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What We Know About Evil, Hell, and Final Damnation

What We Know About Evil, Hell, and Final Damnation

Current in all love is the love that God has for every of his creatures. In loving our neighbor, even the worst sinner, we love what God loves in him. However God’s love for us features a last judgment about our lives…

What We Know About Evil, Hell, and Final Damnation

“Hell is the place God created for the angels who rebelled against him. We say ‘place,’ but since angels are spirits the word ‘place’ is metaphorical. Hell is a condition but also a society of those who are separated from God. Having rejected God and having lost his angelic privileges to God’s company, the devil in his envy has made it his aim to seduce human beings away from God and into his own dominion. And the place of that dominion is hell. Hell is Satan’s society.” ∼ Adrian Reimers, Hell and the Mercy of God

“Damnation arises from the turning away from one’s authentic good and towards an idol. From this it follows that to turn away from the truth is death for the intellectual being…. Satan’s rejection of God’s offer of the vision of the Divine Essence led to his misery and wrath—and to his project of supplanting himself into God’s place in the minds and hearts of other rational beings.” ∼ Adrian Reimers, Hell and the Mercy of God

The progressive and optimistic temper of our secular occasions makes any reminder of hell and damnation virtually an insult to the human race. We are, so it’s stated, about defining and saving ourselves by our personal powers. No divinity is required. Hell is at greatest a fable. Damnation of all or perhaps a few—save for Hitler, who’s on TV in some type virtually day by day—is just incomprehensible. Speak of demons and their not-so-benign affect is positively bizarre. And but, is there nothing additional to be stated of those lengthy mentioned subjects that seem in a single type or one other in virtually each tradition?

Pope Benedict’s Spe Salvi went into these points in some depth. The fashionable world, in some ways, is a Christian eschatology tailored to this world. If completely everyone seems to be “saved,” it doesn’t matter what he thinks or does, why fear about our future? Hell, nevertheless, is actually the one doctrine that makes our lives vital. What we do to ourselves and to at least one one other, at any time or place, has everlasting penalties.

Adrian Reimers is a philosophy professor at Notre Dame. What he got down to do in Hell and the Mercy of God is actually to assume by means of what revelation and philosophy inform us about evil, hell, and ultimate damnation, issues about which we should always know as a lot as we will. What is probably distinctive about this clear and exceptional ebook is the best way Reimers places every part collectively in a coherent unity. He reminds us immediately that what has no physique can haven’t any sensation. What has a physique will die.

Correctly talking, as Msgr. Robert Sokolowski famous, the human soul isn’t a “spirit,” although it’s immaterial and thus immortal. The human individual is meant to have a physique and a soul within the unity of 1 private being. God and the angels usually are not bodily beings. The human being possesses a thoughts however it’s a thoughts that naturally operates by way of the senses. It could perceive rules that transcend matter.

This new e-book incorporates eight chapters, the mere itemizing of which provides a very good overview of its primary material: “The Fall of Satan,” “Original Sin and the Fall,” “Judgment and the Mystery of Evil,” “Resurrection and Final Judgment,” “Mystery of Iniquity,” “Hell on Earth,” “Damnation,” and “The Fullness of Good.”

Reimers’ undertaking, as I perceive it, is to not problem the reality of the essential Christian narrative that accounts for sin, judgment, damnation, and eventual glory. He units out to assume all of it by means of, largely with the assistance of Aquinas. Doesn’t that theological account include a lot sense in any case? On cautious examination, the fees of incoherence towards it don’t stand as much as cause. Thus, Reimers confronts head-on common notions like “A good God could not punish anyone” or “If hell exists, God is cruel/evil” or “No human act could merit divine/everlasting punishment.”

The human thoughts is a thoughts, not an idol. Its regular features of notion are by way of the senses. Abstraction and judgment do attain fact. Nevertheless, the human thoughts shouldn’t be the divine or angelic thoughts. It often learns however slowly and is topic to many confusions and errors that it should make clear. The refusal to make clear is itself an indication that one suspects error in his personal reasoning. In a single sense, the work of the Church, of its theology and philosophy, is to sift out and clarify what’s the fact. When revelation is disputed, it’s often on the grounds that it isn’t true. This background explains why arguments that it’s true are regularly wanted. The presenting of those arguments is the first worth of this e-book.


The Christian understanding of human future, the narrative, begins with there being within the universe God alone. God is each fact and love. This one God has an inside Trinitarian, private life. It wants nothing else however itself. However it’s attainable for this one God to behave in such a approach that what shouldn’t be God can exist. What just isn’t God primarily consists of angels and males, beings with cause as a part of their being. However within the case of males, they want an entire cosmos to make their existence over time attainable. They’re given “dominion” over the world.

