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Is Hell Unfair?

Audio only:

Karlo Broussard, the author of Purgatory is for Real, addresses an email correspondent who asks: “Isn’t eternal punishment unfair for finite sins?”


Cy Kellett:
Is hell unfair? Karlo Broussard, next. Hello, and welcome to Focus, the Catholic Answers podcast for living, understanding and defending your Catholic faith. I’m Cy Kellett, your host. And today, we actually tackle what in many ways is probably the most difficult doctrine of Christian faith. The doctrine of hell, of the existence of hell and of the fact that some go there. It’s difficult for emotional reasons. It’s difficult for intellectual reasons as well. There are good intellectual, strong intellectual objections to hell, and even Thomas Aquinas struggled with this.

Well, maybe some of the Thomists will say, “No, he didn’t struggle.” But left a lot of questions unanswered, let’s say that. We’re not going to try to answer all the questions about hell here. We’re going to try to take seriously one question about hell that was sent to us by a listener. That question has to do whether, an infinite punishment for a finite sin is fair? Here is Karlo Broussard. Karlo, thanks for being with us again.

Karlo Broussard:
Hey Cy, thanks for having me, brother.

Cy Kellett:
This is a good one because we’ve been asking people, send us questions if there’s something you want to cover. And a man named Joshua did send us a question. And so, we thought… It seemed like a perfect question for you. So we thought we’d ask you here to answer.

Karlo Broussard:
Okay.

Cy Kellett:
I was wondering if you might consider addressing on the show, the question of how can a finite sin incur an infinite punishment in hell? To elaborate, the punishment seems disproportionate to the act.

Karlo Broussard:
Yes. A common question, and it’s often posed as an objection to the Christian belief in hell, the apparent disproportionate nature, or the disproportionate relationship between the everlasting punishment of hell and the sin that is committed or as he puts it, the infinite punishment and the finite act itself. This is one reason among others that some will give to try and show that hell is an injustice, it’s unjust. So either you’re going to have to deny Christianity or just say hell doesn’t exist. God’s goodness necessarily precludes hell or God’s justice necessarily precludes hell. This is actually one of the several arguments that David Bentley Hart, puts forward in his book that, “All Shall Be Saved.”

Cy Kellett:
All right, I thought…

Karlo Broussard:
Where he argues for hell not being a reality. And he makes that strong claim that God’s goodness is logically incompatible with the existence of hell. And one of the arguments he puts forward is this very argument. And this is actually an objection that St. Thomas Aquinas considers in the supplement to Summa Theologiae, Question 99, Article 1. It’s one of the several objections to hell that he poses to himself. And he provides some answers. So in answering this objection, I’m going to be looking to St. Thomas Aquinas as our guide, and thinking through how we might answer this.

Cy Kellett:
David Bentley Hart, He doesn’t just argue that there is no hell. He also seems to imply that those of us who believe that there is are terrible people.

Karlo Broussard:
Indeed he does.

Cy Kellett:
Not very nice to us.

Karlo Broussard:
He does use his rhetorical flare there…

Cy Kellett:
And he has a lot of it. He’s a really good writer.

Karlo Broussard:
Yeah.

Cy Kellett:
Okay. So let me give you the objection the way Thomas poses it.

Karlo Broussard:
Okay. Sure.

Cy Kellett:
Okay. Because we got the way Joshua poses it, but it’s essentially the same one. So let’s take a look at what Thomas says, and this is in one of his objections. “Given that we have a finite life with limited information to make our decisions, how is an infinite punishment not infinitely disproportionate? Shouldn’t the punishment be proportional to transgression?” Actually, that’s not Thomas’ words. That’s the way that you wrote it to me and I read…

Karlo Broussard:
Yeah. That was a summary of Joshua’s argument.

Cy Kellett:
Okay. Sorry. You want me to give you Thomas’ words?

Karlo Broussard:
Yeah. Let’s go with Thomas’ text.

Cy Kellett:
Sorry, Thomas Aquinas, I gave you Joshua’s argument. Thomas says, “It would seem that an eternal punishment is not inflicted on sinners by divine justice, for the punishment should not exceed the fault. According to the measure of the sin, shall the measure also of the stripes be.” That’s from Deuteronomy. “Now fault is temporal. Therefore punishment should not be eternal.” That’s Thomas.

