From my last post, i linked Christianity’s Gospel of Death and the update, Note to the Morangs. The issue is hanging with me so I thought I would stop in and give the topic it’s own post. Here’s an excerpt from the second post:
I wrote what I wrote to defend Kevyn, and Tarrell, from falsehoods propagated by the pastor in question. Predominantly, there were two falsehoods that I am obliged, out of my love for Tarrell, to speak out against: (1) God decided it was Kevyn’s “time” to go. (2) Celebration, not grief, is the Christian response to Kevyn’s death. There were many more lies spoken by the pastor (who I’m certain believes with every fiber of his being that these lies are truths), but these two are the ones with which I am the most concerned . . .
When the pastor claimed that God had “taken” Kevyn, because it was Kevyn’s “time,” the pastor was falsely manufacturing an answer in order to ease the pain of those who missed Kevyn. God did not “take” Kevyn. The Bible teaches that God utterly hates death, that God mourns death, and that God has worked tirelessly to conquer death. Christians hope in the resurrection of the dead, but that does not mean that death has ceased to be a great evil for which there is no satisfying answer. God is not happy about Kevyn’s death. God wanted to use Kevyn here, to help Kevyn grow up in love and compassion, to care for the weak, to defend the powerless, to pursue peace and justice. God wanted to use Kevyn to help transform some of the suffering in this world into joy. When Kevyn died, God lost too. God lost a potential vessel of his love and justice on this earth.
It is important that we realize that God did not create human beings to live eternally as disembodied spirits. The Bible teaches that God created us for life on earth, everlasting life on earth, and that the redemption at the end of the age will also be the redemption of a decaying and broken world. God wants us here, the Bible teaches. He wants us in our bodies, so that we can do good to other bodies. That is why we were made, and death is a great enemy of God. Death is not our friend. It is not the friend of Christians. Christians believe that in the resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth, God won the victory over death, but Christians also know that death is yet to be finally overthrown. Until then, it is still our enemy.
The shortest, and one of the most profound verses in the Bible, takes place when Jesus is standing outside the tomb of his late friend Lazarus. The Bible says, simply, “Jesus wept.” Jesus abhors death. It throws him into mourning, and although he has power over death, that power is not yet a normal part of our experience. And so we cry out to God. In our mourning we cry out to him, “When, O God, will you finally lay waste Death, our great enemy? When will you undo this great evil?”
Death is not a time for giving answers. Death is a time for asking questions. It is a time for mourning, not for celebration. It is a time for weeping, not for jubilation. If a pastor talks about death like it’s no big deal, it’s clear that he’s no big reader of the Bible, and that he’s no big respecter of those who are mourning. This pastor did Kevyn’s family a remarkable disservice by preaching an unbiblical message designed to cover over the pervasive reality of Death’s grip over this wretched world. Shame on him for it!
Until just maybe 18 – 24 months ago, I couldn’t have told you my view of eschatology. I didn’t even know what the word meant and didn’t think it was relevant for me to know.
For those who might be like me, here’s the definition:
The branch of theology that is concerned with such final things as death and judgment; heaven and hell; the end of the world
For lack of a better way to explain because I don’t know all the “official” terms, I definitely was in the Left Behind camp. i believed in a literal heaven and hell; I believed in the world’s destruction through the Tribulation; I hoped I wouldn’t be here for it so I believed in a pre-tribulation Rapture.
Note all the past tense words in that previous paragraph.
I don’t know what I believe any longer; I am really trying to sort it out. I do think though that what one believes about death and the end times, affects how one chooses to live his or her life. For instance, with the destruction of the world looming in the end times, it doesn’t matter if we destroy the world with our environmental choices; it would all be destroyed anyway.
Now I understand the importance of knowing my view of eschatology but I don’t really know what that view is anymore. The best I can come up with is that I am not as concerned about the destination. If there was no promise of heaven or no threat of hell, i would still choose to follow Jesus. I can’t find a better way to live.
With the shift in what I may or may not believe about heaven and hell, I am finding it in some ways easier to deal with death and in other ways, more difficult. Still, amazingly, there is great peace. That is what strengthens my faith in God. Here in what seems like confusion, there is still peace.
~~ Grace and PEACE ~~
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