Sunday 14 August 2016

Why isn't earth Heavenly? From William Arkle

I feel that it is possible to say that, if the Creator had simply wanted us to become beautiful, righteous children who did nothing but be good, as it were, and delight in the Divine quality of loving, blissful, beautiful serenity, then He would have arranged for us to be born directly into heaven where we would have been with all these qualities.

But if that had happened, then we would have lacked the understanding we are gaining through living through all those beautiful, heavenly qualities and their opposite, such as ugliness and unkindness and hatred and confusion, and pain and sorrow and grief and loneliness. Now, through the understanding of these, negative qualities, we come to know what positive qualities really are; but if we had only known the positive qualities, we wouldn't truly have known what they were. We would have been with them but we would have had nothing to compare them with. 

And it is only through the art of comparison that we come to an under- standing of the qualities that we handle and are capable of handling. 

We cannot become the friends, that the Creator wishes us to become to one another and to Himself, if we have not got the ability to understand the nature of the qualities that are available to our being. It's no good if we simply live as heavenly beings in heaven because we would have little companionship with one another, or for the Creator, in a creative sense. We would have no ability to discuss the merits of the qualities that we know about. 

But if we have lived through them, as we do on earth; and their opposites, as we do on earth, then we would develop an ability to understand, objectively, the significance of beauty, of truth, of honesty, of things like kindness and care. How would we know about loving kindness or loving care in a place like heaven? There would be no need for kindness or for caring as we know it, everything would have been taken care of. There would be nothing to be kind about. 

We would be with the quality of love, but we wouldn't be able to express it in the form of care, and we wouldn't know very much about the sort of qualities that come out of the experience of great friendship. And these are the things that I think the Creator longs to give to us and wants to share with us in His nature. 

From the essay The Resolution of Grief in The Great Gift by William Arkle (1977) - entire essay at:


Nathaniel said...

Do you think The Fall was still a mistake (perhaps we went too far, too soon?) and that perhaps we could have still learned these things without so much suffering, the torturing of our Lord, etc.?

I have trouble with the concept that God planned from the beginning for His Son to and us to suffer so much (and thank God I've had relatively little), or that this was the only way for us to learn these lessons.

Nathaniel said...

This is an interesting perspective that puts the real problem with The Fall in failing to repent after the failure, which then to me makes Christ's repentance on our behalf more readily understandable (because God wants us to be saved even though we fail here).

"The second mistake was to not take responsibility for it. Neither one of them said, ?It was my fault.? Neither one of them said, ?I was wrong.? Lastly, neither one of them said, ?God have mercy on me, please forgive me.? Neither Adam nor Eve truly confessed and repented."

Bruce Charlton said...

@Nat - My view on this is pretty much as Arkle describes in the full essay - I don't find the *usual* (mainstream) concept of The Fall to be correct - since it is (as you imply) not compatible with God as loving creator and Father: about those facts (love, creator, Father) I am far sure - but I am not sure about how to interpret 'the Fall' (which has had so many attempted definitions and explanations).

Clear Waters said...

The way I have heard it in Orthodox circles, man has been enslaved to the devil due to his obeying the serpent and not God in the garden of Eden. A legitimate, free-will driven transfer of authority was undertaken. Since the devil is fallen, the world we have chosen to live in is fallen. The great thing is, this authority was broken on the cross and no only exists for those who continue to deny Christ's victory.