Friday, May 30, 2003

The Population of Hell

That's the title of this article in May's First Things by Avery Cardinal Dulles. Dulles' piece, which was discussed and summarized on a number of blogs when this issue appeared a month ago, essentially provides an overview of the question of whether or not any human beings are in hell. Of course, Swiss theologian Hans Urs von Balthasar's thesis that we can hope (as opposed to know) that no human being actually ends up in hell is discussed, and the cardinal basically agrees with von Balthasar, as do I, as I have indicated on numerous occasions on this and other blogs.

Tangentially, this issue is mentioned by Mario Derksen, who introduces a discussion on the question by stating, "Could Hell Be Empty? Not a chance! But believe it or not, some people actually propose this as an acceptable theory, most notably the infamous modernist Hans Urs von Balthasar, whom John Paul II tried to make a cardinal, but who died just before he got the red hat."

Mario and I briefly discussed von Balthasar in the context of the same question when Fr. Regis Scanlon wrote an article in New Oxford Review in 1999, criticizing von B's view. In my discussion with Mario, I tried to get him to define precisely what a modernist is, in light of his contention that von B falls under the category. Mario didn't then, and he still does not. Too bad.

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