Monday, May 6, 2019

Fit for eternity?

Kevin Brown asks "Would Alt-Right Christians Like Heaven?" and notes "To paraphrase John Wesley, all have an open invitation to God’s great banquet table—but we don’t get to choose the guest list. If I cannot appreciate and embrace Christian brothers and sisters who are different than me in race, culture, and ethnicity—then I may not be suited for God’s dinner table." Brown:
....  Justification is our right to eternity with God, but sanctification is what makes us fit for eternity. Christ’s atoning death may open the gate to Heaven, but our fitness for God’s eternal Kingdom relates to the heavenly sensibilities we are cultivating in the here and now.

This is reminiscent of C.S. Lewis’ famous work The Great Divorce. The book describes a bus that traverses the expanse between hell and heaven, where inhabitants of the former visit loved ones in the latter. But while Heaven’s doors are wide open for the visitors, most opt to return to the isolated, cold reality of the “grey town.” Why?

Because they prefer hell. They desired autonomy and self-righteousness. Their scorn for others, lust, and other disordered affections were not suited for a Heavenly reality. Though the invitation for Heaven is available to them, God ultimately obliges their preference to return to the dreary solitude they came from.

We often think of Heaven or Hell as a blessing we receive or a punishment we deserve. Seldom do we think of either as a destination we might prefer. For Lewis, hell encompasses our mis-guided and mis-applied inclinations, affections, and loves. That is, we will desire our way into eternity—but the nature of our eternity will be proportionate to the nature of our desires. In this way, for God to give us what we want may be his greatest gift—or his harshest judgment.

In his book Notes from the Tilt-A-Whirl—N.D. Wilson describes a casual dinner gathering where an atheist student, speaking to her Protestant professor dinner companion, bluntly raises the question of her eternal destiny.

“Do you think I’m going to hell?”

Equally blunt, the professor responds. “Don’t you want to? … God is who he is. Do you want to be with him?”

The question is equally relevant to us today. Eternity is not simply a matter of what we believe, it is also a matter of what we want. .... (more)

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