Saturday, June 21, 2008

Christian Theology 2: Day 4
What is heaven, what is hell?

On our final day of CT2, we are on to one subject that I felt I need most at this point of time, being one of the topics I have least learning on: eschatology.

Christopher brought us through these:

1. The Second Coming of Christ
About His return being definite, what the characters of the coming are, the purposes for His return and our bodily resurrection.

2. What happens after death?
Would it be an immediate entrance into eternity, a soul sleep or a conscious existence of the soul? My position has always been between the first and the third. I have only been aware of the second not too long ago. While I was articulating between the three, I found myself taking all three position at different times within just 10 minutes. For now, I still could not go with any one position but the first one seem to make more sense, but having said that, how do we explain Lazarus' resurrection? Had he an immediate entrance into eternity and then called back to time again? Sound a tad too much like time traveling with its problems. What about Jesus telling the family of the dead girl that she is asleep? Soul sleep?

3. The Millenium


Based on the little that I have learnt today, I am with amillenialism.

4. The Final Consummation
What is the Final Judgement, what is the state of the wicked and the righteous. Some of us had problems with eternal punishment - they could not accept how they can enjoy eternity whilst there are others that suffer eternally in hell.

My take is that hell is a place where God is not there. We live in a fallen world where God's common grace is still present. So, we may not know to the fullest extent how it would be like in a place where God has totally withdrawn himself. The description of furnace of fire and gnashing of teeth may be metaphors in the way that human will exist in a place where every person will live solely for himself and himself alone - where there is no peace, no pure joy, no pure love - nothing is good. Everyone will want everything only for themselves and there will be no giving in, no losing.

This suddenly reminds me of a book Calvin was reading some weeks ago, of a story of a place where death was removed, no one can die but they still suffer because they still get hurt, they bleed, and feel pain - and yet they had to live on an on in that state because they can't die and end the pain, which they brought upon themselves. The day was finally "saved" only when mortality was returned, they can finally die. (I was worried about what he was reading when he told me about it, nevermind that I bought him the book, I must now get hold of it and read it for myself.)

Imagine a world with no goodness and no death - and this would be the choice of some because they cannot find themselves loving each other more than themselves, or being in celebratory worship as one body of Christ, or being communal and denying themselves for God and one another - all the qualities of the children of God, in love, in holiness and to the glory to God. This would be heaven and the exact opposite, hell.


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