Sunday, November 30, 2008

to a friend uncertain about the afterlife

I've done some thinking about your statements about the afterlife. I'd like to share some thoughts. I'll try not to spew forth great volumes here, but please ask me if you want me to go into anything deeper. I'll number my thoughts because that is what I like to do when I'm creating a list that doesn't fit into a nice paragraph.

1) Our world/culture has programmed us to think in terms of science being the ultimate determinate of certainty. All a journalist has to say these days is write "scientists say ..." and people will ascent to what follows. With this programming, it is natural for us to feel doubt about things that can't be proven to us through "science". (I put science in quotes because I differentiate it from the Scientific Method, but that is another matter.)

2) Pushed on the point above, I would have to say that Satan is working to lead people to doubt eternal life and judgment. We should expect that we will be tempted to doubt. Certainly doubt is not that uncommon, but I would point out that we can be certain.

3) In a theistic orientation, not specifically Christian, it is apparent that nearly all people feel a sense of moral responsibility. This points us to the fact that there is someone outside of us to whom we are responsible for our actions. Yet, it is clear that judgment or justice for those actions does not occur in this life. It is this conflict between a sense of transcendent responsibility and a failure to see the justice effected in this life that leads us toward a future judgment to come beyond this life. We express our frequent sense of injustice when bad people triumph.

4) The Christian message is in its essence that we are morally responsible to the creator of the universe and we are utter failures in keeping our responsibilities toward Him. Our failures and even our orientation in opposition to the creator are wonderfully removed, not by anything we have done, but by the coming of Christ Jesus to suffer our punishment and rise again. He opens the door to eternal life for us. Our problem with our God is solved by our God. This is the gospel.

5) The gospel is communicated to us by the Bible, therefore I believe that the Bible in its entirety is God's word. It is the only source of such wonderful news. The Bible must be taken as a whole. To subtract a portion from being God's word only attempts to elevate ourselves into a position of being the selectors of what is divine and opens the door for Satan to provoke us to continue to subtract. This is where I ended up going starting in college years and was left with total atheism by 1985.

6) The promise of eternal life is an essential element of Christianity. Specific verses such as 1 Corthintians 15:12-19 focus in on this pointing out that without the resurrection we have nothing. In general, however, the teaching of eternal life stretches throughout scripture. We cannot omit it.

7) The very fact that you want to believe eternal life is true is an indication that you have a longing for something beyond this life. You were made for more than just this (Hebrew 13:14).

8) The Bible is the objective word of God that is our source for certainty. It does not depend upon us. The world might be teaching us to trust only in the world's ways but we have a divine way that grounds our confidence.