If not “infernalism,” then what? Suggest an alternative term.

I need your guidance. When it comes to the question of final destiny, there are three basic positions that are advanced in theological discussion:  annihilationism, universalism, and _____.  The annihilationist position declares that the damned will be eventually obliterated out of existence. The universalist position declares that all will be eventually restored to God in grace, repentance, and righteousness.  And the _____ position declares that the wicked will be definitively excluded from the bliss and joy of the Kingdom. Each category comprises any number of variations.  For example, within the _____ camp, there are those who espouse a retributive construal of damnation and there are those who espouse a damnation of freely-chosen alienation and estrangement.

My problem is this:  within the literature it has become popular to refer to the _____ position by the term infernalism. As a descriptive term this seems to work well, as it immediately evokes memories of Dante’s Inferno, as well as the words of Jesus himself (e.g., “Gehenna of fire” in Matt 5:22).  Everyone agrees that damnation is not a pleasant prospect for anyone.

But those who believe in eternal damnation object to this descriptive term. So my question is this:  If not infernalism, then what?  You who espouse _____, please suggest an alternative term. Neither “traditional” nor “classic” will do, as they do not actually describe the position.  Besides, annihilationists and universalists believe that their respective views have as much claim to being “traditional” as the other two positions do.

So I need a substitute for infernalism.  At the moment, the term that seem to work best, at least in my mind, is perditionism.  It does not immediately evoke the objectionable image of hell-fire, but it does point to the state of lostness and ruin that is perdition.

What do you think?

 

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64 Responses to If not “infernalism,” then what? Suggest an alternative term.

  1. Tom says:

    Much of the conversation I run into on this subject specifies the traditional view as eternal conscious torment (ECT if you’re an analytic philosopher).

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  2. Dylan says:

    I think you need to start with more general categories.

    E.g.: Eschatological monism vs. eschatological dualism.

    Eschatological monism would include annihilationism and universalism, because the end result of both is a single state of existing persons.

    Eschatological dualism would include varieties of the view that Gehenna is everlasting, because the end result includes two possible (mutually exclusive) states of existing persons.

    Since, as you admit, there are a variety of views under the second as well as the first, it would be inaccurate to use a more specific term, such as infernalism, to label all of them.

    Furthermore, infernalism seems to have inferno as its root, which at one time was the Latin equivalent of Hades, not Gehenna, so I suspect it would be inaccurate on that account as well.

    Lastly, most historic universalists do not deny the reality of Gehenna but only that it is everlasting, so, that linguistic inaccuracy aside, wouldn’t they be “infernalists” too? It seems that only someone who believed that there was not, in any sense, such a thing as hell could escape such a label. And I suspect that most Orthodox universalists would admit that that view, at least, is heterodox. So the debate is not over one side that is “infernalist” and one side that is not but rather between two different types of “infernalism,” if the term is to be retained. (I recommend not retaining it for the reasons above.)

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  3. Nabi Safl says:

    Gehennalism. ECTers should not object to a term used by our Lord (though admittedly without the ‘ism’). At the same time a reference to Gey Ben-Hinnom with its dark, ancient past evokes a certain image that Hart uses when challenging a certain understanding of free will.

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  4. brian says:

    I find it rather amusing that advocates for traditional notions of hell express umbrage over the infernalist label. Many such have no difficulty impugning the orthodoxy of Christians who hold to a universalist understanding of the gospel. When one lays claim to traditional or classical, one is subtly, or not so subtly, marginalizing other views. So let’s not pretend that the connotation of language is only operative in one case. And here, frankly, while it may hurt the sensitivities of hellist partisans, I suggest that a God who risks according to the lights of the majority opinion is rather like a well-meaning, fairly powerful, fairly benevolent gambler in a casino. Hence, the theology consistent with this view might be labeled hazardist or wagerist or reasonably benign speculator creation.

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  5. Fr Aidan Kimel says:

    One comment on “hellism.” I don’t like it because it doesn’t slide off the tongue. It needs a hard consonant in the middle of the word, I think.

