Recently, I read The Continuous Atonement by Brad Wilcox. According to Wikipedia, “Bradley Ray Wilcox is a professor of education at Brigham Young University, the author of several books, and a popular speaker in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.” This book rates very high, and came recommended by one of my LDS friends, so I had to give it a good read!
I continue my series of blog entries addressing numerous notes I took while reading it. Today, I wish to address his concerns about eternity, and counter the answers he gives. Even if you do not particularly care for this perspective here, many others express similar concerns. Thankfully, the Bible has answers, though not many will like what God has to say.
Many wonder what eternity with God will be like, with quite a few saying they would never want to do so. Indeed, one of my favorite sayings states that hell is locked from within. With that said, I found Mr. Wilcox’s perspective, a bit concerning. Later in Chapter 2, he wrote,
“On its own, immortality may not be such a desirable prize. Even young Whitney realized that eternity is a pretty long time. Studies suggest that most people across the world believe we are going to some kind of heaven, but to do what? If immortality were all that Christ offered, I, like my daughter, may want to consider other options.
If heaven offers no promise of being with those I love, what kind of heaven is that? If it offers me no chance for development, no chance to use all I have learned through this earthly school to help others to progress, I would be unsure about wanting to go.”
Mr. Wilcox then discusses the LDS principle that a focus (if not THE focus) of eternity with God involves eternal progression. “There will always be something more to look forward to and achieve.” Later he quotes D&C 93.36 that says “The glory of God is intelligence.” Wow.
I wonder what other options young Whitney would consider? Hell? Or destruction of her soul (if such thing were possible)? With that said, the Bible while the Bible does speak somewhat on what we might expect in heaven, it speaks more to the status of our heart. And when we take a look at that, we have a better understanding of what we might expect for eternity.
The Bible teaches us that when we become ‘born again,’ God gives us a new heart. (Eze 11.19) This heart beats with new desires that no longer follows the same patterns it did before. Where things like money, power, family, and earthly pleasures might have been our main goal, the heart of a saved person beats to praise God, and spend eternity with Him.
When someone tells me that they cannot imagine eternity without a person, family, thing, or even an abstract concept (such as learning or intelligence), I immediately become a wee concerned. For a Christian, their heart’s main desire is to be with Jesus, glorifying God. I do not suggest we do not love our family, or enjoy our earthly blessings. However, generally speaking, Christians gladly give them up as they simply do not compare with the glory of God.
In my younger years, I studied various world religions, including Mormonism. One of the reasons I put my faith in the Bible was due to its focus on God. Many other faiths place focus on organizations, men, hierarchy, rules and more. In discussing the afterlife, they often focus on earthly pleasures such as power. Some go so far as to say men will have sex and multiple wives in heaven. Mormonism adds to that by saying man will become a god! Conversely, the Bible makes it clear that the soul focus of the afterlife is not about us, but it is God. We exist not to progress, or become gods, but to glorify the true and living God in the Highest. That is not to say we will not experience peace and happiness in heaven. Just like a wife finds happiness in pleasing her husband, we will experience joy everlasting in worshiping our God, and spending all time at His side.
If this thought trouble you, then seek out God. If you feel that you certainly would not experience peace in God’s presence without your friends, hobbies, ‘progression’, etc, you may have a problem. Our desires can give us a barometer reading of where our heart is.
Matthew 6:21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
It may be that you never truly placed your faith in God. You may never have been born again. I believe that the Bible teaches us to test ourselves accordingly, so we may not walk through life self-deceived.
2 Corinthians 13:5 Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you—unless, of course, you fail the test?
If you need help, prayer or further information, please feel free to reach out to me via the comment section, twitter (@jcservant) or email (jcservant at cyberlightcomics dot com). May God bless you richly!
Oh… and yes, I have more to write about ‘Continuous Atonement!’ That will come soon.