Karlo Broussard:
Yes. That’s Thomas. And what this objection… First of all, the first thing we have to do is to expose the float assumption that’s driving this objection. So like for example, as the objection is posed, we have to ask, well, what do you mean by infinite punishment? And what they’re getting at is the everlasting duration of the punishment. And so, the objection amounts to the everlasting punishment being disproportionate to the temporary duration of the sin committed.

Cy Kellett:
Yeah. Okay.

Karlo Broussard:
So as Aquinas uses the eternal, the punishment should not be eternal. What he means by eternal, it’s just everlasting, not the eternity of God. So the objection is saying, listen, this eternal punishment, this everlasting punishment is disproportionate to the amount of time that it took to commit the sin. So notice, it’s measuring the punishment based on the duration of the sin. That’s the flawed assumption that’s driving or the flawed principle that’s driving objection. And the reason why that’s false, because if the duration of punishment, and this is something Aquinas points out in his response to the objection. If the duration of punishment had to correspond to the duration of the offense, well, then it would be unjust, say to put a murderer in prison for 20 years or for a lifetime or however long, because it only took them a few minutes to commit the crime.

Cy Kellett:
A [inaudible 00:06:27].

Karlo Broussard:
But that’s absurd, right?

Cy Kellett:
Right.

Karlo Broussard:
So we can see the flaw in that governing principle that the duration of the punishment has to correspond to the duration of the offense. So that’s how Aquinas first meets the objection and saying, “No, that’s a flawed principle there, that’s absurd.” We don’t use that principle to govern which sorts of punishment we employ to fit the crime.

Cy Kellett:
Yeah, right.

Karlo Broussard:
Now, Aquinas goes on to articulate the true principle that should govern how we issue punishment. And that is to say the measure of the punishment is due for the sin with regard to the gravity of the offense. The punishment should be measured according to the gravity of the offense. Here’s what Aquinas says, “The measure of punishment corresponds to the measure of fault as regards the degree of severity so that the more grievously a person sins, the more grievously is he punished.”

So notice it’s not the duration of the sin, that’s going to determine the type of punishment. It’s the gravity of the sin, of the offense, that’s going to determine the nature of the punishment. And that’s the operating principle here. That’s the key principle in Aquinas’s mind. And I think he’s right here, that is going to be the gravity of the offense that’s going to determine the kind of punishment. So you might say it’s the internal wickedness of the offense that’s going to determine the kind of punishment that’s issued and Aquinas goes and gives this example. He’ll say, “For sometimes there are some offenses that will merit a complete exile from a community.” If somebody in that case you’ll be put into prison or something, you sin against the good of the society, you might get put in prison for a certain amount of time.

Cy Kellett:
Right.

Karlo Broussard:
So, some offenses are grave enough to exclude one from a society completely, some are not. And so he uses that as an example to show, listen, it’s not the duration of the offense that’s going to determine whether you get exiled from the society or not, by being put in the prison, it’s the gravity of the offense. Have you sinned against the society? Have you offended this common good such that you deserve and merit to be excluded from the society for a long period of time. So he’s pointing out that we don’t even use that principle of the duration of the sin, determining the punishment, even within civil society. So two, we should not use that principle when we’re talking about offenses against God, it should be the gravity of the offense that’s going to determine our analysis of what kind of punishment is due to the offender.

Cy Kellett:
Yeah. I got you. But that still leaves me with the… I’m so limited, how can a mortal sin be that serious?

Karlo Broussard:
That’s right. Because now the question is, well, how is it that a mortal sin is so grave? What is it about the gravity of a mortal sin that would merit this eternal punishment? So if the principle it’s the gravity of the offense that determines the punishment and in the Aquinas’s mind, it’s the gravity of a mortal sin that’s going to merit or demerit, whatever you wish to use. It’s the gravity of a mortal sin that’s going to merit one mortal sin, and this is the church’s teaching, one mortal sin incurs a debt of eternal punishment. All right?

Cy Kellett:
Yeah.

