Skip to main content

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!


  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?"

  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!].

  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... :-)

  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.


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

That one time Jesus got the Bible wrong

It's so typical isn't it? You are preaching all day long, training your disciples, sparring with the Pharisees, encouraging the poor and down trodden, healing the sick and casting out demons, all day, day after day, and even when you go up a mountain to get a rest the crowds hunt you down and follow you up, and then the one time you get a bit muddled up with some of the details of a biblical text . . . that is the one they write down in the first gospel - verbatim. At least Matthew and Luke had the good sense to do some editing. But Mark, he always had his eye on giving the public the "historical Jesus" whoever that is supposed to be . . . warts and all. Thanks a lot Mark!

Some think I made the mistake on purpose, just to show the Pharisees up.

For some there is no mistake worth mentioning, only a slightly ambiguous turn of phrase.

Others think I am doing something tricky with Abiathar's name, getting him to figuratively stand in for the priesthood.

It really has…

Thor Ragnarok and Parihaka: Postcolonial Apocalypse

Thor: Ragnarok is a riot of colour, sound, violence, humour, sci-fi and fantasy. As a piece of entertainment it is the best Marvel has produced so far. As in many of Taika Waititi's films the plot often seems secondary to the humour and a number of quirky moments seemed only to serve for a quick giggle. I left the theatre overwhelmed by the sensory experience, but ultimately unimpressed by any deeper meaning.

It wasn't until the second morning after my trip to the movies that I woke to the realisation that the movie could function as a profound postcolonial metaphor (I do some of my best thinking while alseep, also it can take me a while for the penny to drop). Unfortunately a quick google showed me that I was neither the first, nor the second to have this thought.

[Spoiler Alert!]

It's easy to miss with all the other stuff going on but Thor undergoes a postcolonial awakening during the film as he slowly realises that his beloved Asgard and its dominion of the nine realms …

Dale Martin does Mark

Dale Martin is an important and frequently controversial NT scholar. Those of us who can't make it to Yale to hear him teach can access some of his lectures, in fact his entire introduction to the NT course, through the magic of the internet.

Here he is holding forth on Mark . . .