Will Everyone Go to Heaven? Part I & II, by John Bergsma

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August 19, 2019
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By John Bergsma, August 13, 2019

Will Everyone Go to Heaven?

The idea that maybe everyone will end up in heaven has always floated around in Christianity, since the earliest times.  It seems as though St. Paul and the other apostles had to write to combat this view in the churches they had founded.  In Corinth, for example, the idea seemed to be circulating either that everyone would inherit the kingdom of God, or at least all Christians would, regardless of their behavior.  So St. Paul writes to warn:

1Cor. 6:9   Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither the immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor sexual perverts, 10 nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor robbers will inherit the kingdom of God.  11 And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.

St. Paul’s words remind us of what Jesus himself says, concerning who will enter the kingdom of heaven:

Matt. 7:21   “Not every one who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’  23 And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you evildoers.’

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August 14, 2019

Will Everyone Go to Heaven? Part II

Studio 54 c. 1978

I think part of our contemporary struggle with the doctrines of heaven and hell is that we have an inadequate idea of what each place is like.

Most Americans probably think of heaven as like a Disney World in the sky, guarded by gates and either St. Peter, or Jesus, or some angels as gate-keepers. You can get into the eternal amusement park if you’ve done more “good” than “bad” in your life.

Hell, on the other hand, is like a Nazi concentration camp run by demons as camp guards, and you go there if you’ve been “really bad.”

And then the argument goes, “How can a good God send anyone to such a terrible place as hell?  Since God is good and compassionate and forgiving, wouldn’t he let everyone into  his eternal Disney World?”

Framed this way, no one can understand why anyone would prefer hell to heaven.

However, for me personally, I have no problem understanding why people would actually choose hell over heaven, because I see people doing it all the time.  Hell is not-God, and Heaven is God.  Every time you sin, you are choosing not-God, which is Hell.  And usually, the not-God you are choosing is yourself.  Sin is fundamentally selfishness.  It is the choice of self over God.  Hell and Sin are fundamentally the same thing, except Hell is permanent.  God is perfectly self-giving, which is why he is love, because love by its nature is diffusive: it gives itself away to the Other.  Love is self-gift.

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