Sunday, July 28, 2013

What about an Afterlife ...

Its been a little over a year since my last new post here. My use of this blog site has changed some ... it is a repository of writings to which I refer people, but most of my new writing is done elsewhere. I would like to return to this blog from time to time with offerings such as today's. On a facebook discussion board to which I belong, I was asked yesterday to comment on the afterlife. I wrote a series of comments, which are here slightly edited and compiled:

1) Koheleth, the writer of Ecclesiates, declares in 3:11, that God has "set eternity in the hearts of men." A skeptic cannot say there is no evidence for an afterlife unless he can deny this universal quest within the human heart to break through the temporal bonds which now limit us to this rush of time with its necessary terminus. We all want to live forever!! Where did that urge come from? Koheleth says it comes from God himself!

I love the comment from Keil and Delitzsch (Delitzsch wrote this section) on this verse:

"... He has also established in man an impulse leading him beyond that which is temporal toward the eternal: it lies in his nature not to be contented with the temporal, but to break through the limits which it draws around him, to escape from the bondage and the disquietude within which he is held, and amid the ceaseless changes of time to console himself by directing his thoughts to eternity.
"... the impulse of man shows that his innermost wants cannot be satisfied by that which is temporal. He is a being limited by time, but as to his innermost nature he is related to eternity."

2) I was intrigued by an earlier comment above about heaven being the best place evolution (as a tool in the hand of God) can create. I know it was dismissed quickly, but I think the idea merits deeper consideration. I actually love the thought. Assuming a few billion souls are added to the ultimate eternal ontological milieu, things in that eternal state will be altered forever! And who is to say that reality will not go forever changing, evolving, growing, becoming ever greater, more majestic, more beautiful, more wonderful. The conventional concept of an afterlife that many people (including myself) have found distasteful is a static, fixed state of being. "Boring," some have said. And I agree, if you limit your imagination to Sunday School descriptions of heaven.

3) Learning, and evolving, are both cause-effect processes which imply TIME. So I do not think eternity is devoid of time, but rather that time is expanded to multiple dimensions instead of the single, lineal dimension of time we experience. But what will we do with all that time?

In this regard, I have considered that one of our chief occupations in that forever state will be to know God. To explore him! And since we understand that God is infinite, how much time will be required to fully know God? That's right ... infinite time. We will never exhaust this process of discovery.

A few hundred billion years from now, a few friends and I will be sitting around comparing notes on the fresh new things we have "just discovered" about this majestic Being whose very essence is Love!

4) All of these considerations are, for me, predicated upon the assumption that God is indeed LOVE personified, that he is relational, that he is infinite, and unimaginably GOOD. If he is not these things, then I will prefer to lie in my grave forever. No resurrection, please! Let me rest in death forever! But if he is these things, the mere fact that he created us is my assurance that he (as David says in Psalm 16:10) will not abandon me to the grave. He will resurrect me (and all of us) into that state in which  there will be a "restoration of all things" (Acts 3:21).

Four months after my wife died in 2010, in the midst of the deepest month of my grief, I wrote this blog post in response to a friend who had asked me for thoughts on heaven ...