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This post is the continuation of a series of posts that respond to a video posted on YouTube by TheThinkingAtheist. It is basically a verbal and visual collage of quotes from athiest you-tubers who have large audiences. This particular section of the video seems to cover varying atheistic views of eternity and heaven. The quotes are from the videos, and my response is just below it. If you watch the video, this section begins 3:31 mark.
1. ”The descriptions of heaven are as diverse as those who believe in heaven. There does appear to be one constant. It will last for eternity. Imagine that. Imagine eternity.”
On the surface, this line is neutral. Just reading it, you can’t really tell how the reader is asking you to feel. A preacher, on any given Sunday, may say these exact words with the intention to cause you to think happily about an eternal existence. Indeed, for most people, living forever does sound like a great thing. But the mood of this video would indicate we should feel the opposite about eternity. Here, eternity is a bad thing. Eternity is presented as an evil. How odd.
2. “Given eternity, everything that can be accomplished will be accomplished. Beyond all achievements there will be only limitless, pointless existence.”
This statement assumes that life is about accomplishment. It portends that life, existence, only has a point if it achieves or works toward something. The Christian worldview does not hold life to such a standard. Accomplishment is not the reason for existence, as is suggested here. Instead, life is meant for community. God, as He did in the Garden, intends our existence to find it’s purpose and fulfillment in loving relationships… both with him and each other. Achievements are a byproduct of our ingenuity. And who’s to say that everything that can be accomplished will be… and even if it did, who knows how long that would take. It’s a weak statement that plays on the “eternity is boring” factor that has no more basis than I have to say “eternity is fulfilling.” It’s much better to simply admit we don’t know much about what eternity will be like, or how we will feel about it ultimately.
The Christian hope is simple. Heaven is a place where a relationship with God can be proximal and even more realized, and it is a place of harmony, fulfillment and love. And I personally think that “fulfillment” opens up the options pretty wide.
This is a continuation of a response to a video posted on YouTube by TheThinkingAtheist which featured a collection of thoughts from popular Atheist youtubers regarding life, meaning, and the afterlife. It’s a well produced video (as is many of this channels vids) and after seeing it, I wanted to post some retorts to the points it makes. This is part two of those responses.
For reference, check out the video. This post will begin replying to the comments made from about 2:28 into the video.
1. “To me, living for the afterlife, thoughtlessly following a set of what-not-to-doodles which you cannot question, that’s basically de-valuing your life in favor of worshipping death.”
If there is no afterlife (as this person believes) then it certainly does seem troubling to “live” for the afterlife. And yet, true Christianity is not concerned so much with living now for a better life later. In fact, the whole premise of grace (which we’ll get more into in point 4 below) is that your day-to-day life on Earth matters very little to where we spend eternity. In other words, the “what-not-to-doodles” this person rejects means little. Christians believe we will face a judge who will hold us accountable to the ways we’ve lived. And because that judge’s standard is perfection (and since we are not perfect), we are guilty. Thus, our entry into heaven has little to do with us, but everything to do with Jesus.
No amount of good can counter our bad. This is not unusual even in our courts in America. We wouldn’t expect to escape the paying a traffic ticket by saying, “But your honor, I’ve obeyed thousands of stop lights. Can’t you just give me a break for this one?” or “Okay, your honor, how about I make up the fact that I ran this red-light by obeying 1000 more red lights.” No go. Nice try, but you’d still have to pay the ticket. In the same way that the traffic light is there to enhance life, Christian “what-not-to-doodles” (which come from God) have more to do with enjoying life on Earth, not for some afterlife reward.
2. “Apart from a lack of evidence of heaven or hell, there is another problem that the concept of an afterlife has. It is to diminish the value that we place on our lives in the here and now.”
