Weblog of a Christian philosophy student

Weblog of a Christian philosophy student. Please feel free to comment. All of my posts are public domain. Subscribe to posts [Atom]. Email me at countaltair [at] yahoo.com.au. I also run a Chinese to English translation business at www.willfanyi.com.

Location: Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Friday, July 22, 2011

Why is God not more obvious?

This is a speculative theology article that should be taken with a grain of salt, as it stands outside what the Bible says, but I think it raises a couple of interesting questions...

If you believe that those who die outside the age and state of accountability (e.g. children, mentally disabled people, etc) go straight to heaven (which is quite a popular view), then you reach the interesting conclusion that possibly half of all people who have ever lived will go to heaven. Why? Because somewhere approaching half of all people who have ever lived have died before reaching adulthood throughout history (source), as children and babies (more if you include before birth). Before modern times, the infant mortality rate was very high. Say that those who never hear the gospel have a chance to go to heaven and that figure increases a lot.

Moreover, in the thousand year reign after Christ returns, mentioned by the Old Testament prophets and in the Revelation of St John, almost everyone will come to know Christ (e.g. Isa 11, Isa 65:17-25). That includes potentially quite a lot of people going to heaven, perhaps billions, given no war, very little suffering, no disease, very long life spans (Isaiah 65:20), and presumably no involuntary infertility.

Combine this with the 'age of accountability' theory and you end up with a lot of people going to heaven, perhaps 2/3rds or more of all people who will live, given a third to half of all people in this age plus almost everyone in the age to come.

An interesting aspect to this train of thought is that on this view most people who go to heaven get there without much, if any, testing or trial of their faith, as CS Lewis suggests in the Screwtape Letters. Thus, God only allows a small proportion of the people who will go to heaven to be tempted and/or to suffer for a long time.

If so, then heaven isn't such a narrow gate. It's a pretty wide gate, seemingly contradicting Matthew 7:14.

But perhaps it is both a narrow and a wide gate. The key thing is, it's a narrow gate for us, for us who are in this present age, who have reached the age and state of accountability. For people in other ages, or in certain states, it is not narrow at all.

So why are we here then? Why are we, this minority, tested so much when most of the saved aren't? Isn't that unfair? What is going on?

One possible reason is that the vast majority of people that God creates accept God's gift of eternal life without much reflection or struggle, but there's a small minority of people who only respond to the gospel in a less-than-perfect situation. Most souls don't need to be led to accept Christ through negative reasons such as e.g. perceiving a lack of meaning in their life, etc, negative reasons which are common in testimonies among Christians today. But for others, maybe God knows that they are like the prodigal son (Luke 15:11-32), wherein experience of life without God is the key factor that leads them to accept God.

So what does God do? God puts those people into this world, where God pretty much lets people do their own thing.

Perhaps, in this theory, if we, the 'problem cases', had started off in the happy world, then we would, for some reason, have wanted to be our own masters and rule our own fate, in a place of our own apart from God. But in this world we have learned such things as to reject sin although we do sin, how much we need God, that God is rightfully ruler as well as helper, that life can lack meaning without God, and so on. We perhaps wouldn't have ever realised this stuff if we had started out in the 'happy world'.

Thus, God, in His infinite wisdom, saw that being in this world was key and that's perhaps part of the reason why this stage of history exists.

In conclusion, I suggest that this speculation could help to explain why God chose to make two stages of history, and why God has given so much free reign to people in this world and decided not to broadcast His presence in a 'fireworks-like' display.

Secondly, I suggest that, with some assumptions, one can find that altogether most of the humans that God creates might make it to heaven although heaven is a narrow gate for people in this world in an accountable age/state.

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