportunity is on them. Salvation is a gift given to all, regardless of what they have done, so that no man may boast. BUT the gift must still be accepted and not rejected.

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    1. I would agree with this. This is a possible interpretation all interpretations being equal till the Holy Church tells us different.

      >Does it mean all to be saved REGARDLESS of what they think or believe or have done?

      It is a mystery why God saves Peter but allows Judas to fall? Why the good thief but not the bad thief? We know those who are saved are saved by God's grace and those who are lost are lost by their own fault and will.

      If I have ten condemned murder's and rapists who are all sentenced to death if I commute the death sentences of five of them to life in prison I am only guilty of mercy. Since all ten equally deserve death but none of them deserve mercy. Which is something we need to realize. God owes us nothing. He doesn't owe us salvation. We OTOH owe God everything.

      So even if I hope for the salvation of most or all I know God doesn't owe it too us and if it somehow happened well it would be an unmerited grace from Him. Not an obligation.

      So I am all for hoping for the salvation of most or all but I am against presuming it.

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    2. Agreed.
      God has done His part, He has given us hope and salivation, the offer is there.
      The opportunity is there.
      What we do with it is on us and while no man can boast that they are deserving of salvation, no one can complain that they weren't offered it either.

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  32. (Not to promote thoughtless optimism or presumption, of course...)

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  33. >>I don’t mean that it is guaranteed that some will be damned in the metaphysical sense that God will cause this to happen. I mean that it is guaranteed in the epistemological sense that we can know that some will be damned because it has been revealed that some will be.<<

    Are you saying that although in principle it is possible that every individual will be saved, we can be almost certain this won't happen in practice? Similar to how it is possible that after rolling 100 dice simultaneously all 100 could land on 6, but in practice this highly unlikely. Given free will, I cannot see how it is not possible in principle that each individual chooses to worship God.

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    1. There is a point of significant confusion in how this is being framed. You are speaking as though everyone still has a choice to make and we just are not quite sure what choice they will make. This is a strange suggestion given that many people have already made their choices and the state of their will is set at their death. They are either in a state of grace or a state of mortal sin. So while it is possible to choose to worship God while alive, that possibility is lost at death if someone remains in a state of mortal sin wherein they are opposed to God. You are speaking as though no one has already died and made the choice to *not* worship God. If among the billiions who have already died, there are those who have chosen not to worship God, then yes it is impossible from this point forward for *all* to be saved because some would have already made their eternal choice.

      Now the issue for us is that we really don't know what choice a person makes in their soul at their last breath apart from God revealing such information. Thankfully, however, He has revealed that the road that leads to death is broad and that few will find it. We should be thankful to know this because it encourages us to seek the narrow path that leads to life and it gives us a realistic picture that the path to salvation is narrow and difficult.

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    2. Another important point in this discussion is God's relationship to time and how this allows him to see not only what has been chosen, but what will be freely chosen in the future. He sees future events because he is not bound by time. Nor does his knowledge of our future free choices undermine the freedom of those choices any more that our knowledge of past choices makes those choices not free. He sees what we will choose in a way analagous to our seeing what we and others do in fact choose in the present. For that reason, God is certain of who will freely choose Him and yet such knowledge does not undermine freedom. So the suggestion that all might be saved when in fact God, who sees all things, has made clear that all will not be saved, is a foolish suggestion. Regretfully that foolish suggestion is presented under the title of Christian "hope" when the supernatural virtue of hope is *not* a mere wish, much less a foolish one.

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  34. Because of the Original Sin, we are all damned by default as, considering our human nature, we are not saved by default, and this is just, and merciful because just: may be recalling this simple truth of the faith helps to simplify the reflections on the topic.

    Redemption refers only to specific individuals, not to the human nature itself which is not redeemed at all as such: actually, strictly speaking, only the Christ Himself is the Redeemed one.

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    1. The BVM wasn't damned by default. God could have done the same and more for everyone else without breaking a sweat. He orchestrated the entire situation.

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  35. ", I cannot see how it is not possible in principle that each individual chooses to worship God"
    BUT, given what you know about human nature in your experience, how LIKELY it that every individual will choose to worship God?.... I thought not.

