Wednesday 17 April 2019

How may we combine freedom and harmonious living? (Repentance and Salvation from what?)

The Christian Heaven is a place where we remain our-selves, and therefore retain (indeed enhance) our free will, our agency, our responsibility... Yet at the same time, Heaven must be a place of harmony, in which the wills of many people and of God are all 'working together' harmoniously towards a purpose.

It is, on the surface, hard to explain how multiple free wills can also be necessarily and always harmonious. Heaven can either seem an impossible nonsense - on the basis that strife seems to be a certainty over the long run; or else a dishonest promise - on the basis that it cannot really be a place of freedom, but must be a place where 'good behaviour' is coerced.

The standard demonic rationale for rejecting Heaven as an ideal is 'pride', which, from the demonic perspective, is understood as an admirable refusal to 'submit' to God's will for the sake of Heavenly harmony. This is, pretty much, how modern people see their rejection of Christianity - they see Christianity as a demand for submission, and themselves as heroic individualists who reject this tyranny.

But there is 'a way' in which individual freedom can be compatible with harmony, and that is by Love. We can know this from experience - assuming we are personally capable of love.

Anyone who has experienced a long-term situation of love (in a family situation, usually) will be able to confirm the possibility of Heaven. So long as there is love, there can be genuine free-will and agency in all of the individuals; and at the same time a situation of harmony.

Love is necessary, but is not sufficient; because there needs also to be a shared 'goal'. Love is the glue that holds people together, but people are alive and must Do Something.

In the case of families this goal often to do with the rearing and development of children; in the case of Heaven it is to do with creation. (And, of course, raising children is, indeed, itself a subtype of creation.)

The centrality of creation in Heaven is often missed by Christians; but parts of scripture (notably the Fourth Gospel) tells us that God's hope is for each of us to become fully divine, eternal, resurrected as a Son or Daughter of God.

Since God is creator, and since Jesus is himself Son of God and a co-creator of this world; we can be sure that our 'job', purpose, aim, goal in Heaven will be creation.

In sum, the purpose of Heavenly life is to participate in the ongoing and open-ended work of creation; and what coordinates this is love.

Creation provides the common direction, and love provides the necessary cohesion - and thus our free will is aligned harmoniously with the free will of others. 

This Heaven is the gift of Jesus Christ; and to attain it we must First, know and want it.

So Jesus is our Saviour in the sense that he offers salvation from the modern universal fate of annihilation at biological death in a meaningless universe - and the hopelessness and despair this brings.

And the need for Repentance is the need to set aside that which would prevent us taking a place in Heaven, and of adopting Love as our primary principle.

To take-up a dwelling in Heaven therefore requires a change-of-mind, a change in thinking, an affirmation of love and creation - and that is Repentance.


David Balfour said...

Great post Bruce! I feel a warm sense of hopeful joy reading this post this morning. Intuitively it sounds correct and in alignment with what I think God wants most for us. It is inspiring. It makes me want to repent for the sins I know in my heart I need to leave behind, in order to become worthy of the gift of eternal life!

Bruce Charlton said...

Thanks David. This is part of my intention to explain Christian theology in terms of Beings (as in the Fourth Gospel), instead of Physics (as has been traditional).