Heaven and Hell

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I liked this quotation from Peter Kreeft:

"Jesus says the way to hell is broad and many find it and that the way to heaven is narrow and few find it. And he means it: you don't get to heaven simply by being born, by being nice, or by oozing into an eternal growth experience. But "few" here does not mean that less than half of mankind will be saved. For God speaks as our Father, not our statistician. Even one child lost is too many, and the rest saved are too few. The good shepherd who left his ninety-nine sheep safe at home to rescue his one lost sheep found even 99 percent salvation too "few". "

And this may be the beginning of many pointless maunderings on the subject. They were started by reading at Christifideles (see below). I asked myself, what do I believe about Heaven and Hell.

For one, I believe they exist. What one or the other is, I really don't know, because it occurred to me that while I accept their existence as an article of faith, they don't occupy a large portion of my thought-world. In fact, they occupy practically nothing at all. Except to acknowledge that they exist and either is a possible destination for me personally, they have no real presence in my devotional life. I guess that is because even if they did not exist, I would have no excuse for a lack of loving God. The existence or nonexistence or heaven or hell is not instrumental in my belief structure. That is, I believe them, but my belief is not compelled by either of them. My belief is compelled by communication with God through His revelations and prayer.

That isn't to say that they are unimportant or inconsequential. But it has never occurred to me to spend a lot of time thinking about them. I think that this is one of those places where the empirical "facts" of the matter are so limited and so few that spending a lot of time conjuring up images seems counter-productive. I've said the same before about speculating about angels (and have been chastised for it), but I stand by it. There is so little solid material to go on with regard to what constitutes these realms of being that, for me, they would prove unsatisfactory means for loving God more. And that's really what any sort of meditation and prayer should be about, isn't it? If an action detracts from that end, I would do well either to never take it up or to desist at the earliest possible moment.

Nevertheless, I am interested in the informed speculations of people better placed (intellectually and spiritually) about these realms. I do believe because Jesus believed and taught their existence and the Church upholds that same teaching and reinforces it. And I shall continue to read about them from time to time; nevertheless, they might never constitute a center for my faith or my prayer for all the reasons I listed above. And I wonder if they were ever meant to or if they ever did for anyone in an protracted way. It little matters--and I suppose it is one of the reasons that Jesus told us, "My Father's house has many mansions." That mansion allotted for me is all I need be concerned about.

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I've sometimes thought that since 1 out of 12 of the apostles were lost (i.e. Judas), that that might be the ratio of losses in the Kingdom. But that is gross statistical speculation, and it is so true that even one out of twelve is beyond painful given that Hell is so mind-bogglingly horrible.

Dear TSO,

Just as a caveat, and reflective of my reading du jour (Neuhaus and Dulles), we do not KNOW that one of the 12 was lost. Evidence suggests it; however, it is entirely possible that he too may have been saved.

But regardless of that point on which there may be legitimate agreement until we all come together in heaven, your point is well taken.





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This page contains a single entry by Steven Riddle published on December 27, 2004 1:15 PM.

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