Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Are there really no imperfect people in heaven?

OK, quick rant here, in the last couple of months I have come across two different evangelistic messages (and it's not like I read a lot of them, being already converted and all!) which have as a central premise in their description of the human problem of sin the fact that we cannot get into Heaven because we are sinners and only perfect souls/people can get in.  There are huge problems with this for all sorts of reasons but the most glaring one is that such an idea contradicts the Bible even upon the most cursory and literalistic reading.

[The Ascension of Enoch, from here]
Three people are recorded in scripture as bodily going to Heaven to be with God.  Enoch (Gen 5:24), Elijah (2 Kigs 2:11), and Jesus (Acts 1:11).  How many of them were perfect, or were perfected before they were "taken up"?  I count one, the other two were presumably as flawed as the rest of us.  This fundamental tenent of some evangelistic tracts is thus fundamentally wrong.  Not being able to "get into Heaven" for one reason or another is not a part of the human problem.  If God wants you there, God is more than capable of getting you in!

4 comments:

  1. You %(*&%(*&)$(* soteriological inclusivist, you!

    "but if God is actually sovereign over individual salvation (I hear them say), then what motivation do we have for evangelisation?"

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  2. Amen, brother!

    Also, we must surely assume that God wants everybody in. [Just to be clear, for readers like Mr Campbell, I am not a universalist by any means!]

    This is one of my biggest issues with evangelical soteriology. It is gets reduced to a mere transaction: "Bow your head, say this prayer with me and then you're covered for life!"

    There is something interesting about the relationship between one's relationship with God and one's actions. Do one's sins create distance from God, or is it distance from God that causes sinfulness? I do not believe that we will achieve perfection (or freedom from sin) in this life but I believe that as long as our hearts are seeking God and seeking to live according to his ways, then, in his mercy, God will receive us into his kingdom.

    I just wish that more evangelical hymnody/worship expressed more humility about salvation. It is the work of God and we cannot 'presume', but he is 'the same God whose nature is always to have mercy' [spot the Anglican!].

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  3. NO NO NO NO!!!!

    Who said ANYTHING about salvation???

    I said going bodily to Heaven!

    Surely they are not the same thing. ;-)

    Is there anywhere in the OT or NT where "going to Heaven" is described as salvation?

    Great discussion though, depending on what you mean by salvation i could be an inclusivist, universalist or an exclusivist... :-)

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  4. How could they not be the same thing?! Surely one must always equal the other?

    I am just so used to you evangelicals using the two expressions interchangably.

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