Category Archives: Heaven… and Hell

Does Christianity Teach Social Evolution or Something Else?

You may think I have skipped Pt. 2 of the first post of this series, but more must be said before jumping in with both feet to answer the question posed at the end of Pt. 1.

Following along in Wright’s book Surprised by Hope, we encounter the question about the future of the “cosmos: progress or despair?”

The first answer stems from Social Evolution. This has its basis in Western thought that developed during the Renaissance with both Christian and secular roots. As science was progressing incredibly quickly, wealth and industry spreading rapidly, these ideas began leaking into social thinking as well. It progressed even more rapidly with the rise of Darwin’s evolutionary theory, as this seemed to give scientific reinforcement that the evolution of the world was unstoppable and inevitable. Progress was simply how things were.

But in reality, this is a myth. There are massive holes in the theory. First, it can’t deal with evil in a number of ways. It can’t stop it. There is nothing philosophical or scientific that tells us that at some point, evil will be eradicated because of the evolution of the cosmos. Along these lines, despite what may or may not be true about biological evolution, there is certainly no such thing as cosmic evolution. In actuality, the universe is running straight toward demise, with an unavoidable heat death at best. Second, it social evolution doesn’t do anything to solve the problem of evil. Even if utopia came tomorrow, what do we make of all of the suffering and evils of today?

And some Christians have bought into this. Rob Bell, who reached his pinnacle of “fame” with his book Love Wins, is one of them. He believes that it is humanity’s mission to bring about the restoration of this world itself. As Wright will show, this is not at all Biblical. He has bought into this social charade that says we will bring about the change, not God. In fact, this line of thought has been so popularized, that we see it on bumper stickers: “Be the change you want in the world.”

So the answer must be despair? Thanks to Plato, the idea that this whole world is evil and the only redemption is to escape it has a place in this conversation as well. This view says that material things, particularly the body, is bad and to rid ourselves of it is to reach what we were meant to be. This is the spiritualization of culture. The idea that when you die, you go “up there” to be in a “better place.”

Again, many Christians have fallen prey to this myth as well. Another view with a basis outside of the Bible, and another view that leads to confusion. Hymns talk about this world “not being our home” and how we are “just passing through.” It is these people that get labeled as those that are “too heavenly minded to be of any earthly good.” The purpose of Christianity becomes to go to heaven when you die.

So the answer is neither death and demise nor progress and redemption at our own hands. Rather, Christianity affirms “that what the creator God has done in Jesus Christ, and supremely in his resurrection, is what he intends to do for his whole world-meaninf, by world, the entire cosmos with all its history.”



What and Where is the Kingdom of Heaven? Pt. 1

This will be the first post in a series of post that attempts to answer the question in the title.

This is a question that has been on my mind recently, especially as I’m reading through Surprised by Hope by N.T. Wright. Many people criticize Christians for being ‘Too heavenly minded to be of any earthly good.” And, unfortunately, there tends to be some truth to it. We often have the tendency to talk about what happens after death, as if it is an escape from this life. And while there may even be some truth to that, as well, that is not the whole story.

Wright has helped me refine my understanding of what exactly the New Testament writers meant by “Kingdom of Heaven” or “Kingdom of God.” Instead of some future place of residence, as it is often depicted, it is something that we create and live out now.

When we analyzes the phrase “Kingdom of Heaven/God,” we must define our terms. A Kingdom is the area reigned over by a King. The “Heaven/God” aspect is more often simply associated with God. So the interpretation would be stated simply as “God’s reign.” When we “parse” this out in this way, the “Kingdom of Heaven/God” can hardly be said to be some future place, because that would be to deny God’s sovereignty over us now.

The answer to the question in the title isn’t that simple, however. A reigning king also has servants that abide in his will, and a people to reign over. He must have real power, not just a feigned power like many see the monarchy of England as having, since it is no longer the singular governing body. We must ask ourselves, then, is this the case, and how is it accomplished?

