Eternal Consequences

As mentioned on my “About Me” page, I LOVE to read. I can easily find myself reading three to four books at a time – outside of the Bible. One of the books I am reading now is called “The Reason for God” by Pastor Timothy Keller from Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York. I don’t know if Pastor Keller fancies himself an Apologist, but this book is superbly written from an apologetically-focused base-line.  If you have not read this book, I would suggest adding it to your “2013 Book Reading List”.  I am almost through the first half of the book, but one particular section of the book just grabbed my attention and refused to let go.

Chapter five is titled, “How Can A Loving God Send People To Hell?”, and just as he has done so in the surrounding chapters, Pastor Keller gives good refutation of common challenges that unbelievers hold against the Christian faith.  Speaking on the topic of narrow-mindedness, Pastor Keller says,

the-reason-for-god

After speaking about the Christian faith to a gathering in a Manhattan town house, I was approached by two women who had heard my presentation.  They both told me that believing in eternal judgement made me a very narrow person.  I asked them, “You think I’m wrong about these religious questions, and I think you are wrong. Why doesn’t that make you as narrow as me?” One woman retorted, “That’s different. You think we are eternally lost! We don’t think you are.  That makes you more narrow than us.” I didn’t agree, and here is what I proposed to them.

Both the Christian and the secular person believe that self-centeredness and cruelty have very harmful consequences.  Because Christians believe souls don’t die, they also believe that moral and spiritual errors affect the souls forever.  Liberal, secular persons also believe that there are terrible moral and spiritual errors, like exploitation and oppression.  But since they don’t believe in an afterlife, they don’t think the consequences of wrongdoing go on into eternity. Because Christians think wrongdoing has infinitely more long-term consequences than secular people do, does that mean they are somehow narrower.

Imagine two people arguing over the nature of a cookie. Jack thinks the cookie is poison, and Jill thinks it is not. Jack thinks Jill’s mistaken view of the cookie will send her to the hospital or worse. Jill thinks Jack’s mistaken view of the cookie will keep him from enjoying a fine dessert. Is Jack more narrow-minded than Jill just because he thinks the consequences of her mistake are more dire? I don’t believe anyone would think so. Christians, therefore, aren’t more narrow because they think wrong thinking and behavior have eternal effects.”

Truly a great piece of literature.

Grace and Peace,
John

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