Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Mission Update

Just a quick post to update you all on the Approach event, held yesterday in Trinity College. The event comprised a contemporary service in the College Chapel, and then a Q&A debate afterwards in the Graduate Memorial Building (kindly hosted by the Theological Society).

We weren't quite sure if anyone would come, and if they did, how many - but it turned out that approximately 140 passed through the doors (some tourists, who came in for a while and left again), with a core congregation of 100 who stayed the whole time. The worship was led by Eoghan Heislip, the worship leader at CORE church in Dublin, and was very good. We also then had a drama, but the main element was the talk, delivered by Ed Vaughan, Rector of Crinken.

The Debate then had a varied panel, with Ed Vaughan, John Samuel (Minister of Grosvenor Road Baptist), Clara Ginther (PhD student who lives in our college accommodation), Dave Moore (an atheist), and Fr Peter McVerry (Jesuit priest). The questions came from the audience, and raised issues like salvation, revelation, faith, censorship, and absolutism. The biggest surprise for me was the statement by McVerry that everyone is going to heaven (even Hitler). Thankfully Samuel and Vaughan were able to make a clear explanation of the gospel, and to articulate the Christian faith.

But back to McVerry. I've been thinking about his assertion since he made it. And it is rather worrying. Let's take it to its logical conclusions:

1. Everyone goes to heaven, no matter what they have done. Ok, so if you go to heaven anyway, then why bother doing good, or being a Christian? If you can sin as much as you want, then why stop? There are no limits, or morals, and the end result is the same.

2. God is no longer love - if love allows the choice for people to do as they wish. Because if someone has willfully lived in rebellion of God their entire life, and hated everything to do with God, then is it fair or right or just to compel them to live in heaven, spending eternity with God? Surely that would be a form of torture, and would go against their choice.

3. And this is perhaps the most serious point for any Christian - and is actually what McVerry tried to say - that Jesus died in vain. Because if everyone goes to heaven, and salvation is therefore a necessity for everyone, then why did Jesus die? Indeed, McVerry went further, to reinterpret Jesus' death as inevitable, because he had been trying to include the outsiders in society, and mainline society didn't want that.

I'm still trying to process all this stuff, but am convinced that universalism (as this view is called) is totally wrong, and anti-biblical. Not only does it give people false hope, but it also diminishes the life, person, and saving work of Jesus - and this cannot be allowed by any Christian.

No matter how politically incorrect it might appear to say that Jesus is the only way to be saved. This was another issue that raised some controversy in the debate, and has also done so in some classes. But if Jesus said 'I am the way, the truth, and the life; no one comes ot the Father except by me' then how else can we possibly interpret this?

It was this very claim that drove the apostles out in the first place to spread the good news of Jesus, of the gospel, and remains the message of salvation for us today. 'There is no other name given under heaven by which men may be saved.'

Sorry these thoughts have been a bit random, and not properly thought out, or structured. But this is a big issue for me! Any opinions?

No comments:

Post a Comment