|Michelangelo's Last Judgement|
In addition, as the Princeton theologian, Daniel Migliore, comments,
The martyrs of the faith who surround Christ seem to take satisfaction in the torment of the damned.
And there Michelangelo—surely one of the world’s greatest artists and intellectuals—reveals a base flaw. His view of the final judgment—and often ours as well—conflates a sincere devotion to God’s sovereignty with a touch of hate for our foes.
Jesus Christ is the antidote to these unhelpful notions. In him, we certainly meet our Judge. Yes, Christ will judge all people. Yes, he will root out evil. But this Judge is also our Savior. I gained a valuable insight from Karl Barth on the nature of Christ’s judgment: the only God we know as Christians is the God who is for us, the God revealed in Jesus Christ. Or as Migliore writes,
the very same Christ who was crucified and raised for us will also be our judge on the final day.
|Snap Shot of Paul taken on my iPhone|
Jesus walked on the streets and taught God’s grace. Jesus sat at table with his disciples, saying, “Take and eat. This is my body broken for you.” This judge gave himself for us. Paul says it best in the final verses of Romans 8 as he lifts his rhetoric to truly heavenly heights:
For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:38-39)And to put a coda on this: As I prepare for my class this spring on Rob Bell's Love Wins and the Bible, I realize this is one of Bell's major concerns as well--that somehow we never forget that "God is love" (1 John 4:8). Our vision of our final destiny must always keep in mind that we will meet at loving God. And to be timely, this is the Jesus we also meet at Christmas, "the Word who became flesh and blood and moved into the neighborhood' (as Eugene Peterson paraphrases John 1:14).
And that brings me to my usual question, What do you think?
(A postscript: In March, I posted something on "Heaven and Hell" as I took in the controversy over Rob Bell's Love Wins. That post has dwarfed all my others in the number of hits it has received. As I noted, that post, as well as this one, is excerpted from the final chapter of my book, Creation and Last Things: At the Intersection of Theology and Science--I added the link to Amazon in case my publisher becomes a little uncomfortable with how much I'm putting into my blog.)