Thursday, October 04, 2007

Death, Salvation, Foreknowledge

I never felt uneasy about the concept of soul sleep until I lost a good friend to AIDS 20 years ago. My father tried comforting me by restating the Adventist position. I found it more comforting emotionally to think that somehow my friend, Clive, was still conscious in some other sphere. And then there's the other side of the soul sleep issue. If he didn't accept Christ, then he won't be among the "dead in Christ rising first."

Recently, a kind church mother of two young boys died of cancer. I had been praying for her for months. Now that she's gone I still pray for her wherever she is. I miss her so much that today I prayed that God would watch over her body if that is all that's left of her until he calls her to live again. I also prayed that if like most Christians believe, she is "with the Lord" now, that she would enjoy her new life free of pain.

My pastor insisted that Adventists equate soul sleep with only the life force. When I quoted "God is Spirit", he just kept silent. I guess, in that interpretation, it's the same as saying "God is life, itself."

What if both the majority of Christians and Adventists are wrong regarding soul sleep and all the rest. What if, as a recent New York Times Science-Philosophy article suggested, we are simulations in some larger-than-life cosmic computer with a Super Intelligence "watching over it all in loving grace?"

That would explain a lot of things, but would open up another can of worms. If that should be the true reality, then none of this really matters, does it? Or perhaps it matters in a very different way. In the end, it's how we treat each other that matters, whether we're really here as flesh and blood beings or whether we're shadows flickering in some ancient Platonic cave.

An even better and more economical idea might be, if foreknowledge knows that an individual will eventually be burned up so as to dispose of unresolvable wickedness, why bother allowing that individual to live in the first place?

I like this idea for it infers that those that are living were created economically and will eventually be saved. This is possible because, in theory, all the people who are alive today or who have ever lived or who will eventually be born could very well experience a deathbed conversion, or its equivalent. This may be confused with universalism, but it's not really, as all of these formerly wicked people could--and could is a big word--accept Jesus or his ethical equivalent right before they die.

Didn't Paul say that all were destined to be saved? Well, if you accept this view of only creating those who are going to be saved--all that have lived and are presently living or will live one day--then this is the best of all possible worlds.

Of course, if you subscribe to the Open View of God--is Richard Rice out there?--then God has no idea who will be saved. He will be either pained or pleased, as the case may be, when the end of all things reveals which of his children he can enjoy forever.

The following was originally part of a Spectrum Blog exchange circa 8-15-07:

What follows was part of the comments in that now misplaced post:

Dick Larsen: After death the soul, spirit , or whatever it is of a person is not constrained any longer by time. In that, it can experience at once with every other soul/spirit the second coming of Christ simultaneously.

Yes, it sounds very attractive. It also sounds like what psychics refer to as global and gestalt consciousness. Even Isaac Asimov wove that attractive trait into the future of human evolution in his last installments of the classic Foundation and Empire series.

When I read about this gestalt consciousness you describe--well, that Mr. Campolo describes--I was surprised by the nature of what he suggests. I also thought, "why stop there with being in tune simultaneously with only every other redeemed soul/spirit"? In addition to this perfect consciousness, I'd also like for us all in this mass consciousness to be jacked in--to borrow a Matrix-like term--into the beauty and consciousness of Perfection Itself, namely the Spirit who created us all and gives us life. If this is heaven, it truly is beyond anything we could ever envision.

Thank you, brother Larsen, for sharing your vision of a perfect future reality.

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