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  36. It isn't just fundamentalist Protestants who have taught that Hell is a place where people literally burn...forever.

    Read this: Father John Furniss, a nineteenth-century Catholic evangelist, became renowned as the “Apostle to the Children.” Father Furniss (and yes, that was his real name) was infamous for his lurid descriptions of children in hell. Consider this excerpt from his 1861 bestselling collection of nightmarish bedtime reading, The Sight of Hell:

    “See on the middle of that red-hot floor stands a girl : she looks about sixteen years old. Her feet are bare. Listen ; she speaks. ‘I have been standing on this red hot floor for years! Look at my burnt and bleeding feet! Let me go off this burning floor for one moment!’ The fifth dungeon is the red-hot oven. The little child is in the red-hot oven. Hear how it screams to come out ; see how it turns and twists itself about in the fire. It beats its head against the roof of the oven. It stamps its little feet on the floor.”

    (Cited in Edward White, Life in Christ: A Study of the scripture doctrine, 3rd ed. (London: Elliot Stock, 1878), 60.)

    I am very happy to see that modern Catholics are appalled by such imagery and are advocating for a non-literal Hell, a sense of loss and isolation in the psyche, not a literal dungeon of torture. But let's be honest. A literal place where one is burned alive forever IS what both Catholics and Protestants taught the masses for almost 2,000 years.

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    1. @Gary

      It's time to grow up. Imagery of torture chambers are taken from real life torture chambers that real people made and used on other people. You don't realize how almost hypocritical it is for people to cry about hell being a horrible place that no one could possibly deserve while using instances of human cruelty and moral depravity as the reason why a place of eternal punishment would be wrong.

      If you get rid of hell, then murderers, terrorists, torturers, child abusers, etc., have nothing to fear. The bible is very clear: you will reap what you sow. Exactly so, imagining infants being tortured in hell by demons is absolutely absurd because how could anyone claim an infant is reaping what they sowed when it wasn't even possible for them to do anything remotely proportionate to others or even conceive of doing it to anyone?

      It really bothers me how childish adults become once we start talking about eternal justice and the possibility of punishments. Mention hell and immediately so many adults begin to imagine everyone human being is a freaking saint. Then ten minutes later they go right back to knowing and believing people can do the most monstrous things sometimes.

      Honestly: grow up about hell.

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    2. @Gary,

      No sir living forever longing for the Beatific Vision which you will never see from the God you cannot help but hate & can no longer choose to love is the true and greatest agony in Hell.

      If every other agony in Hell was inflicted upon you but you had the Beatific Vision you would laugh at the pain and not head it(more later) at all. It would mean nothing to you.*

      OTOH the Eastern Church teaches the fire of Hell is the Love of God(whom Scripture says is "a consuming fire"). The thing is the Damned cannot help but hate God so His love causes them pain. We are familiar with this in our world to a lesser extent. Someone you absolutely detest and or can't stand does something very nice for you & it is literally like as Holy Writ says "pouring hot coals on yer 'ed". Yer pride and yer hate makes their kindness to you agony. Now multiply that by the love of an Infinite God. Yeh that's gotta fecking hurt!:D

      When I was in the Navy after 11 weeks of pain in bootcamp I passed my final PT test so I could leave. That felt very good. The sense of accomplishment overshadowed the aches. The Company Command telling me in front of the whole company "You see this Sailor. It looked like he wasn't gonna make it but he never gave up and he made it". That felt good even with sore feet.

      Well if every other pain in Hell was visited on you but you had the Beatific Vision it would mean nothing to you. But if every other Heavenly joy and reward was given you but you felt the loss of the Beatific Vision like the damned do well then to quote that Twilight Zone Episode "What makes you think you are in Heaven Mr. Valentine? THIS IS THE OTHER PLACE!". You would prefer the former fate to the later.

      I should note before somebody asks. If Limbo exists (and we don't know it does but that is another argument) the souls there don't have the beatific vision but they are preserved from the pain of loss the wicked damned proper experience. But they will have a sense they are missing something.

      Gary your views on Hell are childish as Timocrates correctly points out. We are not interested in them or some obscure pooftexting from 100 years ago.

      If the priest told these kids about the horrors of Hell if he was a good priest he told them about the joys of Heaven and if they trust in God and repent they need never know Hell.

