Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Describe the last four things (eschata, Death judgement heaven hell). Explain how these four last things are affected by the relationship between infinite and finite freedom.

The Christian faith teaches that we are created with free will, which allows us to act and choose according to our reason and intellect. Our choices determine the level and type of freedom we can attain. Choosing for God offers total freedom, while choosing against God enslaves us. This can be a difficult concept to grasp in a secular society that bombards us with self-help books and the psychological mantra of freedom attained through self esteem, self actualization, and self efficacy. With this mindset or mantra playing continuously, it is easy to acquire a false sense of self and of freedom. Therefore, the Christian idea of true self actualization — discovered completely and infinitely in Jesus Christ — which requires death to self and new life in Christ Life in Jesus, does not sound like freedom to the modern culture as much as it sounds like slavery.

We also live in a society that wants to reject the notion of sin. Yet the Christian worldview holds that true freedom is found in the rejection of sin, not the denial of sin. Because of these types of ideas permeating our culture, a natural fear can exist to take the step into life with Jesus Christ. We have the freedom to make this choice, but it requires a leap of faith—especially in today’s idealistic world. Infinite freedom is attained in death—choosing to die to ourselves and become reborn into life with Jesus Christ through the Holy Spirit.

Human beings are finite, and as such, virtually everything comes to an end including our finite internal freedom. We are created free, with finite freedom that eventually requires us to make a final choice when we come to the time of judgment. Freedom is exercised through choice and act of the will. Our finite freedom can be understood only in comparison to God’s infinite freedom. The failure to seek infinite freedom inevitably results in the abuse of another’s finite freedom or rights. Exercising finite freedom in and of itself to achieve self actualization is a certain road to disaster. When God is taken out of the formula, my choices will be based on the limits of my finite freedom. I will choose based on my needs and wants. Under such conditions, anything that I seek to acquire will be based on me taking or imposing on another person’s finite freedom. On the other hand, infinite freedom is attained when one surrenders and unites with Triune God. To understand how this operates, we need only to meditate on the continuous giving and receiving relationship of the Holy Trinity. The Holy Trinity exemplifies the continuous giving of self and receiving love from the other. Seeking infinite freedom though union with God, enhances everything in our lives including our relationships with others and nature.

I will briefly use myself as an example. I was raised a conservative catholic. I always, even in states of serious sin, identified strongly as a Roman Catholic. I never once doubted my faith. As life went on, I did good works, attended church, and said my prayers. I considered myself a good Christian. I readily saw the faults in others, but I was doing pretty well. Then tragedy hit and we lost our daughter. Our entire family was traumatized. I survived by spending many hours in prayer. In the beginning, I prayed for everyone else making these horrible decisions. Lo and behold, during moments of intense prayer, I began to see serious flaws about myself. Slowly a transformation took place. It was as though scales fell from eyes and I saw how the truth of my spiritual life. At times I felt a death happening—an internal struggle to let go of myself, my wants, my needs, all of those things that made me happy and free. At some point, I let go. I chose for God. It was then and only then, for the first time in my life, that I loved God more than myself or anyone else. I felt and understood true freedom. Worry and anxiety went out the window. I know now that no matter what happens in my life or in the world, if I remain in the mode of giving myself to Jesus Christ and receiving from God through the Holy Spirit, then I will remain free and untouchable by world events. I think I understand how martyred saints were tortured with a smile on their face.

God had used tragedy before to knock on my heart and for the most part I would respond. But I inevitably turned back to myself. So I understand how the lie we choose can become so ingrained in us that if we choose it often enough we forget that it is a lie. Here I was, this ‘good’ Christian who had no inkling of the conversion I needed because the lies I chose in my pursuit of happiness enslaved me. I was (may still be) in for a heavy shock if I had met my maker in such a state. The irony is that I thought I was in a good Christian state. Only when I truly attempted to unite myself with Christ and let go of myself did I begin to feel joy and freedom.

What happens when we meet our maker? Will we meet an angry God or will we meet a merciful God? St. John of the cross said, “In the evening of our lives we will be judged by our love.” All we can really know for certain is that we die and our bodies decay. Various theories exist about the reason for death. For example, some view death as punishment, while others view it as atonement to God for sin. When we die our earthly life is over. Christians believe in the resurrection, so while the body dies the soul journeys to meet God immediately after death. A second final resurrection will take place where all are judged and our bodies are reunited with our souls.

What is the state of death like? Again different theories abound explaining what or where heaven and hell are. Are they physical places or states of being? Heaven and earth will pass away, but God’s word will not pass away. Does this include hell or will hell exist for eternity? . The bible speaks of Heaven as a place of bliss where we live within the beatific vision of God in utter happiness and love—forever!

1 comment:

  1. I stated here that internal finite freedom ends when we die-but does it?

    Do we retain our free will after death?

    The angels must have been created with free will hence Satan's no to God and his ability to convince other angels to do the same.