Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Dare We Hope...? -The Testimony of St. Paul


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Fr. Hans Urs von Balthasar (1905-1988), shown to the right in his post-conciliar Jesuit habit, was a Swiss neo-modernist theologian and exponent of the nouvelle theologie, who was forced to leave the Society of Jesus due to his views and was even under suspicion by the Holy See during the pontificate of Pope Pius XII. Unfortunately, neoconservatives (perhaps due to his beautiful writing style and apparent piety) tend to think that von Balthasar was a conservative and that his thought is faithful to the deposit of Revelation.

One of his most controversial theses is in the area of eschatology. He published a famous book, Dare We Hope "That All Men Be Saved"?: With a Short Discourse on Hell, where he argues that nothing in the deposit of faith forces us to believe that there is anyone in Hell (i.e., that Hell is empty), and consequently that we can hope for the salvation of all men (universalism).

But the sources of revelation clearly indicate the opposite. The testimony of St. Paul suffices to settle the question (for a come complete treatment of the loci theologici on this point, including the testimony of other parts of Scripture, the Fathers of the Church, etc., see Garrigou-Lagrange, OP - Predestination):


  •  “Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are fornication, uncleanness, immodesty, luxury, Idolatry, witchcrafts, enmities, contentions, emulations, wraths, quarrels, dissensions, sects, envies, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like. Of the which I foretell you, as I have foretold to you, that they who do such things shall not obtain the kingdom of God” (Gal. 5:19-21).
  • For know you this and understand, that no fornicator, or unclean, or covetous person (which is a serving of idols), hath inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God” (Eph. 5:5).
  • Know you not that the unjust shall not possess the kingdom of God? Do not err: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor the effeminate, nor liers with mankind, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor railers, nor extortioners, shall possess the kingdom of God” (I Cor. 6:9-10).
  • For we are the good odour of Christ unto God, in them that are saved, and in them that perish” (II Cor. 2:15-16). 
  • And if our gospel be also hid, it is hid to them that are lost, in whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of unbelievers, that the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should not shine unto them” (II Cor. 4:3).

From this we can conclude that not all souls are saved, and that it has been divinely revealed (de fide).  Clearly, then, von Balthasar's thesis is false and contrary to the faith.  It is heretical, strictly speaking, or at least proxima haeresi  until the Church defines as a dogma that there are actually souls in Hell.  Unfortunately, in the mean time, neoconservatives continue to think that von Balthasar was a conservative who was faithful to the deposit of Revelation.  

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