Hell eternal?

Ant

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I've done very limited research on this topic over the years but I've heard that there is no official doctrine on what hell truly is. I remember reading somewhere that there's 4 "official" views of hell? From it being a literal fire, to hell (according to St. Isaac) being an effect, etc. One thing that orthodoxy doesn't seem to sway on, though, and seems to be in full agreement with, is the idea that hell is eternal. If so, how would one make sense of this:

"IN BRIEF

637 In his human soul united to his divine person, the dead Christ went down to the realm of the dead. He opened heaven's gates for the just who had gone before him."

Found on:

http://www.vatican.va/archive/ccc_css/archive/catechism/p122a5p1.htm

So apparently hell (as I understand it, is to be "deprived of the vision of God") is NOT eternal? Or is it just eternal for the damned and not everlasting for the Just? Can someone make sense of this for me, please?
 

Porter ODoran

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Which "hell" are we talking about? The modern English usage elides or at least conflates several historical theological concepts and translates multiple words of classical languages. So you need to define your terms and St. Isaac's before we can hope to proceed.
 

LivenotoneviL

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You seem to be describing the Roman Catholic idea of hell in contrast against the Orthodox idea of hell.

Let me see if I - not even a catachumen - can describe it, and if I am erroneous, please correct me someone LEST I teach it incorrectly.

In Orthodoxy, there is a distinction that exists which isn't there in Roman Catholicism between "the realm of the dead" / "hades" and "hell."

Hell according to Orthodoxy is not actually the deprivation of God, but it is actually the experience of God which, due to the soul's hatred and disdain towards God on earth, experiences the greatest amount of pain. It isn't like a location, but rather a state of existence of experiencing God's glory in a painful manner.

In fact, Heaven and Hell both have the same source of God - Heaven is the same experience of Hell, but it is how the soul perceives God's glory.

Saint Paul describes it in 1 Corinthians 3:12-15
"Now if any man build upon this foundation, gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble: Every man's work shall be manifest; for the day of the Lord shall declare it, because it shall be revealed in fire; and the fire shall try every man's work, of what sort it is. If any man's work abide, which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man's work burn, he shall suffer loss; but he himself shall be saved, yet so as by fire."

In fact, actual "hell" will not really be experienced until after the Great Judgment, where both body and soul experience the Glory of God in a much greater extent.

"Hades" is the state of existence of the state of death, which people before Christ's death and after Christ's death have experienced - however, the souls will receive a particular taste of the glory or the eternal punishment to come, kind of like a precursor to Hell or Heaven.
This is called "Particular Judgment," which occurs before the Great Judgment. The Virgin Mary is the only exception of experiencing Heaven in its fullness due to her sinlessness, which is why her Dormition is so significant.
I believe that the "Harrowing of Hell" represents Christ spreading the Good News to the souls of the dead, rather than physically moving them from one location to another.

The Roman Catholic Church - while describing hell, heaven, and purgatory as states of being, tend to view them with a greater identity of physical or metaphysical locations, with different levels of each. The "realm of the dead" traditionally has been described as Limbo, which was viewed as a sort of level of hell - the highest level of hell (in terms of the least amount of pain) in which people were taken out and brought to heaven. In fact, purgatory according to Aquinas I believe was viewed as just a "cleaning room" in hell. There is no distinction between such locations and ideas before and after the Great Judgment, other than the souls return to their prior location with their bodies and souls together.

Hell, from a Roman perspective, is seen as the deprivation of God - the cause of all good things - which causes eternal and infinite suffering, as there is no good thing in hell.
The Orthodox Church counters this by pointing to Psalm 139.

This is how I understood it.
 