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  6. By the way, I have a multitude of categories–
    1. absolutist universalism (all, including Satan and his angels will be saved)
    2. quasi-universalism (all mankind will be saved, Satan and his angels will be tossed into the lake of fire and burned forever)
    3. quasi-quasi universalism (the Heaven meets Hell universalism where Hell and Heaven are the same location with a different experience that the damned have in comparison to that of the saved–it is possible to locate this in one of the many infernalist views as well)
    4. quasi-annihilationism (all mankind will be annihilated, Satan, the Beast, Death, etc., will burn in the lake of fire for eternity)
    5. annihilationism (God will annihilate all who reject him including men who reject him)
    6. retributive eternalism (God will enact retribution upon the enemies of the Church burning them for eternity, those who did not attack the Church will be numbered among the saved whether they were of the Church in this life or not–those inside the Church who sowed discord among the Church will be among those labelled “enemies” of the Church)
    7. eternalism by desire (mankind’s free will is what God uses to condemn mankind into Hell for eternity)
    8. eternal locationism (Hell is a literal fire (whether spiritual or physical does not matter) but it is an extra-terrestial location as well as Heaven–the two locations are separate–the damned will go to this location away from the saved where they will be tormented by maggots and fire forever)
    9. maniacalism (also called hyper-Calvinism) (God tortures you for eternity because it pleases him not because it benefits any one or because you consign yourself to your own damnation but because it makes him happy)

    Of these, I can classify only the 9th view as heretical. There is lots of over-lap in each of the views. View 8 may over-lap with view 7, 6, and 9 for instance. View 9 may over-lap with view 4, 5, 3, etc. 6, 7, 8, and 9 are the varying infernalist views some of which can fit under category 3 (minus the eternal locationist view which is in contradiction with view 3 which says Heaven and Hell are in the same place location-wise).

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    • Mike H says:

      The common theme from your #6 – #9 has to do with the ongoing experiential reality of the individual separate from the rationale behind that experience. I can’t think of a good all-encompassing word that covers it though.

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  7. Tom says:

    Irrevocabilism
    Irredeemabilism
    Impossibilism
    Inaccessibilism
    Irretrievabilism
    Irreparabilism
    Semperism (Isn’t “semper” Latin for “always”?)

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  8. Mike H says:

    I think that “infernalism” has a tinge of being both very literal (literal flames) and of being associated with retribution and/or a lack of remorse. This in contrast to self-damnation and more figurative language. That may just be my own way of hearing the word though. And in the end I don’t think these distinctions matter much at all. We aren’t after all, talking about whether an “infernalist” is a “good person” or considers the alluded to reality to be tragic or unfortunate or not (as relevant as those questions may be). We’re talking about the characteristics of the eschatological reality that’s being alluded to.

    In many cases “infernalism” is simply the best word. Own it. It best describes the reality that’s being alluded to. Period. And I think it important that language not be permitted to obscure that alluded to reality.

    Other times though, “infernalism” is taken personally (and I can get why that is) and seems to stop any constructive conversation before it starts (at least with those who care enough about the whole thing to not take kindly to the term “infernalist” to begin with).

    (I know that none of this answers the original question).

    The tricky part (as I see a few other commenters alluding to) is that _______ includes such a wide variety of theological streams and viewpoints. You can’t focus exclusively on retribution, or free will, or “tragedy” (because to many it is decidedly not tragic), literal vs. figurative, etc.

    There is also a lot of overlap between ______ and annihilationism. “Ultimate exclusionism” or “Rejectionism” would ultimately cover both positions, for example.

    I think that the word “eternal” should be avoided, because of the ambiguity and role that the term plays in the debate. Same with “separation” – it won’t work with the “River of Fire” paradigm.

    Perditionism seems pretty apt. It seems to communicate both the ongoing/permanent nature and the ultimate loss of it while leaving space for a variety of interpretations.

    I’m not sure that it can be done without a 2nd word that communicates the ongoing, conscious, and unending nature of it.

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  9. Jonathan says:

    There seems to be an idea afloat that “infernal” is at root about fire, torment, etc. Not so. It is the same Latin from which we get the word “inferior.” It simply means “below.” The Inferno is the Underworld, the world of the dead. Of course, you could say the same thing about the other side (or two sides) of the afterlife. Inasmuch as the Christian imagines that other place to be the place of those who are redeemed to eternal life (or working on it), I suppose one should specify that the Inferno is the place of the dead who stay dead. But “dead” here does not mean annihilated. It means a range of things from Hades to Gehenna, from the imperfect bliss assigned (on Dante’s model) to pagan philosophers and poets, to the eschatological fate of Lucifer himself — nothing to do with fire, quite the contrary in fact. But anyway, if we accept that English “inferno” comes from Dante’s poem, then I think Infernalist is a perfectly legitimate term and the people who merit it should quit whining and enjoy having Dante on their team.

