HELLBOUND? Catholic Study Guide

Study Guide (version 3.1) by Dr. Christopher S. Morrissey, Redeemer Pacific College, Trinity Western University, Langley, BC, Canada

Movie review (of HELLBOUND?) by C.S. Morrissey, "Documentary explores Christian teachings on hell", The B.C. Catholic (Oct 1, 2012), p. 15. [PDF]
The 7pm Langley BC show on Saturday October 13, 2012, was followed by a Q&A session with the filmmakers.

Brett Salkeld, "Why I Believe in Hell (and Purgatory too!)" (May 11, 2011).

Dare We Hope Eschatology Will Many Be Saved? Salkeld

Peter Kreeft on hell: an outtake from the film HELLBOUND? rescued from the cutting room floor

Robert Barron, "How Many Are Saved?" (Dec 3, 2012).

Response to Robert Barron by Ralph Martin (Dec 7, 2012).

John Zmirak, "Salvation: The Bait and Switch", National Catholic Register (Dec 9, 2012).

Piers Paul Read, "How did we forget about hell?", Catholic Herald (Jan 16, 2013).

CWR Symposium on Salvation and the Unsaved


Recommended reading:

Catechism of the Catholic Church 1033-1037.

Manfred Hauke, "Shed for Many: An Accurate Rendering of the Pro Multis in the Formula of Consecration", Antiphon 14.2 (2010): 169–229.

Patrick Downey, Desperately Wicked: Philosophy, Christianity, and the Human Heart (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2009).

Peter Kreeft and Ronald K. Tacelli, Handbook of Christian Apologetics (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1994), Chapter 12 on "Hell", pp. 280-312.

Peter Kreeft, Everything You Wanted to Know About Heaven But Were Afraid to Ask (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1990), pp. 213-238.

Joseph Ratzinger, Eschatology (Washington, DC: Catholic University of America Press, 1988), pp. 215-218.

Hans Urs von Balthasar, Dare We Hope "That All Men Be Saved"? with A Short Discourse on Hell. Translated by Dr. David Kipp and Lothar Krauth (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1988). German originals: 1986 and 1987.

Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange, Life Everlasting (Rockford, Illinois: Tan Books and Publishers, 1991), Part 3 on "Hell", pp. 97-143.


Hans Urs von Balthasar "Just as God so loved the world that he completely handed over his Son for its sake, so too the one whom God has loved will want to save himself only in conjunction with those who have been created with him, and he will not reject the share of penitential suffering that has been given him for the sake of the whole. He will do so in Christian hope, the hope for the salvation of all men, which is permitted to Christians alone. Thus, the Church is strictly enjoined to pray “for all men” (and as a result of which to see her prayer in this respect as meaningful and effective); and it is “good and it is acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved…, for there is one God and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself over as a ransom for all” (1 Tim 2:1-6), who, raised up on the Cross “will draw all men to himself” (Jn 12:32), because he has recived there a “power over all flesh” (Jn 17:2), in order to be “a Savior of all men” (1 Tim 4:10), “in order to take away the sins of all” (Heb 9:28); “for the grace of God has appeared for the salvation of all men” (Tit 2:11), which is why the Church “looks to the advantage of all men, in order that they may be saved” (1 Cor 10:33). This is why Paul (Rom 5:15-21) can say that the balance between sin and grace, fear and hope, damnation and redemption, and Adam and Christ has been tilted in favor of grace, and indeed so much that (in relation to redemption) the mountain of sin stands before an inconceivable superabundance of redemption: not only have all been doomed to (the first and the second) death in Adam, while all have been freed from death in Christ, but the sins of all, which assault the innocent one and culminate in God’s murder, have brought an inexhaustible wealth of absolution down upon all. Thus: “God has consigned all men to disobedience, that he may have mercy upon all” (Rom 11:32)."—Hans Urs von Balthasar, Love Alone Is Credible (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2004), 97-98.