Indocern

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Ant said:
I've done very limited research on this topic over the years but I've heard that there is no official doctrine on what hell truly is. I remember reading somewhere that there's 4 "official" views of hell? From it being a literal fire, to hell (according to St. Isaac) being an effect, etc. One thing that orthodoxy doesn't seem to sway on, though, and seems to be in full agreement with, is the idea that hell is eternal. If so, how would one make sense of this:

"IN BRIEF

637 In his human soul united to his divine person, the dead Christ went down to the realm of the dead. He opened heaven's gates for the just who had gone before him."

Found on:

http://www.vatican.va/archive/ccc_css/archive/catechism/p122a5p1.htm

So apparently hell (as I understand it, is to be "deprived of the vision of God") is NOT eternal? Or is it just eternal for the damned and not everlasting for the Just? Can someone make sense of this for me, please?
Eternal hell means just more good view for the christians, that sinners will have torment forever. But in reality hell is another planet prison with bodies not souls and it is not eternal, maybe souls can be dematerialised and then it can become worst thing that can happen for somebody but no, hell is not eternal. About that I don't believe that people are not become immortal before Christ.
 

Ant

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Thank you both for your replies.

Porter ODoran said:
Which "hell" are we talking about? The modern English usage elides or at least conflates several historical theological concepts and translates multiple words of classical languages. So you need to define your terms and St. Isaac's before we can hope to proceed.
I'd like to know what the orthodox view is. St. Isaac tells us when a man becomes conscious that he's sinned against love, that a greater torment doesn't exist. He says for that reason he believes that the effect of Gehenna is bitter regret. As mentioned, an effect and not a literal place.

LivenotoneviL said:
Hell according to Orthodoxy is not actually the deprivation of God, but it is actually the experience of God which, due to the soul's hatred and disdain towards God on earth, experiences the greatest amount of pain. It isn't like a location, but rather a state of existence of experiencing God's glory in a painful manner.
Are there any examples that have been used by the early Church Fathers to explain this state of existence you mention? St. Isaac mentions regret, which does seem to fit into your definition - a state that does create large amounts of pain within people.

Also, according to the above link, Hell and Sheol are the same thing. It claims that Sheol is simply the Hebrew word for Hell, which is also (correct me if I'm mistaken) considered the "Realm of the dead."

LivenotoneviL said:
In fact, actual "hell" will not really be experienced until after the Great Judgment, where both body and soul experience the Glory of God in a much greater extent.
If "hell" really is the realm of the spiritually dead and Jesus did, in fact, descend into hell, then it existed 2,000 years ago and probably exists today as well, no? I wonder if hell is the spiritual state of any man that isn't experiencing theoria - the beatific vision. Is it too simple a statement to say that if a man is not enlightened, that he is in hell?

LivenotoneviL said:
I believe that the "Harrowing of Hell" represents Christ spreading the Good News to the souls of the dead, rather than physically moving them from one location to another.
But again, if hell is not an actual place, then Jesus wouldn't really need to move anyone anywhere, would He? Because heaven was within them already. He descended into "hell" and relayed the Good News to them to bring them to spiritual heights (heights that existed within their very own soul) and thus to free them from the darkness that overshadowed their souls, so that they can finally see the Light. Is there any reason why this would not be true?
 

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Ant said:
http://www.vatican.va/archive/ccc_css/archive/catechism/p122a5p1.htm
To avoid confusion and misunderstandings, i advice you to avoid heterodox sources of information.

To your question - This is how i understand it:

Prior to the day of judgement there are two places, one of bliss - where the souls of the God pleasing people who died are stored and another place which is God's prison, for the bad guys.
When you die, you are examined and depending on what state you are found, you can end up in either places. If you end up in God's prison, this is not final, it is possible to still escape by the intercession of God's saints and those who are still alive.

After the day of resurrection, there will be a final judgement. God's people will inherit heaven, this heaven is everlasting. Those who have united themselves with the devil will inherit Hell forever, this hell is final and everlasting.
 

beebert

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Vanhyo said:
Ant said:
http://www.vatican.va/archive/ccc_css/archive/catechism/p122a5p1.htm
To avoid confusion and misunderstandings, i advice you to avoid heterodox sources of information.

