Friday, May 6, 2011

What Happens After We Die: Final Thoughts

I think the scriptures are reasonably clear about what happens when people die. The body turns back to dust in death and the soul departs to one of two places. For the believer (or the immature child of a believer) the soul is ushered into the presence of God, where he or she stays until the Rapture. For the unbeliever, their soul is placed into Sheol (in Greek, Hades), under some duress (if the story of the rich man and Lazarus was intended to describe the afterlife factually).

At the end of time God will raise all the dead who had not been raised up to that point. Everyone of them, soul reunited with body, will be brought before God's judgment bench for final disposition. Those written in the Lamb's Book of Life are taken into eternity with Christ, those that are not are judged by their works and thrown into the appropriately heated place in the Lake of Fire. The conditions of all parties is final and eternal.

We cannot be essentially destroyed; we cannot have our wills co-opted and still be what God made us to be; the unrepentant among us cannot be allowed to roam free. What can be done with the likes of man after death and for eternity? Those that repent and embrace Christ can be cleansed and remade and then freed to live in agreement with God. Those that do not repent must be locked forever into an environment that will keep them from expressing their sinfulness.

Annihilation is clearly unscriptural; universalism is as well; inclusivism is and isn't at the same time. For the incapable children of believers, inclusivism is absolutely true. For the incapable among unbelievers there is some reason to be optimistic that it might be true. For what I'll call "noble savage inclusivism," the doctrine can only betray the semi-pelagianism of the one promulgating it, and it is patently untrue.

When we get to eternity, I am sure there will be surprises concerning who made it and who did not. There is no reason not to think that we will find the odd unknown walking the golden streets, who far from the climes of the Levant, was visited by God (like Abram), repented and put trust in him as a result. While I'm satisfied admitting my necessary ignorance in the matter and leaving it to the judge of all the earth to do right, I am certain that there will be no post-mortem grace, nor will any idolater see the kingdom of heaven.