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New York Times columnist makes case for hell

Catholic World News - April 25, 2011

Writing in the Easter Sunday edition of The New York Times, Ross Douthat argues that “If there’s no possibility of saying no to paradise then none of our no’s have any real meaning either. They’re like home runs or strikeouts in a children’s game where nobody’s keeping score.”

In this sense, a doctrine of universal salvation turns out to be as deterministic as the more strident forms of scientific materialism. Instead of making us prisoners of our glands and genes, it makes us prisoners of God himself. We can check out any time we want, but we can never really leave.

The doctrine of hell, by contrast, assumes that our choices are real, and, indeed, that we are the choices that we make. The miser can become his greed, the murderer can lose himself inside his violence, and their freedom to turn and be forgiven is inseparable from their freedom not to do so.

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  • Posted by: Cornelius - Apr. 25, 2011 10:19 AM ET USA

    But the meaninglessness of our choices in this world (a consequence of disbelief in hell) is precisely what our modern moral nihilists want to assert. Douhat's conclusion only discomfits those who want it both ways: a life of meaning and purpose AND the complete absence of any real consequences to our decisions.

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