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  10. bosrac says:

    Inspired by Nabi Safl: ateleiotogehennism – but “ateleioto-” may be read as “purposeless” or “incomplete” rather than “finish-less”, and in any case it has a vaguely surgical tang.

    Aioniogehennism – but there remains the eonial ambiguity of “relating to the age” versus a strict “endless”.

    Tartarism would be neat, but there is little support for its continuance past the Judgement.

    So I’m backing: limnepyrism. Or, if you really must have the sulphur, limnepyrotheism.

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  11. ‘Infernalism’ is not useful because the distinctive feature of the position in question is not that it has a doctrine of hell — to take just two obvious possible examples, it is an entirely possible position to be universalist about human beings but to hold that there is a hell for the unredeemed wicked, e.g., demons, or to be a universalist believing that being in hell is a temporary state. It also compounds the problem that already exists with annihilationism and universalism, namely, that the labels are not actually being given in a principled way to begin with, but in a haphazard way: annihilation is a nominal verb describing what happens to the damned, universal is an adjective describing salvation, and if you added ‘infernalism’, infernal is an adjective indicating vaguely something to do with hell. This is just a mess of equivocation and overlooked possibilities waiting to happen.

    The first rule of classifying positions is to be quite clear about the principle of classification and what it applies to. Are we talking about the nature of hell, thus dealing with positions explaining what is meant by the discussions of hell in Scripture and the saints? Or are we talking about who receives salvation? Or are we talking about what happens to the damned? These are not the same dispute. If we’re talking about hell, it would make more sense for the labels to be something like, vacantism and sempiternalism; if we’re talking about who receives salvation, particularism and universalism; and if we’re talking about what ultimately happens to the damned, annihilationism, salvationism, and punitionism. There might be better labels than any of these, but the point is that labels should make things less obscure, not more obscure — labels like these are not arbitrary but classification devices, so they need to be following some genuine principles of classification.

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  12. petergrice says:

    In the following article series I argue that “conditionalism” is the best and preferred term for “annihilationism.” The latter suffices for our doctrine of damnation, but only if it is understood in light of eternal privation of being (immortality).

    I offer no alternative to “traditionalism” or ECT, but I do suggest that both conditionalism and universalism are doctrines of the fate of all humanity, such that traditionalism really needs to get on board with that wider frame, somehow. To limit discussion to damnation seems to be an artificial reduction of the relationships involved in the overall discussion.

    http://www.rethinkinghell.com/2016/01/conditional-immortality-meaning-best-label-1/

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  13. santascoffee says:

    “Separationism” is the best suggestion in this thread. It is neutral (even leaves room for lots of actual fates within the broad concept of sheep being separated from goats), descriptive, and parallels nicely what the other two terms are saying. Where do we go after death—all to the same place, to separate places, or is there an “oblivion” option.

    Gehennalism would be the runner up, but a distant one IMO. An awkward coinage with pretty much the same baggage as infernalism.

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  14. I’ve used “incarcerationism” in the past without sustained objection. The idea is that the essence of the fate of the finally unrepentant is some kind of judicial imprisonment — whether in the ultimate prison named “hell”, or in the self. It avoids depending on what exactly “torment” means or even focusing on it.

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  15. Tom says:

    In a sense the traditional view constitutes a kind of “dualism,” and eschatological dualism.

    If it didn’t have to end in -ism, the best term for it would be “hopelessness.” That’s the traditional view of hell is it not? An absolute, never-ending ontological hopelessness.

    Wow.

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    • Jonathan says:

      That is surely the stated ethos of Team Dante: lasciate ogni speranza, voi ch’entrate.

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    • Depending which “tradition”. Of course, the church has maintained eschatological hope for salvation of all and Fr Stephen Freeman posted a couple weeks ago about how many saints in Christian history seeing their sins hoped for the salvation of all that they may be damned instead.

      Indeed, I have been reading St Faustina Maria Kowalska’s Divine Mercy on my Soul lately and she describes her life in the convent seeing sisters under the judgment of God and then pleading to Jesus on their behalf that he grant them graces and place herself underneath his judgment instead. It is that part of dying with Christ.

