Hell, by (Bishop) Fulton Sheen, 26 March 1933, The Catholic Hour Radio Show
“If there is any subject which is offensive to modern sentimentalists it is the subject of hell. Our generation clamors for what the poet has called “a soft dean, who never mentions hell to ears polite,” and our unsouled age wants a Christianity watered so as to make the Gospel of Christ nothing more than a gentle doctrine of good will, a social program of economic betterment, and a mild scheme of progressive idealism.”
Now that I have your attention, I would like to inform you on what the Bible says and what Church Fathers have said about Hell. Many today do not believe in Hell. Many today do not believe in Hell. They sure do not believe in a literal Hell. In a 2015 Pew Research Report, they concluded that 60 percent of people who identified as Catholics believed in a Hell. This compared to only 3% of all people who were atheists that believed in Hell or 9% of all agnostics that believed in Hell. The problem is that after reading this article we should have 100% of the Catholics believing in Hell.
I have broken today’s article down into two parts. First, the quotes from the Bible about Hell, and second, the quotes from the early Church Fathers on Hell
Matt. 3:12; Luke 3:17 – John the Baptist said the Lord will burn the chaff with unquenchable fire. This unquenchable fire is the state of eternal separation from God, which the Church has called “hell” for 2,000 years. Some Protestant communities no longer acknowledge the reality of hell.
Matt. 25:41 – Jesus says, “Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.”
Matt. 25:46 – Jesus says, “they will go away into eternal punishment” which is in reference to this eternal fire.
Mark 9:47-48 – Jesus refers to hell as where the worm does not die and the fire is not quenched. It lasts forever.
2 Thess. 1:6-9 – the angels will come with flaming fire and the disobedient will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction. It is important to note that “destruction” does not mean “annihilation,” as some Protestant denominations teach. It means eternal exclusion from the presence of God.
Jude 6-7 – the rebelling angels, and Sodom and Gomorrah, serve as an example by undergoing a punishment of eternal fire.
Rev. 14:11 – the worshipers of the beast suffer and the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever.
Rev. 20:10 – they’re tormented in the lake of fire and brimstone day and night forever and ever.
Isaiah 33:14 – “Who of us can dwell in the everlasting fire?” This is a reference to hell which is forever.
Isaiah 66:24 – their worm shall not die and their fire shall not be quenched. We cannot fathom the pain of this eternal separation from God.
Jer. 15:14 – in my anger a fire is kindled which shall burn forever. Hell is the proper compliment to the eternal bliss of heaven.
Judith 16:17 – in the day of judgment the Lord will take vengeance on the wicked and they shall weep in pain forever. Hell is a place that sinners have prepared for themselves by rejecting God, who desires all people to be saved in His Son Jesus Christ. God sends no one to hell.
Tradition / Church Fathers
“If anyone confesses Christ Jesus the Lord, but denies the God of the law and of the prophets, saying that the Father of Christ is not the Maker of heaven and earth, he has not continued in the truth any more than his father the devil, and is a disciple of Simon Magus, not of the Holy Spirit.” Ignatius of Antioch, To the Philadelphians, 5 (A.D. 110).
“…Christ Jesus, our Lord, and God, and Saviour, and King, according to the will of the invisible Father, ‘every knee should bow, of things in heaven,, and things in earth, and things under the earth, and that every tongue should confess’ to Him, and that He should execute just judgment towards all; that He may send ‘spiritual wickednesses,’ and the angels who transgressed and became apostates, together with the ungodly, and unrighteous, and wicked, and profane among men, into everlasting fire; but may, in the exercise of His grace, confer immortality on the righteous, and holy, and those who have kept His commandments, and have persevered in His love, some from the beginning of their Christian course, and others from the date of their repentance, and may surround them with everlasting glory.” Irenaeus, Against Heresies, 1,10,10 (A.D. 180).
