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Abigail Malbrough wrote:

Hi, guys —

My family doesn't believe in Hell and my daughter's friends tell her that she is not Catholic because she doesn't believe in this teaching.

  • Are we still considered Catholic if we don't believe in Hell?

Abigail

  { Are we still considered Catholic if we don't believe in Hell? }

Bob replied:

Abagail,

The issue of being Catholic is greater than any single doctrine so being confused or in error on one point wouldn't automatically undo being Catholic; however, the existence of Hell is fundamental to all of Christianity.

The reason Christians hold to it is quite clear: Jesus taught it. Use any Bible software or application and do a word search for:

  1. Hades
  2. Gehenna
  3. Hell, or
  4. the netherworld

and see what you find. I don't want to do all the work for you. Then, ask yourself:

  • Why you don't believe in it?
  • Do you think it cruel of God to allow people to suffer perpetually?
  • Perhaps the idea that someone you know or love not being in the arms of God is too much to imagine?

Keep in mind that Evil has made its own choice to reject goodness. There is no one in Hell who didn't reject love. God is love and to reject Him is to reject love. Furthermore, the suffering in Hell is not God's doing — it is the work of the evil ones in Hell that cause their own and others pain.

God is Mercy, and has no desire to inflict pain but He is just and will not allow evil into His Own Life nor into the refuge He has for the righteous so the exile of the unjust is just and necessary. Jesus came and told us God's plan, His nature, and what the stakes are. It is up to us to follow Him.

Lastly, being Catholic is following Christ in the context of His Church, with which He entrusted His Teachings and Authority so that all generations of believers might have a faithful content of His Message. So don't disregard what the Church teaches but if you struggle with something, study it extensively until you fully grasp what it is all about.

This issue, like many others, is difficult to grasp unless you:

  • study the teachings of Christ
  • know some doctrinal history, and
  • desire to know the Truth.

Perhaps most people don't believe in Hell, judging by their cavalier actions and attitude about evil things, but if they did come to the realization that to live with God requires us to embrace Him and reject evil, the world would change dramatically.

Peace,

Bob Kirby

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