7

McC’s Wager

The Thinking Person’s Bet On Eternity

There is a famous hypothetical “bet” called “ “Pascal’s Wager” which asserts that, since heaven is, or even only may be,  eternal with infinite pleasure, a rational person, including a rational atheist or a rational agnostic, should “bet” that heaven actually does exist and do here on this earth what is needed to get to that perhaps-fictional heaven. If it turns out to exist, the bettor wins, and wins big; if not, nothing was lost anyway.

Place Your Bets – Pascal & Arnobius

Blaise Pascal was a noted author, thinker, mathematician, and philosopher who lived from, 1623 A.D to 1662 A.D. His famous wager had been stated centuries before by a Father Of The Church,  Arnobius of Sicca,  who died around 330 A.D. Arnobius put the eternity bet this way in his book,  Against The Pagans:

Since, then, the nature of the future is such that it cannot be grasped and comprehended by any anticipation, is it not more rational, of two things uncertain and hanging in doubtful suspense, rather to believe that which carries with it some hopes, than that which brings none at all? For in the one case there is no danger, if that which is said to be at hand should prove vain and groundless; in the other there is the greatest loss, even the loss of salvation, if, when the time has come, it be shown that there was nothing false in what was declared.

Looking Down, Not Up, For the Eternity Bet

Eternity is forever and a long, long time. This is part of the appeal of the Pascal/Arnobius wager – spend a few dollars now, win not only  millions, but everlasting heavenly mega millions. The wager’s focus has always been “up,” with heaven in mind.

But what about Hell? If Hell is infinite pain, agony,  and suffering, and as eternal as an everlasting heaven, shouldn’t any thinking person avoid Hell, and the possibility of Hell, and bet that Hell exists as much as any thinking person should bet on heaven? Shouldn’t such a person live as if Hell is indeed forever?

God Says So

We have it on very good authority that there is a Hell and it is way, way more than a long, long time. Jesus, God the Son, told us:

Then he shall say to them also that shall be on his left hand: Depart from me, you cursed, into everlasting fire which was prepared for the devil and his angels. (Mt 25:41)

God’s own words, given to us through the divine inspiration of St. Paul, St. Jude, and St. John, tell us:

Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. (1 Cor 6:9,10).

Even as Sodom and Gomorrha, and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire.”(Jude 1:7).

Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they may have the right to the tree of life and may enter the city by its gates. Outside are the dogs, those who practice magic arts, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices falsehood. (Revelation 22:14,15)

Mortal Sin

The Church, the Mystical Body Of Christ on earth,  teaches and has always taught that there are two kinds of sin, venial and mortal.

If one commits unrepentant mortal sin, one will be condemned to Hell forever:

Mortal sin is a radical possibility of human freedom, as is love itself. It results in the loss of charity and the privation of sanctifying grace, that is, of the state of grace. If it is not redeemed by repentance and God’s forgiveness, it causes exclusion from Christ’s kingdom and the eternal death of hell, for our freedom has the power to make choices for ever, with no turning back. (1861; Catechism of the Catholic Church).

Committing mortal sin is like betting that there is no eternal, everlasting Hell. Why would anyone with half a brain do that? Especially anyone who has the gift of faith? Some might out of arrogance; but others might do so because the shepherds chosen by God to bring them to Him lead them astray. The wicked shepherds turn into hirelings, or worse, wolves who assist the devil in devouring the faithful sheep. Who would do such a terrible thing?

Jorge Bergoglio

The man currently wearing papal white, Jorge Bergoglio, (placed in office by the illicit machinations of the St. Gallen Group, the “Gallen Mafia,” in violation of church procedures) has declared publicly  – in his own words – “No one can be condemned forever.” (Exhortation Amoris Laetitia, section 297).  He has refused to clarify these words, even when asked to do so by cardinals of Jesus’s Church. He has refused to explain how these words do not directly contradict the divinely-inspired words of God, or the clear teachings of Jesus’s Church.

There is so much more going on with the declaration of this bergoglian Hell heresy than its statement alone. If it is true, then the “mortal” sinfulness of any action is dissolved. There is no mortal sin.

That this is part of the heretical scheme is clear from Amoris Laetitia itself and from the subsequent actions, declarations, and interpretations of its bishop, priest, and lay supporters in dioceses and universities around the world. These include not only asserting that adultery, men acting effiminately, men sleeping with boys, and men voluntarily engaging in homosexual actions and sexual intercourse are not doing anything wrong or sinful; but that now such actions can and must be viewed as virtuous and as in accord with the will of God Himself. They are forming and furthering the Jorge denomination, they are not shepherding God’s faithful in Jesus’s Church.