      Of course, the language is figurative and extreme but it is helpful and allows us to realize our nothingness before his being. Fr Kimel has also written a past post about the prayer of contrition in the Catholic faith which uses much extreme language asserting that the sinner deserves Hell.

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  16. stanrock says:

    What’s funny is that “inferno” only has connotations of fieriness that were inherited by its being used as a term for the hell of Judgment. “Infernus” just meant “lower area,” as “infra” means “lower.”

    On my site and on Reddit’s Christian community, I’ve had success calling the belief “endless hell belief” and the subscribers “endless hell believers.” It’s neither persuasive nor an overstatement.

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    • I find the repeated invocations of Dante somewhat amusing. Dante is a poet, people. He is not giving a straight theological description of hell but a poetic representation of the awfulness of sin and the damage it does to us. In reality, none of the imaginative Dantesque associations can be relied upon for guiding accurate reasoning about these kinds of position in general. Such terminology is, again, obfuscating rather than clarifying.

      Nor is it at all surprising that people would protest the infernalist label; ‘infernal’ in English also means diabolical or Satanic, and it is nothing other than blatantly transparent, despite all the protesting-too-much we’ve seen here, that opponents of the position occasionally do try to play rhetorical games with the English meaning. In any case, as I noted before, it is an incorrect label; having a doctrine of hell is not what distinguishes this position from the others on the table. This is a continual and obvious problem with this topic: people from every position try to rig the discussion in their favor. If the labels are easily rigged for rhetorical effect, they are useless for serious discussion.

      As santascoffee noted, separationism is probably pretty close to the least problematic label that would likely be accepted by the people who actually hold the position. But if we’re doing that, we should be dropping annihilationism and universalism, which are labels given according to different principles entirely. petergrice’s conditionalism would still work; and then we’d just need something along the same lines for universalism: unionism or reunionism, perhaps. There is a constant problem in these discussions of people ignoring positions that really exist solely because the labels don’t fit them very well.

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      • (Sorry, that wasn’t intended to be a reply to stanrock but a general comment on the course of the thread.)

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        • brian says:

          Whatever neutral term might be agreed upon, the same tensions, confusions, disagreements and potentials for animosity will recur. When liberalism became a suspect word in certain areas of American discourse, progressive was retrieved. Of course, progressive bears the same associations and it will be lauded or attacked for the same reasons liberalism was/is. I do think more humor in disputes would lessen dullness, if not polemic. And these matters address the most important things, so while one might righteously ask for more light and less heat, there’s going to be heat, infernalist or otherwise.

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          • This is not really any different from any other possible argument anyone might make on any topic whatsoever. It doesn’t give any excuse at all for using labels that are easy to rig rhetorically or are misleading.

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      • Jonathan says:

        While I can’t understand quite what you mean by it, I doubt there’s any such thing as a “straight theological description.” Language is poetry and rhetoric all the way down. What you say of Dante is very easily applied to the Bible, which contains noticeably more poetry than analytic philosophy. There is no one kind of discourse that has a monopoly on truth-telling. You can’t whitewash language of its subjective, historical and aesthetic coloring to produce some sort of pure, rational dialect. For my money, Dante, Milton, Blake and Goethe offer a lot more insight into the hellish and satanic than so-called professional theologians or philosophers in this or any age. But there is more than one way to talk about these things.

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        • Since I didn’t claim that there is one kind of discourse that has a monopoly on truth-telling, all of this seems irrelevant to the point. Dante is not writing an argument that hell is like his images; he is drawing on the images to show the hellishness of vice. Whether he’s truth-telling or not, he’s not doing the same thing as people who are espousing a particular position in a discussion or argument about the nature of damnation, and it’s simply mental confusion to label the latter as if they were doing the same thing as Dante.

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          • Jonathan says:

            Actually, Dante is full of discussion and argument. A large portion of the Commedia is Vergil or Beatrice explaining to Dante what he sees (and Dante not really getting it). The point is that different sorts of discourse intertwine and interweave in a single text or circumstance. This happens every day, it’s a basic part of how we use language. And it happens because in fact all discourses do in fact try to do the same thing, albeit adopting various methods: tell the truth. So, yes, I’m afraid that people who have a discussion and people who read a poem are doing the same thing — differently. I’m sorry if you find this approach obnoxious.

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          • Yes, I am aware that Dante is full of discussion and argument. That is quite obviously not the point I made.

