Monday 20 October 2014

The working of the Atonement of Jesus Christ can explain how self-chosen damnation is possible, and would be permanent

(The following is offered as a possible way of understanding. If it is not helpful - please ignore it.)

The atonement of Jesus Christ is described as infinite, in the sense that there is no finite limit to the number of people or of sins which may be cleansed by it.

When time is regarded in a common-sense fashion as linear, sequential and irreversible; Christ's atonement must (I think) be seen as continuing and on-going and un-ceasing - for so long as Men sin and repent.

After Christ had suffered and died and descended into Hell; the atonement was completed for everybody up to that point in history. From that point onwards the atonement is re-enacted moment by moment; again with each repented sin.


The historical atonement therefore established the process by which Jesus Chris took on himself the sins of the world - and suffers for us, that we may be made clean.

The atonement is what allows us to be resurrected and perfected in body and soul (cleansed, purged, made new and whole - while yet remaining our-selves).

But this does not happen automatically nor is it forced upon anybody - but necessarily happens only by our individual consent and choice.

If any person does not allow this to happen, chooses that it does not happen, reject's Christ's offer to take away our sins on condition of repentance; then the atonement does not apply, Christ does not cleanse us - and we are resurrected uncleansed.


Since the resurrection is permanent and irreversible, the unrepented sins are built-in, permanent and irreversible.

This is the state termed damnation.


Clearly, on this basis, it would be wise not to be resurrected until after we have acknowledged and repented our sins, and 'believed-in' Christ to the extent that we accept his offer to cleanse us.

On this basis, I assume our loving Heavenly Father would tend not to resurrect an unrepentant soul, but to wait and delay resurrection - in hope that repentance will follow at some time, in response to reflection and experiences in the post-mortem spirit realm (perhaps also interventions from those alive on earth).


Only if and when an unrepentant soul insists on being resurrected here-and-now (through Pride) would damnation actually happen.

Only then would a soul be damned - firstly by that soul's own choice to reject Christ's atonement, and secondly by refusal to wait and delay, ponder and learn - but impatiently and against divine advice to demand immediate resurrection of their yet sin-full body and soul.



Adam G. said...

Your thought about the resurrection is the most extreme case of the truth that our choices change us. So when we choose to reject God it may not be possible to go back, because the person who would choose to go back is the person we become as a result of the rejection.

Bruce Charlton said...

@Adam. Yes. And there seems something irrevocable about resurrection, and what gets resurrected. I mean that this may be a constraint of the way things are, akin to that we must become incarnate mortals in order to progress - rather than that it is something God's specifically wills.

Adam G. said...

Speculation alert:

I have noticed that sometimes you want something so bad that it becomes an unshakeable obsession if you are denied it.

From a technical perspective, damnation could consist of wanting to be resurrected (before you are ready), but wanting it in such a way that if you are denied it, it becomes a monomaniacal obsession that shuts down all change and progress in your soul. In which case the only alternatives the Deity would have are to resurrect you into a permanently incomplete and limited state on the one hand, or to leave you permanently damned as a raging, obsessed spirit. (A third alternative would be to destroy you--I don't know if that is possible).

Being a body is better than just being a spirit: it seems to offer possibilities for experience and joy, power, and even power for resistance to some temptations, that pure spiritual existence does not. So you can see how a spirit could become obsessed with it.

I guess there is another option: reincarnation. The religious equivalent of 'rebooting' the spirit. But there may be spiritual or metaphysical realities that make that impossible.

Bruce Charlton said...

@Adam - Useful thoughts.

My current position about reincarnation is that is is possible but exceptional - for some rare, specific and time-limited purpose; after which 'normal service will be resumed'.