Saturday 6 March 2021

Forever Hell


Father Ignatius was taken aback by Quentin’s question one evening when they were watching TV in the Parish House living room. Quentin owned a small garage and workshop nearby and every so often he would take the priest’s car for maintenance or to fix something that had gone wrong. That evening, he’d just returned the priest’s car when an important football match had just started on TV. Quentin did not have time to go home to see the game, so the priest invited him in and they both enjoyed a mediocre game seeing their favorite team lose.
But football was not on the mechanic’s mind when he asked his unexpected question.

“Father …” he asked, “if God loves us so much, how can he possibly condemn someone to an eternity in hell? Eternity is a long time … it’s for ever like.”

Father Ignatius switched the TV off. He poured himself and Quentin another cup of coffee. He was playing for time and wondering how best to approach this subject.

“There is this misconception,” he said finally, “that priests know everything. Now that may be true of others but not necessarily me …”

Quentin smiled and said, “No matter how bad a person is, or was, surely an eternity is a long punishment. I feel sad for those in hell for ever and ever. If it was up to me, and I knew that someone was truly sorry and repented after his death, I would forgive him. Is God not more merciful than me? Does He forgive people after they die, if they truly repent?”

Father Ignatius put down his cup and replied, “Jesus tells us about hell in the Bible. It has been described as a place where fire burns and people stay there for ever. Christ’s parable about the rich man and Lazarus states that there is a chasm between earth and hell that cannot be bridged.

“So, seen from what the Bible tells us, it does seem that those who go to hell are there for an eternity.

“Now then … seen from your perspective, a human perspective, this does seem somewhat harsh. No matter what someone may have done, surely an eternity is too extreme a punishment.”

“That’s right” agreed Quentin.

“But God sees things from His perspective, which is of course different to ours.” continued the priest.

“You’re right in saying that He is merciful and forgiving. More than any human can be. But He is also just.

“Over the years, many wise heads have pondered the same question which you ask. So you’re not alone here Quentin; you’re amongst the great theologians and philosophers of history!”

Quentin smiled again.

“Some have argued that a merciful God would in His own time forgive those in hell and they would join Him in Heaven.

“Some have also said that God will some day forgive even Satan. And that hell will some day be empty as everyone there truly repents and is forgiven as they rejoin God in His Glory in Heaven.

“Now wouldn’t that be wonderful?” asked the priest, “humanity totally forgiven as a result of the ultimate sacrifice that Christ suffered for us.

“That is God’s love and mercy in the extreme. Total love, full of mercy and forgiveness!”

Father Ignatius stopped for while; then he went on just as calmly as before.

“But nothing of what I have just said is Biblical. There is nothing in Christian teaching that implies God will eventually forgive everyone, even those in hell.

“It’s human conjecture, borne of human nature, human sense of justice and forgiveness.

“God sees things God’s way; not our way.

“As I see it, God’s love is so much that He gave us the freedom of choice. We can choose to respond to His invitation to love or choose to ignore it.

“God’s invitation is always open. Even if we don’t RSVP.

“Now those who choose to ignore God will eventually end up in hell. Whether it is a burning fire, or whatever else we may imagine it to be, one thing is certain. Hell is an exclusion of God.

“No one goes there by mistake. We choose, through our actions, to exclude ourselves from God.

“For how long … I wouldn’t hazard a guess. An eternity maybe … or as you and others surmise perhaps as long as it takes for God to forgive, once again.”

“That’s what I was thinking,” said Quentin.

“Yes I know,” replied Father Ignatius, “and as I said, you’re not alone in your thinking.

“Was it not C S Lewis who said that the door of hell is locked from the inside?

“We send ourselves to hell by turning down God’s invitation to love … and we lock ourselves in self-imposed exile, by continuing to refuse to love Him, by continuing to refuse to acknowledge our sins and repent; rather than God locking us in from the other side of the door.”

“I see …” mumbled Quentin.

“But I repeat,” said Father Ignatius, “none of this is Biblical. It is merely the result of assumptions from human minds who like to believe in an eventual ‘get out of jail free’ card which we can all ultimately use.

“If you ask for my opinion. I believe God knows what He is doing. And nothing is impossible to God. We should trust Him to do the right thing!”






  1. So wonderful to read this story again, Victor. Fr. Ignatius is so wise and loveable, I feel like he's sitting in the same room with me when he dispenses his thoughts.

    1. You are so kind in your praise, Martha. Thank you. To tell the truth, when I wrote these stories, especially when I wrote my first book, VISIONS, it felt as if I was there in the town and place where the story took place. I felt as if I was in St Vincent Church, or Father Ignatius' office in Parish House. It all felt so real to me.

      That is why I have not described Father Ignatius in my books and stories. I describe the surroundings, the town, the park, the church and Parish House, but not him. I leave it to my readers to imagine the Father Ignatius they would wish to meet and get to know.

