I’ve been wrestling with this one for a bit now. Lee Strobel in one of the interviews contained in The Case for Faith (absolutely fantastic book!), argues that Hell is eternal separation from God. I can buy that. But what then is Heaven? Eternal communion with God. I can buy that too! What I’m wrestling with is this: As hellish as eternal separation from the Lord will be, eternal separation from persons in this life (whom I care very much for) is hard to reconcile with any notion of paradise. How can heaven involve eternal mourning for those of us lost to our sins? Strobel trys to explain this but I found his reasoning unsatisfactory in this matter. Here, now in this life I have both my relationship with Christ AND those people I love. Is this Heaven? I’m not trying to be to metaphysical or existential here just trying to reason it out.
Hell goers will be missed by Jesus and the Father too. This is hard for Them also. If you love your bretheren, pray for them and show them the path back to God.
Eternity in hell with your friends is not heaven.
NAB LUK 15:20
“While he was still a long way off, his father caught sight of him and was deeply moved. He ran out to meet him, threw his arms around his neck, and kissed him.”
NAB JER 3:19 Conditions for Forgiveness.
I had thought: How I should like to treat you as sons, And give you a pleasant land, a heritage most beautiful among the nations! You would call me, My Father, I thought, and never cease following me. But like a woman faithless to her lover, even so have you been faithless to me, O house of Israel, says the LORD. A cry is heard on the heights! the plaintive weeping of Israel’s children, Because they have perverted their ways and forgotten the LORD, their God. Return, rebellious children, and I will cure you of your rebelling. Here we are, we now come to you because you are the LORD, our God. Deceptive indeed are the hills, the thronging mountains; In the LORD, our God, alone is the salvation of Israel. The shame-god has devoured our fathers toil from our youth, Their sheep and their cattle, their sons and their daughters. Let us lie down in our shame, let our disgrace cover us, for we have sinned against the LORD, our God, From our youth to this day, we and our fathers also; we listened not to the voice of the LORD, our God.NAB SIR 17:19 Appeal for a Return to God.
But to the penitent he provides a way back, he encourages those who are losing hope! Return to the LORD and give up sin, pray to him and make your offenses few. Turn again to the Most High and away from sin, hate intensely what he loathes; Who in the nether world can glorify the Most High in place of the living who offer their praise? No more can the dead give praise than those who have never lived; they glorify the LORD who are alive and well. How great the mercy of the LORD, his forgiveness of those who return to him!NAB MAT 23:37
“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, murderess of prophets and stoner of those who were sent to you! How often have I yearned to gather your children, as a mother bird gathers her young under her wings, but you refused me. Recall the saying, You will find your temple deserted. I tell you, you will not see me from this time on until you declare, Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”
Peace in Christ,
This is not Heaven because we don’t see God face to face. For now we walk by faith, not by sight. And that shows that we’re not in Heaven. Yet.
[quote=foolintherain]IHere, now in this life I have both my relationship with Christ AND those people I love. Is this Heaven?
I don’t know how many of your friends have died, but some of my dearest are already dead, so if the concept of heaven requires me to have them around me, then this here moment and time is not it. And, I suppose some of them could have gone to hell, so then they are gone for me forever in the sense that we are talking about here, assuming that I will end in heaven.
However, I often see now as almost heaven-like. The Holy Spirit is dwelling with us (you know, Christians as temples of the HS), so that is heavenish. But we don’t have that face to face thing yet, sigh.
first, cs lewis covers this question very nicely. he talks about how the damned COULD have the ability to ‘blackmail’ the redeemed by refusing to be saved, thereby making their heaven less ‘perfect’ because of their absence.
lewis talks about the perfection of redemption, and how even this is redeemed - even the sadness of losing those we love.
as julian of norwich puts it, God will make ‘all things well, and all things well, and all manner of all things well.’ that is to say, God will make it perfect. He will redeem the evil that the enemy tries to use for our harm, and work it for our good. how He will do that, we’re not sure. but He will.
one more thing, though. yes, heaven is indeed here and now. if you haven’t read scott hahn’s book ‘the lamb’s supper’, you simply must. i have loved the mass very deeply since becoming catholic, but after reading hahn’s book, i now realize that i’m actually IN heaven when i participate in the mass. read his book, and you’ll see what i mean.
peace be with you.
I always thought when we walk into mass, it is the closest thing we have to heaven. Look at the churches themselves (older churches). Majestic gates into heaven. Then to actually taste and see our LORD. Just a glimpse, I guess.
I guess this is part of the “faith” of faith, eh? Trust in the Lord for everything including this. I can only continue to pray for those I love and by example show them the beauty of Christ’s love for us. Hope, in other words, that they have not calloused their hearts his word.
I shall read Hahn’s book. Thanks for the insight.
[quote=foolintherain] What I’m wrestling with is this: As hellish as eternal separation from the Lord will be, eternal separation from persons in this life (whom I care very much for) is hard to reconcile with any notion of paradise. How can heaven involve eternal mourning for those of us lost to our sins? Strobel trys to explain this but I found his reasoning unsatisfactory in this matter. Here, now in this life I have both my relationship with Christ AND those people I love. Is this Heaven? I’m not trying to be to metaphysical or existential here just trying to reason it out.
the worst thing about hell (according to some), is the absence of god. this life on earth is made bearable only because of the presence of god, no matter how many filters there may be between him and us. how much more then, the joy of heaven, when shall behold him with nothing else to distract us?
i think that yes, there is a certain sadness that even god feels for lost souls. as for the saints, the joy of god’s presence will be so immense that it will not be reduced by sorrow over lost souls.
Not only does the Joy of Heaven consist of being with God and seeing Him face to face, but also the company the Communion of Saints - Mary, the angels, the apostles, martyrs, all the Saints, and everyone who has made it to Heaven. So we will be with people we love, and hopefully those we loved on earth.
As for those whom we loved on earth who did not make it to Heaven, all-in-all somehow everything will fit together. God’s glory will be manifested in his justice. Those who refused to love Him will not be with Him, and those in Heaven will know this. Somehow everything will work into God’s eternal glory and the glory of Heaven. We need to pray for those we love, in hopes that we will see them someday in Heaven.
About God or those in Heaven feeling sadness - how could? It’s Heaven.