This is an immature way to view life. It is, if you will, the teenager who screams they should be able to do whatever they want now, because they are after all, only teens. And to learn the skills, or practice a discipline (like homework), needed later in their adult life “diminishes” their teenage fun and experience. While there are scenarios where this is true (both of life and of teenagers), the mass majority of our comfort and “experiences” have to do with prepping us for the next phase of life. This courses through all of life. And doing so does very little to diminish the “now.” In fact, it is quite irresponsible not to live this way.
I’ve recently found a couple atheist channels on YouTube that make compelling and clear atheistic points in artistic, beautiful ways. Some are done through cartoon, like the ones by DarkMatter2525 (with a fair amount of profanity for those of you concerned with that). Others are done by video cam exposition like DarkAntics. And then there’s TheThinkingAtheist who puts together some well produced videos that are pretty easy to consume.
Today, I want to begin responding to a video posted by TheThinkingAtheist which features a series of responses from prominent YouTubian atheists about the afterlife. It’s about nine minutes, so to treat it fully, I’ll have to make this a post series. Gotta try to keep the word count down on these things. So without further ado, check out the video then read on.
We all struggle with death. Our own death, the death of a loved one, the death of the innocent. Admitting this must be the starting point for this conversation. It should be safe to say that for all of us, death has felt unfair, unjust, or imbalanced in one way or another at some time in our life. If you are among the few who has never felt this way about death, then it’s pointless to continue reading because the chance of ending the conversation respectfully will be minimal.
The subject of “afterlife” then, is the response to those negative feelings about death. As such, many of the views represented in the video seem to attempt to (to use Bible language) take the “sting” out of death by offering its inevitability as a beautiful, natural, even preferable and logical way for life to play itself out. I think the point of the video is that we don’t need a God (whom they feel doesn’t exist) or his heaven to make us feel better about dying. Instead, accepting the logical reasoning behind death can, well, comfort us. I disagree, of course, but I respect the way the video was put together.
What do you do when you hear a friend’s loved one passed away?
Do you call immediately, risking that you are one of dozens of people calling offering condolences (which may not be a good thing, actually)? Or do you wait a day or two to call, to let the emotional tide calm down a bit and allow those closest to respond first? Sometimes I’m not so sure.
I know what I want to accomplish: I want my friends to know I genuinely care for them and that I am sorry for the pain and hurt they are about to grieve through.
Seems simple enough. Just call them and let them know. Except…
Each time I hear a friend’s lost a loved one, I try to think about the way I’d want to be treated. And truth be told, if someone close to me died, I wouldn’t field most phone calls on day one. They’d go to voicemail. I’d only want to hear from my closest family and friends. From those impacted to near the same degree as I would be impacted. And that’s because, to me, what I need is someone to cry with, or someone to sit in silence with… or simply time to be alone. Pretty words and Christian death catchphrases like “they’re in a better place” and “God is still good” won’t help me. Not even a little bit.
I am apparently enamored, and highly frustrated, with Moral Theology. I’ve already written about it here and here, and there’s a video of me talking about it here, and a video of a sermon I gave that touches on it here.
Nonetheless, let’s talk about once again today, but from what I think is a rather unique perspective.
Reading the title, you’re probably wondering how I could ever call a good person selfish. I could tell you where such audacity comes from, but that’s too long a tale. Instead, let’s just get to it.
Moral Theology is the idea that God (if there is one) simply wants us to be good people. Good people, by the definition of those holding to this view, refers to the sort of people who seek the good of others. It refers to contributors to society. It refers to respect of people, charity, hospitality and good etiquette. And the greatest of good people, the heroes among us, contribute so much that it hurts them. Firemen, soldiers, icons of civil rights movements, and other such people are universally considered heroes for their great acts of selflessness for the common good. No religion is needed to accept these notions, and no religion really stands against them. Not even Satanism. (In fact, many Satanist are the most polite, agreeable, and charitable sort of people you’ll ever meet).
The argument is furthered by the notion that,
Some of the most lively conversations I’ve had with Christians come from the question, once saved always saved?
