The question I want to give an answer to today is quite an interesting one. In fact, whilst this question was asked by someone who would describe themselves as an atheist, many Christians themselves have asked the same question and have come up with very different answers. The question is this…
Why are the only two options eternal bliss or eternal torment? The world isn’t divided into good and bad people, in fact, it could be argued that every single one of us has shades of both good and bad. So wouldn’t it make sense to have some sort of middle ground?
Many of you will be thinking ‘limbo’ or ‘purgatory’ at this point. To be honest, I was too when I read the question, hence the picture. But I’m not going to argue for and against purgatory today. I’m just going to address the question in the way that I would answer it. (I don’t believe in purgatory by the way).
Let’s start with the comment about people. The question-asker is completely right. Everyone does wrong, and everyone is capable of doing good. But we are neither one or the other. And as I keep mentioning in my posts, even one bad thought, word or action is enough to separate us from God forever.
Because of this, orthodox Christian teaching dictates that everyone by default is on the road to “eternal torment”, to use the phrase in the question. Obviously this statement provokes a million questions, which I don’t want to discuss in this post. But right from the start, we are all in the same boat.
The only way to get off one train and get on another is to find a station to switch. That station is Jesus. What I mean by this is that Jesus is the one that changes someones destination from eternal torment to eternal bliss, i.e Hell or Heaven.
Those who accept Christ as Lord and Saviour go to heaven. Those who don’t go to hell. That is traditional, orthodox Christian faith.
Therefore, how can there be a middle ground? Because heaven and hell doesn’t depend on our goodness or badness, it depends on our relationship (or lack of it) with Jesus.
You can’t “kind of” or “half” love someone. You either do or don’t. It is the same with Jesus. You’re either for him or against him. And because you’re either for him or against him, you’re either going to heaven or hell.
This may seem harsh, but it’s what Christ says himself, and it’s what the Bible teaches.
So to conclude, there are only two destinations for a person once they’ve died; heaven or hell. And that is because you cannot half love someone. Whether you go to heaven or not depends on whether you love Jesus. And therefore, it doesn’t make sense to have a middle ground.
Anything to add, take away, or contribute? What are your opinions?
Dean is a Minister in the Anglican Church. Currently he is Curate in the parishes of Bedwas, Machen, Michaelston-y-Fedw and Rudry in South Wales. He was born and bred in Wales, is married to Megan, and has two dogs called Taliesin and Melyn, and two cats named Sinsir and Hâf. He graduated from Cardiff University with a BA Hons. in Theology & Religious Studies, and has studied for an MA in Theology, Ministry & Mission at Trinity College Bristol. He also holds a Cert.RSCM from the Royal School of Church Music. He loves playing music, walking, reading, blogging and horse riding as well as going to the cinema and theatre.
Read More @ http://deanroberts.net/about
Thanks for this, a simple clear presentation of useful orthodoxy.
I wrote a post on a similar topic with a different slant: Universalism: The Suicide of Christian Theology? http://admiralcreedy.blogspot.com/2011/05/suicide-of-christian-theology.html
What’s in between heaven and hell? Nothing. Because there is no heaven. And there is no hell. It’s a bloomin’ fairy story, Dean!
lols last time I checked there weren’t any fairies in the bible
No. But there are unicorns.
Hi Dean. I’d just like to thank you for being patient enough to take the time to answer my questions. I’ve been very interested in reading your responses :).
In relation to this post, I would say that if entry to Heaven is based on our relationship with Jesus, does that mean that a bad person who has a relationship with Jesus can get into Heaven? And does that mean that a good person (and people can be good without God so we don’t need to go down that road) who does not have a relationship with Jesus is condemned to an eternity in Hell?
Lucy, no problem at all! I’ve been enjoying posting on your questions!
In answer to your question… yes, Heaven is full of bad people. Heaven isn’t about rewarding ‘goodness’, it’s about being in relationship with Jesus. Similarly, hell isn’t about punishing badness, it’s about people dealing with their own sin that they have decided to deal with themselves as opposed to letting Jesus deal with it. I.e, they’re out of relationship with him.
The bible makes it clear that actually goodness in God’s eyes means perfection, which no one can achieve. And in fact, if goodness means perfection, then only God is good. Therefore, if we use your definition, you’re right. There will be bad people in heaven, and good people in hell.
Because eternal destiny doesn’t depend on goodness or badness at all. It depends on your relationship with Jesus – whether it’s there or not. Of course, one would hope that heaven would be filled with people who have a relationship with Jesus and have tried to live good lives as a result of that!
Hmm, well this makes God seem very petty indeed – that he would rather have people who believed in Jesus over good and decent people who didn’t. I’ll be interested in hearing what you have to say in response to my seventh question then!
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