Heaven, Hell and Purgatory

When I was a child, I had a vision of hell a a fiery furnace into which people who died with very serious sins on their soul were thrown, Satan guarding the door with a pitchfork. In college, I read Dante’s Inferno, giving me even more ghastly visions of various circles of hell. For many, heaven is a place where angels serenada the souls of the faithful departed with harps and lyres.

Do you believe in hell? What does your faith tradition teach about the existence and nature of hell and who inhabits it? What about purgatory? Is there a heaven? What’s it like?

All Christian denominations accept that there is life after death. But Christian denominations are not monolithic in how they talk about what that means.

Today, we had a Mid-Day Dialogue at UST Law School the explored the views of several faith traditions on heaven, hell and purgatory. In addition to myself, presenting a Catholic perspective, Chato Hazelbaker talked about the issue from an Evangelical perspective, and Mark Osler spoke from his anabaptist-turned-Episcopal standpoint. As is always the case at these events, the subsequent discussion with the audience (which included a Catholic priest, an Episcopal minister and laypeople of various ages and faith traditions) was both lively and informative. Mark, Chato and I came away from the dialogue feeling as though we had each learned something and I’m confident all of the attendees felt the same way.

You can access a recording of my, Chato, and Mark’s remarks here or stream it from the icon below. (The podcast runs for 25:48.)