The Errors of Michael Voris: distorted doctrine on Hell

Michael Voris presents an overly-simplified explanation of Hell containing several doctrinal errors. Like his other lectures, he speaks to his audience as if he were merely teaching what the Church teaches, as if there were no theological opinions in anything he says. His explanations are theologically-deficient; they lack subtlety and depth.

Michael Voris uses the initials S.T.B. after his name; this is merely a Bachelor’s degree in Sacred Theology. His biography on his own website at RealCatholicTV.com describes him as “among the generations of Catholics who simply didn’t receive thorough and accurate catechesis.” This is apparently still true. He has not received a thorough and accurate catechesis in theology — but (like so many other online Catholics) he has decided to become a teacher of the Faith anyway.

Voris presents himself as if he were a teacher of the Catholicism, but in my opinion, his level of understanding of Catholicism is equivalent to a student in a Catholic high school at about the junior or senior high school level. As far as I have been able to determine, Voris has written no books or articles of theology at all. Neither are his TV and online video lectures at all theological. Although his tone of voice suggests that he is teaching ideas that are definitive and irrefutable, his errors are glaring and easily refuted.

In his brief video on Hell, he states that “It is a continual night of rage, despair, hate.” This claim is theologically false; it is contrary to the justice of God.

Hate is a sin. Rage and despair, not as emotions, but as free knowing choices of the human person, are also sins. But the justice of God requires punishment for sin. If it were true that the denizens of Hell continued to sin forever, then they would continually deserve more and more punishment. Since Hell never ends, this further implies that the sufferings of Hell would increase without ceasing, far beyond what any sins committed in this life could deserve. But it is contrary to the Just Nature of God to allow the many souls in Hell to continue to sin forever. And it is contrary to Justice to increase punishment unceasingly and forever. Therefore, God does not permit the denizens of Hell to sin at all.

Voris claims that “One sin offends God infinitely, infinitely.” This cannot be true. God is infinitely loving and infinitely merciful and infinitely just because He is Justice, Mercy, and Love by His very Nature. But the Nature of God is not ‘being offended’. When we say that God is offended, the theological meaning is that our freely chosen acts are contrary to the Nature of God as Love. Every sinful act is in some way contrary to the Nature of God, and this is what makes any act a sin. So the expression that says God is offended by sin is a way of saying that our acts are in conflict with His Nature.

Since the Nature of God is unchanging, God does not respond to each of our sins by being offended. The offense of God at sin is not of His infinite Nature, and therefore He is not infinitely offended. Each sin of a finite person is a finite sin, deserving only a finite suffering. But the finiteness of sin is not contrary to the unending punishment in Hell, for the souls in Hell suffer temporally. Their suffering from moment to moment is limited to whatever extent of suffering is fitting to their particular sins. Those who sinned more in life, and did not repent, suffer more; those who sinned less in life, and did not repent, suffer less.

If God were infinitely offended by sin, then one unrepentant actual mortal sin would deserve infinite punishment. So how would God justly punish persons who have committed many unrepentant actual mortal sins? Their punishment would be no more, since nothing is more than infinite. Therefore, such an idea, that each sin offends God infinitely, is contrary to Justice. It would not be just to punish a person in Hell who is guilty of one mortal sin the same as a person who is guilty of many mortal sins.

The Council of Florence taught that the rewards of Heaven vary in degree, according to our merits, and that the punishments of Hell also vary in degree: some persons are punished more, and others less. (Council of Florence, Session 6. July 6th, 1439).

Voris makes yet another serious doctrinal error, in this one brief video, concerning the particular judgment. Again, his error implies that he misunderstands the very Nature of God.

“God is all merciful, oh yes He is, on this side of life, on this side of death. But God is also all just…. But when you stand in front of the Just Judge, mercy has come to an end. Now is the time of justice.”

Ss. Augustine and Aquinas taught that: “God is truly and absolutely simple.” In other words, all that can be said about God, that He is loving, merciful, just, wise, good, etc., are not qualities of His Nature, but rather the very Nature of God. And that is why we say that God is Love, not merely that He is loving, and that God is Mercy, is Justice, is Wisdom, is Goodness, etc. So it is not possible for God to be just in one act, and then merciful in another act. Every act of God is of a Nature that is, all at once, Just and Merciful. Every act of God is both merciful and just at the same time. For in the Nature of God, Justice is Mercy is Love is Wisdom is Goodness. Otherwise, the one Nature of God would not be truly and absolutely simple, but instead would be divided into parts.

Therefore, it is theologically false and contrary to a proper understanding of the Nature of God, to claim that God is only merciful in this life, and then at the particular judgment, He has no mercy for us, but only justice. To the contrary, God is by His Nature incapable of any act that is not just AND merciful AND loving AND wise AND good — for “he is not able to deny himself” (2 Tim 2:13). And this theological truth implies something amazing about Hell: that the punishments of the damned in Hell are not only just, but also merciful.

— by Ron Conte

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