To your question - This is how i understand it:

Prior to the day of judgement there are two places, one of bliss - where the souls of the God pleasing people who died are stored and another place which is God's prison, for the bad guys.
When you die, you are examined and depending on what state you are found, you can end up in either places. If you end up in God's prison, this is not final, it is possible to still escape by the intercession of God's saints and those who are still alive.

After the day of resurrection, there will be a final judgement. God's people will inherit heaven, this heaven is everlasting. Those who have united themselves with the devil will inherit Hell forever, this hell is final and everlasting.
Talk about sick ideas.
 

Iconodule

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For not everything that is granted in the resurrection a return to existence will return to the same kind of life. There is a wide interval between those who have been purified, and those who still need purification. For those in whose life-time here the purification by the laver has preceded, there is a restoration to a kindred state. Now, to the pure, freedom from passion is that kindred state, and that in this freedom from passion blessedness consists, admits of no dispute. But as for those whose weaknesses have become inveterate, and to whom no purgation of their defilement has been applied, no mystic water, no invocation of the Divine power, no amendment by repentance, it is absolutely necessary that they should come to be in something proper to their case,—just as the furnace is the proper thing for gold alloyed with dross,—in order that, the vice which has been mixed up in them being melted away after long succeeding ages, their nature may be restored pure again to God. Since, then, there is a cleansing virtue in fire and water, they who by the mystic water have washed away the defilement of their sin have no further need of the other form of purification, while they who have not been admitted to that form of purgation must needs be purified by fire.
Saint Gregory of Nyssa, The Great Catechism
 

Ant

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Vanhyo said:
To your question - This is how i understand it:

Prior to the day of judgement there are two places, one of bliss - where the souls of the God pleasing people who died are stored and another place which is God's prison, for the bad guys.'

When you die, you are examined and depending on what state you are found, you can end up in either places. If you end up in God's prison, this is not final, it is possible to still escape by the intercession of God's saints and those who are still alive.
After the day of resurrection, there will be a final judgement. God's people will inherit heaven, this heaven is everlasting.

Those who have united themselves with the devil will inherit Hell forever, this hell is final and everlasting.
Is there anything from the early Church Fathers that you can provide that would help substantiate this claim? Because (and unless I'm mistaken - someone please correct me if I'm wrong) I believe that the official Orthodox view is that Jesus did, in fact, descend into "hell." Maybe I'm missing something? Is there a specific name for God's "prison" that I not only may be more familiar with, but a name that would distinguish it from what Orthodoxy has come to understand as being "hell"?

Iconodule said:
"There is a wide interval between those who have been purified, and those who still need purification."
But even this suggests that hell isn't eternal, wouldn't you say? "...those who still need purification" means what exactly? What happens after they've been purified? Do they remain in hell? Is hell full to the brim with righteous, purified souls? If so, are they counted as part of the "just" that Jesus descended into hell to free? Or, since they're in hell, regardless of their purity, they remain there for eternity?

Iconodule said:
"just as the furnace is the proper thing for gold alloyed with dross,—in order that, the vice which has been mixed up in them being melted away after long succeeding ages, their nature may be restored pure again to God."
This, also, seems to suggest that hell isn't everlasting and is meant for purification. It's meant to restore people to their original state (the way God originally created them), which is pure. I mean St. Isaac tells us that even the demons, at one point in time, were pure and experiencing divine vision - the same vision that many of our saints experienced - which, perhaps, is the reason he is (or has been deemed) a universalist.
 

Iconodule

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Yes, Ant, Saint Gregory of Nyssa is a universalist. This was not an uncommon view among church fathers, though it was also not the only one. You might be interested to read the book Christ the Conqueror of Hell by Metropolitan Hilarion Alfeyev, which gives a pretty comprehensive overview of early Church teaching regarding Christ's descent into hell. I discussed the book here: http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,72367.0.html
 

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Thank you, Iconodule. Sounds very interesting. I'll look into it right now.
 