The McC Wager

Any rational person must at the very least admit that Jorge Bergoglio might be wrong – and God might be right. You can believe God or you can believe Jorge Bergoglio. You cannot believe both. But you believe Jorge at your peril, and it is an eternal peril.

Since God has told us in undeniable, revealed truth that there is a Hell, and that it is everlasting, any rational person must “bet” that such a Hell could exist and do whatever is necessary so that they do not go there forever.

 

 

 

 

6

Professor Ratzinger on Hell

Since there is some talk this Triduum of what Pope Francis may or may not have said about Hell, I wanted to re-post an old post of mine that deals with the article of faith “He descended into hell” (Good Friday/Holy Saturday), being without God and the pain in the verse “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?” It’s probably the best description of hell I’ve ever heard, not that I’ve heard many speak of it in detail.

Warning: This post is somewhat “dark”, but remember…darkness can be a kind of light if it helps you to see.

Briefly summarizing several pages from Joseph Ratzinger’s book (now Pope Emeritus) “Introduction to Christianity”, in Part II, The Development of Faith in Christ in the Christological Articles of the Creed:

Loneliness is a region of fear, which is rooted in the exposure of a being that must exist, but is pushed out into a situation with which it is impossible for him to deal. In the experience of utter loneliness, a fear arises peculiar to man which is not fear of anything particular, but simply fear in itself. Man cannot overcome this kind of fear by way of reason.

Example 1:

A child walking alone in the dark woods is frightened even if convincingly shown that there is nothing to be afraid of. The child will lose this fear the moment there is a loving hand to take him and he experiences the fellowship of “Another”.

Example 2:

Someone keeping watch over a corpse will feel somehow “eerie” even when he knows perfectly well the dead body can do him no harm. In fact, there would be more possibility of danger if the person was alive, but logic is of no help. This fear will also recede like the child’s if he experiences the loving nearness of a “You”.

Man cannot stand alone; he needs closeness; he needs unity. If man (and this is the true nature of sin) refuses to recognize his own limits and tries to “be like God”, standing alone on his own two feet, then precisely by adopting this attitude he delivers himself up to death. Scripture about the connection between sin and death is to be understood from this angle. Small wonder the devil wants us prideful. Pride naturally leads to isolation from God (and others), which will lead to a torment of anxiety. It’s the exact opposite of the life of the Trinity.

If a state of isolation were to arise that was so deep that no “You” could reach into it anymore, then we should have a total and terrifying loneliness; this is what theology calls “Hell”….. a loneliness which is as inescapable as it is dreadful!

11

Five Years of Lent

The Pope has said that there is no Hell and that the souls of the damned are simply annihilated.  The Vatican denies that he said it:

 

.- On Thursday the Holy See stated that a reported interview between Pope Francis and an Italian journalist, which claims the Pope denied the existence of hell, should not be considered an accurate depiction of Francis’ words, but the author’s own “reconstruction.”

A recent meeting between Pope Francis and Italian journalist Eugenio Scalfari, 93, was a “private meeting for the occasion of Easter, however without giving him any interview,” the March 29 communique stated.

“What is reported by the author in today’s article is the result of his reconstruction, in which the literal words pronounced by the Pope are not quoted. No quotation of the aforementioned article must therefore be considered as a faithful transcription of the words of the Holy Father.”

Scalfari, a self-proclaimed atheist, is the founder and former editor of Italian leftist newspaper La Repubblica. In an article published on the site March 29, Scalfari claims that Pope Francis told him, “hell doesn’t exist, the disappearance of the souls of sinners exists.”

Go here to read the rest.  Who to believe?  Well Patrick Henry once noted that “I have but one lamp by which my feet are guided, and that is the lamp of experience.”

The same thing was reported by the same elderly Italian atheist journalist three years ago.  Go here to read about it.  The Vatican has often claimed this same journalist routinely misquotes the Pope in his reports of the interviews he has with the Pope.  Riddle me this:  If the Pope is misquoted, why does he keep coming back for additional interviews?  This entire Pontificate has been five years of Lent for faithful Catholics.

4

That Awkward Age Between Birth and Death

A good friend of mine, and Godfather to my son died a few months ago, finally succumbing to complications from Cystic Fibrosis. He was only 52 years old, but if you know about Cystic Fibrosis you may know that a person born with that genetic disorder should not expect to live much past the age 40.

