A Heaven Which Makes No Sense
by Fr. Robert D Smith
All heresy, from Gnosticism in the first century to Arianism in the fourth; from Islam in the seventh to Lutheranism in the sixteenth, boils down to the notion that at least some people are so loved by God that they do not have to repent of sins against the Commandments to be saved. Some people do not have to repent at all. And this notion is all too likely to lead to the logical conclusion that, after all, everyone who has ever lived must be saved. This is the final state of heresy....belief in universal salvation. Universalism. Today, this belief in universal salvation seems to be itself universal.
Even the irreligious people who so saturate and dominate the media appear, for
the most part, to be devout believers in it. A person, any person, who has died, is
spoken of, not in hope but in assurance, as now "above". It all seems so benevolent.
It all seems like a valid form of belief, of faith; and, yet, a strange thing is also going
on before our eyes. The very ones, whether in print or on television or in private conversation, who tell us directly or indirectly that they believe that everyone passes
straight through death immediately into Heaven, show by their own words that they do
not believe what they themselves say.
If they really believed this, we would expect that they would be speaking of the
next life often....and with great anticipation. They also should be relatively unafraid of
death. Yet, what do we hear them say on these things? What we hear is silence. They
almost never speak of their own coming certain and supernatural joy in Heaven; and
they not only have a natural fear of death, they have a psychotic fear of it. In fact, among
them, almost to a man, the subjects of personal anticipation of Heaven and death are
taboo. Never to be mentioned in relation to themselves.
Whom do we hear speaking of great personal expectations for Heaven? Only the
ones who have kept a strong belief in Christ's teaching that Judgment will come first.
St.Thomas More (1478-1535), is a perfect example. Unusual for anyone in his own time
or for anyone before or since, he often spoke, both before his imprisonment and after,
of hoping to meet the person he was speaking to "merrily in Heaven" one day; and, yet,
this is the man who said that he meditated "all the time", day and night, on the coming
Judgment. The universalists should be joyful, but they are not. They would expect St.
Thomas to be generally sad, but he was immensely joyful, in a sense, all the time. They
have no eagerness for Heaven. He did....and greatly so.
How does this happen? Because the universalists are babbling nonsense and
they know it. They are like the person going to a racetrack who says, "I believe I am
lucky today,"....and walks out afterward with carfare, at best. The universalists have
concocted a Heaven which cannot possibly make any sense. If all the rude people, the
boors, the serial killers, the muggers arrive in Heaven unrepentant, how is Heaven any
better than this Earth? How could even the vision of God in Heaven make any sense?
No, it does not make sense. It cannot possibly be even believed. Heaven only makes
sense if we see it as Christ described it: as a place only for those who have learned
how to be considerate and honorable and have become fixed in that state. Then it is
worth hoping for. Then the vision of God makes good sense.
Even the ancient pagans in Europe and Asia, and the primitive tribes in the
Americas, knew that the next life had to have something good, maybe just riches and
health, for good people, and something bad for bad ones. Christ came with a Revelation
that it is much better than that for good people, that the reward is supernatural,
and much worse for bad ones, everlasting fire. To resolve this mystery by saying
that nothing bad at all can happen to bad people, to unrepentant people, is to descend
into unbelievable gibberish.
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