“…thus also the punishment of those who do not believe the Word of God, and despise His advent, and are turned away backward, is increased; being not merely temporal, but rendered also eternal. For to whomsoever the Lord shall say, ‘Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire,’ these shall be damned forever; and to whomsoever, He shall say, “Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you for eternity,’ these do receive the kingdom forever, and make constant advance in it; since there is one and the same God the Father, and His Word, who has been always present with the human race, by means indeed of various dispensations, and has wrought out many things, and saved from the beginning those who are saved, (for these are they who love God, and follow the Word of God according to the class to which they belong,) and has judged those who are judged, that is, those who forget God, and are blasphemous, and transgressors of His word.” Irenaeus, Against Heresies, 4,28,2 (A.D. 180).
“But do you also, if you please, give reverential attention to the prophetic Scriptures, and they will make your way plainer for escaping the eternal punishments, and obtaining the eternal prizes of God.” Theophilus of Antioch, To Autolycus, 1:14 (A.D. 181).
“[T]hese have further set before us the proofs He has given of His majesty in judgments by floods and fires, the rules appointed by Him for securing His favor, as well as the retribution in store for the ignoring, forsaking and keeping them, as being about at the end of all to adjudge His worshippers to everlasting life, and the wicked to the doom of fire at once without ending and without break, raising up again all the dead from the beginning, reforming and renewing them with the object of awarding either recompense.” Tertullian, Apology, 18:3 (A.D. 197).
“Therefore after this, there is neither death nor repeated resurrections, but we shall be the same that we are now, and still unchanged–the servants of God, ever with God, clothed upon with the proper substance of eternity; but the profane, and all who are not true worshippers of God, in like manner shall be consigned to the punishment of everlasting fire–that fire which, from its very nature indeed, directly ministers to their incorruptibility.” Tertullian, Apology, 48:12 (A.D. 197).
“[T]he world when thou shall know what it is to live truly in heaven when thou shalt despise that which is here esteemed to be death when thou shalt fear what is truly death, which is reserved for those who shall be condemned to the eternal fire, which shall afflict those even to the end that is committed to it.” Letter to Diognetus 10:7 (A.D. 200).
“Of which voice the justification will be seen in the awarding to each that which is just; since to those who have done well shall be assigned righteously eternal bliss, and to the lovers of iniquity shall be given eternal punishment.” Hippolytus, Against the Greeks, 3 (ante A.D. 225).
“Oh, what and how great will that day be at its coming, beloved brethren, when the Lord shall begin to count up His people, and to recognize the deservings of each one by the inspection of His divine knowledge, to send the guilty to Gehenna, and to set on fire our persecutors with the perpetual burning of a penal fire, but to pay to us the reward of our faith and devotion!” Cyprian, To Thibaris, Epistle 55 (58):10 (A.D. 253).
“But, however, the sacred writings inform us in what manner the wicked are to undergo punishment. For because they have committed sins in their bodies, they will again be clothed with flesh, that they may make atonement in their bodies; and yet it will not be that flesh with which God clothed man, like this our earthly body, but indestructible, and abiding forever, that it may be able to hold out against tortures and everlasting fire…The same divine fire, therefore, with one and the same force and power, will both burn the wicked and will form them again, and will replace as much as it shall consume of their bodies, and will supply itself with eternal nourishment …Then they whose piety shall have been approved of will receive the reward of immortality; but they whose sins and crimes shall have been brought to light will not rise again, but will be hidden in the same darkness with the wicked, being destined to certain punishment.” Lactantius, Divine Institutes, 7:21 (A.D 310).
“The real and true life then is the Father, who through the Son in the Holy Spirit pours forth as from a fountain His heavenly gifts to all; and through His love to man, the blessings of the life eternal are promised without fail to us men also. We must not disbelieve the possibility of this, but having an eye not to our own weakness but to His power, we must believe; for with God all things are possible. And that this is possible, and that we may look for eternal life, Daniel declares, And of the many righteous shall they shine as the stars forever and ever. And Paul says, And so shall we be ever with the Lord(1): for the being forever with the lord implies the life eternal. But most plainly of all the Saviour Himself says in the Gospel, And these shall go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into life eternal.” Cyril of Jerusalem, Catechetical Lectures, 18:28 (A.D. 350).
“[I]nto eternal punishment; the just, however, into eternal life.” Basil, Rules briefly treated, 267 (A.D. 370).
