Thursday, 23 February 2012

Should Hitler, Stalin and rapists be justified in the end? Moltmann versus Chan

Should the likes of Hitler and Stalin who murdered millions of innocent people be justified in the end? What about rapists who stubbornly persist in doing evil? Should they get a second chance after death? Should they be forgiven and accepted into the future New Creation and Kingdom of God? It seems that Professor Jurgen Moltmann thinks so. He writes:

"The victims of sin and violence will receive justice. They will be raised up, put right, healed and brought into life. The perpetrators of sin and violence will receive a justice which transforms and rectifies. They will be already transformed inasmuch as they will be redeemed only together with their victims. They will be saved by the  crucified Christ, who will encounter them together with their victims. They will 'die' to their misdeeds in order to be 'born again' together with their victims to a new, common life" (Jurgen Moltmann, Sun of Righteousness Arise!, 2010), p137.

I was really saddened when I read chapter 13 in Professor Moltmann's book. His section on bodily resurrection is to say the least exceptional exegesis of the New Testament. I was gobsmacked however when I analysed his exegesis of the New Testament texts dealing with final judgement.

I find the well-known American pastor Francis Chan's book Erasing Hell (with scholars like Preston Sprinkel and Simon Gathercole's input) an easy to read, mature and well-balanced critique of the kind of universalism which Moltmann proposes. This particular section is illuminating:

"According to those who believe that there are second chances after death, Jesus answers, ‘Come on in!’ He has to, right? To think that Jesus would answer any other way is cruel. It would be unloving and unjust! Could Jesus actually say, ‘Door’s locked. Sorry. If you had been here earlier, I could have done something. But now, it’s too late’? Yes, actually, He could. Though we may wish for the door to fling open, Jesus says He will do the opposite:

When once the master of the house has risen and shut the door, and you begin to stand outside and to knock at the door, saying, ‘Lord, open to us,’ then he will answer you, ‘I do not know where you come from .... Depart from me, all you workers of evil!’ In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God but you yourselves cast out (Luke 13:25-28).

This passage gives no hint whatever that the door will remain permanently open. If Jesus believed in second chances for those who reject Him in this life, then this parable is dangerously misleading. For those who follow Jesus, there is everlasting life in the presence of God, but for those who don't follow Him, there will be punishment ... It is sobering to think about this parable. Jesus did not say these words so we would one day merely discuss them in a book ... Please take some time to at least read it again. Read it with care. Read it with conviction, knowing that there will be people on the other side, in a terrible place of punishment. A Place called hell" (Erasing Hell, p37-38).

Even for those who disagrees with Chan, get his book. He is not your average American "Evangelical"! He has grace, passion, conviction and lots of creativity. Look at this YouTube introduction to the book and see what I mean:

1 comment:

Louis van Jaarsveld said...

This is the truth - and not only to our liberal theologians who devise their own schemes. Also to our conservative theologians who elevate themselves by idly repeating "Lord, Lord...".

Only Jesus is Lord!

Aan eenvoudiges is soos 'n granaat oopgebreek, dit wat vir slim en geleerdes weggesteek was.