More on Hans Urs von Balthasar:

  • Blog exchange:
    • Fr. Oakes’ original blog
    • Dr. Stephen M. Barr’s response
    • Dr. Alyssa Pitstick’s response
    • Fr. Oakes’ final comments here and in First Things (February 2007), 63.
  • Fr. Neuhaus’ final comment
  • William Doino Jr., "The Flight from Hell", On the Square (Oct 8, 2012)


"Early Jewish thought includes the idea that one can help the deceased in their intermediate state through prayer (see for example 2 Macc 12:38-45; first century BC). The equivalent practice was readily adopted by Christians and is common to the Eastern and Western Church. The East does not recognize the purifying and expiatory suffering of souls in the afterlife, but it does acknowledge various levels of beatitude and of suffering in the intermediate state. The souls of the departed can, however, receive “solace and refreshment” through the Eucharist, prayer and almsgiving. The belief that love can reach into the afterlife, that reciprocal giving and receiving is possible, in which our affection for one another continues beyond the limits of death—this has been a fundamental conviction of Christianity throughout the ages and it remains a source of comfort today. Who would not feel the need to convey to their departed loved ones a sign of kindness, a gesture of gratitude or even a request for pardon? Now a further question arises: if “Purgatory” is simply purification through fire in the encounter with the Lord, Judge and Saviour, how can a third person intervene, even if he or she is particularly close to the other? When we ask such a question, we should recall that no man is an island, entire of itself. Our lives are involved with one another, through innumerable interactions they are linked together. No one lives alone. No one sins alone. No one is saved alone. The lives of others continually spill over into mine: in what I think, say, do and achieve. And conversely, my life spills over into that of others: for better and for worse. So my prayer for another is not something extraneous to that person, something external, not even after death. In the interconnectedness of Being, my gratitude to the other—my prayer for him—can play a small part in his purification. And for that there is no need to convert earthly time into God's time: in the communion of souls simple terrestrial time is superseded. It is never too late to touch the heart of another, nor is it ever in vain. In this way we further clarify an important element of the Christian concept of hope. Our hope is always essentially also hope for others; only thus is it truly hope for me too. As Christians we should never limit ourselves to asking: how can I save myself? We should also ask: what can I do in order that others may be saved and that for them too the star of hope may rise?"—Benedict XVI, Spe Salvi, n.48


More from Joseph Ratzinger/Pope Benedict XVI:

Pope Benedict XVI, "Letter to the German Episcopal Conference on 'Pro Multis'" (Apr 14, 2012).

Pope Benedict XVI, Encyclical Letter Spe Salvi (Nov 30, 2007), nn. 20–23, 41–48, esp. 45–48.

Pope Benedict XVI, Encyclical Letter Deus Caritas Est (Dec 25, 2005), nn. 33–39.

Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, "Difficulties with the Apostles' Creed", in Fundamental Speeches from Five Decades (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2012), pp. 57–80.

Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, Introduction to Christianity, Second Edition (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2004), pp. 293–301.

Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, "God's Yes and His Love Are Maintained Even in Death", in God Is Near Us: The Eucharist, the Heart of Life (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2003).

Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, Eschatology (Washington, DC: Catholic University of America Press, 1988), pp. 215–218.




Robert Barron and Ralph Martin

John Zmirak, "Signifying Nothing" (Dec 19, 2012).

Phil Lawler, "Newtown, the reality of evil, and the promise of salvation " (Dec 19, 2012).

Charles Pope, "Hurts and Hopes Regarding the Recent Debates on Hell" (Dec 9, 2012).

John Zmirak, "Salvation: The Bait and Switch" (Dec 9, 2012).

Response to Robert Barron by Ralph Martin (Dec 7, 2012).

Robert Barron, "How Many Are Saved?" (Dec 3, 2012).

Ralph Martin, "Synod expert calls for renewed emphasis on possibility of hell, need for repentance", National Catholic Register (Oct 11, 2012).

In Depth Analysis by Jeff Mirus, "Will Many Be Saved?" (Sep 19, 2012).

Brett Salkeld, "Why I Believe in Hell (and Purgatory too!)" (May 11, 2011).



Read classical mythology's finest pagan description of the underworld in Hesiod's Theogony (Talonbooks, 2012).