It’s a subject, like many here at Candid Christianity, that’s hard to cover in a little blog. Truly giving it the consideration it needs leads us into fundamental conversation about God and his motives, grace and it’s purpose, and the definition of salvation.
The popular Bible verses used to support the once saved, not always saved view are:
- “For if we sin willfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remains no more sacrifice for sins.” Hebrews 10:26
- For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them. But it is happened unto them according to the true proverb, The dog is turned to his own vomit again; and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire. 2 Peter 2:21,22.
- “Those by the way side are they that hear; then cometh the devil, and taketh away the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved. They on the rock are they, which, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no root, which for a while believe, and in time of temptation fall away.” Luke 8:12, 13.
Strong passages. They certainly seem to support the idea that salvation can be lost. Now, we could address each of these verses, but we don’t have the time to do it. However, a different passage, Hebrews 6:4-6 presents the most convincing argument. Let’s look at that one for a second.
Check this verse out!
Jesus answered, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me.” – John 20:22http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=John%2021:22&version=NIV
I think that’s hilarious! I’m not sure Jesus said it with the same gusto the average irate New Yorker says it with, but it’s funny to me anyway. So let’s set up the scene real quick. Jesus had already resurrected and Simon Peter Johnson (get it, because Peter was the “son of John” in verse 17. hee hee) had gone back to his fishing. I guess he thought his work was done. Anyway Jesus showed up while Peter, John and Thomas were out casting nets one day. Long story short, Jesus ends up telling them where the fish are, they catch 153 of them (like, exactly that number) and Jesus invites them to grab a couple and join him for breakfast.
Once they finished eating, Jesus turned and asked Peter if he loved him (an interesting choice of words for you Calvinists out there). In fact, he asked him this three times, each time followed by a “feed my sheep.” A popular preaching point for this scripture makes note of how Jesus “redeems” or “commissions” Peter three times… the same number of times Peter betrayed his knowledge of Jesus. Anywho, Jesus goes on to foretell the latter years of Peter’s life, and how he’ll need to have some one dress him and lead him around.
… and that’s when Peter was like, “What about that stalker dude that’s eavesdropping on our conversation.” Okay, not really. But John (“the one Jesus loved” per the author, who happens to be John) was apparently creeping, trying to listen in on the conversation. And Peter did ask about what would happen to him.
And that’s when Jesus dropped it. “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me.”
“Making disciples of all nations” is the operative element of the command Jesus gave His disciples in the Great Commission. The command challenges all Jesus’ disciples to multiply in a similar way that God commissioned Adam and Eve to be fruitful and multiply to fill the Earth.
We’ve been trying to figure out the best way to do that ever since. In part 1 of this Discipleship 101 series, we determined discipleship first involves equipping his disciples. Such equipping begins with Jesus inviting us to walk beside him, to follow Him, so that he can equip us to be fishers of men. We learned how this flies in the face well-meaning, but ultimately misguided plans for Christian discipleship that for whatever reason skips the “prepatory” stages to plunge headlong into the field of mission. Jesus means to make us fishers of men, not simply call us and send us.
Admittedly, from a sequencing standpoint I flip-flopped when deciding which idea — equipping or engaging — is first in the process. I settled on equipment as the first step because I don’t believe God sends us into situations for which He has not prepared us.
And by “not prepared,” I mean we are not in a place where we can hear God’s voice clear enough to even consider obeying it. It’s possible that, in conversations like this, phrases like “equipped” or “prepared” could be taken to mean “taught” or “instructed.” Or that evangelism requires some form of training. Equipping, in this sense, is meant as a teaching term.
That’s half right. There is certainly a place for being able to make a defense for your faith, but the most important of all “training” produces an acute awareness to God’s Spirit as He directs your next step.
Prepared, in the context of Christian discipleship, simply means we are in a place to hear what the Spirit tells us, and that we are willing to obey Him. After all,