It seems that the newest outrage to assault the hearts and minds of true Catholics is that Pope Francis has appointed a Universalist to be head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
OH HORROR OF HORRORS!!!
What a dastardly thing, to have someone in a place of authority who actually believes that there is the possibility that God is really THAT loving! How dare He?
Dear reader, first click on the link above, read the horrified article, complete with swooning and gasping at the idea that God is forgiving enough to allow everyone to eventually be forgiven, then you may understand my commentary below:
Okay, let’s separate some of the errors from the truth.
1. The teaching of eternal hell and torment for certain persons is NOT firmly established upon the words of our Lord in the Bible. It comes from a wretched mistranslation of the Greek in which the word “aionios” is translated “eternal” and means no such thing. Aionios means “age-long” or “age-during,” and the Roman Church, if it wants to be seen as really interested in the truth, needs to tackle this issue.
2. Jesus, being an orthodox and law-keeping Jew, would have never spoken about hell because no such thing was taught by Judaism. What was taught was that the dead went to “Sheol,” or the place of the dead. There was no idea of this being a place of permanent abode or torture.
3. If there is an eternal hell to avoid, why is the OT simply devoid of such teaching? Why did God not from the very beginning warn Cain that this was what he was in danger of as he contemplated in his heart the murder of his brother? What kind of misanthropic Creator would our Lord be to know that souls were in danger of an eternity of wailing and torture and not warn them over and over and over and over and over until the message sank in? Is that the action of the One Who the Scriptures describe as love?
4. Your smart-ass comment is noted regarding that either the Gospels inaccurately recorded the words of our Lord or our Lord is a liar. No, the liars came out of the Roman Church with their inability to translate the Greek. This whole thing of men as a “massa damnata” and eternal punishment started with Augustine, who couldn’t read Greek if his life depended on it. Get your facts straight!
5. God does not “want” all men saved. The Bible says this is HIS DIVINE WILL. So you have to confront this issue: does God always bring His will to pass? The proper answer is yes. Your God apparently is a weak wuss who sits around wishing He could save men, but is unable to do so, wringing His hands at the unfairness of it all.
6. At the end, you make an Evangelical-sounding declaration (are you Catholic or Evangelical?) You state that God saves those who ask Him to save them. No, that is wrong. God’s salvation comes when we are baptized into Christ. Asking has nothing to do with it. But even then, Romans 2: 13-16 admits to the distinct possibility of those who NEVER even heard of Christ being saved. What do you make of that?
For the longest time, the Roman Church taught that salvation was found in the Roman Church only. But as explorers began to find the tribal peoples of North and South America, they had to back-track in some amount of embarrassment from this “official teaching” because they realized how unfair it sounded to the honest human ear (and it was indeed not only unfair, but not what Scripture teaches)
7. The Church has not “always” (as in “from the very beginning”) condemned Patristic Universalism. If that were true, then we would have had a council to discuss and dismiss this (Constantinople II does not count because it was not about Universalism – it was about Origen and the Three Chapters). For 300+ years there were four schools, including Alexandria, which taught Universalism. If this be heresy – and according to the author, soul-damning heresy – then one must explain the utter lack of council to deal with it for over 300 years. Arianism, Monothellitism, Monophysitism, and a host of other true heresies didn’t require that long to be addressed and condemned.
8. Where is the “Good News” in Dante’s sociopathic view of the afterlife, in Aquinas laughing at the damned and their torment, in Augustine’s morose view that the majority of men will be damned forever? Doesn’t sound much like good news to me at all. At least the universal message has some hope to it.
9. Patristic Universalism does NOT deny that there is punishment for wickedness after death for those who have embraced evil in this life. We simply do not believe that a just God deals out such a disproportionate punishment. It is not justice to punish someone far, FAR beyond what the crime calls for. It is not without reason that David Bentley Hart has described Anslem’s Cur Deus Homo as “Catholics in the Hands of a Psychotic God.” (Nice take off on another sociopath by the name of Jonathan Edwards)
10. Why does it bother all you hellists (those who wish to see their fellow man fried forever) that God might actually be more forgiving than you could even begin to imagine? Would you care to answer that for me?
And this is the challenge I end with. Tell me why it bothers you so much to think that God could be so loving that He will restore all mankind? (after proportional punishment for their sins). To suggest this gets some people in an absolute fevered “Knickers in a Knot” frothing rage, screaming “HERESY! HERESY!” at the top of their lungs.
Well, if I am a heretic for holding that hope, then I am in darn fine company when you look at the list of saints in the Early Fathers who taught this. I think I’ll take their company over someone who seems to be salivating over the prospect of sinners being roasted forever.