Wednesday, August 03, 2005

A Brief Thought [And Nothing More]

I remember discussing Christianity-in-general with an apartment neighbor back during my grad school days around 1996 or so. My neighbor merely wanted to die and to completely "un-exist."

I mentioned that perhaps reality did not allow this option, and, if Christianity happened to be true, then we have two options: communion with God and complete separation from God.

He mentioned that he'd prefer the complete separation from God to an eternity with God, where, presumably one would bask in, delight in, and revel in [among other things] a presence and revealing of God that would make our contingent earthly experiences seem like so much thin gruel.

He just wanted to "sleep" for eternity, or, as stated above, to "not exist." This isn't an unreasonable request as far as requests go, but reality is not in the business of granting or not granting our requests. Reality merely "is."

I believe the underlying premise he had when stating his request is that this basking, delighting, revelling, etc, would be some sort of conscious work, much like the phony enthusiasm we had to manufacture back in my Assembly of God high school days when the goof-of-the-week would start waxing charismatic. Back then, we had to force ourselves to believe, act excited, affect a pose of being spirit-driven, etc.

And I'd rather sleep forever than go through that silliness again, because that silliness is anthropocentric emotionalism as compared to being theocentric.

But, when one thinks about it, if God is Who we think He is, if God has the properties that classical theism, let alone Christianity, ascribes to Him, then it seems that the mere "hard reality" of God --- experienced more fully than one could have during one's earthly fallen life --- would, I think, make the basking, delighting, revelling, etc the natural and effortless reaction of the Christian, just as our laughter at something funny is natural and effortless. [That's one loooonnnnnngggg sentence, and my high school English teachers are now shamed.]

In other words, this isn't like my having to try to stay awake or find something else to do while Pastor Blather drones on with another sermon that bores me, and it isn't like having to sing a bunch of silly songs. It isn't like reciting the Athanasian creed when you know full well that you couldn't rigorously define the terms you are affirming. Those things are merely the shadows.

God would be the firmament or reality, and, if He is Who He is, then I don't think one could help but stand in awe, a holy fear, and a sort of wonder that His presence or manifestation produces in we contingent creatures. We were ultimately made to experience that.

So, coming back to my neighbor of a decade ago, it really wasn't his view of heaven that was defective. It wasn't the purported eternal worship and awe that provided the impetus for [what I consider to be] his errant wish for eternal sleep or nonexistence.

The real defect was in his view of God. A God in Whom we rational creatures would lose interest or have to force ourselves to care about really wouldn't be the God of the Bible. This sort of God would be a mere semi-divine being, not worthy of the descriptor term "God." This sort of God would be the God of certain modernist theologians and pop culture intellectuals, but He wouldn't be Biblical.

Why did this thought pop into my head? I don't know. This whole post is just a thought, and it seems as good as anything else I had planned to put up on the PP site today.


Blogger The Clinging Vine said...

I've wondered about the whole "Heaven won't be heaven without [fill in the blank] there!" view....frankly, I expect to be so mesmerized by the LORD that I won't be particularly aware of anyone else being in the vicinity.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005 11:26:00 PM  
Blogger centuri0n said...

I think that it might have been more effective to ask this person, "why is being conscious such a drag?"

I know how I would have answered that in my athiest of moments -- "because the mind is a burden that must be borne, but we don't really take it anywhere. Being freed from my mind will be a relief."

That is an opportunity for evangelism. Christ came to release the captives. For an atheist, that's good news becuase he knows he's a captive and his life is metaphysically pointless.

Thursday, August 04, 2005 5:12:00 AM  
Anonymous Greg said...

Heaven requires inner command (a result of sanctification) and it requires gratitude (a result of sanctification).

Because: there are less laws in heaven and we have to police ourselves, so to speak; and there is a higher level of energy in heaven thus we need gratitude because higher energy mixed with resentment is explosively negative.

Friday, August 05, 2005 10:58:00 PM  
Blogger Pedantic Protestant said...

Hello Greg:

I was always under the impression that heaven required Spirit-wrought faith in Christ, but that's just me. :-)

Clinging Vine:

Agreed completely. When thinking about heaven [which is much rarer than worrying about Hell I assure you!!] I still can't avoid importing every earthly analogy into my imagery. Let's hope we get to find out.

Saturday, August 06, 2005 12:56:00 AM  
Anonymous greg said...

Sanctification is the third rail of seminary level (whether you attended or not) Christianity.

Saturday, August 06, 2005 12:14:00 PM  

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