Karlo Broussard:
So what is it about a mortal sin that merits such a debt? And so this is where we have to look at the nature of a mortal sin. And Aquinas has a variety of ways in which he analyzes a mortal sin. One way that he analyzes it and shows its gravity, is that a mortal sin entails. And he actually says, this is the better way. So when he’s articulating the reasons for the justness of eternal punishment for a mortal sin, he’s given several of them. He gets to like three of them initially and then he gets to this one and he says, “And this is the better way.” So he prefers this reason.

Cy Kellett:
This particular… Okay.

Karlo Broussard:
This understanding of mortal sin. Mortal sin entails the choice to make a creature one’s life’s end or go and not God.

Cy Kellett:
Okay.

Karlo Broussard:
And so Aquinas is operating on this view that God is our ultimate life’s go. Philosophers, call this a teleological conception of the good of life.

Cy Kellett:
That’s what I said, too. I always say it that way.

Karlo Broussard:
Teleological conception coming from the Greek word. Telos, which means end or goal. So our life is ordered to God. We are ordered by nature to God as our ultimate life’s end.

Cy Kellett:
Right. Okay. So as long as I have that, I’m on the way, I’m on the path.

Karlo Broussard:
That’s right. And only in God can I find my complete happiness, okay?

Cy Kellett:
Got it.

Karlo Broussard:
Well, a mortal sin in Aquinas’s understanding and in the church’s understanding is a choice that entails choosing some created good in the place of God. In other words, making some creature, my life’s ultimate goal, instead of God treating a creature as if it were my life’s ultimate good, instead of God. It entails a turning away from God as my life’s ultimate goal, making something else my life’s ultimate goal.

Cy Kellett:
Got it. Okay.

Karlo Broussard:
So that’s what a mortal sin entails. It entails a direct violation of this ordering.

Cy Kellett:
So for it to be mortal sin, I have to turn completely.

Karlo Broussard:
Away from God.

Cy Kellett:
So that I don’t… Even though I made for this goal, I’m rejecting the goal I made for and turning completely to some other goal.

Karlo Broussard:
Treating some other thing as if it were my life’s ultimate goal.

Cy Kellett:
Okay.

Karlo Broussard:
So yeah, sure. You’ve made a good point by nature we’re naturally oriented to God as our life’s goal, but with a mortal sin, I’m using my free will to turn away from God as what he really is, and to treat something else as if it were my life scope.

Cy Kellett:
And being a sin… I maybe muddying the waters, but I’m not turning [inaudible 00:13:11].

Karlo Broussard:
That’s right. I still look to God as my ultimate slice go. I’m just approaching or using or pursuing some creaturely good in a disordered way. And the disorder is not such that I’m turning away from God. The disorder is just such that, it’s an ordinance. I’m overindulging a little bit too much contrary to how God wants me to pursue that good. I’m not making the creaturely good, my life’s ultimate end goal or purpose.

Cy Kellett:
Got it.

Karlo Broussard:
Mortal sin entails making a creaturely good. My life’s ultimate end a purpose. That is a moral disorder of the highest degree, because it involves an entire disordering of this… It entails a complete disorder of the moral order because I’m in completely violating the order that I have to God as my life’s ultimate end.

Cy Kellett:
Right.

Karlo Broussard:
So it’s a moral disorder of the highest degree. You can have a moral disorder. Like I pursue that chocolate cake a little bit too much right.

Cy Kellett:
Why [inaudible 00:14:20] that chocolate cake.

Karlo Broussard:
But I still have God as my life’s ultimate end.

Cy Kellett:
Right.

Karlo Broussard:
That’s a moral disorder, but it’s not of the highest degree.

Cy Kellett:
No.

Karlo Broussard:
Because I still have God as my life’s ultimate end. A moral disorder of the highest degree is to completely turn away from God as my life’s ultimate end and make something else. And then of course, Aquinas also articulate mortal sin in this way, as destroying the principle of order to God as my supernatural end. And that principle of the order to God as my supernatural end is charity. The theological virtue of charity and mortal sin entails destroying that principle. So he uses the example of sight. So, your site could be defective in so far as you have trouble seeing. Your site is hampered. The principle of Saint Aquinas says it’s not entirely destroyed there. So you could still see, but it’s just hampered. It’s impeded.