“We believe in one Catholic and Apostolic Church, and in One baptism of repentance, and in the resurrection of the dead and the just judgment of souls and bodies, and in the kingdom of heaven, and in eternal life.” Epiphanius, The Man Well Anchored, 120 (A.D. 374).
“[T]o judge the living and dead, of Whose kingdom there will be no end…look forward to the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come. Amen.” Creed of Constantinople (A.D. 381).
“When you hear the word fire, you have been taught to think of fire other than the fire we see, owing to something being added to that fire which in this there is not; for that fire is never quenched, whereas experience has discovered many ways of quenching this; and there is a great difference between a fire which can be extinguished, and one that does not admit of extinction. That fire, therefore, is something other than this. If, again, a person hears the word ‘worm,’ let not his thoughts, from the similarity of the term, be carried to the creature here that crawls upon the ground; for the addition that it ‘dieth not’ suggests the thought of another reptile than that known here. Since, then, these things are set before us as to be expected in the life that follows this, being the natural outgrowth according to the righteous judgment of God, in the life of each, of his particular disposition, it must be the part of the wise not to regard the present, but that which follows after, and to lay down the foundations for that unspeakable blessedness during this short and fleeting life, and by a good choice to wean themselves from all experience of evil, now in their lifetime here, hereafter in their eternal recompense.” Gregory of Nyssa, Great Catechism, 40 (A.D. 383).
“And he said not the afflictions are so, but ‘the things that are seen;’ all of them, whether punishment or rest, so that we should be neither puffed up by the one nor overborne by the other. And therefore when speaking of the things to come, he said not the kingdom is eternal; but, ‘the things which are not seen are eternal,’ whether they be a kingdom, or again punishment; so as both to alarm by the one and to encourage by the other.” John Chrysostom, Homilies on 2nd Corinthians, 9:17,18 (c. A.D. 392).
“His fourth and last contention is that there are two classes, the sheep and the goats, the just and the unjust: that the just stand on the right hand, the other on the left: and that to the just the words are spoken: ‘Come, ye blessed of my Father, and inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.’ But those sinners are thus addressed: ‘Depart from me, ye cursed, into the eternal fire which is prepared for the devil and his angels.’ …And as in one Gospel our Lord promises the Apostles a hundredfold, in another sevenfold, for leaving children and wives, and in the world to come life eternal.” Jerome, Against Jovianianus, 2:18,19 (c. A.D. 393).
“But because this is absurd, they who desire to be rid of eternal punishment ought to abstain from arguing against God, and rather, while yet there is an opportunity, obey the divine commands. Then what a fond fancy is it to suppose that eternal punishment means long-continued punishment, while eternal life means life without end since Christ in the very same passage spoke of both in similar terms in one and the same sentence, ‘These shall go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into life eternal!’ If both destinies are “eternal,” then we must either understand both as long-continued but at last terminating, or both as endless. For they are correlative,–on the one hand, punishment eternal, on the other hand, life eternal. And to say in one and the same sense, life eternal shall be endless, punishment eternal shall come to an end, is the height of absurdity. Wherefore, as the eternal life of the saints shall be endless, so too the eternal punishment of those who are doomed to it shall have no end.” Augustine, City of God, 21:23 (A.D. 426).
“For there are two kinds of compunction, as you know: one that is afraid of eternal pains, the other that sighs for heavenly rewards; since the soul that is a thirst for God is first moved to compunction by fear, and afterward by love. For in the first place it is affected to tears because, while recollecting its evil doings, it fears to suffer for them eternal punishments.” Gregory the Great [regn. A.D. 590-604], To Theoctista, Epistle 26 (ante A.D. 604).
Clearly, there is a place called Hell. It is a physical place and many of the people who are currently living on this earth should consider the fact that their actions here and their deeds here will result in where they will land in the hereafter. Think about what you do on a daily basis, would you change or eliminate some of your behaviors if you knew that those behaviors would result in you being punished to Hell in the hereafter? Brothers and sisters, do not be deceived. When it is asked if there is Hell, please answer Hell Yes and live a life here on earth so that you follow Jesus Christ and the teachings of the Church. You will not go wrong.