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      • stanrock says:

        Along those lines, I think conditionalism is a bad and confusing term, since it’s very clearly (in my view) a stance on an orthogonal issue (although Grice wrote a series recently that would dispute that opinion).

        An exercise might be this. We could ask, “What happens to the unrighteous after Judgment?”

        Annihilated. Annihilationism.

        Purged. Purgatorialism. (Purgatorial Universal Reconciliation; PUR)

        Abandoned. “Abandonism?”

        Proximity to the Father’s love in an unrighteous state yields white-hot agony from which there may be recovery for some. “Proximism?”

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  17. brian says:

    When one is dealing with eschatological realities, one is talking about ultimacy. The stakes are higher, so I think it’s disingenuous to say that one is simply dealing with a common human problem that applies everywhere. It may, but passionate disputes over trivia and ephemera are rightly seen as laughable. Vigorous dispute over the fundamental nature of reality, God, the human soul, what may or may not be hoped, all this invites passion. Personally, I prefer the days when Belloc, Chesterton, Shaw, and HG Wells could be both friends and witty opponents not afraid to engage in polemic. Toughness, humor, and intellectual heft were perhaps less rare. Modern man is so careful to be tremendously nice, unless, of course, one falls outside the range of acceptable opinion. Then one is vilified mercilessly.

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    • The question at hand is not concerned with “eschatological realities”; the question at hand is, “What’s a genuinely useful term for talking about a particular position people actually put forward in arguments?” Confusing the two is precisely one of the things that leads to people trying to use labels to rig discussions; it’s also one of the things that leads people to lose any sense of humor about such matters, and not entirely without reason.

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  18. Jonathan says:

    Brandon,

    If you’re just looking for a term, all humor and poetry aside, then I respectfully suggest there’s nothing wrong with “Infernalist.” It should be acceptable because it gets the job done. We know what it connotes. Language is pragmatic. Now, if the objection is that there are important subdivisions in the Infernalist camp that deserve a more precise nomenclature, all right then.

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    • Since this doesn’t address either the point made in Fr. Kimel’s original post (there are lots of people who hold the position who would deny outright that the label “gets the job done” rather than being tendentious) or any of the reasons I gave for also thinking that it does not actually “get the job done” (since in labeling a position, what ‘gets the job done’ is accurate distinction, which this label does not have, principled classification, which it does not have, and relative resistance to rhetorical abuse, which it does not have), I’d have to see your actual argument for your claim that ‘it gets the job done’.

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      • Jonathan says:

        I take “Infernalist” to designate any position that espouses the eternality of Hell. That’s brief and clear and not rhetorically abusive. It’s also obviously susceptible to further distinction, the need for which I think you’ve admirably called attention to.

        You seem to think I’m not paying attention. Fr. Kimel initially wrote that he thought — his intuitive take on this situation, no vast argument attached — the term “infernal” invoked images of hellfire and eternal conscious torment. Perhaps it does for some, but my initial response was to point out that that’s not necessarily the case, largely because Hell, or the Inferno, is not just a boiling lake of fire in most accounts, and certainly not in Dante’s poem, from which the word comes into the anglophone imagination.

        So, in my working of the term, trying to understand it as basically as possible, an Infernalist is simply someone who believes in an eternal Hell. How that Hell is populated, what kind of Hell it is — these are areas where more speculation and more precise terms might be applied. Is Infernalist being applied to mean something more precise than how I would understand it? Quite possibly. I would push back against a reckless use of the term, which I see as resulting from excessive precision rather than from vagueness. Infernalism ought to be a broad category.

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        • brian says:

          Jonathan,

          It is possible the devil is an analytic philosopher.
          Alana Roberts suggested last week he was a Puritan moralist.

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          • Jonathan says:

            Brian,

            Alana may be onto something about the Puritans. Any culture that can swill rum by the boatload yet forbid dancing is under suspicion of diabolism, or at least of insanity.

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        • And by the same token, ‘Infernalists’ can insist on calling their position ‘Traditionalism’ and ‘Orthodoxy’, because these words are perfectly well capable of meaning ‘what people usually take to be required by tradition’ and ‘what people usually regard as the standard position’, both of which are certainly true here. And there is nothing rhetorically abusive about that.

          But this is precisely why it is irrelevant whether you, personally, use the term in a rhetorically abusive way; unless you’re just talking to yourself, you have to deal with the question of what gives handle to people who like to use words for rhetorical manipulation, and also what can possibly mislead people in actual communication.