Although you can also have a scenario where the principle of site is entirely destroyed and you’re blind. And the eye is defective such that you can know the eyes or defective such that you can no longer see. So what Aquinas says there, in that scenario, the principle of site is entirely destroyed. It’s repairable, whereas if the principle is still there, I can still see, but if it’s hampered, I can use nature or art in order to try to fix the defect.

Cy Kellett:
Got it.

Karlo Broussard:
But when the principal’s destroyed, it’s irreparable. You can’t fix the defect except by miraculous intervention. Right?

Cy Kellett:
Right.

Karlo Broussard:
So what Aquinas wants to say is, by way of analogously, the principle by which I’m directed to God as my supernatural end is charity. Mortal sin by way of divine revelation entails a destruction of that principle of order, namely charity. And therefore it’s not just hampered to where I can get a fixing. It’s it repairable.

Cy Kellett:
Okay. But it’s not though in the sense that you think of the blind man that Jesus heals at the Pool of Siloam, grace can overcome even total disability.

Karlo Broussard:
That is true.

Cy Kellett:
Okay.

Karlo Broussard:
So grace would be the means by which the repairing could take place.

Cy Kellett:
Yeah.

Karlo Broussard:
But this brings up the question of, is God bound to give the grace to repair. But let’s set that question off just for a moment. Because we have to consider something else.

Cy Kellett:
All right.

Karlo Broussard:
So notice how the mind of Aquinas, a mortal sin entails turning away from God as one life’s ultimate end.

Cy Kellett:
Right.

Karlo Broussard:
And because that’s an offense against that ultimate good, namely God, there is a due punishment for the individual to not have that good. Aquinas has this operating principle that’s driving his whole philosophy of punishment is that, whenever you send against a good, it is due to you to not be able to enjoy that good. If I sin against the good of the common good of Catholic Answers, guess what? They’re going to say, “See your Karlo, pack your bags, go home. You no longer work here.” Because I’ve offended against the common good of Catholic Answers, I can no longer participate in that good, that we have the same with society.

Murderers get put in jail. Why? Because they’ve sinned against the common good of society so they can no longer participate in that good. So too, when I turn my back on God, when I turn completely away from God, as my life’s ultimate good, well, then it’s naturally fitting and just that I not participate in that good.

Cy Kellett:
Got it. Okay.

Karlo Broussard:
So there is a debt of eternal punishment due to me for turning away from God is my life’s ultimate goal in mortal sin. When I die that debt of eternal punishment is due to me. And in so far as that debt remains subsequent to death, at every moment I exist and I have that debt of eternal punishment, which means the debt of being excluded from God as my life’s ultimate end. Then it is just for God to give that punishment, which is the exclusion from him as my life’s ultimate end at every moment I exist. And that debt remains. It is just for God to issue the punishment, whether in this life or in the next. Well, when I die, that debt of eternal punishment remains with me.

And so for the rest of my existence, it is just for God to issue the punishment of eternal punishment, which is separation from him as my life’s ultimate end, because at every moment I am existing, I have that debt of eternal punishment, because at every moment I am existing, I am turning away from God as my life’s ultimate in. Now, this presupposes how my choice of turning away from God has not been repaired in this life. And subsequent to death, that choice is fixed due to the irrevocability… That’s a hard word for me to say as occasion. Irrevocability of the choice of the soul, of the free will subsequent to death. Now, for our listeners out there, if they want to learn more about why that is so, like why is it that the choice of the free will subsequent to death is irrevocable?

I would recommend they read Saint Thomas Aquinas in his Summa Contra Gentiles book four chapter 95. And Dr. Edward Feser also has a great article online, How to go to hell. So that’s the presupposed principle, so that subsequent to death, the debt of eternal punishment for that one mortal sin that’s unrepented of, that debt of eternal punishment remains. And in so far as the debt of eternal punishment remains for the rest of my existence, subsequent to death, it is just for God to administer the punishment and to meet that debt or me to pay that debt, and receiving the just punishment. So that at least shows how it is just for there to be a single mortal sin and for God to administer eternal punishment on account of that one mortal sin. Why? That one mortal sin entails turning away from God as our life’s ultimate goal.

Cy Kellett:
Yeah.