He was a holy man and about as ready to go home to the Lord as anyone I’ve ever known. In recent years, as his health was obviously declining, we’d speak of death and heaven and he would often say things that were unambiguously enthusiastic like, “I can’t wait!!” At his funeral services I found myself a bit jealous. He got to go home to God and I am left here to face not only my own potential future sins, but also the sins of others.

I don’t know about you, but oftentimes what’s in the news is so evil that I take consolation in the fact that I will not live on this Earth forever. From horrifying and mindboggling terrorist attacks around the globe, to the most lewd sexual scandals involving seemly decent public figures from Bill Cosby to Matt Lauer, we wonder what 2018 will bring us. We see the power of sin; what sin can do to a person is somewhat like what the brick does to the washing machine in the following video. Sin is no laughing matter, but I laugh every time I see this:

Washing_Machine_Brick

But as Christians we are not to despair about bricks being tossed about. Instead, we are called to pick up our cross, fend off the bricks and follow Christ to help him build The Kingdom of God on Earth. There is great joy in that, even as we relate to St Paul’s thoughts about life and death from time to time.

“For to me life is Christ, and death is gain. If I go on living in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. And I do not know which I shall choose. I am caught between the two. I long to depart this life and be with Christ, [for] that is far better. Yet that I remain [in] the flesh is more necessary for your benefit.” (Philippians 1:21-24)

So how do we navigate the awkward age between birth and death? Well, we all have a soul which means we have the ability to know a thing (with our intellect) and then act upon that thing (with our will). We’re allowed to make our own choices, even if we chose evil. Our will should desire Goodness and our intellect should desire Truth because we are made for God and God is Goodness itself and Truth itself. But the effects of sin weaken the will and dim the intellect, so that we no longer seek what is good or understand what is true. In others words, sin makes us spiritually lazy and stupid!

In this life, we either move our will and our intellect toward God or toward “self”. The closer we move toward God the closer our desire for truth and goodness is satisfied. The beatific vision or Heaven is when we are one in union with the source of all truth and all goodness. An eternal and inescapable state of dissatisfaction and loneliness comes when we have permanently moved our will and intellect toward “self” and away from God; this is Hell.

So as we find ourselves in another new year, let us ask ourselves….. What choices am I making each day? Where do I spend my time and money? Where do my idle thoughts go? Am I moving toward God or toward “self”? We may hear or read a lot about the choices we make with our time and money, but even the most careful Christian might underestimate the effect idle thoughts can have on us. I would say this is especially true for men as they struggle with chastity, and their bad behavior towards women ends up in the news or worse yet, lands them in Hell.

“Sow a thought and you reap an action; sow an act and you reap a habit; sow a habit and you reap a character; sow a character and you reap a destiny.”1

 

  1. Charles A. Fowler, Biblical Truths for Men (Innovo Publishing, LLC, 2014), p. 115.

Quotes Suitable for Framing: CS Lewis

 

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In the long run the answer to all those who object to the doctrine of hell, is itself a question: What are you asking God to do? To wipe out their past sins and, at all costs, to give them a fresh start, smoothing every difficulty and offering every miraculous help? But He has done so, on Calvary. To forgive them? They will not be forgiven. To leave them alone? Alas, I am afraid that is what He does.

