I have recently watched a couple of videos from Vortex, hosted by Michael Voris. As far the topic of this post goes, I’ll let the videos do much of the talking. But basically, Voris criticizes Fr. Barron’s point-of-view on Hell, specifically on whether it’s empty. The element of Fr. Barron’s view which Michael Voris criticizes is that there is “reasonable hope” that Hell is empty. In the secondary video, it is mentioned that Fr. Barron believes that 98% of all humanity will be saved—in other words, not go to Hell. Fr. Barron had my side when it comes to this issue for the most part, and I get where he is coming from. I will ssy this, though: to say that we have “reasonable hope” that all will be saved is one thing. Believing that hell is not empty is another thing. The latter is a fact; its certainty is even rooted from the words of Jesus Christ. The former merely expresses an attitude. For example, Joe can hope that Victor is saved—that he doesn’t end up in Hell. However, expressing hope that Victor is saved doesn’t mean that Victor is actually saved. Everyone can hope, out of any motives,that all will be saved but that doesn’t mean everyone will be. Even God, out of desire to restore Man to Himself, does hope that Hell will empty and everyone will choose to be with Him. My point is, I don’t recognize any difficulty reconciling what one feels and what is the case, logically speaking. I do hope that my grandfather will be saved and not be in Hell, but my hope can never lead him to be saved.
Watching the other Vortex video where Michael Vorris talks about Cuomo, however, made me realize he does have valid points. I can recognize the obvious reasons why people would agree with Fr. Barron, in hoping that 98% of mankind will be saved. We want our loved ones who pass away to be saved, to get to heaven, and not end up in hell. 98% is a number that does make everyone, still alive, feel good about themselves. A couple of reasons. First, it’s not too condescending. Second, it does assure us that our path to Heaven wouldn’t be so hard, so we don’t need to worry. Yet, suppose an angel comes down on Earth and actually tells everyone the actual percentages of those who did end up going to Heaven, Hell, or still in the Purgatory, among those who died in the last century. And that angel says 39% are still in Purgatory, 58% ended up in Hell, and only 3% ended up in Heaven. The point I’m trying to make here is that if these numbers are true, which have good grounds to be so, then it shows the degree of commitment many people make when it comes to their faith (Christian faith in particular). One implication of believing that 98% of mankind are saved is that we won’t have to take our faith seriously. On the contrary, if we actually believe that, suppose, only 2% of mankind is saved, it would motivate us to take our faith seriously and pursue a holy life, a life worthy of admittance to Heaven. Having 98% of mankind saved either means everyone is following God’s laws or God has just been so easy on us. Just look at the world these days and you will see that the former cannot be true. The latter may be the case. But when Christ was asked will everyone be saved, He said “it’s easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than a rich man to enter Heaven” (Matthew 19:24). In other words, it’s less likely for someone who has enjoyed all the treat of the world to get into Heaven. The point that our Lord is trying to make is that getting into Heaven comes with a price. Being saved is almost similar to winning a championship. It requires hard work—spiritual hard work. Getting into the grind. It involves a fighter mentality. We can hope that 98% of people would be saved. This just tells our attitude towards people in general. Some people hope their enemies would end up in Hell and, again, this just shows an attitude towards people in some cases. The reality, however, is that many people in the past century has not really taken their faith seriously. If they actually did, there wouldn’t be wars, poverty, violence, and unrest. On one hand, it’s natural to hope for the best of our loved ones even beyond the grave. On the other hand, the danger of having too much hope that everyone would be saved is that it waters down our faith. The best hope one should have for the other when it comes to salvation is for the other to repent and take faith seriously.
If you were to ask me, though, is Hell actually empty, I would honestly say, “I don’t know. I’m too busy booking my own spot to Heaven and making sure others still alive are working on theirs as well.”
With all these, I want to go back to the question “What is Hell?” Many would have an image of it as a place of eternal fire, where all souls are damned. A more personal definition of it is, a place of total separation from the One we love, a place of utter discomfort.