Karlo Broussard:
Subsequent to death, because of the irrevocability of the choice, the debt of eternal punishment remains. And in so far as the debt of the eternal punishment remains, the punishment administered is just. This is Aquinas’ reasoning. And in several places in his corpus of writing. Now, there’s one more aspect of why the disorder is irrevocable.

Cy Kellett:
Yeah. That’s the hard part, I think. That’s another…

Karlo Broussard:
Yeah. So there’s a natural explanation namely, the irrevocability of an incorporeal choice. The angels choose, they’re fixing their choice. You die with a choice turning away from God, you’re fixed with that choice. There’s another reason why it’s irrevocable. And that is because there is no grace given after death. I’m establishing that, it is the case. And then we’re going to address well, is that an injustice on God’s part? But that it is the case. First of all, Aquinas teaches in the first part of the second part in the Summa Theologiae question 109, article seven, he’s answering whether man can rise from sin without the help of grace. And he gives a whole article is the answer is no.

Cy Kellett:
Right. That’s fundamental basic Christian teaching.

Karlo Broussard:
The only way to repent and for the disorder of mortal sin to be repaired is by divine grace. That requires a spiritual resurrection, just like Jesus had to raise Lazarus from the dead. He’s going to have to give us a grace of repentance to raise us in a miraculous way from the supernatural death of mortal sin. Now, we know by way of divine revelation that no grace is given after death. Aquinas uses this in order to articulate why the disorder is irrevocable after death, because no more grace is given. He does this in the supplement, question 99, article one, as well as in book four…

Cy Kellett:
And you said this is a revealed truth? That no more grace is [inaudible 00:23:22].

Karlo Broussard:
Yes. So for example, some passages theologians appeal to as John 9:4, we read, we must work the works of him who sent me while it is day and night comes when no one can work. Theologians throughout the centuries have appealed to that as evidence that once we die, there’s no more work to be done [inaudible 00:23:41]. You can’t increase and get grace, you can’t merit more nor can you receive graces of repentance, because the work has done. And also, too, we can appeal to passages that deal with the particular judgment. So Luke chapter 16, the parable of the rich man and Lazarus, we read how once they die, they immediately received their lots. Lazarus goes to Abraham’s bosom, the rich man goes to the place of torment and Abraham says to the rich man, there is this chasm that cannot be crossed, which would imply that no grace is given for repentance that would allow to cross the chasm.

So in this order of providence, by way of divine revelation, we know that God does not give the grace that is needed for repentance from mortal sin subsequent to death. He only does so for some in this life. So, that explains why the debt of eternal punishment is, it continues why the disorder is irrevocable.

Cy Kellett:
Because there’s no way for us to bridge that gap or to restore what’s dead.

Karlo Broussard:
You would have a natural explanation, is that the incorporeal choices are revocable because the body is no longer there with the soul to allow for the soul to change its ultimate course of life. And then we have a supernatural explanation because we admit God could repair the disorder by grace. God could give the grace of repentance, but he doesn’t, in some cases. We’re going to ask is that unjust or not in a moment? But that the disorder is irrevocable, subsequent to death is due to God willing not to give the grace of repentance from mortal sin, subsequent to death. And that explains why the debt of eternal punishment remains for the rest of the soul’s existence.

And in so far as the debt of eternal punishment remains for the rest of the soul’s existence, it is just for God to administer such punishment and see to it that the soul is not united with him in the beatific vision.

Cy Kellett:
Yes. Okay.

Karlo Broussard:
So that explains the justness of the eternal punishment, but there’s one more aspect.

Cy Kellett:
Okay. At least one more.

Karlo Broussard:
Go ahead.

Cy Kellett:
No, well, at some point this incorporeal problem gets solved with the resurrection of the body, but it doesn’t get solved.

Karlo Broussard:
Well, that’s one problem.

Cy Kellett:
Yeah.

Karlo Broussard:
But Dr. Edward Feser actually addresses that. And even Saint Thomas Aquinas, when he’s dealing with the irrevocable nature of the choice, and the answer that is given is that because the choice is already made and in the bodily resurrection, the body is subsumed into the very being of the soul, the body can no longer affect the ultimate choice that the soul has made for its life’s in for its ultimate end or goal.

Cy Kellett:
The body is completely subject to this all.