CS Lewis

19

Hard Sayings

Harrowing of Hell
Jesus passed through towns and villages,
teaching as he went and making his way to Jerusalem.
Someone asked him,
“Lord, will only a few people be saved?”
He answered them,
“Strive to enter through the narrow gate,
for many, I tell you, will attempt to enter
but will not be strong enough.
After the master of the house has arisen and locked the door,
then will you stand outside knocking and saying,
‘Lord, open the door for us.’
He will say to you in reply,
‘I do not know where you are from.
And you will say,
‘We ate and drank in your company and you taught in our streets.’
Then he will say to you,
‘I do not know where you are from.
Depart from me, all you evildoers!’
And there will be wailing and grinding of teeth
when you see Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob
and all the prophets in the kingdom of God
and you yourselves cast out.
And people will come from the east and the west
and from the north and the south
and will recline at table in the kingdom of God.
For behold, some are last who will be first,
and some are first who will be last.
Luke 13:22-30
Hell is apparently popular today on The American Catholic!  Go here to read Darwin Catholic’s first rate post on the topic.  My Bishop, Bishop Daniel Jenky of the Peoria diocese, is a good humored bear of a man.  He is also one of the most outspoken Bishops in the country, a fact I have often blogged about.  Here is a homily he preached last month on Hell, a place that most people would assume does not exist if one had to rely on what was heard today from most Catholic pulpits:
Jesus taught that our temporal choices have eternal consequences.  Jesus revealed there is not only an everlasting heaven but there is an everlasting hell.  Today’s popular, liberal Christianity tends to beige all of that over.  The God of our liberal therapeutic culture is usually presented as only a benign kind of higher force.  This concept of God is almost like a tolerant psychiatrist, who for… $400 an hour will patiently listen to absolutely everything we may have to say.  There is no right or wrong, no judgment and certainly no punishment for deliberate sin.  All the challenging and disturbing rough edges revealed in the Holy Scriptures are simply ignored or polished away.  A tame, almost domesticated God, without any real power or authority is invoked mostly for comfort and to ritualize our happy and sad occasions.  It’s nice to have a God something like Santa Claus invited to our baptisms, our marriages, our anniversaries and even our funerals.  But the one true God, revealed throughout the bible, the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, is certainly a God both mercy and of judgment.  The living God demands our obedience and insists that we love and serve Him with our whole heart, mind, strength and soul, and insists that we love our neighbor as ourselves.  God’s commandments are not optional.  The law of God is not a suggestion.  Sin is always a sham, a lie.  Sin promises so much but delivers so little.  And without any recognition of our sins there can be no experience of God’s grace. 
Why is your bishop ranting and raving about hell fire and damnation?  The short answer is I have no choice.  We do not choose the scripture readings for Sunday’s.  The Church chooses them for us and for our good.  In the course of three years of appointed readings we will hear the whole Gospel.  Not just words of comfort and joy, but also words of awe and trembling.  I, like all priests was ordained to preach Jesus Christ in season and out of season.  Not only his reassuring words but also His hard sayings, even His saying that if we do not repent in time in eternity we may find ourselves locked outside and hear the terrible words of judgment, I do not know you.  Knowledge of Christ without any recognition of our need of Him only leads to loss.  Just as knowledge of our need without any experience of Christ only leads to despair. Continue Reading
8

Does Anyone Really Reject God?

Kyle has written another post on hell, this one dealing with what he says, with at least some degree of accuracy, is the historically common belief among Catholics that many people will go to hell while few will be saved. (Personally, I have no opinion on the question of what ratio of people will go to heaven and hell, and other than warning people away from the one and towards the other, I can’t really think why one would have much of a position on the matter.)

It seems to me that there are two main points which Kyle martials to his cause. His first is that if many are damned, then God’s will has been frustrated, and unless we are prepared to think God a failure, we can’t think that many are damned:

If you say, as much of Christianity does, that God created the universe and specifically human beings–creatures made in his image and likeness–for the purpose of participation in the love life that is God, and you also say that most people will refuse this destiny, then logically you’re led to say that, overall, creation won’t achieve its purpose. Overall, it is a failure. Overall, the purpose for which God created goes unrealized. Overall, God’s desire and will are not done. This would seem to make God, as Creator, something of a failure, even if you can, through some dexterous theodicy, get God off the hook for the damning decisions of his hellbound creatures.

This is, as I recall, a complaint that many of the leaders of the Protestant Reformation (or Revolt, if you prefer) were big on. Continue Reading

24

Choosing Hell

This post originally ran (I’ve cleaned up a few typos, but otherwise left it unchanged) back in 2006, but the topic has been on my mind, and having found it via Google while researching the topic of the Fundamental Option I decided to rerun this one rather than writing a new one.

Quite some time back, Pontifications ran a post about the theory of “fundamental option”, which it seems is the theological term for the idea that one’s salvation is based upon a fundamental choice that one makes either for or against God.

This image for the determination of one’s salvation has a certain utility in that it is simple and evocative. C. S. Lewis uses it in The Last Battle, where all of Narnia’s creatures face Aslan and swerve either to his right (with loving expressions) or to his left (with hate in their eyes). And yet, like any image or illustration, applying it absolutely leads to distortion. The ‘encounter God and choose’ image helps to emphasize that God’s judgment is not some arbitrary judgment imposed upon us. It also helps to explain how someone externally appearing to have sinned many times might be saved, while someone who to all appearances led a virtuous life, yet held pride in his heart, might reject God and be condemned. And yet, taken as an absolute of ‘salvation by choice alone’ the theory of ‘fundamental option’ becomes just as much a heresy as ‘salvation by faith alone’.
Continue Reading

30

Sheridan, Hell and Texas

Earlier this week I referred in this thread to General Sheridan’s quip about Hell and Texas.  Here is the background story on Sheridan’s comparison of the Hot Place and the Hot State.