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I think the parable of Lazarus and the rich man  is preview enough to fear it. Still we can pray for the rich man.
 

beebert

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recent convert said:
I think the parable of Lazarus and the rich man  is preview enough to fear it. Still we can pray for the rich man.
Would the rich man want that? And would God want that?
 
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beebert said:
recent convert said:
I think the parable of Lazarus and the rich man  is preview enough to fear it. Still we can pray for the rich man.
Would the rich man want that? And would God want that?
God said He is of the living not the dead; the rich man is earthly departed but living ( Matthew 22:32). St. Paul preaches to pray for all (1Timothy2:1)I think the rich man would appreciate prayer for himself and his 5 brothers unless they heard the Gospel. I know this is a aparable.
 

beebert

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Vanhyo said:
Ant said:
http://www.vatican.va/archive/ccc_css/archive/catechism/p122a5p1.htm
To avoid confusion and misunderstandings, i advice you to avoid heterodox sources of information.

To your question - This is how i understand it:

Prior to the day of judgement there are two places, one of bliss - where the souls of the God pleasing people who died are stored and another place which is God's prison, for the bad guys.
When you die, you are examined and depending on what state you are found, you can end up in either places. If you end up in God's prison, this is not final, it is possible to still escape by the intercession of God's saints and those who are still alive.

After the day of resurrection, there will be a final judgement. God's people will inherit heaven, this heaven is everlasting. Those who have united themselves with the devil will inherit Hell forever, this hell is final and everlasting.
"After the day of resurrection, there will be a final judgement. God's people will inherit heaven, this heaven is everlasting. Those who have united themselves with the devil will inherit Hell forever, this hell is final and everlasting."

People who believe and support this, these losers, half men half monkeys, these sadistic criminals and ungifted failures are certainly the ones who truly deserve to suffer forever and ever.
 

beebert

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recent convert said:
beebert said:
recent convert said:
I think the parable of Lazarus and the rich man  is preview enough to fear it. Still we can pray for the rich man.
Would the rich man want that? And would God want that?
God said He is of the living not the dead; the rich man is earthly departed but living ( Matthew 22:32). St. Paul preaches to pray for all (1Timothy2:1)I think the rich man would appreciate prayer for himself and his 5 brothers unless they heard the Gospel. I know this is a aparable.
So if God wants it and is all-powerful, and if the rich man wants it, then why not just release him from hell?
 

Arachne

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beebert said:
People who believe and support this, these losers, half men half monkeys, these sadistic criminals and ungifted failures are certainly the ones who truly deserve to suffer forever and ever.
 

beebert

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Arachne said:
beebert said:
People who believe and support this, these losers, half men half monkeys, these sadistic criminals and ungifted failures are certainly the ones who truly deserve to suffer forever and ever.
I Believe the likelyhood that it Will turn out that way is far greater than you think.
 

Arachne

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beebert said:
Arachne said:
beebert said:
People who believe and support this, these losers, half men half monkeys, these sadistic criminals and ungifted failures are certainly the ones who truly deserve to suffer forever and ever.
I Believe the likelyhood that it Will turn out that way is far greater than you think.
Don't believe everything you think.
 
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beebert said:
recent convert said:
beebert said:
recent convert said:
I think the parable of Lazarus and the rich man  is preview enough to fear it. Still we can pray for the rich man.
Would the rich man want that? And would God want that?
God said He is of the living not the dead; the rich man is earthly departed but living ( Matthew 22:32). St. Paul preaches to pray for all (1Timothy2:1)I think the rich man would appreciate prayer for himself and his 5 brothers unless they heard the Gospel. I know this is a aparable.
So if God wants it and is all-powerful, and if the rich man wants it, then why not just release him from hell?
Maybe God has.
 
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