Karlo Broussard:
that’s right. So the soul and the body come into existence together, which allows for the malleability, the choosing God, rejecting God, repenting and choosing God.

Cy Kellett:
Right.

Karlo Broussard:
But subsequent to death, the irrevocable nature kicks into play because of the incorporeal choice. And at the bodily resurrection, it’s the body that is subsumed into the very being of the soul. And consequently can no longer affect the soul like he could in this life.

Cy Kellett:
Which is good news for those who are in heaven because…

Karlo Broussard:
The body cannot allow for us to turn away from God. The turning to God is our ultimate life’s goal for the blessed in heaven even with their glorified bodies is fixed as well.

Cy Kellett:
Well, is this an objection, then? God should give the grace after that.

Karlo Broussard:
There you go.

Cy Kellett:
Come on God.

Karlo Broussard:
And listen, I feel the emotional struggle with that.

Cy Kellett:
Yeah. Right.

Karlo Broussard:
Now, all we have to do in order to articulate the goodness and justice of God is to show why it is not unjust for God to not give the grace and repair the disorder.

Cy Kellett:
Okay.

Karlo Broussard:
So why is it just for God to not give the grace? To say it differently, why is it not unjust for God not to give the grace? Well, it’s not an injustice. Here’s one reason it’s not an injustice for God not to give the grace needed for the repair of the disorder because grace is not due to anyone.

Cy Kellett:
Okay. We’re not owed it [inaudible 00:28:41].

Karlo Broussard:
We’re not owed it [inaudible 00:28:42]. Think about this. It would only be an injustice if grace were due to the soul, but the grace of repentance is not due to the soul.

Cy Kellett:
No.

Karlo Broussard:
And so therefore, it is not an injustice for God not to give the grace of repentance.

Cy Kellett:
Right. Just like it’s not an injustice for you not to give me a million dollars right now.

Karlo Broussard:
That’s correct.

Cy Kellett:
You don’t know me [inaudible 00:29:10].

Karlo Broussard:
Yeah, here’s what Aquinas says. I’ll quote, Aquinas here. This is from the first part of the Summa Theologiae question 23, article five, response three. He says this… He’s talking about predestination here, but the reasoning he applies to predestination of why God chooses some to give final perseverance to, and not others applies to God, not giving the grace of repentance, either for a person in this life or in the next. So he writes this, “Neither on this account can there be said to be injustice in God, if he prepares unequal lots for not an equal things, this would be altogether contrary to the notion of justice. If the effect of predestination were granted as a debt. So it would only be an injustice for God to give grace a final perseverance to some and not others if predestination were a debt.”

Cy Kellett:
Yeah. He told us that.

Karlo Broussard:
But he’s going to deny… That’s right. If it were a debt and not gratuitously, if it were a debt and not a gift… All right. But he goes on and things which are given gratuitously as a gift, a person can give more or less just as he pleases, provided he deprives no body of his due without any infringement of justice. This is what the master of the house said, “Take what is dine and go thy way. Is it not lawful for me to do what I will?” So it would be an injustice for God to not give the grace of repentance only if such a grace were due to an individual, but it is not due to an individual because such a grace is entirely gratuitous.

Cy Kellett:
Yes.

Karlo Broussard:
And so God, it is consistent with his goodness and or his justice to give the grace of repentance or not to give the grace of repentance.

Cy Kellett:
Right. Okay.

Karlo Broussard:
Because such a grace is not due to an individual. So at every step of the way, we have every aspect of this scenario and complete conformity with the justice of God. We have the mortal sin, which has the turning away from God, which is of the highest moral disorder. And two, how can you have God as your ultimate life’s end, when you’re turned away from him as your ultimate life’s end.

Cy Kellett:
Right.

Karlo Broussard:
So if you’re turned away from him, you’ve sinned against that ultimate good. And so it’s reasonable and just to not be able to have that ultimate good.

Cy Kellett:
Right. If you turn away from society and do things that show you’ve rejected society, you’re not going to be invited to participate in society.

Karlo Broussard:
That’s correct.

