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June 20, 2017
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v2.1 Reference

Hell and the Mercy of God

If God is truly merciful and loving, perfect in goodness, how can he consign human beings created in his own image to eternal torment in hell? God's goodness seems incompatible with inflicting horrible evil upon those who oppose his will and defy his law. If to this paradox we add the metaphysical requirement that God be perfect in goodness, the eternal evil of hell seems to be contradictory to God's own nature.

Catholic philosopher Adrian Reimers takes on these challenges in Hell and the Mercy of God, drawing on relevant sources from Aristotle to Aquinas, from Dante to Tolkien, from Wagner to John Paul II, along with Billie Holliday, The Godfather, and the music of George Gershwin. He presents a philosophical theology, grounded in Scripture, of the nature of goodness and evil, exploring various types of pain, the seven capital sins, the resurrection of the body, the meaning of mammon, the core meaning of idolatry, the psychology of Satan and those who choose his path, and the moral responsibility of the human person.

These reflections illuminate the intelligibility of orthodox Catholic teachings on the goodness of God and the reality of hell. Hell is not an arbitrary imposition set up for human rule-breakers but a continuation of a freely chosen way of life manifest even in this world. Examples from history, art, and contemporary culture lead the author to conclude that anyone who does not believe in the reality of hell is not paying enough attention. And yet, mercy and hope remain triumphant, because, just as Christ offers entrance into paradise to the "good thief" Dismas on the cross, God continues to offer repentance and salvation to all who live.

About the Author

Adrian J. Reimers is adjunct assistant professor of philosophy, University of Notre Dame.


"After a half century of demythologized eschatology and the displacement of the spiritual with the therapeutic, Adrian Reimers's Hell and the Mercy of God is a wake-up call to the modern person to become aware of the glory and goodness of God and the desolation of sin and evil, such that 'If one turns from God, he has made his life a waste.' Reimers's scholarly work packs a pastoral wallop. He does not preach fire and brimstone nor cast judgment on anyone, but his thorough and erudite analysis of the psychology of Satan and the society of those who join his company (to their detriment) is always connected to pastoral questions about God, evil, and suffering: Why does God permit evil? Is anyone really bad enough to deserve hell? How could a loving God be so cruel as to consign someone to eternal punishment? –"—Terrence P. Ehrman, CSC, University of Notre Dame

"A very impressive volume. Adrian Reimers deals with some of the most controversial and contested topics in Catholic life and theology today—the reality of hell and eternal punishment, the possibility of mortal sin, and so on—in a truly excellent way. The generally educated Catholic interested in these questions will find the book of real value. But so will the professional theologian. To say that the book will be of interest to the educated Catholic should not be taken in any way to diminish the high quality of thought and seriousness of the accomplishment. –"—Ralph Martin, author of The Fulfillment of All Desire: A Guidebook for the Journey to God Based on the Wisdom of the Saints

9780813229409 : hell-and-the-mercy-of-god-reimers
Paperback / softback
272 Pages
$34.95 USD

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