Monday, April 12, 2010

Beware those who cannot back up their assertions.

I have been recently in contact with a man who claims to be Catholic, and while he certainly professes many of the right positions, such as his rejection of the various antipopes, his assent to a stationary earth, the absolute necessity of reception of the sacrament of Baptism for salvation, etc., he nevertheless makes some problematic statements.

For example, he claims that the fact that Hell is in the earth is a dogma. This may seem like an innocuous statement, or harmless, but is it? What if I believe him and then I later on meet a person who doesn’t believe this? To be consistent I have to denounce that person as a heretic. But in doing so, lo and behold, I would become schismatic, since the person is not bound to believe it at all.

The pope has never made a dogmatic definition concerning the location of Hell, and nor does the ancient tradition of the Fathers propose with unanimity any answer to the question, otherwise we would not have this quote coming down to us through the ages:

Saint Augustine, City of God, Book 20, #16: “For as soon as those who are not written in the book of life have been judged and cast into eternal fire—the nature of which fire, or its position in the world or universe, I suppose is known to no man, unless perhaps the divine Spirit reveal it to some one—then shall the figure of this world pass away in a conflagration of universal fire, as once before the world was flooded with a deluge of universal water.”

Saint Augustine, in saying this, shows there was not unanimity among the Church Fathers, of which he was one, shows us clearly that Hell’s location in the earth has never been proposed by the Church as a matter to be believed by Divine and Catholic Faith, neither in the Apostolic Tradition, nor the Ordinary and Universal Magisterium of the Church. If a person believes it is elsewhere, or is simply not sure where it is and so does not fully embrace the proposition that it is in the earth, he is NOT A HERETIC.

Whenever someone tries to tell you that such and such a belief is dogmatic, or heretical, etc, ask him for the Catholic teaching that shows he is correct; MAKE HIM PROVE IT TO YOU.

What Must You Do To Get to Heaven?

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