Cy Kellett:
And so that’s true of the society of heaven, I guess, would be,

Karlo Broussard:
So it’s just that there be a debt of eternal punishment due for that one sin, because if you’re turning away from God, you’re saying, “I don’t ever want you God as my ultimate life’s end.” So that’s a debt of forever being excluded from God is your ultimate life’s end. That’s perfectly just, we have God not giving on this scenario. God, doesn’t give the grace of repentance to such an individual in this life. Is that an injustice? No, because such a grace of repentance is not due to the individual.

So the debt is completely just, that God does not give the grace of repentance is completely conformity with his justice, that the debt of eternal punishment remains subsequent to death due to the irrevocability of the incorporeal choice is completely in accord with the natural mode of the soul, separated from the body, that God does not give the grace of repentance to the repair the disorder, subsequent to death is in complete conformity with his justice, because such a grace is not due to the soul. And that there is an eternal punishment administered to the soul is completely just because there is an eternal debt. There’s a debt, a forever existing debt of eternal punishment. So there’s proportionality between the punishment administered, the everlasting punishment and the debt of the eternal punishment de-merited or merited by the one mortal sin.

So at every step of the way you have justice and no aspect in this step and this journey that we’ve been pursuing. At no point is there anything in conflict with God’s justice, and therefore nothing in conflict with God’s goodness.

Cy Kellett:
Yeah.

Karlo Broussard:
And one last point, I mentioned this right at the end, it is fitting and reasonable that God relate to the departed soul experiencing eternal damnation in accord with its natural mode. So this is another reason why it’s not an injustice for God to not give the grace of repentance. Not only because the grace is not due, right?

Cy Kellett:
Yes.

Karlo Broussard:
But also because God is relating to the departed soul according to its natural mode of being. It belongs to the natural mode of the departed soul to be fixed in its choice of what it’s choosing as its ultimate life’s end.

Cy Kellett:
Yeah. So there’s respect for the…

Karlo Broussard:
That’s the way God has designed the soul, such that departed from the body, it can no longer redirect it’s life’s choice. And what it’s going to set its sight on as its ultimate life’s end, that’s its natural mode of being. And so not only is the grace not due to the departed soul, the grace of repentance, but God is relating to the departed soul that has turned away from him as its ultimate life’s goal.

Cy Kellett:
Wow.

Karlo Broussard:
And according with its natural mode of being which comports and coheres with God’s justice. Once again, there’s nothing in that scenario that conflicts with God’s justice, because God relates to us according to the natural mode of being, yes, he does relate to us miraculously sometimes.

Cy Kellett:
Sure.

Karlo Broussard:
But that miraculous intervention, quote unquote, intervention, we can quibble about that, but let’s just go with that. That miraculous intervention of grace is something that is not due to us. Now, keep in mind all we’ve done here, Cy, is to show why hell is not in conflict with the justice of God.

Cy Kellett:
Right. But that’s an important thing, but it’s only one thing. It doesn’t answer all the questions about hell.

Karlo Broussard:
There’s still a lot of mystery, a lot of darkness of mystery concerning hell and a lot of other questions that have to be answered. But what we’ve done here is to show at least that the existence of hell and a soul that is eternally damned definitively separated from God as its ultimate life’s end is not in conflict with God’s justice. GOD can be completely good and just, and at the same time we can affirm the existence of hell and the eternally departed. And so it’s just important to make that caveat here. Now, somebody could deny certain things that we’ve said along the way, perhaps somebody could deny that it’s even possible to turn away from God as one’s ultimate life’s end.

Cy Kellett:
Right.

Karlo Broussard:
That’s what David Bentley Hart argues for in his book, that all shall be saved. That’s a separate issue that we would have to address. Right?

Cy Kellett:
Right.

Karlo Broussard:
But assuming that one can turn away from God as their ultimate life’s end, then everything else follows and that no point, do we have anything in conflict with God’s justice.

Cy Kellett:
Here’s my problem with that. If I accept that, then the only possible way to live in the light of this knowledge of what can happen to me is to claim to Jesus, to be constantly repenting, to live in the sacraments. I have no choice I’m going to have to live that way.

Karlo Broussard:
That is correct because we are entirely reliant upon God’s grace in order to achieve our ultimate end of heaven. And we are entirely reliant upon God’s grace to be upheld within the good order [inaudible 00:37:54] to God as our supernatural end.

