Archives For eternity

I have been mulling this one over, unsure of how to proceed.

But this is the most important blog post you’ll ever read.

Why do I say that? Is it bald hubris, or mere temerity?

No, rather it’s all about life, death, and eternity.

Specifically:

Where will you spend yours–when this life is done, and you’ve had your fun–do you just go into the ground to become

The diet of worms?

Or is there something more?

And if there is, what are you doing about it now? What are you waiting for? You see, what I believe is that there is a life beyond the one we live day-to-day in fleshly decay.

One which goes on forever, that outlasts these born-to-die frames.

And that life?

That life has a name:

Jesus.

Whoever you are, wherever you’re at, call out to Him today.

Don’t delay.

This has been the most important blog post you’ll ever read.

Yesterday, October 5th, 2011, Steve Jobs passed into eternity. Though I did not know the man, I’ve lost family members to cancer. As many of you have as well. It is a horrible, insidious disease–killing painfully by degrees.

As such, I grieve along with his family and colleagues. There is grief along the way, watching your loved one slowly die. And there is grief when the end comes, because although expected, it is always too soon.

At least that’s the way it seems to me.

Continue Reading…

>Screenshot of Osama bin Laden Blog Postphoto © 2011 longislandwins | more info (via: Wylio)

Before you flame me, please understand that the question in this post’s title is an honest one, sincerely asked. And I ask because, as a self-professed Christian inclusivist, I have to.

My question is primarily motivated by a careful reading of two books:

C.S. Lewis’ The Last Battle, and Rachel Held Evans’ Evolving in Monkey Town.

(If you’ve read either of these books, then the passages I’m going to cite should be familiar to you; if not, at the very least you’ll gain some context for my question).

In the penultimate chapter of Last Battle, “Further Up and Further in, Lewis relays a dialogue that takes place between Emeth [interestingly, the Hebrew word for truth], a Tarkaan, and servant of Tash, and Aslan, the Lion, and Son of the Emperor Oversea:

[Emeth speaking] “But the Glorious One [Aslan] bent down his golden head and touched my forehead with his tongue and said, Son, thou art welcome. But I said, Alas, Lord, I am no son of Thine, but the servant of Tash. He answered, Child, all the service thou hast done to Tash, I account as service done to me.”

As you may, or may not, know, in Lewis’ Narnian Chronicles, Aslan is the allegorical stand-in for Jesus Christ. Thus in this scene, we have “Jesus” telling Emeth that his service to another god was in fact service to Him. The qualifying factor? As presented in the next paragraph: the sincerity of Emeth’s service.

Apparently, Emeth came from a country–Tarkaan–where Aslan was either unheard of, or presented as something other than he was. In any case, according to Aslan, what Emeth thought he was seeking in Tash, he was–unbeknownst to him–actually seeking in Aslan.

What if we substitute the names “Osama” and “Allah” for “Emeth” and “Tash” in the dialogue recounted above, respectively? Surely that is not a stretch of Lewis’ logic, right?

Now I recognize that Lewis’ work is fiction, and is not meant to be read as theology. But certainly it has theological implications?

I read somewhere that Rachel Held Evans considers this passage a critical one in informing her understanding of the eternal fate of those who die without ever hearing the Gospel. So I would say the theological import is not lost on her.

In chapter seven of her excellent book, Evolving In Monkey Town, Mrs. Evans relates the sad tale of Zarmina, a woman in Afghanistan accused of murdering her husband. Zarmina was apparently accused, arrested, made to confess, imprisoned for three years, and then summarily executed by the Taliban before a crowd of 30,000.

Mrs. Evans is appalled (as I am as well) at the unfairness of it: that a woman so treated, who lived by the light she was given (Islam), should not only be executed in this life, but doomed to Hell for all eternity by a loving God–and all because she didn’t have the good fortune to be born in a country where she would have an opportunity to hear the Gospel? It is, to Mrs. Evans, monumentally unfair.

In her own words, Mrs. Evans says, “We just assume that little kids and mentally disabled people go to heaven,” I said. “The Bible doesn’t come right out and say that. So why can’t we believe that people without the gospel go to heaven? What’s the difference? Why won’t anyone give me a straight answer on this?”

Indeed, where is the justice in it? Unless, like Emeth, Zarmina, in her simple, devout, unknowing sincerity, truly sought Christ as she seemingly sought Allah? God alone knows.

