More than once in recent days, I have read the sentiment that heaven will only be occupied by certain types of people. I read that sort of sentiment in J.P. Moreland’s The Soul. Moreland argued that those in hell would not fit in were they to be in heaven. Many of them are not giving, unselfish people, the argument runs, whereas heaven is a place where people are giving and unselfish. And, even if we’re talking about a moral non-believer, Jesus Christ is not the object of that moral non-believer’s affections. The moral non-believer would not fit in in heaven, where Jesus Christ is praised!
I encountered a similar sentiment in a Christian blog post that I read about forgiveness. Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount that God will not forgive those who do not forgive others. People wonder if that means that a Christian can undo his or her own salvation by not forgiving someone. The Christian blogger I’m talking about answered that it means precisely that. He said that heaven is to be a place of forgiving people, and you would not want to contaminate it with an unforgiving person!
That sentiment makes a degree of sense. I can’t say that it makes me feel all that good, since it seems to make salvation contingent on one’s ability to fit in, which I’m not all that good at. I could say that I would fit in in heaven, where others are patient and nice, even if I am not consistently those things. But here’s the rub: why should I be the only one with rough edges who is let into heaven? And, if heaven accepts others with rough edges, we have conflict! It’s not heaven anymore.
It’s odd to me that we are on this earth, learning to put up with people’s BS, when heaven will not even be a place where people’s BS is tolerated. What, then, are we being prepared for, exactly? Why would God teach me patience or the need to forgive others, if I will not even need those attributes in heaven, where people are so perfect, or at least better than they are here?
Here’s another question: Suppose I go to heaven with rough edges. Is it necessarily the case that I will contaminate the place? Maybe other people’s—-and God’s—-love will rub off on me, and that will make me more loving.
Those are my ramblings for the day…