Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Will Everyone Go to Heaven? Part IV: The Moral Order

(For commentary on the Readings for this Sunday, scroll down to a lower post)
In our last post, we engaged in a thought experiment of Hitler appearing at heaven and being appalled by what he finds.  In order to enter heaven, Hitler would have to come to grips with the fact that virtually every thought and deed of his from early adulthood on was at best misguided and at worst consciously wicked.  He would have to renounce and repent the vast majority of the fabric of his life; he would have to reject the person that he was in this life, and virtually become a different person.  There would be very little continuity between what Hitler was in this life and what he would have to be like in order to enter heaven.  It would be like a death and rebirth.  And the question is, even if a radical conversion like that were possible after earthly death—and the Scriptures and Tradition give us no reason to expect that there is some massive "second chance" at the particular judgment—could or would Hitler have even desired it?  I suspect not.  (continued below the break)

This is the point: those who have lived their lives in more or less conscious opposition to the moral order established by God are going to find heaven radically unsuited to their tastes, and entrance to heaven will require a radical disassociation with the person they were—a radical death to self—that many will not want to undergo.

This is the danger of various ideologies that have captured the passions of thousands and even millions of people: Nazism, Marxism, many forms of Feminism, and modern western sexual hedonism--these ideologies so distort people's perspective of what is good and what is evil, that the desire for the true good is lost.  Heaven will seem like hell to them, and hell will seem preferable, because in hell they will not need to die to self, they can keep themselves forever.  The choice of self is ultimately miserable, but those whose consciences are so distorted may be unable to comprehend that.

That's why these various ideologies contrary to the actual moral order established by the triune God are so dangerous: they misform people for heaven.  Also dangerous are heretical or false religious ideologies.  Persons who shaped their lives by certain forms of the "salvation by faith alone" tradition—forms that excuse gross immoral conduct on the basis of trust in Jesus—are going to be in for a shock at heaven's gate.  Likewise, persons formed by the strains of Islam that promise essentially the Playboy mansion for every male Muslim who gives his life in combat against the infidel, are also going to be in for a shock.  The selflessness, purity, peace, truth, and self-giving love of the actual heaven are going to be a far cry from the eternal self-centered hedonism envisioned by these forms of Islamic eschatology.  In this kind of Islam, religious practice is not a training in self-giving love, but a calculated exchange of obedience in return for eternal selfish gratification.  That is not a training in righteousness, nor a path of formation for the actual heaven.

to be continued

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