The Catechism of the Catholic Church defines hell as the state of definitive self-exclusion from communion with God and the blessed (CCC 1033). Hell is not a physical place, but a metaphysical state of being in which one has definitely excluded themselves from God. Jesus often speaks of hell in the Gospels as “gehenna” or the “unquenchable fire” reserved for those who die in a state of un-repented mortal sin. If God made all the heavens and the earth therefore God must have created hell, right? Everything that ever was or is or will be is created by God, including hell (Colossians 1:16). John 1:3 says, “All things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made.” God alone has the power to cast someone into hell (Luke 12:5). Jesus holds the keys of death and Hades (Revelation 1:18). In the end we can say that God “created” hell because it is a natural consequence of the choice made by Satan and fallen angels to not serve their creator. God did not “create” hell in the same sense that he created the land, sea, air, water, animals, angels or human beings. Hell exists because Satan and the fallen angels chose not to serve the Creator. God is in hell only in the sense that God is in all of his creation: God created Satan, fallen angels, damned human beings as ultimately good and therefore a portion of God and goodness still exist in them when they are in hell.
The Church affirms the existence of hell from all eternity and yet hell was not an original part of God’s creative plan. Hell is not an invention of God but rather proceeds from the very nature of mortal sin. In the famous parable of Jesus separating the sheep from the goats we hear “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘depart from me, you accursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angel.’ (Matthew 25:41) Hell is the result of choices made by Satan, the fallen angels, and sinful people who reject God’s love for eternity. Pope Saint John Paul II in a general audience talk in 1999 said the “hell proceeds from the very nature of mortal sin.” God doesn’t send people to hell; it is something they chose for themselves. In the end, the best answer we have is that God “created” hell because of the natural consequences that arose from mortal sin committed by Satan, fallen angels and sinful human beings. In the Eucharistic Liturgy, the Church implores the mercy of God, who does not want anyone to go to hell, but all to come to repentance and the eternal life of heaven.
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