Tuesday, August 30, 2005

All Dogs Go to Heaven

I was asked this question today:
Could everyone end up in heaven? Is that completely unscriptural?

My simple is answer is no, everybody can not end up in heaven. The complex answer is... well, complex. You should pick up Brian McLaren's third novel in his trilogy -- The Last Word and the Word after That. In novel form, he explores the history of our understanding of hell. Most of our "beliefs" about hell come from Dante's Inferno and another ancient book, which I would know if you told me (maybe the Iliad?) If you look at just the Scriptures about hell and judgment in the Bible, you get a wide variety of answers depending on the metaphor -- all the way from hardly nobody goes to heaven to almost everybody goes to heaven. From eternal punishment to final annihilation.

What has changed for me is that I no longer see a line to be crossed for salvation. It is more a question of direction. Let me give you two examples:

You're a good Christian man, fairly righteous and honest, but your eyes are not on Jesus. You certainly aren't getting closer to him, probably drifting, very slowly though, away from Jesus. My Verdict: His soul is in serious danger.

Another man has lived his life about as selfishly as possible. He is addicted to drugs. He is divorced. He has no job and isn't paying child support. But lately he has had some interest in Jesus. His eyes have some focus on the direction Jesus is leading him. It isn't an overnight change kind of thing, but you can see some character changes, enough to give his parole officer a bit of hope. My Verdict: He is on the narrow path.

It isn't a question necessarily about which guy "Got saved." It is a question of direction in their current life. Now... it seems Jesus will draw a line, but I wonder if it won't be more a line dividing those moving toward Christ from those moving away rather than where you have gotten to on the journey. That sounds like grace doesn't it?

For me, it is as if Matthew 25 (the sheep and the goats) has disappeared from the Bible. How did John 3:16 overshadow Matthew 25 so horribly?


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

A quick question:

Is everyone forgiven? Right now, everyone stands forgiven of their sins?

Is it heretical to suggest that they are? I'm beginning to believe this is the case, but I lack scriptural expertise.

This isn't to deny the reality of heaven and hell, for those who choose to make God the king or, instead, choose their own autonomy.

Tell me if I'm being a heretic. Viewed this way, though, a whole lot of things make more sense to me. I'd love some input.