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Sunday, February 3, 2013

The injustice of ... Heaven

Douglas Wilson: The One Who Bled --
If a judge sentences a man to hang, this is of course unjust if we leave out of the picture the crime that the man was convicted of. But what is our basis for leaving this out? That crime is only "irrelevant" if our dedicated aim is to condemn the judge.
If there are ten innocent citizens rounded up, and five of them are shot by a despot, there is a gross injustice. But if there are ten inmates on death row, and the governor pardons three of them, there is no injustice done at all to the remaining seven. The only question of possible injustice arises with regard to the three who were pardoned. In other words, the question of justice does not arise when we are talking about Hell. It does arise when we are talking about Heaven.

The question is not "how can a just God send people to Hell?" The question concerns how a just God can allow sinners into Heaven. A God-centered concern about justice would worry far more about Heaven than Hell. A self-flattering, man-centered approach would worry aloud, and does worry aloud, about the purported justice of Hell. But we needn't worry. The Scriptures teach plainly that at the point of judgment, every mouth will be stopped. The Bible tells us that when it comes down to it, there will be nothing to say. The debates will be over.

The real problem, the problem of justice and Heaven, is resolved in the cross. Christ died as a blood atonement so that God could be both just and the one who justifies. God could be just and send us all to Hell. He could be the one who justifies and let us all into Heaven on a boy-will-be-boys basis. But in order to be both just and the one who justifies, Christ had to bleed.

And that is our final theodicy. Christ is the one who bled.
As I have pointed out before, there is a tension -- and an opposition -- between justice and mercy; for mercy is a special case of injustice.

And, there can be no mercy if there is not first justice: judgment and condemnation.  So, mercy is both in some sense in contrast or opposition to justice and yet wholly dependent upon justice. It is not that mercy refuses to judge and condemn, but rather that mercy chooses to set aside the full weight of the deserved condemnation.

It is not mercy if the mugger spares your life, though it may be pity; for the mugger had no right nor authority in the first place to condemn you.

On the other hand, if you are a condemned murderer, and the governor spares your life, but does not spare the life of your more vicious accomplice, it is not he who received the injustice, for he deserved to die. Rather, is you who received what you did not deserve, for you too deserved to die -- it is not your vicious accomplice, but you, who received the injustice. Well, you and your your victims.

Unless a person is morally perfect -- and we all know that none of us are -- than any talk of deserving "to go to Heaven" (as people put it), or being "good enough", is just so much wasted hot air. Not one of us deserves "to go to Heaven", nor ever can. The whole point of my parable of Noìli's Custom Ice Cream Shoppe is to mock any idea that anything other than absolute, total purity could ever be "good enough" to put God into one's moral obligation.

What you and I and everyone else deserves is not "to go to Heaven", but "to go to Hell".

And, if one doesn't love God in the first place, why in the hell would one want "to go to Heaven", anyway? Do you not realize how painful it would be for the man clutches his sin to his breast as being the most precious thing about himself to try to stand up in the presence of the wholly pure God? God in his purity is like a raging fire, and sin is utterly combustible.

Some 'atheists' like to pose the supposed stumper, "How can a loving God send anyone to Hell?" apparently imagining they have, at the very least, thereby shown Christianity to be self-contradictory concerning God's nature. Yet, put that same question in slightly different words -- "How can a loving God fail to force those who hate him and who suffer in his presence to be in his presence eternally?" The question is absurd; the 'atheist' hasn't uncovered any self-contradiction in Christianity, he has merely demonstrted his disinclination to think clearly.

Thus, the conundrum is not "How can a loving God send anyone to Hell?" Rather, it is "How can a just God allow anyone to enter Heaven?"

The resolution is that God is just and merciful. God does not want to "sent you to Hell", but we, who are impure and infected with capital-D death, cannot dwell in his presence, who is utter purity and Life itself, so long as we will not let go our sin, our impurity, our capital-D death.

If you want to Live, you must let go your Death.