Cy Kellett:
Yep.

Karlo Broussard:
And also entirely reliant upon God’s grace to be brought back into the good, into God’s friendship, into grace when we fall from grace, as Saint Paul would say to the Galatians in Galatians 5:4, you have fallen from grace. We need grace to get back into grace. And so we are entirely reliant. We’re radically dependent upon God, not only right, for our natural mode of being, which is life and intellect and will, but we are radically entirely dependent upon God’s grace for the supernatural mode of being a Christian, namely to have charity within our soul, directing us to God as our supernatural end.

Cy Kellett:
So now is the time, turn to Jesus and trust in him.

Karlo Broussard:
Amen, BROTHER.

Cy Kellett:
Now is the time. So maybe in the future, a couple of things, one, we might tackle that David Bentley Hart’s question about whether it’s even possible to turn all the way away from God?

Karlo Broussard:
is mortal sin even possible? That’s the question.

Cy Kellett:
But then there’s another objection. One that I personally am very unsympathetic to, but very many people find convincing. Well, God could just allow that soul to be extinguished. It wouldn’t be [crosstalk 00:39:11].

Karlo Broussard:
[inaudible 00:39:11]. Yep.

Cy Kellett:
I cannot imagine how God could annihilate the soul of a rational creature.

Karlo Broussard:
Aquinas has an answer to that one as well.

Cy Kellett:
So we’ll do that in the future?

Karlo Broussard:
Yeah.

Cy Kellett:
Okay.

Karlo Broussard:
And also to another reason that people give for the injustice of hell, is to say, “Well, ain’t it unjust…” Isn’t it? I should say.

Cy Kellett:
No, Ain’t it. That’s how they say it. Come on. That’s how people say. Ain’t it unjust?

Karlo Broussard:
Isn’t it adjust for God to create someone knowing that he will permit the defect that leads to mortal sin, that leads to the death of eternal punishment? Is God unjust for even creating the person in the first place? And so we’re getting into the issue of what is God bound to create? If he’s bound to create it all and all of these, which are very good questions to ask, and there are ways in which we can answer them. So these are great things that we can say for future episodes.

Cy Kellett:
Yeah. And it’s good to know. Don’t treat this as if Karlo was trying to answer every question. There’s a lot of good questions still out there and we’ll address them. Karlo is going to be like our hell guy now. They’re like, “Hey, there’s another question on hell. Get Karlo.” Congratulations, Karlo.

Karlo Broussard:
I do not want to be burnt on hell. That was an intentional [inaudible 00:40:31] David Bentley Hart.

Cy Kellett:
That was good. Okay. Thanks, Karlo.

Karlo Broussard:
God bless you brother.

Cy Kellett:
You too. Ultimately, I think we ended up having to believe in hell, if we believe a couple of things. If we believe the scripture is the word of God, and if we believe the church.The Catholic church is the authentic interpreter of scripture. It’s an inescapable conclusion. We could with just one or the other belief, probably not, but you take it all in some, and this difficult teaching is one that we have to confront. We confront it with trusting God, knowing that nothing God does is other than perfectly good, perfectly just, perfectly merciful, perfectly loving, that’s who God is.

And he does not do otherwise. That doesn’t mean that we understand his goodness, his justice, his love, his mercy fully, but we will understand it. And the truth is too, we will rejoice in it, the greater our understanding of it, the more we will rejoice in it, whatever we may think or feel now. We’d love to hear from you, [email protected] is our email address, as you noticed. If you have an idea for an upcoming episode, we might do it if it’s a good idea. Don’t forget to like and subscribe on YouTube that really helps to grow the podcast. Also, don’t forget to subscribe wherever you get your podcasts if you just listened to it, say on Apple podcast, Spotify, Stitcher, if you subscribe, you’ll be notified when new episodes are available and I will appeal to you again, as our friends and listeners, if you can support us financially, it really does help.

Right now, I don’t think we’re covering the bills here. Other things that we do, other donors are covering the bills. And we’d like to get to the point where this program can pay for itself so that we can continue to do it. So that we’re on stable footing. You can do that by going to givecatholic.com and let us know why you gave. I’m Cy Kellett, your host. We’ll see you next time God willing right here on Catholic Answers Focus.

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