      Thank you again, Martha, for your support and encouragement.

      God bless always.

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  3. We need to live our lives as a caring and loving society. But this isn't as easy as it sounds for humanity.
    Emotional feelings get in the way.
    Mood swings are a human fault.
    We hate to easily and love to sparingly.
    God has to punish those who defy Him.
    This world of chaos that we live in shows this only to clearly.
    Follow God's way and heaven awaits~

    Great post for thought...

    God's Blessings My Friend ~

    1. Yes Jan; the world is in chaos because people willingly and with determination choose the path of evil. No one goes to hell by accident. They choose to go there.

      God bless.

  4. ...I know a number of people who should spend eternity in HELL!

    1. Sad ... and possibly true. I understand what you mean, Tom.

      God bless.

  5. Perhaps I have sinned in my life, I am surly not perfect. I made fun of Mary-Jeans buck teeth in 3rd grade. I once smashed a kids jock-o-lantern in the street, I keyed the car of a guy that cut me off and I am sure other things. Perhaps I should spend time in Hell, but for all eternity? Right next to Hitler?

    1. JoeH ... if I may explain ... bearing in mind I am not a priest, pastor, vicar or anything like that. Just an ordinary guy.

      There is a difference between the sins you describe, for which you appear to be sorry, and no doubt have asked God for forgiveness privately; and the sins of people who deliberately, and constantly, with determination and full knowledge do something seriously wrong.

      Some people know that they are doing something seriously wrong, and despite that knowledge, they go ahead and do it. I give you an example: here in the UK there are many celebrities who do not believe in God. They have made that plain; and it is their prerogative to choose so. They have shut God from their lives. But that is not enough for them. They often, on TV, radio and social media, they proclaim their un-belief and encourage and influence vulnerable people to do likewise. They often imply that to believe in God, (and Christianity), is old fashioned and not enlightened in this modern world. Their personal belief is not enough. They want others to follow too. They have consciously shut God from their lives.

      As C S Lewis once said: In the end some people will say to God, "Thy will be done!" Whereas to others God will say: "Thy will be done!" They will willingly shut themselves in hell.

      I doubt very much that you are as evil as Hitler. Don't be too hard on yourself. Cheer up and write another funny post on your blog.

      God bless you.

    2. There you go again, making me think.

      Not sure those that you reference should spend any time with Hitler either. That is my point, shunning God and directing others to do so is not in itself evil, it may just be ignorance and God made them ignorant. I believe God will eventually forgive all unless they turn away from that forgiveness.

      Someday we will both know for sure, I hope I get to tell you "I told you so!"

    3. Hi JoeH. Thank you for this. I'll develop this further in my post tomorrow. I'm grateful that you've engaged in this discussion; most of which I tend to agree with you on.

      God bless, my friend.

  6. I'm agreeing with Martha's every word! Thank you for this explanation why you've chosen not to describe the good Father -- so wise. (Clever, too!)

    1. Thank you so much, Mevely. I truly appreciate your encouragement and support too.

      Let me add that when I started writing VISIONS, my first book, I considered describing Father Ignatius. But then I thought the very description might caricature the character. Just like people have an image in their head about Sherlock Holmes, or Hercule Poirot, or Robin Hood and other fictitious characters. Father Ignatius is based on a number of real priests I have had the privilege to know. It occurred to me that the character I was creating in my book was the very soul of these priests, not what they physically looked like. A number of the stories I relate really happened. So I created Father Ignatius as a person that all readers can relate to regardless of how each reader perceives him to look like.

      God bless you, my friend.

  7. Father Ignatius does sound like a nice person to talk to. He doesn't have the answers either but will try his best to answer your questions and explain it in simple language for understanding. I like him.

    1. Thank you Bill. I like him too, because he is based on real priests I have known. A number of my Father Ignatius stories actually happened.

      God bless.

  8. God would love for all to go to heaven and see no one at all in hell. He gave us free will, and we can either accept Jesus as our savior or not. We are the ones who decide where we will spend eternity. It doesn't matter that some people sin more than others! We are all sinners and God will forgive ANYONE of all their sins if they just ask. There is nothing we can do of ourselves that gets us to heaven - only through God's Grace can we get there.

  9. Dearest Victor,
    A great story for lots of pondering!

  10. If we, as Christians, live according to the way we are supposed to, and others ignore all of God’s commands, then a punishment of Hell forever is the promise. Christians would most likely wonder why they too didn’t do as they pleased if there was no reason to. That is my human way of seeing it. Blessings.

  11. I think you are right, Nells. People know throughout their lives the consequences of not following God's Commandments; yet they choose to ignore them.

    God bless you always.

  12. It is so very sad that people turn away, but G-d is wiser than we and will always do right. You brought out an excellent discussion here.

    1. Thank you so much, Mimi. Sometimes, a good discussion helps in clearing our minds.

      God bless.



God bless you.