      Anyway since you like emotional arguments more than reason I will still point out to ye that dying and ceasing to be and having everything you are stripped from you to become nothing is not a pleasant thought either. If fills me with terror.

      There is a reason why they rage the dying of the light. That shite is scary too and there is no justice or mercy on the other side of it.

      This doesn't make God exist but it shows the folly of emotional arguments. Get good scrub go learn some philosophy.

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    3. It depends what you believe happens in Hell. If Hell is only the psychological trauma of separation from God for all eternity, maybe that is a reasonable punishment. However, if you believe that there is any kind of physical punishment in Hell, I do not see eternal physical punishment as reasonable. And I will bet most modern, educated people (theists and non-theists) would agree with me. No crime justifies eternal, never-ending physical punishment. Not murder. Not child rape. Nothing. Never-ending physical punishment (torture) is not reasonable by the standards of most people in the educated, western world.


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    4. @ Yakov

      "If every other agony in Hell was inflicted upon you but you had the Beatific Vision you would laugh at the pain and not head it(more later) at all. It would mean nothing to you.*"

      You know this to be a fact, do you? How?

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    5. @Gary,

      It may help to keep in mind that the resurrected will also have spiritual bodies like to Christ's own and even like to the Virgin Mary's.

      Now if even in this life when we are fit and healthy we enjoy a natural elation (though we can of course take it for granted and may not appreciate it unless exposed to some defect, injury or hardship of some kind or with the dilapidation of old age), then ceteris paribus even Hell would be a pleasant place by nature: resurrection is by nature a boon to us. But if someone were wholly unworthy of it, God would be positively rewarding people for their wickedness, which is radically unjust even by human standards: Jesus purchased and merited for us the resurrection at great price.

      Again. A man could reasonably go throughout this life committing no end of terrible and great crimes in full anticipation that he will be happy with a great natural and bodily good and pleasure forever and securely in the world to come. Since we are still rational in the resurrection, we could contemplate upon whatever we pleased; and if a man already voluntarily rejects God and is happy and content in not knowing him (or at least thinks he is), then why would he fear hell at all?

      Further, I have heard exorcists claim that there are at least some people out there who seem to actually look forward to being in Hell with Satan: they are content to be maximally separated from God. Now no doubt this is pure delusion but regardless it illustrates the depths of human depravity and perversion.

      Perhaps a torturer might take solace in the idea that even if they are themselves being tortured, they might still be able to take delight in torturing others. Perhaps they are so perverse they enjoy being tortured - but that is in this life and this body, and the afterlife and the resurrected body are mysterious unknowns about which they at least now have cause to doubt.

      Now do you really think it is just that a torturer, a murderer, a tyrant, a child abuser, etc., can take comfort that they will spend eternity in peace? And what is even 10,000 years compared to eternity? 10,000 years of punishment is nothing compared to eternity because there is no proportion between the finite and the infinite.

      Anyway, I hope this helps a bit. I'm also sorry for being cross and short with you in my last post. I woke up on the wrong side of the bed today.


      Cheers and God bless,
      Timocrates.

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    6. Spiritual pain Gary not psychological trauma. The spiritual pain dwarfs physical pain. Your soul needs God like a body needs food. You can starve yourself but your body will suffer.
      Same with a Soul who chooses Hell.

      It really is objectively worst by an order of magnitude compared to the mere physical pain. Indeed I think the physical pain is a backhanded mercy to distract you from the spiritual pain. But that is just my speculation not doctrine.

      You have a materialistic and physicalist and fundamentalist view of religion. Like Mr. Valentine in that Twilight Zone Episode. He though getting booze, money and women with big boobs was "heaven". He thought mere sensual pleasure was "Heaven" or mere momentary happiness was "Heaven". No sir that would be infinite Joy.

      Anyway Vincent didn't tell you everything. The western Church sees Hell in terms of privation. The Eastern Church in terms of God Love causing pain to those who cannot help but hate him etc...

      Myself I think these are no doubt two sides to the same horrible reality. I am reminded of the chilling line from the Cosmic Horror Space film EVENT HORIZIN "Hell is just a word. The reality is so much more." That is true to some extent but Thomas Merton said Hell was self chosen unreality clashing with reality.

