A Note to the Always Interesting Dr. Larry Chapp on Hell

…he seems to express a kind of anxiety or apprehension here about the obvious problem of the magisterium as he “comes out of the closet” and reveals himself to be an eschatological “universalist”.

Dear Dr. Chapp:

A point towards the clarification of thought from a layman and obvious non-theologian:

Despite making many interesting —even profound— points in this interview with Dr. Jordan Wood, I think the limits of both theology and of human knowing come into full view.

To say more than we can ever know in this life regarding what God has been pleased to reveal clearly involves us in labyrinthine problems.

Why not step back instead from attempting to resolve difficult theological problems (in this instance the eternity and literal reality of Hell) and pronouncing oneself a “universalist,” which is, despite all protests and rationalizations, insurmountably set against the magisterium of the Church, and simply say in truth that in this life we must see non-homogeneous eschatological images* found in the scriptures “through a dark glass,” and that we cannot fully know what these “hard to be understood” images convey —until we “know even as we are known“? (1 Cor. 13:12)

In scripture this is doubtless true of images relating to both Heaven and Hell. Images point to and reflect realities. In scripture images are often, as in this case, also symbolic. Ineffable eschatological symbols found in scripture participate in the realities to which they point, and we should heed the warnings.

* (e.g., light / darkness / fire, / worm / destroyed / prison / farthing, etc.).


John XXIII, Benedict XVI and Francis