Like Zarmina, I think a case can be made that Osama bin Laden was likewise sincere–very, very sincere–in his beliefs. His interpretations of the Koran were perhaps on the extremist fringe, but he certainly carried everything he believed through to (him) their logical conclusions. He sincerely, devoutly sought “Tash.”

Also, like Zarmina, it seems that Mr. bin Laden (to all appearances) never had the opportunity to hear the Gospel in his fifty-four years of life. Born in Saudi Arabia, he was raised a strict Muslim, studied at a Muslim university, and lived in Islamic countries his entire life.

I know: this is tough stuff. I’m merely trying to follow the arguments made by Mr. Lewis and Mrs. Evans through to their logical conclusions.

What is God to do? Only He truly knows the state, the contents, of the respective hearts of Zarmina and Osama bin Laden. But if God is to afford Zarmina His gracious understanding, certainly in fairness He must do the same for Mr. bin Laden, right? Taking into account his upbringing, the hardships of his life, etc., that led him to the path he was on…

What do you think?

>Hell Is For Real

randomlychad  —  March 16, 2011 — 3 Comments

>Standing at the Gates of Hellphoto © 2008 Shane Gorski | more info (via: Wylio)

Let me begin at the outset with a series of disclaimers: I am no Hebraist, don’t know any Greek (except what I learned from My Big Fat Greek Wedding–which I’ll not here repeat–and have no formal training in biblical scholarship. What follows is merely my understanding of scripture. Allow me to lay my cards on the table now, and say this: I believe Hell is a real place because Jesus seemed to treat it as such in the text.

If we’ve read the New Testament, then we are familiar with the parables of Jesus. Parables are stories that He told to instruct His hearers, and us, about kingdom realities. Some were plainly obvious in their meaning, and others required further probing, or a bald-faced explanation. All of them contain multiple levels of truth; one such is found in Luke 16. It is the parable of Lazarus and the rich man, and goes like this:

“19 “There was a rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day.
20 And at his gate was laid a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores,
21 who desired to be fed with what fell from the rich man’s table. Moreover, even the dogs came and licked his sores.
22 The poor man died and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried,
23 and in Hades, being in torment, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus at his side.
24 And he called out, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the end of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am in anguish in this flame.’
25 But Abraham said, ‘Child, remember that you in your lifetime received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner bad things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in anguish.
26 And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, in order that those who would pass from here to you may not be able, and none may cross from there to us.’
27 And he said, ‘Then I beg you, father, to send him to my father’s house-
28 for I have five brothers-so that he may warn them, lest they also come into this place of torment.’
29 But Abraham said, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them.’
30 And he said, ‘No, father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’
31 He said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead.'”

Contextually, this passage is sandwiched in between a teaching on divorce and remarriage, and one on the temptation to sin. What’s unique about it is that it features a historical personage–Abraham, who is consoling Lazarus in a place that’s not hell. We know this because the rich man was said to be in “anguish” in “Hades.” Interestingly, they all can see one another, but there is “a great chasm” that prevents travel between the two places.

Even more interesting to me is the fact that the rich man’s suffering is tied directly to his prosperity. It’s implied that the “good things” he was blessed with in his earthly life he didn’t share with Lazarus. Thus he was “tormented,” and Lazarus “comforted.” If there’s a lesson in this for us, it’s that we need to have a care for the poor, or we may find ourselves in a place of torment.

Jesus then goes on to speak, metaphorically, of His impending resurrection. His point being that God, in Moses and the prophets, had given folks enough information to act on regarding kingdom matters. Not even someone coming back from the dead is a convincing enough proof for one who doesn’t want to believe.

From the biblical text, two things are clear to me, namely:

1) God is near to the poor; and
2) our eternal reward, or punishments seems to hinge on the quality of our compassion (or lack thereof).

Picking up the text in Matthew 25:41, the famous parable of the sheep and goats seems to rather stunningly bear this out:

“41 “Then he will say to those on his left [the goats], ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.
42 For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink,
43 I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’
44 Then they also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’
45 Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’
46 And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

Earlier in the passage (the part I didn’t quote), the righteous are identified as the ones visiting, feeding, clothing, ministering. Doing that for “the least of these” is the same as doing it to Jesus Himself.

And again, eternal reward, or punishment, are tied inextricably to what are undeniably social justice causes.

The lesson, to me, seems clear: we must have a heart for what–for who–Jesus gives His heart to. Else we may find ourselves in a place of “eternal punishment.” A real place called “Hell.”

All of this may seem incredibly obvious to you, but I’m a little slow sometimes. Thanks for bearing with me, and reading a layman’s ramblings.

Make a great day!