Perfect timing. We got three inches of snow last night and school has been canceled. Since it was an in-service day couldn't have come at a better time.
Mom posted her concerns about a lesson in her Sunday School class concerning the afterlife. A number of people on Bruce's blogroll have responded to her concerns. I wrote my basic beliefs on this in my Human Sacrifices novel-in-progress. Thought I would post that excerpt here.
Jan decided it was time to broach a subject that had been on her mind, but she didn’t want to ruin such a wonderful vacation with heavy thoughts. “You were careful in your sermon Easter Sunday to not denounce pre-millennialism, all Dad will tell me is that he’s pan. What do you think about the second coming?”
“On this I’m a true heretic.” He told her getting a quizzical look. “There isn’t another coming of Christ.”
“Now I’m confused, your not pre, post or a millennial” Jan asked.
“I had a religion professor at Baylor that stopped me in my tracks my Freshman year.” He started to explain. “We were covering the time in Christ’s ministry coming close to his crucifixion and how all his disciples were expecting him to set up an earthly kingdom, they never really understood how His kingdom was spiritual, not physical. The professor just threw a thought out there, he said, ‘What makes you think He will change now?’ It dawned on me that Jesus wouldn’t change, that His kingdom is and will always be spiritual, All the mellinnialists are looking forward to Jesus coming again and setting up a thousand year physical kingdom. His disciples have still not gotten the message. I then read the accounts of the crucifixion. Tell me what words did He say from the cross.?”
Jan thought for a few minutes. “Let’s see. When He was being nailed He said “Father forgive them, they know not what they do.’”
“Good, what else?” He was being a teacher, and leading her to the answers, teachers hate being taught they find it irritating, but she decided to humor him.
“The two thieves talked to him, one ridiculed him and the other defended him.” She continued. “He then asked Jesus to remember him, and Jesus said ‘Today thou shalt be with me in paradise.’” She thought some more, “He said ‘I thirst’ and the Romans gave him soured wine or vinegar, what they called gall.”
“So far an A+” Paul told her.
“Oh give me a break, I’m a PK (preacher’s kid) I’ve heard this all my life, I’m just trying to go in order.” She snapped back. “He asked John to take care of Mary, his mother, and when it got dark he cried ‘My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken me.’”
“What else, one last comment.” Paul nodded to her, smiling.
“No need for prompting I was coming to it.” She arched her eyebrows at him. He said, ‘Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit’ and His last words were ‘It is finished” then he gave up the ghost.” I could have gotten some of them out of order, I’d really have to look them up.” She added.
“Excellent,” Paul praised. “Now stop and think, does anything that he said while on the cross make any sense if you believe in a millennium?”
“What do you mean?” This question caught her off guard.“He told the thief they would be in paradise that day, yet all mellinnialists believe that no one is in paradise yet, they are waiting for the Rapture. A word by the way that is never found in the Bible. If you believe that Jesus must come back and set up a thousand year reign here on earth, then he should have said, ‘I’m halfway done.’ Not ‘It is finished’."
“But what about the book of Acts and Christ’s ascension?” She asked. “An angel met the disciples and told them that Jesus would come again.”
“And He did, in the book of Acts.” Paul answered.
“I missed that one,” Jan responded.
“So did the disciples and most believers. What happened on the day of Pentecost?”
Jan answered. “That’s when the Holy Spirit came and filled all believers.”
“If you believe in the concept of the trinity, God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit are all one, right?”
“Yes.” She was thinking now, “What are you getting at?”
“Exactly what that song we sang on Easter said, ‘I serve a risen Savior, He’s in the world today, He walks with me and talks with me along life’s narrow way. You ask me how I know he lives, He lives within my Heart. The song doesn’t say the Holy Spirit walks with me and talks with me, or that the Holy Spirit lives within my heart. But we all understand that Jesus and The Holy Spirit are one and the same, just different manifestations of God.”
Jan looked at him pondering what he said. “That’s too simple.” She said at last.
“Most deep truths are.” He answered. “And why they are so often overlooked, people want to complicate things. Just as Christ’s kingdom was spiritual so was his second coming. That is what finished God’s revelation.”
Jan countered, “Then what about the white throne judgment mentioned in the book of Revelations?”
“Why does it have to wait till the end of time? Why can’t God be doing the judgment right now?” Paul responded.
“You have a point.” She conceded.
“When my wife and son left this world it is a great comfort to me knowing that they are right now with Jesus in paradise, just like he promised the thief on the cross.” His face flushed red, and voice filled with emotion, but he held back tears. “They are not in limbo waiting for the rapture, then tribulation and great tribulation, then the battle of Armageddon and then come back to a physical reality to live for a thousand years, and then start all over again, before the great white throne judgment and finally going to heaven. Talk about complicated. If you follow pre-millennial thought Jesus would have to come back not once, but three or four times. It is not a logical or reasonable theory, nor is it consistent with the life and teachings of Christ.”
“Those thoughts could get you burned at the stake.” Jan thought a little hyperbole would lighten things up.“Told you I was a heretic.” He smiled.