Will I Be Ready to See God When I Die?

(This is the second of two [very brief and sketchy] posts on alternatives to the Baptist view of life after death.  Please forgive me and let me know if it’s too snarky; and of course please let me know what you think about the issue.)

Regarding Purgatory

What sin of yours has Christ not forgiven?
What part of you has Christ not redeemed?

What God says, is.  If Christ calls me brother, am I not his brother?

Yes, I cannot stand before our holy God.  But in the Spirit, I do stand before God.  I am redeemed.  I don’t know why, in faith, I would think that the forgiveness Christ extended to the thief on the cross He has not extended to me.

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  • Stephen  On February 8, 2011 at 2:28 pm

    I was typing up a lengthy response, then I realized that this issue really comes down to atonement theories. Your perspective here relies on the assumption that atonement consists of Christ’s penal substitution for humanity as a solution to human moral guilt. Because I tend toward a primarily Christus Victor (and secondarily moral influence and substitutionary) view of atonement, I don’t view moral guilt as the main obstacle to redemption, so I don’t find this argument for how we should view the afterlife compelling (since it assumes that “forensic” moral guilt in itself is the issue that prevents us from seeing God).

    • gestalttheology  On February 8, 2011 at 2:31 pm

      what is the main obstacle to redemption? how long does it take Christ to trample over death?

      • Stephen  On February 8, 2011 at 3:30 pm

        Given that creation is groaning and being redeemed and such over the course of at least two millenia – a long time. Because God does not simply override the freedom of the world and of human beings, the “obstacles” to redemption are nearly endless (on our part, not on God’s – as Jon says below).

      • gestalttheology  On February 9, 2011 at 11:40 am

        so creation’s continued for the last two millennia because God is still struggling to redeem it? or because he’s patient?

      • Stephen  On February 9, 2011 at 1:36 pm

        Because God is patient – as God will be in purgatory.

  • Jon Coutts  On February 8, 2011 at 2:53 pm

    I wonder about the fact that biblically speaking we are led to believe that there is both judgment administered on the cross and yet also by the crucified one upon his return in glory. I think purgatory attempts to make some sense of this. What difference does it make if we appear before the throne of judgment? Even a few minutes recounting the sins of the greatest saint would amount to a kind of “purgatorial moment”.

    And sure, we believe that all is forgiven and in the end all is redeemed, but does that preclude some kind of restorative measures? Certainly in the interpersonal realm forgiveness does not preclude some kind of restitutionary or reformatory work on the relationship? Might we understand redemption as also involving some “unfinished business”, not on God’s part, per se, but ours?

    • gestalttheology  On February 9, 2011 at 11:42 am

      i suppose i’m not sure what restorative measures need to be taken when our flesh is redeemed. i guess in my mind our sinful flesh is what keeps us from presently enjoying the fullness of the restoration we partially experience now.

      (also, thanks for the very helpful point about the two judgments.)

      • Stephen  On February 9, 2011 at 1:38 pm

        I hope I’m not intruding on Jon’s point, but I think that you need to define “flesh,” James. What is it about “flesh” as opposed to mind or will that is a) particularly sinful and b) able to be instantly rectified?

      • gestalttheology  On February 9, 2011 at 2:29 pm

        flesh in the NT sense of that which is unredeemed, over against the spiritual (including the “spiritual body” of the resurrection). not the meaty parts of the self over against the mind/will.
        it seems that at the resurrection, at the revelation of Jesus Christ something has fallen away.

      • Stephen  On February 9, 2011 at 2:35 pm

        Ah, that makes sense. I guess that the difference of opinion comes down to: You want to describe that ultimate redemption in terms of an instant transformation; others are not comfortable with that kind of atemporal language for something so drastic (the fire burning away wood and straw and what-not).

      • gestalttheology  On February 9, 2011 at 2:52 pm

        Hm, I’d want to go in two directions with my reply:
        1) Atemporal…as in eternal?
        2) How long does it take to go from not being redeemed to being redeemed? If you’re any sort of Protestant on the issue (I think; and that’s not some sort of slur), it takes an instant. Of course the rest of earthly life is difficult, as the Spirit/spirit rages against the flesh and vice versa.
        Also, I suppose I’m taking death to be some sort of a radical turning point.
        Finally, I’ll submit to a degree to being agnostic on the timeline after death, but language about Christ’s revelation suggests something immediate. (Cf. Luke 17:22ff and these references: http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Matt16:27;1Cor1:7;Col3:4;2Thess1:7;1Pet1:7;4:13;1John2:28&version=NASB )

      • Stephen  On February 9, 2011 at 4:45 pm

        I think that this touches on the already/not yet tension in New Testament eschatology. Yes, redemption is already a reality; but, no, in a sense we are still waiting for its full unfolding in the world.

        I think that this is about what death is: Does it really mark an absolute transition or is it merely a major step in a longer journey? Where I agree with the Roman Catholic view, in addition to on purgatory, is that the church is both militant and victorious – that those who are already seeing the beatific vision are also active and effective members of the church. In addition, those in between – departed from the world but still not purged of all sin (again, internally rather than forensically) – are a passive part of the church, just as Christ was on the cross (and this goes back to Balthasar, I guess: Read Theo-Drama V, if you are interested in his take on purgatory/hell/crucifixion).

      • Stephen  On February 9, 2011 at 4:50 pm

        As for those verses that you link to, I am extremely uncomfortable with them, and here is why: For their original audience, they certain referred to a military-like return of Jesus Christ, a revelation to judge those outside the church and an exaltation of those on earth who were baptized into Christ. On the contrary, our modern view (derived from later theology) is of dying and going to an eternal heaven as more or less disembodied souls, which, as N. T. Wright points out time and again, is not the biblical view. I think that there is a lot of truth in the view that Wright dismisses, but it is also not the typical New Testament view of what judgment and eternal life (as life in a different age but still on Earth) meant.


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