Friday, March 26, 2010

Lydia McGrew on Understanding Heaven

Which includes some comments critical of Calvinism.

1 comment:

Gregory said...

I think we can understand "Heaven", albeit "darkly", by contrasting it with "Hell".

And by "Hell", I don't mean a special place or location that stands in contrast to a "good" or "pleasant" locale. Nor do I take "Hell" as something that will occur qua "kairos", in a stark dramatic fashion, after a person ceases biological functioning. However common the idea of "Hell" being a particular location or a future moment, I will make no hesitation in saying that they are mistaken notions.

Here's an illustration that might help someone modestly conceptualize "hell":

Remember the time you met someone who was more athletic than you, or smarter than you, or more attractive, or funnier, or fortunate, or talented, etc.,...and how you were secretly envious and repulsed (even avoiding them), because they were/are a reminder that you aren't the smartest, or the funniest, or the most talented, or the best looking, etc.,..? And remember how it tore you up to be told that your idea wasn't that good, or that she'd rather date someone who was stronger and better looking than you, and that Joe Blow was a riot at the party while your own attempts at humor just fell flat.....Well, if you can remember what it was like to be in the presence of someone possessing "superior" qualities to those of yourself, and can remember the painful realization that you aren't "king of the hill", then you have been---however short or long your episode of envy and jealousy lasted---in "Hell".

To be in "Heaven", in this case, isn't a matter of moving locations or waiting for some pleasant experiences to happen. To be in "Heaven" would involve removing your own "Highness' Crown", stepping off the "High Horse", swallowing your pride, being humble, etc. And it would involve more than just having apathy and emotional detachment while in the presence of your "betters". "Heaven", in this earthly illustration, would be the ability to be amazed, astounded and delighted around people who are greater, by so many counts, than either you or I.

But, in a theological sense, "Hell" is the eternal, unavoidable repugnance of the proud person who cannot tolerate being around Someone Who is, in every possible way, infinitely better than any of us.