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          • brian says:

            Brandon,

            Would you regard a satire like Swift’s A Modest Proposal as an illicit rhetorical manipulation? Certainly, one would want to avoid demagoguery and the sophistical use of language, but the actual conversations of people of flesh and blood are not linguistically bland and antiseptic interactions. Many of them, alas, are trite, vulgar, and thoughtless, but it seems to me your interest in justice and decency could tip into a censorious fantasy.

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          • Jonathan says:

            The word “traditionalist” is most certainly used abusively. I don’t know what corner of modern western civilization you live in if you don’t know that. Same with “orthodox.” In fact, any term can be used abusively. It’s an aspect of language we have to deal with, although there are more and more people, most of them on college campuses, who refuse to do so.

            Separate issue: Clearly, there are people commenting here who would dispute the interchangeability of Infernalism (as I’m using it) and Traditionalism.

            Another separate issue: Traditionalism used to mean philosophia perennis, Rene Guenon and all that jazz. It can likewise mean, in a contemporary Catholic context, someone who promotes the Tridentine Mass and mantillas and whatnot. Traditionalist is already taken. It could be confusing to refer to the Traditionalist position on some issue. Orthodox is also a problematic term, or so I understand it, for a lot of Eastern Orthodox Christians, because if you just hear someone say “I’m an orthodox Christian” you have no idea if that “o” was a majuscule o or not. The upshot: there is no language that isn’t going to step on someone’s toes.

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          • I don’t know what you mean by “illicit rhetorical manipulation”, a phrase I have not used myself and which you do not explain.

            I also don’t know what you mean by your last sentence.

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          • Jonathan,

            The word “traditionalist” is most certainly used abusively.

            Yes, obviously; that was the point.

            Clearly, there are people commenting here who would dispute the interchangeability of Infernalism (as I’m using it) and Traditionalism.

            Yes, obviously, that was also the point: personal and private usages may be non-abusive without addressing the question of appropriate use of labels in discussion and argument at all.

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          • Jonathan says:

            At this juncture, Brandon, I confess that I don’t really understand what your point or complaint is, here or above about Dante and poetry in general. I think we’re talking past one another. I’ll be curious to read any restatement of your position you might care to make. If you simply repeat once again that I haven’t understood what you’re trying to convey, I will be less curious, since I’ve now admitted as much. Hopefully my remarks in response to you may be of some use to others; clearly they’re of none to you.

            I have work to do and won’t be able to drop back in until later.

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          • To be honest, Jonathan, until your most recent comment I had every reason to think you were actively misrepresenting me, since you repeatedly seem to attribute to me stupid ideas that don’t obviously correspond to anything I actually said. We saw this in the Dante thread, where I said, “Dante is not writing an argument that hell is like his images” to which you replied, “Actually, Dante is full of discussion and argument.” This is obviously not a response to my claim at all, whatever the failings of the former. I didn’t say, “Dante is not full of discussion and argument,” or anything that in any way implies it. I said something specifically about what he was not doing, namely, writing an argument that hell was like his images. Likewise, prior to that, I never said anything that even implies that there is only one kind of discourse that has a monopoly on truth-telling, as you seemed to suggest in your first comment to me. What I noted in that first comment was that Dante was not engaged in straight theological description but acting as a poet, and that associations with Dante cannot be relied upon as a guide for reasoning correctly about the position under current discussion. The latter is true; it’s true that Dante was writing as a poet; and while “straight theological description” may not have been the best phrase for the contrast case, there obviously is a contrast case since Dante is not merely putting forward an argument against universalism and people arguing that universalism is wrong are not just trying to write an Inferno that keeps turning out to be poetically incompetent and extraordinarily boring in comparison to the real one. And further, you yourself explicitly said that you didn’t quite understand what my phrase meant; that’s perfectly fine. But it also means that it doesn’t make any sense not to expect me to tell you that, as a matter of fact, you don’t seem to have understand what I was trying to convey because your responses are off on tangents that I don’t see have anything to do with what I was saying.

