Monday, September 15, 2008

Dumb Questions

Over the years, I have had many questions about God and the Bible. Many I have been able to answer with some reasonable degree of comfort. There are two, however, that I have yet wrapped my mind around. I am beginning to wonder if there are answers to these questions on this side of eternity.

1) Why will we not sin in Heaven? Perhaps I am being presumptuous when I assume that there will be no sin. But scripture seems to imply that sin (and the result of sin) will not exist in Heaven. The crux of the question really boils down to the difference between God's initial act of creation (Adam, Eve, the Garden) and Heaven. Even the most godly people I know are not perfect. Their characters are certainly worth emulating, but they still fall short at times -- thus the need for Christ. What will change within us when we enter God's presence that will prevent acts against God's will? In short, what will prevent us from making the same mistake that Adam and Eve did? This leads me to my second question...

2) What is the point of creation? In other words, why is God going through all of "this" (human history)? I doubt that we will spend an eternity in Heaven singing and playing the harp. Christ tells many parables of what Heaven will be like and the Apostle Paul discusses in 1 Corinthians 6 that the saints will "judge angels." Other than passages like these, there is no real indication of the ultimate purpose God had for making people. Our lives must be preparing us for something significant once we pass away -- but what? The Apostle Paul also says in Romans 5:3-4 that "suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope." During our lives, we are being refined. When gold or other precious metals are refined, the result is often a beautiful piece of jewelry. I doubt those entering Heaven are merely cosmic bling to adorn God's crib.

Of the two questions, an answer to the latter would be the most helpful. My wife and I are currently training for a triathlon. The training is hard and can be painful. But the day of the race, the goal is that I will be in sufficient condition to not only finish, but place in my age group (although this is doubtful). In other words, the temporary pain is worth the long term benefit. While this analogy fails on several levels, I think it is applicable to the second question. Life can be painful and even the most faithful sometimes ask themselves, "What's the point?" I doubt the point is to spend an eternity in a beautiful home in the clouds -- like a dog who gets a prize for returning to its master. Would God really go through all of this work so we can sit on our butts in Heaven all day? I doubt it.

In the grand scheme of things, these may be relatively minor questions. But answers would help as Christians face other difficulties, such as why pain and suffering exists. We may not ever know the answers, but it doesn't hurt to ask the question.

1 comment:

xerosaburu said...

I've thought a lot about this question and I've decided to approach it the same way a person might approach seeing a dim star. Your eyes have rods and cones (the shapes of the cells), the rods are at the periphery and the cones are towards the center. Cones "weigh" heavy light, like colors whereas rods "weigh" light light, like shades of gray. If you take this question head on and glare directly at it you simply cannot "see" it because the direct approach forces the "weighing" of bright colored objects and the answer doesn't come in the form of a bright light. If you on the other hand relax your focus and "look" with your peripheral vision, that is, approach this question from an oblique angle you can begin to get an answer of sorts. The answer is not that of identity but of non-identity. This means we see in the oblique approach an answer which comes in the form of a shadowy negative and what we see are the outlines of what is not the answer. Beyond those outlines, where you cannot see is the answer. Put simply, our vision creates a hidden lie when we believe it. In this case when we ask a question as we must and as you and I both have, we make the presumption that there is an answer. Our question implies that the Creator is like us and being like us behaves in at least some small outline like us insofar as when we do something this something that we do has an intention which comes from a need for which the action provides catharsis. We are making the Creator like us. This was a problem for the ancient Greeks because they could not imagine (or chose not to) a Creator whose behavior was not a function of the demands and restrictions of time and desire. This is why the gnostics and others considered any Creator worth his salt a do-nothing Creator, because why would a really uber-Creator need to make his thoughts flesh? Moreover how could it be that the Creator had not already thought out all that could ever be? Their conclusion was that such a Creator could never exist because to exist would be to become flesh in some way and in so doing this Creator would become necessarily reduced in stature and by so doing cease to be the uber-Creator and become instead, a demi-urge (urge, being another term for deity, demi meaning less than). Existence it seems causes reductions. Any existing Creator would be potentially Uber, but not actually Uber at any given point in time. Time demands a rolling out as much as existence does, and unless we can imagine a timeless, spacesless all-at-once-ness encompassing all that could and could never be we cannot embrace the real answer. Even language that discusses this idea is a lie in the same manner as vision is a lie insofar as it seductively creeps into our acceptance without examination.