Thursday, January 13, 2011

#216-Being unable to correctly answer the question: "Mommy, what happens to us when we die?"

Okay, we know what will happen to us when we die: We go to Heaven. YAY!!! GO GOOD GUYS! (High five to you my Christian Brother)...

But what I meant is... We roughly know what happens to us (or at least those who are saved) when we die....

But the Logistics of the thing...that's where our theology is a little shaky...

Well I for one hate jewelry. So if the streets are really gold like Revelation says, I won't be impressed.

And then for goodness sake, some of us have this concept that we will all know each other in Heaven...

Like the first few weeks of Heaven will be something to the effect of the first night service of youth congress or convention or camp:

 Me: Oh hey Bill! like time no see
Bill: Hey Joel...good to see you made it here...I was worried about that whole blasphemous blog thing...but i knew eventually you'd get you're act together...
Joel: LOL! Well you know me (pokes Bill in the side jestfully)....But yeah, last time I knew you was you in a closed casket at your funeral...yeah, that was awful how you died with that whole being lit on fire by your son thing...."
Bill: Well hey, don't mention it....death gets the best of us...and besides, i made it didn't I (opens arms wide pointing attention to the surroundings of Heaven)

But hey, the Bible mentions none of this may be true of course, but i do know that Jesus says we won't be married in heaven so what makes us so sure we will be living and socializing with our families and spouses in heaven?

But none of this to me is as intriguing of the contradictions of all contradictions with Heaven...

Confused 7 year old Girl: Mommy, what happened to Grandpa when he died last week from a 24 month battle with cancer in which he suffered way more than what seemed necessary when it would have been much simpler if either God took him two years ago or we stopped trying to medicate the poor man so much to elongate his suffering?

Mommy: What did you say dear? All this about suffering?

Girl: Aw, i'm just playing. Let's ignore that issue for now.What i meant to say, what happened to Grandpa when he died? Is he asleep?

Mommy: No sweetie, grandpa is in heaven now. Singing and dancing with the angels and Grandma.

Girl: If he is so happy, then why didn't we send him to heaven years ago before all those bills started piling up, and he was forced to swallow any dignity he had left by wearing old man diapers?

Mommy: Because we are selfish people who believe the best for us is keeping our parents here on earth to suffer as long as possible for our own peace and desire to not want to face the reality of death sweetie.

Girl: Geeze, this conversation got awkward....but mommy, i have one more question...When you said Grandpa is dancing in heaven....well the Bible doesn't say anything like that happens.

Mommy: I know that, but all the preachers mention at every funeral ever that the dead person is in a better place it must be true

Girl: But Paul said in his first letter to the church of Thessalonica that those who die will be judged first, before the living on judgment day. So how could Grandpa be in heaven, when Paul explicitly tells us that this is an impossibility?

Mommy: Well I could point you to the thief on the cross that Jesus said would be in paradise the day of his death as well as the parable of Lazarus.

Girl: But mommy, that is stupid logic to live by. First, the story of Lazarus is a parable meaning it's not supposed to be taken literally, unless you believe heaven is Grandpa laying on the chest of Abraham, which too me is more creepy than it is happy. Second, with the logic of the thief, well he didn't have the Holy Ghost, nor was he baptized in Jesus Name. So we shouldn't use him and him being the exception to the rule as the proof that grandpa is in heaven.

I think all that dead person in a better place right now is hogwash. We just like telling ourselves lies in the midst of tragedies to make ourselves feel better. 

Mommy: You are right. then to be honest, grandpa is just asleep right now for a long, indefinite period of time. He is living a temporary death.

Girl: I kind of like that idea....a nap before heaven.

(close curtain....clap...smiles)...


  1. I think all the questions and scenarios you posted are typical of our thoughts and questions about heaven...we're so selfish. Will I like it? Will I know people? Will the streets be gold for me? Will I dance for ya Jesus or in awe of you be still?..Yep...

  2. Francis Chan asked in one of his books, what if heaven is all we imagine it to be, gold streets, great food, old freinds, no sickness, disease, or tears, forever. But Jesus isn't there. Would we still wanna go? Convicted me.

  3. @Apl - I would. Wouldn't you? Sounds like a lot of fun. Obviously it'd be better if Jesus was there. Or did Francis set up a binary that you either get to hang out with people you like or be with Jesus?

  4. Apl, that sounds like a false scenario. That concludes there is eternal life, full living, life, etc outside of Jesus.

  5. Joel, you are such a totally thoughtful and analytical writer. My question for you is how in the world have been able to remain in the UPC? How have you been able to successfully write off most of the Bible and/or continue to align it with Acts 2:38 simply because of a revelation of the "truth" by a group of men in the early 20th century? I'm enjoying reading what you have to say and you are gifted. I just have a hard time believing that 2000 years of Christians are in hell because they didn't see this "truth" properly. It is possible that you've had this particular upbringing to show you how overwhelming and powerful the simplicity of the gospel is to the world. We don't have to do any work and beg for tongues, be baptized with just the right words, etc...for God to save us. When you realize this, you will be so overwhelmed that your life will be changed forever. It is not "exclusive". It's for all who believe.

  6. sorry I wrote this earlier. I had just stumbled upon the site and had yet to see your honest struggle. I know that you are highly invested but I also can see that you are highly conflicted and will ultimately arrive at the right destination. Your struggle is so refreshing and I'm loving it! I can relate to everything you've written! Been there, done that, thought that although never quite so articulately. I didn't know I was considered "emergent" but learned that here. Having been gone from the movement for so long I didn't realize this was the UPC's current battle. And now I know why "Anne of Green Gables" is my fave book and movie of all time! I especially love your blog about "quantifying grace". I am moved beyond words of your struggle with "the full truth". Let me tell you, you don't have to be so conflicted. There is freedom in the gospel and when you see it for what it is (which I believe you do but can't let go of the grip of the movement just yet), you will be free.

  7. whoops, I meant "qualifying grace"