Monday, August 5, 2013

Excerpt from Jerry Walls' book "Heaven: The Logic of Eternal Joy"

Excerpt from Jerry Walls' book,  Heaven: The Logic of Eternal Joy  (2002, Oxford University Press)

“One of the most emotionally appealing promises about heaven is that God will wipe every tear from the eyes of the redeemed. No human tears are beyond the reach of God’s infinite goodness.
           At the heart of my case is the basic Christian notion that our true happiness is found in a relationship with God and nothing that happens to us can separate us from God or destroy this relationship. Moreover, for us to enter this relationship, we must accept the grace of Christ. This requires accepting forgiveness from the only perfect person who ever lived and allowing him to transform us into persons who will eventually be perfect as well.
         These truths provide the framework that makes it possible for us to forgive the things that have been done against us, even things of extreme wickedness or cruelty. We must recognize that the One who forgave us desires also to forgive the worst of sinners and asks us to be willing to do the same. Such willingness to forgive is not a matter of trivializing evil, for true forgiveness requires repentance and final reconciliation is ultimately dependent upon the moral and spiritual transformation that will unite believers in a bond of genuine mutual love. Those who refuse the offer of transforming grace continue to suffer the consequences of their evil choices. In view of this, the doctrine of heaven satisfies our deepest moral convictions about both forgiveness and accountability.
          The doctrine of heaven holds out the hope that all persons can experience the perfect happiness for which we were created, regardless of what they have suffered in this life. Indeed, heaven is the only realistic hope not only for loved ones who have suffered tragically but also for countless anonymous persons whose suffering may have contributed significantly to our very existence. To give up the hope of heaven is to consign such persons to oblivion and to render the verdict that their suffering is irredeemable and finally meaningless in an indifferent universe. To hold on to one’s anger, hatred, and indignation, moreover, destroys one’s happiness. Thus, the only hopeful alternative for both the victims of cruel suffering and for their advocates is forgiveness and redemption.
           The doctrine of heaven, with its resources of eternal transforming grace, offers the only realistic way of restructuring our lives and reinterpreting all our past histories in such a way that there is a truly hopeful future for any of us. Only belief in a God who is powerful enough and good enough to make eternal salvation fully available to all his children can relieve the sharpest barbs of the problem of evil. (p. 131-132)

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