Lack of “Child abuse” is why there is a trend to deny Hell. So spank your kids… for God

This may seem crazy at first, but let me explain. By “child abuse” in the title, I simply mean good, old-fashioned child rearing. You know, that crazy one that actually involved punishing bad behavior? Yeah, that. But how in the world would this play into people becoming unorthodox? Let’s take a look…

Psychologists and the like today tend to say that spanking a child is bad and can lead to them being abusive when they are older and mal-developed. I tend to disagree, but I’m no expert I guess. Apparently looking around at behavior exhibited by Gen Y that wasn’t reared what I call properly compared to that of the behavior of Gen X and prior isn’t enough to show these “experts” that they are wrong and that if anything it leads to children being defiant, stuck up SOBs. Yeah, I said it. 50 years ago, no kid would have ever dreamed of calling his mother an inappropriate name because he knew mom would slap him in the face, make him eat soap, and then wait til dad got home, and that was worse. Now, not only is it not uncommon, but I’m surprised if I go to the mall or grocery and I DON’T see it happen. But for some reason the parent takes it in stride and simply gives them a verbal warning, followed by more name calling and back talking from the child, and yet another verbal warning ensues. Effective, eh? Not really. Now that is just one example, and while I don’t have any hard and fast studies to quote here, I reckon that crime in the teen age group as well as behavior and grades in school have dropped as well, and while there may be more than one factor for these, I would bet quite a bit that how children are raised has affected this.

But where does orthodoxy and belief in Hell come in? How about right here. What the child ends up believing is that punishment is evil, and that a parent should never hit a child, and if they do, that’s abuse, and EVIL. What this leads to is the belief that God surely couldn’t punish people if He loves them, right? That’s evil and unloving, and God is supposed to be benevolent and all loving. So while the problem of evil doesn’t concern us quite as much, because this is within the Christian camp and they affirm God exists, and whereas in the problem of evil, we know evil exists and can’t simply deny that to get around the problem, here, we don’t have “evidence” of Hell. Teaching that punishment, that justice, is evil is ludicrous. Its almost as if we are taught that only the REALLY bad people deserve punishment. So murderers and rapists and terrorists, right? But the idea of justice isn’t just that great people get great things and horrendous people get horrendous things, but that decent people get decent things, not so great people get not so great things, etc. You get what you deserve, you reap what you show, you get out what you put in. And this is across the board, and not just for extremes. Otherwise the petty thief shouldn’t be punished because he’s not THAT bad.

This is the world infiltrating Christianity. Let me explain a bit more. In Christianity, a little sin is a big sin. One sin, and you are no longer perfect. It doesn’t matter whether you raped and murdered a child, or whether you disobeyed your parents when they asked you to help clean the dishes. They both separate you from God. That’s the nature of sin. This is not to say that the degree of sin is unimportant in the end, because I think it is since God is perfectly just. But just as a petty thief gets punished some, and a murderer gets punished more, hopefully in a somewhat proportional manner, I would think something along those lines would occur when it comes to sin as well, though I do not have the knowledge to say how it actually works, but I trust that it does. But either way, there is in fact punishment even for menial sins if they are not repented of. Its one and done in God’s eyes if you are outside of Christ. Christ is the only second chance.

And we can also play up emotions to make people think that Hell surely doesn’t exist. Rob Bell likes to do this, he asks if we really think God won’t win in the end, that He won’t get what He wants. Its easy to think that of course He will, He is God. But what Bell doesn’t tell you is that God doesn’t want sin now, or ever, and by giving us free will, He already has relinquished getting completely what He wants because He wants us to choose. And if I choose and God doesn’t, that argument fails.

Certainly nobody likes the idea of Hell and nobody wishes it upon another. But I don’t like that fire causes pain, or that gas costs $4 a gallon, or tests in school, or etc., but that doesn’t mean that that is not the case and that I am better off acting as if they are not the case, because all that would get me would be burned, in prison, and flunked. And in the case of Hell, its eternal, and not something I can possibly fix. Jesus/God said it was real, and that is enough for me. I don’t have to go there to believe in it. So by teaching kids that they should not be punished for bad behavior in the home, that they should not be punished in school, that things should be changed so that they can succeed, they start to think that that is how the world is. It isn’t. God doesn’t change for me. I change for Him. Hell isn’t designed for me and He doesn’t want me there, but I get to choose. If I don’t change, well…

Proper child rearing, therefore, not only leads to better behavior and more respect of others, it will lead to more orthodox beliefs in things like Hell and justice. So spank your kids… for God. It will do them good.

Great discussion: Check it out!

If you want to join in on a great discussion, and in turn make following the posts where we already have multiple topics even more convoluted and difficult to keep track of, check it out over at Current Events in Light of the Kingdom of God-Dialogue with Michael (re: Heaven and Hell). The original post was here:A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom-Everyone Is Going to Heaven. So check it out and join this discussion.

These are both blogs by Mike Gantt, cool guy, has a great name(like me), and always gives a good discussion and thought provoking posts.