Thursday 13 August 2020

Love in this world, and the next

The promise of Jesus Christ was that our eternal life in Heaven will be resurrected, with bodies; and of our-selves. In other words that we will remain the same people we are, but purged of evil by our commitment to God and his creation.

Therefore Heaven is a place of actual incarnated (embodied) persons, the same persons that once lived mortal lives here on earth; and that Heaven is a place of love between these people.

This means that there is potentially a bridge between our mortal lives and our immortal lives; and that bridge is the people we have known and loved during our mortal lives.

Simple Christians have always known this - known it more clearly, and given it far greater prominence in their faith and hopes, than most of the theologians and religious leaders.

What this means in practice is that it is possible for us to continue loving relationships with - for example, our parents, spouses and children, through eternity.

Of course, because love is not and cannot be coerced, this means that there would need to be mutual commitment - but given that, we can look forward to a perpetuation of our deepest loving relationships.

Furthermore, this knowledge itself serves to deepen these relationships in mortal life. Because, instead of regarding all our possible mortal relationships as necessarily ephemeral, and subject to the inevitable entropic changes and death of mortal life - we are instead inspired and fortified by the potential chance and choice that such relationships can be permanent, and capable of continual growth, in Heaven, forever.

Thus faith and knowledge of Heaven acts 'backwards' on our mortal life; to make this mortal life better than it otherwise could have been.

For a Christian; our love here-and-now is not just here-and-now and doomed to decay and annihilation - but may also be there-and-always. 

Note: It was one of the great achievements of Mormon Christianity to clarify and emphasise these Christian facts - which had never received their proper emphasis since the Fourth Gospel, and had become neglected and obscured through the centuries.


Anonymous said...

Could not this be then a significant discouragement to those whose family and friends are all unbelievers?


Bruce Charlton said...

@MH. Clearly, if someone does not love his family, he will not want to join his family in Heaven, so it will not happen.

But the encouragement is for anyone who loves a Christian - who is going to Heaven. It is a powerful inducement to faith that he has a possibility of making that relationship permanent.

And everyone will know this is a genuine possibility after death, when he meets the Good Shepherd and is asked to follow Jesus to resurrected life - even if not before.

Ann K. said...

What Christian sect believes that one can repent after death?

Bruce Charlton said...

@AK. We are living in a post - "sect" era (most Churches in the world recently willingly shut their doors, stopped sacraments, stopped meeting etc for months) in which what matters is the Christian belief of individual persons.

Sean G. said...

@Ann Someone can correct me if I'm wrong, but I'm almost certain the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints believes exactly this—though I haven't found any church authority that I would trust since early this year when they all eagerly closed up shop.

Wm Jas Tychonievich said...

Sean, the CJCLDS has no official stance on this. When the question comes up, church leaders generally emphasize the need to repent now and not to procrastinate, but they stop short of actually saying repentance is impossible in the next life.

Bruce Charlton said...

@Sean and Wm - working from the principles of Mormon theology (metaphysics) - it is certainly implied that repentance, and indeed all kinds of spiritual development, after death is possible. The general sense is to make things quantitative rather than qualitative; to make theosis a matter of time rather than sharp categories.

There are conflicting tendencies in Mormon thought - with more recently a tendency to derive rules for living from scripture, in a Protestant fashion. But sometimes (he was not consistent) Joseph Smith extrapolated from basic metaphysics, which is what I do.

Because, myself excepted, only Mormons (or ex-Mormons) are interesting in, or know anything about, Mormon theology; the field is undeveloped - because the implications come into conflict with present practice or the leadership.

For example, there is *incredibly* little discussion among Mormons about Mother in Heaven - which I would have supposed would be regarded as a fact of primary importance!

Hamish said...

The retroactive effect of Christian belief has alway struck me as one of its most unique features. Our striving for a dimly perceived peak pushes us on, despite stumbling back often from human frailty and all the obstacles. You tend to be a better person than you were before and a society of believers is a better society. Its like a glimpse of the heavenly family and the Kingdom to come. This retroactive effect is surely what drove Western culture to its great heights and its now increasing absence bringing it to a rapid descent.