Monday, March 4, 2019


Gus Lloyd just said on his Catholic Radio Show, Seize the Day that we decide if we are going to heaven or hell by the manner in which we live and die.

We send ourselves to either heaven or hell.

As it concerns hell, it lets God off the hook. He does not come off as the bad Guy if He is the one, in His omnipotence, who condemns us to hell. Okay, we can soften that and say He confirms or ratifies our decision for him or against him.

What rubbish!

I can make mistakes in my decisions and sometimes through no fault of my own. Only God, when He judges me at my particular judgement will know for sure. Why? Because He is the one and only Supreme Being. I am His creature and not His equal!!!!!

I don't save myself or condemn myself for eternity. But Gus says we have the choice ourself as to whether we will live forever in a smoking or no smoking eternity.

That's heresy pure and simple, no!?

What does the Church teach about who is responsible for us being condemned to Hell? God who makes no mistakes in His judgement or we who are fallen, disordered, fallible creatures of the Supreme Being?


Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

Before labelling Mr. Lloyd a heretic I'd have to have him tease out the idea that you quote.

Having said that, we do choose whether we go to heaven or hell by our actions, a la Matthew 25. Could God veto/override our choice? Sure. Are we given any indication in Scripture and tradition that God acts that way? Not that I am aware of.

Is "choosing" the same as "deciding?" It's debatable. So, I'd look for a little more info before deciding (!) that you were hearing heretical ideas on Catholic Radio.

Gene said...

So, we have more power than God and Christ's sacrifice is just a bit of icing on the cake. Great theology there.

rcg said...

Would it be more accurate to say we have the free will to accept or reject what our Lord gives us? Gene might say God alteady knows the answer we will choose but presents it anyway because He promised to. Since God knows our hearts we don’t really present a dilemma where we can say “Yes” and get the prize without complete sincerity.

Anonymous said...

God certainly does know the answer we will choose, but foreknowledge is not forecause. Our response to grace is 100% free.

That freedom is the "image" of God with which we were created.

Православный физик said...

God in his infinite mercy loves us so much that if we did not want to be with Him in this life, we don't get to be with Him in the next life.

Gene said...

The free will/determinism issue is generally conducted as a philosophical discussion, not a theological one. These discussions are generally found in sophomore philosophy classes and have no end and no solution. The theological issue was settled long ago by St. Augustine when he said, "Our wills are not free until thy are enslaved to the will of God." Our lives are a continual struggle to bring our wills into harmony with God's will. Rather than viewing our lives and decisions as a series of "choices," perhaps we should view them as a long process of seeking Him and, gradually, by trial and error and His grace, coming more and more into harmony with His will.

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

CCC 1730 God created man a rational being, conferring on him the dignity of a person who can initiate and control his own actions. "God willed that man should be 'left in the hand of his own counsel,' so that he might of his own accord seek his Creator and freely attain his full and blessed perfection by cleaving to him." Man is rational and therefore like God; he is created with free will and is master over his acts."

We can view the process as choosing to seek Him - and that choosing is how we bear in our lives the image of God.

Each time one chooses to do the will of God, one chooses God over other things. It is this series of choosing that forms habits - habits of holiness when we choose to follow God's will, or habits of sin when we choose not to follow God's will.

The one who chooses, says St. Basil the Great, "does not stand before God as a slave in servile fear, nor a mercenary looking for wages, but obeys for the sake of the good itself and out of love for God as his child.” (CCC 1828)

Virginia SoCon said...


I could be mistaken in my interpretation, especially since I did not hear what the radio host said. However, if I understand what was said, I think I've said similar things to the kids I teach for CCD. Namely, we choose whether we go to heaven or hell. As Joe P said above, God loves us so much that he allows us to reject him. He won't force us to accept his love. The choice is not like us choosing a dinner option at a restaurant (ie, you don't die, get to the pearly gates, and then choose which one you want to enter), but instead how we conduct our lives and have our souls prepared at the hour of our death.

You are correct that God sees clearly and fully justly whereas we are blinded by our sin, pride, limited knowledge and intellect, and as such only God knows for sure how well or poorly we've responded to his calls in our life. However, when trying to explain that God is not a mercurial Being who arbitrarily condemns people to hell, how serious is the error to state that individuals choose hell or heaven based on how they chose to live here on earth?

You are correct that we

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...


I think my post shows what I have grappled with over the years. I think this theology that we send ourselves off to hell rather than God condemning us to an eternity of hell is based on 1960's "lovey-duvy" theology that God would never do such a thing. Some would prefer to do away with hell altogether and the "suffering" aspect of purgatory, because God just wouldn't condemn us to such things.

Thus it is all our fault if we go to hell--we condemn ourselves to this. But no, from the outset God has permitted the fallen angels to go to hell and create an eternity of punishment for souls condemned to hell.

I do not reject the Church's teaching that we must receive the gifts of grace to participate in God's plan of salvation for us--that it isn't automatic. And salvation isn't imposed on us, it is to be received, but God makes that possible by His grace for alone would could never be saved.

But I do believe it is God who sends our immortal soul either to heaven, purgatory or hell based upon his judgement of us. For He could, if He wanted to, eliminate hell and make sure everyone goes to heaven. That is the Mystery of who God is and the reality of sin, evil, heaven or hell.

Virginia SoCon said...

So, is it correct to say that the theological error in this is not so much the conduct of our lives affecting our eternal salvation, but more that this position removes God's just judgment of us? In other words, we are trying to remove God and replace Him with a more mechanical Good/Good-but-Purgatory-First/Bad switch, so that we can avoid saying that God condemns those who go to hell?

I appreciate your time in addressing this matter.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

It seems to me that we don't end up in hell until we are condemn to it by God at our particular judgment. How can I send myself to hell at my personal judgment, in fact, why even have a face-to-face with God? Why don't we just go to hell when we die, since we are the ones supposedly condemning ourselves to this existence. God's particular judgement and condemnation seem irrelevant in this scenario. That's about all I can say about this. Hope you can fine further answers in the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

Anonymous said...

So, in one sense, God sends people to hell and, in another sense, people send themselves there. It all depends on the sense in which the action of sending is understood as it relates to God's righteous judgment or as it relates to man's rejection of God. The former is God's direct action of sending, and the latter results in condemnation due to a person's rejecting of Christ.

Fr Martin Fox said...

Father McDonald:

You ask: is it heresy to talk about going to heaven and hell in terms of God "ratifying," let us say, our own choices?

I say NO, because:

- Let me first confess that I often use this imagery, so I am loathe to accuse myself of heresy!

- But more substantively, I think it is a matter of precision and emphasis. If we are precise, we must say -- as you do -- that whether I go to heaven or hell is a matter of God's sovereign judgment.

- That said, there are good reasons to use this way of explaining things. One reason is to be clear that what happens at our particular judgment (or the general judgment) is not arbitrary or capricious. A second reason is to provide some explanation of why how we live matters. That is to say: that if I go to hell for doing X, it is because X not only offends God, which is true, but that X is destructive and perverting; it makes me unfit for heaven. And, third, I think it's important to emphasize our own agency in this matter, although not without talking about the priority of grace. It is surely not heretical to stress our own agency, since Scripture does.

I guess I would say that this approach would only be heretical if it explicitly and intentionally denied something that must be affirmed, such as God's freedom and right to give judgment, and also the justice of God sending someone to hell.

Again, in my own case, when I talk about someone sending him- or herself to hell, the point is not to deny that this decision belongs to God, but rather, that God's sovereign decision is grounded in the choices that condemned person made.

rcg said...

To rephrase Fr Fox: God drives the train, I just buy the ticket.