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May 2011
Steve K
Tue, Sep. 4th, 2007 08:34 am
Morbidity and Eschatology

I have been reading Matthew (in the Bible) lately, and recently came across some of the parables on the kingdom of heaven.  I suppose that got me thinking about death and "the end" a little bit.  I daresay I am fairly unique amongst Lutherans for some of these views, but perhaps not.

I tend to take Jesus more literally when he talks about people being "not dead, but asleep."  The Greek influence of the concept of the soul undoubtedly plays a part in Christian thinking, but there wasn't much talk of such a thing in ancient Israel.  For me, a key concept of salvation and what we touch on every week in the Apostle's Creed is "the resurrection of the body."  Why is such a thing important if your soul lives on elsewhere?  I believe we are indeed our bodies, though we will be gloriously changed on the Last Day.  I also believe that eternal judgment is not redundant, the Bible says everyone will be judged once and for all.  I believe this will happen at the end of history when Christ comes again, when all the sheep and the goats will be divided up (see Matthew 25).  I've always thought the apparent shock of "the goats" to be nonsensical if the dead have known all along what their fate will be.  And yes, you could argue that this pertains to only those who are living at the end, but I take it to mean everyone who ever lived.  To borrow a term from science fiction, I think people will be "in stasis" until the Last Judgment when we will all be raised in the twinkling of an eye and find out, all together, what is going to happen.

I also think that eternal life is a gift from God, made possible through faith in Jesus.  I do not believe eternal life pertains to hell, but that there will be a time of punishment and then simply annihilation.  Just as God utterly forgets our sin, we will all forget the unrepentant in the hereafter.  I think we'll remember that people existed and impacted our lives in some way, but we won't remember the details or experience grief that they are not around.  Luther touched on total annihilation himself; I tend to think that hellfire is eternal, but the punishment is transitory.  Basically, giving people a chance to recognize that they didn't devote themselves to the right things in life before they cease to exist.  Granted, I am no theologian, but I believe these things make sense and are consistent with what is written in Scripture.

(x-posted to lutherans, MySpace)

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Current Mood: contemplative contemplative


Wed, Sep. 5th, 2007 06:03 pm (UTC)

your ideas about death, heaven, and hell are quite in line with my own. seeing then that we _are_ our bodies [minds being an integral part of the body], it makes sense in Genesis, when it says that after God breathed the breath of life into Adam he became a "living soul", indicating that previously he had been a non-living soul, that being himself - his body - was being his soul.

and the talk of death as a sleep, well certainly, Jesus ought to know what He's talking about, right? and he agrees with Solomon, writing in Ecclesiastes, about the fact that the dead don't know anything or reap rewards. It makes sense that those people who were raised often asked for something to eat or drink - they had been asleep. They didn't wake up saying they'd just been to heaven or hell, describing torment or paradise. They were ready to return to the last thing they knew - their life.

and God being a just God, it makes sense that all get their rewards at one time. Knowing that God derives no pleasure from suffering, it follows further that those in hell would burn until they are consumed. Neither would those who are asleep be tortured by watching their loved ones in pain, day after day, as one would imagine might happen were they in heaven "watching us".

all-in-all, good thoughts, thanks for posting this.

Steve K
Wed, Sep. 5th, 2007 08:19 pm (UTC)

Thanks! Good thoughts yourself -- I am not familiar with that reference in Ecclesiastes, would you mind telling me where that is? There are some interesting threads on lutherans here if you are interested in seeing what others think. Always good to get a different perspective, right? In the end, all that truly matters is that Jesus died for our sins and we are saved through Him, but it's still fun to ponder these things. :)

ReplyThread Parent
Wed, Sep. 5th, 2007 09:14 pm (UTC)
Re: Deathly

Eccl 9:5,6, 10

You're right that the most important part is remembering the Saviour and our relationship to Him. It just comforts me much more to know that He lovingly thought through all eventualities, considering the fact that ancestors would not want to watch their progeny suffer here on earth. That the sleep of death would provide the peace of nothingness until He returns to judge all.

IMO, the hell theme is related more to the references to the second death that I've seen in Revelation. [moreover, Thayer's lexicon suggests that the use of the phrase 'for ever and ever' (transliterated aion) in Rev 20:10 "denotes the allotted lifetime, even the life, of the individual" and therefore does not seem to refer to continuous [unlimited] time (transliterated dienekes). Blue Letter Bible Online has a Strong's and Thayer's and I just looked that up, cuz it got interesting to me.]

Pardon my longwindedness. s'pose some days i get esoteric. maybe i'll go listen to take 6 now. ;)

ReplyThread Parent
Steve K
Sun, Sep. 9th, 2007 08:40 am (UTC)
Re: Deathly

Pardon my longwindedness. s'pose some days i get esoteric. maybe i'll go listen to take 6 now. ;)
You think you are longwinded? You apparently didn't see my response to one comment on lutherans -- I had to trim a couple sentences because I was just over the letter limit for a single comment box! :)

ReplyThread Parent