“I had the greatest sorrow for the many souls that condemned themselves to Hell…I saw souls falling into hell like snowflakes.” -St. Teresa of Avila
After careful examination of the continuous teaching of the Church across the centuries and the Constitution of the Church, Lumen Gentium, it is impossible to have a ‘reasonable hope’ that all will be saved.
The argument espoused by Balthasar and many of his contemporary followers is that Christs work on the Cross was so great, that Christ in his death goes so far into the depth of sin that Christ shall find and redeem even the greatest of sinners. That because of Christ’s human condition man can no longer run from divinity because Christ came fully into than humanity with his divinity intact.
This argument sounds very aesthetically pleasing and, it is claimed, has strong support among the fathers.
My first point is to examine doctrine first by the nexus mysteriorum fidei, how doctrines relate to one another. Let us start with what is certain in the faith; The Particular judgement. It is a de fide doctrine of the Church that when an individual dies he or she will immediately be present before God and will make an account for what they have done, if they possess sanctifying grace they shall immediately enter heaven or more likely pass through the pains of purgatory but if they lack sanctifying grace (i.e in a state of mortal sin) they will immediately descend to eternal damnation(CCC 1023-1035). I think it is truly dishonest to say that we can reasonably hope that not a single person in history has ever died unrepentant of a mortal sin. It seems untenable to believe that out of the 106 billion people who have ever lived all have died or will die in a state of grace.
My second point is that this doctrine does not hold up with scripture. The teachings of Christ in the four gospels clearly and solemnly puts to rest Balthasar’s doctrine, if i might point out out just a few passages (its worth quoting at length):
-Mt 13: 40-41 (DR 1899)41 The Son of man shall send his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all scandals, and them that work iniquity.42 And shall cast them into the furnace of fire: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
-Mk 9 42-4342 And if thy hand scandalize thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter into life, maimed, than having two hands to go into hell, into unquenchable fire:43 Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not extinguished.
-Mt 8: 12 12 But the children of the kingdom shall be cast out into the exterior darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
-Mt 24:46 46 And these(sinners) shall go into everlasting punishment: but the just, into life everlasting.
-Rev 20:14-15 14 And hell and death were cast into the pool of fire. This is the second death.15 And whosoever was not found written in the book of life, was cast into the pool of fire.
And of course most explicitly:
Mt 7: 13-14 13 Enter ye in at the narrow gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way that leadeth to destruction, and many there are who go in thereat.14 How narrow is the gate, and strait is the way that leadeth to life: and few there are that find it!
I could quote many more. Many answer this by saying that the NT also contains many passages about Chris raising all people and al creation up in him, for example “And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all things to myself.” (Jn 12:32) and “ That he might make known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure, which he hath purposed in him, In the dispensation of the fullness of times, to re-establish all things in Christ, that are in heaven and on earth, in him.”(Eph. 1:9-10) . My first point to make about the above passages is, in the ones given, the first speaks of Christ, by his resurrection and accession, bringing all things to him, the way would interpret this verse is by appealing to the doctrine common in eastern Christianity, the patristics, and totally compatible with orthodoxy, namely that the damned do experience Christ in one sense, in that they are raised up into the divine light and love, but hate it, and thereby it is not the beatific (blissful) vision proper, and can be properly said to be an exclusion from the internal immediate and blissful vision of the Holy trinity. As an Orthodox blogger put it (sorry, i do not have the source) they have the theoria, but hate it and eternally drive it further from them, and also lack theosis, the indwelling of the most Holy Trinity. The second passage merely demonstrates the universal salvific will of Christ, which is of course undeniable, “make known unto us the mystery of his will…to re-establish all things in Christ”, not the fact of universal salvation.
The third point is, i think, most controversial and important. I believe, given the binding nature of the theological points of the Second Vatican Council, that Vatican II authoritatively (if implicitly) condemned Balthasar’s position. Where did i get this, from the last passage of Lumen Gentium 16 of all places, the passage reads as follows as translated from the Vatican website:
At saepius homines, a Maligno decepti, evanuerunt in cogitationibus suis, et commutaverunt veritatem Dei in mendacium, servientes creaturae magis quam Creatori vel sine Deo viventes ac morientes in hoc mundo, extremae desperationi exponuntur.
“But often men, deceived by the Evil One, have become vain in their reasoning’s and have exchanged the truth of God for a lie, serving the creature rather than the Creator.(129) Or some there are who, living and dying in this world without God, are exposed to final despair.” (my annotation)
This passage comes directly after the councils famous statement that non-Christians can be saved (under narrow circumstances) and looks very much like a cautionary note about it. Also note that Lumen Gentium 15 and 16, which make clear the possibility of salvation for schismatics, material heretics and non-Christians in some situations, must be taken in the context of the above quoted text and of LG 14 which makes clear the necessity of baptism, Faith and the Church and that “Whosoever, therefore, knowing that the Catholic Church was made necessary by Christ, would refuse to enter or to remain in it, could not be saved.“
My last thoughts on Balthasar’s doctrine are thus; that it is not only contrary to tradition and scripture but also fatal to the life of the Church and its call to evangelize. How so? well you see it all the time in the modern Church, let me ask, in the context of evangelization, how often do you hear people talk about ‘saving souls’, the danger of hell, the necessity of Christ and his Church for salvation or the salvific nature of Conversion to the faith? which was ardently proclaimed by Vatican II? No, now you hear only platitudes on dialogue, ecumenism, discussion, solidarity, “meeting people where they’re at” and “accompanying people on there journey”, and if your lucky about “bringing people to the fullness of the truth” or “giving people the joy of the sacraments”. More evidence of this phenomena is that one of the secondary causes of the Church, namely supporting peoples temporal needs and the call to social justice, has been placed on a pedestal far above the primary final cause of the Church, namely the salvation of souls. We need to cleanse the temple of such errors and re-invigorate the Church with a new craving for the salvation of souls and rescuing the world from the spiritual deluge. remember always that this age and the current order of the world ruled by Satan and it will pass away, There is only one way that outlasts and destroys it, that is the way, the truth and the life, Jesus Christ.
Stay salty (but not lot’s wife salty)