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What Can You Say to a Friend Who Believes No One Ends Up in Hell?

"Guess we’ll find out judgment day."

That likely isn’t the answer you are looking for, but it’s the best I have without resorting to Church doctrine and tradition. Consider that nowadays, even some Catholics believe everyone lands in heaven. I believe hell is a distinct possibility, and I believe that what the Church teaches is true, apart from my personally believing—which, to me, makes all the difference. I mean, there is an “objective” truth out there--whether you grasp it, I do, we both do or neither of us does. And where the “truth” of the matter about belief in judgment day matters, even if you don't put much stock in the Bible or Jesus' own words, is that it is possible for me (or any of us) to end up down below.

The best contrary answer from people who don't take Jesus' or the Church's word on the matter I've heard comes from a slippery trail of presumptions and guesses that it "should not" or "could not" happen. "A loving God would never...." For people who don’t enjoy gambling the house on a cut of the cards, considering the serious“possibility” of hell should matter to us all. It isn’t simply an opinion, because more likely than not, that opinion will affect the outcome of one's belief. As an atheist professor in my teaching credential program taught: one usually dies as they live. With grace...or without it.

Of course, no one (in their right minds) hopes for hell. Heaven is the only reasonable option when it comes to the issue of eternity. Since my religious beliefs determine how I live, and if they are true, where I or you end up is a matter that should not be left to the realm of opinion; rather, they would best be fully investigated and fleshed out with valid reasons and supporting truths. (Not sure what anyone in particular believes, but it is more than my belief that the Catholic Church has a myriad ways of validating the truths She claims.)

If we’re out to randomly sample speculations from personal feelings on what the average Joe thinks, this might be interesting to discuss with a friend at a bar. But because one’s beliefs are much more than the sum of one’s opinion—that is, because a false belief could have dire eternal consequences for the believer—where I put my faith on eternal destiny matters most of all. Which is why, following the prompting of St. Paul in Phil. 2:12, I work out my salvation in fear and trembling.

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