      Anyway you are too hung up on the physical. Not a mystery to me you where a fundamentalist. Yer faith might have been saved if you learned some abstraction. Or not..who am I to judge?

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    7. @Wee Gary

      >You know this to be a fact, do you? How?

      What Feser just said too you on the other tread. This is not some badass retort. It is in fact quite uninteresting.

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    8. @Gary

      "No crime justifies eternal, never-ending physical punishment. Not murder. Not child rape. Nothing. Never-ending physical punishment (torture) is not reasonable by the standards of most people in the educated, western world."

      Yea, a important thing to remember here is that we catholics* do not think that one gets in hell thanks to stealing or raping, the real crime here is you giving God the middle finger. We believe that God is the final end of every created thing and that include us, so a person rejecting God directly is THE worse thing one can do, the other sins are taken by us as(indirectly) being a way of rejecting God while the damned straight up say "no" to Him.

      I suppose that you think that even this would not be enough to justify hell. Okay, it is your view of justice. And i just need to ask you: why it is not the case that the modern western view of justice is just wrong? You do know that there are several reasonable persons on other countries, let alone other ages, that completely disagree with what you take for granted or that our modern view is the result of several contingent socio-political and historical factors or that your acceptance of this view is very likely mostly a result of the creation and education that you received + the beliefs of the groups and persons that are associated with you. Even if you are not influenced by your fundamentalist background anymore you are still a social animal that tends to be heavily influenced by those close to you, it is how we are.


      *and i think that most other christians think the same

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  37. @ Timocrates

    No problem about being cross.

    I guess I don't understand on what grounds you justify the Christian God's infliction of eternal torture on people when most modern people would condemn a human ruler for inflicting never-ending physical punishment on a criminal, regardless of that criminal's crime. Are you appealing to the concept that as our creator, anything the Christian God does is just, since you believe he is the source of all justice?

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    1. @ Gary,

      Thanks for your understanding.

      I would like you to address though that in the resurrection people will have a natural felicity owing to the resurrected body and the certain knowledge of secure and eternal life. Does it seem right to you that someone who rejects God and persists in a desire to be and do what is wrong and evil should be around to freely attempt their wicked schemes? Should they enjoy the full happiness of mind and body that Christ purchased for them while notwithstanding rejecting and even despising that gift and even God himself?

      Again. 10,000 years of punishment is nothing compared to eternity. I think you really need to consider this. A resurrected person could easily console themselves as they can have no doubt they have life securely forever. We are of course are not accustomed to thinking like this but keep in mind the proof of their eternal life will literally be in themselves/in their bodies.

      Now if you are right, the most wicked people can go through this life certain they will at least eventually obtain a natural happiness beyond anything we could hope for in this. Do you really think a torturer or murderer or child abuser should be so confident? Do you really think the Gospel should make even unrepentant evil-doers smile with pleasure at the thought of eternal happiness? Does that seem at all right or just to you?

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  38. @Yakov

    "Spiritual pain Gary not psychological trauma. The spiritual pain dwarfs physical pain. Your soul needs God like a body needs food. You can starve yourself but your body will suffer. Same with a Soul who chooses Hell."

    I'm sure you sincerely believe this but what evidence do you have that it is true?

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    1. Where is your "evidence" of your positivist presuppositions? I don't assume Sola Scriptura when arguing with Fundamentalist Protestant Christian without argument. I also don't assume Positivism when arguing with New Atheists.

      You idiot belief philosophy is not involved in discussions of religion, atheism or skepticism is truly idiotic even if there are no gods.

      So justify you presuppositions and stop boring me to death with yer simple minded non-belief.

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    2. @ Gary,

      "What evidence do you have that [souls need God to survive] is true?"

      Metaphysics. And it's not just souls. See, for example:
      https://www.lifeissues.net/writers/mcm/ph/ph_01philosophyyouth20.html

      Nothing in the known universe has existence essentially. The fact things can move, be altered, reconfigured and converted (e.g. from matter to energy or vice-versa) speaks to their essentially being mutable.

      For souls especially, the will cannot move itself into act (you would have to will the will into act, which begs the question and results in an infinite regress, which is impossible).

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