Phil Sheridan could be a nasty piece of work on duty.  A bantam Irish Catholic born in Albany, New York on March 6, 1831, to Irish immigrants, Sheridan carved a career in the Army by sheer hard work and a ferocious will to win.  He had a hard streak of ruthlessness that Confederates, Indians and the many officers he sacked for incompetence could attest to.    His quote, “If a crow wants to fly down the Shenandoah, he must carry his provisions with him.” after he ordered the burning of crops in the Shenandoah Valley in 1864 to deny them to Confederate troops indicated just how hard a man he could be when waging war.

Off duty he was completely different.  He had the traditional Irish gift of gab and in social settings was charming and friendly.

After the Civil War he commanded an army of 50,000 troops in Texas to send a none-too-subtle hint to the French who had used the opportunity of the Civil War to conquer Mexico that it was time for them to leave.  The French did, with the Austrian Archduke Maximillian they had installed as Emperor of Mexico dying bravely before a Mexican firing squad.  During his stay in Texas Sheridan made his famous quip about Texas.  It was swiftly reported in the newspapers:

14 April 1866, Wisconsin State Register, pg. 2, col. 3:
GEN. SHERIDAN, after his recent Mexican tour, states his opinion succinctly and forcibly, as follows: “If I owned h-ll and Texas, I would rent Texas and live at the other place!”

“19 April 1866, The Independent, pg. 4:
But these states are not yet reduced to civil behavior. As an illustration, Gen. Sheridan sends word up from New Orleans, saying, “If I owned Texas and Hell, I would rent Texas and live in Hell.” This is the opinion of a department commander.”

“15 May 1866, Idaho Tri-Weekly Statesman (Boise, ID), pg. 7?, col. 3:
GEN. SHERIDAN does not have a very exalted opinion of Texas as a place of resident. Said he lately, “If I owned hell and Texas, I would rent Texas and live at the other place.” In former times, before Texas was “re-annexed,” Texas and the other place were made to stand as opposites. Thus, when Col. Crockett was beaten in his Congressional district, he said to those who defeated him, “You may go to hell, and I’ll go to Tex!” which he did, and found a grave.”

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12

Top 15 Misconceptions About Catholics

Karen L. Anderson of Online Christian Colleges wrote a timely piece on the many myths, misconceptions, and outlandish lies told about Catholics:

With nearly one quarter of the U.S. population Catholic, they make up a huge part of society and the largest Christian denomination. Yet with so many, how is it they are so misunderstood and characterized by films, television shows, etc.?

Failing to do the proper research explains a great deal of it. With a simple search on the internet, we were able to find many interesting answers to the top 15 misconceptions about Catholics. They are both from official sources, reporters, academics, and more.

1. Priests Are More Likely to be Pedophiles : The most dangerous of all myths concerning Catholics, this can lead to many negative and unfair consequences. Recently in a book entitled Pedophiles and Priests, an extensive study – and the only one of it kind – took a look at the pedophile statistics of over 2,200 priests. It found that only 0.3% of all Catholic clergy are involved in any pedophilia matter, guilty or not. This number is actually very low and according to Counter Pedophilia Investigative Unit, who reports that children are more likely to be victims of pedophile activity at school with nearly 14% of students estimated to be molested by a member of the school staff.

2. Everything in “The Da Vinci Code” is True : Even author Dan Brown himself doesn’t agree to this. In this free film from Hulu, Mr. Brown admits to writing his novel as a step in his own spiritual journey. As he confesses to being swayed by his extensive research, the experts behind the research weigh in with facts. Simon Cox is the author of “Cracking the Da Vinci Code” and tells more about his work in this documentary. If you don’t have 90 minutes to view it, you can get the real story behind Opus Dei, the villain organization in the novel, from ABC news.

3. Women Are Oppressed in the Catholic Church : Although women are still not eligible to become priests as explained by Pope John Paul II, they were still acknowledged as valued members of the church as far back as 1947. In a Papal Directive from then Pope Pius XII, he expressed his admiration of women “to take part in the battle: you have not sought to do so, but courageously you accept your new duties; not as resigned victims nor merely in a defensive spirit.” Also, in 2004 then Pope John Paul II historically appointed two women theologians to the International Theological Commission and named another as the president of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences.

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