            As for this thread, I just stated my position: “personal and private usages may be non-abusive without addressing the question of appropriate use of labels in discussion and argument at all.” That you yourself choose to use “Infernalist” in a non-abusive way is perfectly fine, but it doesn’t tell us anything whatsoever about what is most useful as a term in the context of argument, discussion, attempt to state the positions clearly in public, or any number of other kinds of public contexts in which the term might be used. Likewise, someone could perfectly well use ‘orthodox’ to apply to what you are calling ‘infernalism’ with an entirely reasonable explanation for the use and without any rhetorical manipulation at all (to take one obvious case, if they truly and sincerely had thought all their lives that it was what orthodoxy requires). But this doesn’t tell us anything about whether it’s a good term to use in the kinds of discussion Fr. Kimel is considering, it doesn’t tell us anything about whether it is misleading to other people, it doesn’t tell us whether the term when actually used would bias discussions unnecessarily, it doesn’t tell us whether the term is a particularly good term for understanding the position in question, it doesn’t tell us whether the term has any unfortunate associations that have to be continually suppressed in order to use it correctly; it doesn’t tell us anything at all about anything except that one person. And indeed, it is quite obvious that it does have common associations that make it inappropriate as a standard label, that does have the potential to mislead if used in discussions, that it can bias the discussion in ways that complicate arguments. And likewise, nothing that you’ve said in this thread seems to address any of the arguments that have been made for the latter kinds of problems with ‘infernalism’ as a label.

            What I’ve really had difficulty with is that my actual position is pretty simple: we need better labels for a number of reasons, all having to do with the problems this one causes in discussion. Most of what you have said seems simply to ignore all of the reasons I’ve actually given for thinking these problems are real in favor of your personal preferences about how terms should be used.

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  19. brian says:

    Brandon,

    “Rhetorical manipulation” was drawn from your post time stamped 2:20. I wondered if you understand all attempts to rouse emotion as somehow an exercise in immoral coercion.
    I’m sorry that you cannot understand my last sentence. I have encountered similar exasperation regarding language. D.B. Hart has a section regarding Anglo-American philosophy and the influence of Gottlob Frege on discourse, for instance. I’m not sure that blunt language is sufficiently pristine or logically just for you, but I think you have created a criteria that is likely too pure for the real world.

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    • brian,

      Yes, I don’t know what you mean by saying it is ‘illicit’. Immoral? Unhelpful? Questionable? Impractical? Inappropriate?

      I wondered if you understand all attempts to rouse emotion as somehow an exercise in immoral coercion.

      Not in the least. I do consider it inappropriate to try to rig discussions by burdening other people with labels that don’t help in understanding their actual position, or that are misleading as to the actual relation of their position to other positions.

      So that’s what you meant by the otherwise inexplicable mentions of analytic philosophy. I again don’t know what you mean by “too pure for the real world”. Whether a label has actual problems for use in actual discussion is obviously a matter of the real world; that a label that reduces those problems must have certain features is obviously also going to be a matter of the real world. I have repeatedly appealed to the real world throughout my discussion; to take just one obvious case, abstract appeals to associations with Dante should not blind us to the real problems of the label in real use during real discussions, or the real ways in which it can really mislead people about the real positions people really are taking on these subjects. And none of this is surprising — Fr. Kimel does not want to call the position in question ‘traditional’ or ‘classic’, despite the fact that overwhelmingly people who talk about this subject would in fact take it to be so, because it’s not accurate. This is entirely reasonable. It is an entirely ‘real world’ concern. Others don’t want it called ‘infernalist’ because of misleading associations. That is an entirely ‘real world’ concern. I added that ‘infernalist’ is not really accurate, because it suggests incorrectly that the distinctive feature of the position is its acceptance of the existence of hell, that it’s not a principled label, that the English association of the term with the demonic allows for rhetorical manipulation. All of these are ‘real world’ concerns.

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      • brian says:

        Alright Brandon,
        I still surmise that you will find almost all human conversation is going to involve the connotative use of language that you will consider somehow unjust or inaccurate. I think your sensibility is too fine and, to be frank, not exactly just, because, among other things, I think the connotations are sometimes deserved. Nonetheless, I see that you value lucidity and I can only hope you find this a satisfactory conclusion to our discussion.

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  20. John H says:

    Father Kimel

    To coin a rather lengthy neologism, how about aionian kolasisists, making use of the Greek phrase from Matthew 25 Of course the literal translation would be something like age enduring retributionists, which mitigates somewhat the notion of eternal conscious torment

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  21. Fr Aidan Kimel says:

    Thanks, everyone, for your suggestions. The discussion, while quite interesting and entertaining, has also gotten a bit heated, so I think it best to close the thread.

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