Posted in April

Week 16 Homework (due 4/24/17)

Textbook Outline:

The Mosaic of Christian Beliefs, Chapter 15: Life Beyond Death: Continuity and Discontinuity

    1. eschatology- individual destiny vs destiny of the world
    2. Issues and Polarities of Christian Belief about Life Beyond Death
    3. The Christian Consensus about Life Beyond Death
      1. Four concepts for personal life beyond death-resurrection, judgment, heaven, hell
      2. “The future bodily resurrection of the dead is the blessed hope of all who are in Christ Jesus by faith”
    4. Alternatives to the Christian Consensus about Life Beyond Death
      1. heresies
        1. “immortality of souls to the neglect or exclusion of bodily resurrections”
        2. “reincarnation or transmigration of souls/spirits”
        3. objective immortality
        4. reincarnation
    5. Diverse Christian Beliefs about Life Beyond Death
      1. nature of the intermediate state-great controversies; two states or three (purgatory)?
      2. nature of hell- annihilations controversy
      3. nature of heaven-least diversity
    6. A Unitive Christian View of Life Beyond Death
      1. Focus on essential beliefs, rather than debating controversial beliefs

The Mosaic of Christian Beliefs, Chapter 16: The Kingdom of God: Already and Not Yet

    1. Issues and Polarities of Christian Belief about The Kingdom of God
  1. Christians should be hopeful and optimistic in God’s promises for the future
    1. The Christian Consensus about Universal Eschatology and the Kingdom of God
      1. Jesus Christ will return to earth
      2. “When Christ returns he will establish or completely manifest the rule and reign of God—the kingdom of God—that is already at work in history”
      3. “In the end God will create a new heaven and new earth that will endure forever”
      4. two realities- “the consummation of God’s kingdom and the new heaven and new earth”
      5. “Christ’s parousia will usher in a consummated kingdom of God and a new heaven and new earth in the form of a new world order without sickness, sin or death”
    2. Alternatives to the Christian Consensus about Universal Eschatology
      1. heresies
        1. radically realized eschatology-new heaven/earth have already been realized
        2. extreme adventism and millennialism-God’s rule and reign and when Christ returns are “devoid of God’s kingdom”; ignore all continuity
    3. Diversity within Christian Belief about Universal Eschatology
      1. futurism-biblical apocalyptic literature in future
      2. preterism-already fulfilled but was in future for writers
      3. historicism-fulfilled when written
      4. premillennialism- Christ will return “at the end of this present age of world history”
      5. postmillennialism- the kingdom of God on earth before Christ returns
      6. amillennialism- denies kingdom of God
    4. A Unitive Christian Vision of Universal Eschatology
      1. two dangers: minimizing Christian truth/belief; eschatological fanaticism/obsession
      2. God’s future is good new: He is good and great and He wins!

 

Scripture Response:

Revelation 20:10-21:8 addresses the judgment of the dead and the new heaven and new earth.  Verse 3 mentions how God will dwell among His people.  While God is with us in regards to the Holy Spirit, God the Father and God the Son are in Heaven.  When we reach Heaven, we will experience the entirety of the Trinity—God the Spirit, God the Father, and God the Son—first-hand.  God’s love for humanity is so great that he chose to spend all of eternity with us.  This reminds me of the fact that I will never be able to comprehend God’s love for me and why he decides to do all He has for me.

Heaven brings about a sense of newness.  Verse 5 shows that God exclaimed, “I am making everything new!”  The space we exist in will differ in various ways.  Though they will have a sense of physicality, Humans will not have the same physical bodies they are presently in.  Also, humans will no longer have needs, as they will be near God who meets all needs, and they will no longer experience the needs their physical bodies force on them, such as the need to eat or sleep.  Though the Bible does explain certain features of heaven, human as are unable to fully comprehend what Heaven will look like or entail until they are themselves enter into this place of newness.

One commonly talked about attribute of Heaven is found in verse 4, which states that there will be no death, mourning, crying or pain.  Revelation then continues to say that the old order of things—the operation of the earth we live on—will pass away.  I greatly anticipate the day in which I can live in an arena without death, pain, and sorrow.  I do think this verse also references the absence of more than just those four things.  I think it also shares how we will not have the experience the outcomes of living in the world with the devil as the leader, which would include side effects such as pain and sadness.

 

Question Response:

God is love.  This statement is used as a trite to encourage Christians, and even non-Christians, that the ruler of the universe personally cares about them.  But if God really cares and humanity and each individual, why would he allow them to go to Hell?  He should prevent them from pain and suffering and cause them to go to Heaven, right?  This, however, is not the case.  God loves the people He created, even those that will end up going to Hell.

The questions over how can a loving God allow people to go to Hell centers around the topic of free will.  If I truly loved another person I would not force my way or my ideas on them.  Even if they end up making harmful choices, they still deserve the opportunity to freely make their own choices, without my preference determining their decisions.  Love is gracious and forbearing; it bestows freedom and power to other people rather than to itself.  In his love, God gave humanity the freedom to do as they wish, even if their choices lead to pain.

When considering all the pain, suffering, violence, and conflict in the world, it becomes easy to wonder if God made the right choice in granting humans their own will.  The answer to this question will not consider God’s omniscience since that does not directly respond to the question, but rather ponder if there would be another, better solution.  There are two main alternatives to free will, which are determinism and universalism.  Determinism (or compatibilism) means that humans have no ability to make their own choices.  God determines everything that occurs.  The problem with this is that humans would be limited and unable to chose their own way, and a loving God would not put them in this state.  Universalism references the idea that a human could have the ability to make their own decisions as a human on earth, but once they die, they automatically go to heaven, whether or not they are Christians.  Humanity would have the freedom to make their own choices on the earth and they would still go to Heaven.  The only problem with this argument is that in forcing humans to go to Heaven, they do not have the ability to choose their fate, so if they do not want to go to Heaven and worship God, they would still have to.  Both universalism and determinism limit humans from the freedom that a loving God should give them, whereas free will is compatible with a loving God granting His people freedom.

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