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Church and SocietyThe Laurence J. McGinley Lectures, 1988-2007$
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Avery Cardinal Dulles

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780823228621

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: March 2011

DOI: 10.5422/fso/9780823228621.001.0001

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The Population of Hell

The Population of Hell

November 20, 2002

(p.387) 28 The Population of Hell
Church and Society

Avery Cardinal Dulles

Fordham University Press

This chapter discusses the subject of hell, looking at the New Testament, the Catholic tradition, twentieth-century speculations, and current controversies, and asks how many people may be expected to go there. In the Gospels, Jesus spoke many times about hell. Throughout his preaching, he holds forth two final possibilities for human existence: the one being everlasting happiness in the presence of God, the other everlasting torment in the absence of God. He describes the fate of the damned under a great variety of metaphors: everlasting fire, outer darkness, tormenting thirst, a gnawing worm, and weeping and gnashing of teeth. The constant teaching of the Church supports the idea that there are two classes: the saved and the damned. The discussion notes that the search for numbers in the demography of hell is futile. Several sayings of Jesus in the Gospels give the impression that the majority are lost.

Keywords:   Jesus, hell, saved, damned, Gospels

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