When God creates from nothing what just isn’t himself, he doesn’t change himself, although he does know and love what he has made. However God does invite into his internal Trinitarian life beings able to loving him, that’s, able to understanding and dwelling in his presence. This invitation is itself past the pure capability of both angels or males. The one problem on this “plan” was that nobody can stay in God’s friendship and life who doesn’t, as an actual, autonomous being, need to be there. That is the drama present in Genesis. The autumn of man and his want of redemption stem from his preliminary response to this preliminary supply.

In Reimers’ presentation, the brightest of the angels, Lucifer, within the second of his creation, rejects this divine supply. He chooses his personal world over the one he’s invited to hitch. Hell is the place the place this difficult being continues his existence. Reimers’ dialogue of the character of the angelic thoughts and will is sort of convincing. In consequence, there’s at the least one individual in hell, specifically Devil, whose angelic actuality and cleverness aren’t destroyed. His “mission” turns into that of stopping different free beings from accepting God’s supply of everlasting life.

Every human being is invited, in the middle of his earthy life, to simply accept or reject this divine supply of everlasting life. Human existence is primarily about making this determination. Human beings make this choice by the best way they reside and assume in no matter period or place they arrive to be. By means of his detailed dialogue of advantage and vice, of the seven capital sins, and of the beatitudes, Reimers provides a really intelligible explication of why every of our sins is a dysfunction. He acknowledges mercy and pity as divine efforts, past however not towards justice, to provide us different alternatives if we now have sinned. However the reality and actuality of sin are the context out of which proceed the problems of hell, damnation, and punishment. Whereas it might be straightforward to say that each one this speak of devils, temptations, sins, judgment, and everlasting punishment is unbelievable, it is just as a result of we don’t settle for the truth of our sins, their results on others.

One of many putting factors of this guide is the best way that the great and dangerous thieves come into play. Each are killers and evidently admit that they settle for their extreme punishment as simply. But one thief, seeing the identical Christ, repents and the opposite doesn’t. One is to be in Paradise “today,” the opposite is just not. Reimers extends this dialogue to what he calls “ordinary sinners.” Hannah Arendt in her e-book on Eichmann and Jean Elshtain in her guide on Augustine made the identical level. A few of the biggest crimes are dedicated not solely by evil males however by abnormal individuals in peculiar occasions and locations. The entire trendy abortion business is proof sufficient of this level. This consideration to bizarre sin is however one other approach of claiming that, in God’s eyes, no human life is unimportant.


Reimers is satisfied that finally the difficulty of hell and damnation is a matter of our souls, of our private decisions. About the one direct software of his reflections to present occasions is discovered within the following passage:

The street to hell is a street of despair, which is the illness particular to the spirit. The last word finish for the human being, the top for which he was created, is communion with God. As a result of as a religious being he’s ordered towards fact and the great, if he isn’t finally ordered to God his life can discover which means solely when it comes to created items—and these can’t fulfill…. It’s value wanting on the details, particularly at the truth that phenomenally affluent and snug People—one of many wealthiest societies in human historical past—flip more and more to amusements and medicine to fill their time (241).

Such phrases, little question, recall the “bread and circuses” stated to be on the root of the autumn of most nice empires.

This guide faces the troublesome query concerning the punishment resulting from sin. All love is rooted within the preliminary love that God has for us. No love in its depths reaches solely the finite beloved. Current in all love is the love that God has for every of his creatures. In loving our neighbor, even the worst sinner, we love what God loves in him. However God’s love for us features a ultimate judgment about our lives. We are lastly positioned the place we need to be. If we reject God, there isn’t a center floor. We find yourself within the kingdom that Devil has created. Reimers’ account of the logic of this kingdom could be very detailed and insightful.

In our literature, many efforts are made to put the blame for the rejection of God on God’s personal shoulders. All of the tales of blaming God for the struggling of 1 youngster deliver us again to the which means of struggling and the character of the Incarnation itself, which certainly resulted within the Cross of the man-God. The historical past of punishment and struggling on the earth doesn’t level to God’s lack of mercy or energy however to our nature, which is made in God’s picture. In that sense, we’re free to “create” the type of beings we need to be. Hell, in a single sense, is letting us reside with ourselves. However it’s also that a part of God’s windfall that sees the great surrounding our evil deeds. It brings additional good into the world due to it.

This ebook is a really cautious studying of that one matter, our last future, that we solely keep away from fascinated with at our peril. However to know God’s order and why it is sensible is the blessing all of us have once we come throughout a ebook that will get even probably the most delicate of subjects proper. In the long run, “hell and damnation” turn into subjects most worthy of our detailed reflection.

Republished with gracious permission from Disaster Journal (Might 2018). 

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Editor’s word: Pictured above is “Human Skulls” painted by Gottfried Libalt in 1660. 

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