Tag Archives: Pascal’s Wager

Sunday Devotional: Hell is real

Matthew 13:34-43

All these things Jesus spoke to the crowds in parables.
He spoke to them only in parables,
to fulfill what had been said through the prophet:
I will open my mouth in parables,
I will announce what has lain hidden from the foundation
of the world.

Then, dismissing the crowds, he went into the house.
His disciples approached him and said,
“Explain to us the parable of the weeds in the field.”
He said in reply, “He who sows good seed is the Son of Man,
the field is the world, the good seed the children of the kingdom.
The weeds are the children of the evil one,
and the enemy who sows them is the devil.
The harvest is the end of the age, and the harvesters are angels.
Just as weeds are collected and burned up with fire,
so will it be at the end of the age.
The Son of Man will send his angels,
and they will collect out of his kingdom
all who cause others to sin and all evildoers.
They will throw them into the fiery furnace,
where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.
Then the righteous will shine like the sun
in the kingdom of their Father.
Whoever has ears ought to hear.”

Did you know that Jesus preached three times more about Hell than Heaven?

And yet a 2009 survey by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life found that only 59% of Americans believed in hell, compared with 74% who believed in heaven. That same year, a Barna poll found that 6 out of 10 American Christians did not believe that Satan is real.

Among Christians who appear to not believe in Hell is none other than Pope Francis.

According to his longtime atheist friend, Eugenio Scalfari, Pope Francis in an interview that was published March 28, 2018 in La Repubblica, said that Hell does not exist and that condemned souls just “disappear.” This, of course, is a denial of the 2,000-year-old teaching of the Catholic Church about the reality of Hell and the eternal existence of the soul.

After Scalfari’s report garnered worldwide attention, the next day the Vatican issued this equivocating statement, which is not an outright denial (source: CNS News):

“The Holy Father Francis recently received the founder of the newspaper La Repubblica in a private meeting on the occasion of Easter, without however giving him any interviews. What is reported by the author in today’s article [in La Repubblica] is the result of his reconstruction, in which the textual words pronounced by the Pope are not quoted. No quotation of the aforementioned article must therefore be considered as a faithful transcription of the words of the Holy Father.”

Those who don’t believe in Hell not only ignore Jesus’ own words, the French philosopher-mathematician-physicist Blaise Pascal (1623-1662) would say unbelievers are making a dangerous bet or wager.

In his post-humously published Pensées (Thoughts), Pascal set forth what became known as Pascal’s Wager — a cost-benefit argument for believing in God. Pascal argued that a rational person should live as though God exists and seek to believe in God. If God does not actually exist, such a person will have only a finite loss (giving up some pleasures in life), whereas if God does exist, he stands to receive infinite gains (eternity in Heaven) and avoid infinite losses (eternity in Hell).

There is another cost-benefit reason for the belief in Hell. A study in 2012 found that societies with a strong belief in Hell have lower crime-rates.

Then there are fools who believe Hell is real, but actually choose Hell.

These fools have convinced themselves that, like Lucifer in John Milton’s Paradise Lost, it is “Better to reign in Hell, than to serve in Heaven”, only to discover that “Which way I fly is hell; myself am hell.” See:

See also:

May the peace and love of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you,

~Eowyn

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