Saturday, February 22, 2020

Bp Barron on Hell

OK, I threw my hat into the ring on this discussion recently on Twitter, actually, the first time I did so was here on this blog back in January of 2014. Some have been very aggressively attacking Bp. Barron's statement of "hope" that hell could be empty - and back in 2014, I was among them.  Scripture even tells us that God desires all men to be saved (1 Tim. 3:3-4) and that all should come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9).

What did Bp. (then Fr.) Barron say which is so controversial now? From the Word On Fire website:
Bishop Barron is convinced we have a “reasonable hope” that all will be saved. But the first step in assessing and critiquing a view is to understand the terms of the view as its proponent is using them. It’s important to note how Bishop Barron is using those two words in this context (“reasonable” and “hope”).
First, he means reasonable in the sense that we have good reasons to ground our hope—namely, the cross and Resurrection of Jesus and his divine mercy. He isn’t making any sort of probabilistic judgment, as if to say reasonable means “very likely” or “quite probable.”
Second, we should recognize hope to mean a deep desire and longing, tied to love, for the salvation of all people, but without knowing all will be saved, thinking all will be saved, or even expecting all will be saved.
Bishop Barron does not hold any of these alternative views. He does not know all will be saved, he does not think all will be saved, and he does not expect all to be saved   (emphasis added).
That last line summarizes Bp. Barron's position. 

I would posit to Bp. Barron a question: "Is it scandalous to express hope and even encourage a position which has undertones of apocatastics?" Bp. Barron's position is evoking scandalous attacks upon him from Catholics who are defending the Catholic faith. Therein lie the sadness and irony.

Before (or if ever) one goes public in criticizing a bishop, by name, they should attempt to have other bishops consult the allegedly errant bishop in private - or even write to the successor of St. Peter and ask him to intervene. The problem with publicly criticizing a bishop is that it can be scandalous in not respecting the office. I'm sure those criticizing are arguing that it is more important to expose error than it is to respect the office. To that, I would disagree. Two wrongs do not make a right. If we wish to attack that which we perceive to be error - then we should do our best to charitably explain why we believe such a statement is in error - without naming names. All the while, even though confronting a perceived erroneous statement or position - we must respect the office of a bishop and to not do so brings scandal upon ourselves and any such scandal may do more harm to the Church as a whole than whatever good may come from exposing error. Expose the error but let the man (or woman) face God and his/her confessor.

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