Back of the North Wind

Discussions of theology, philosophy, religion and life inspired by the writings of George MacDonald (and perhaps others such as CS Lewis) posted by "recovering fundamentalists".

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I am a "recovering fundamentalist". The trick is to figure out how not to throw out the Baby with the bathwater. I learn through dialogue, and so invite commentary on my posts to Back of the North Wind.

Monday, October 04, 2004

Theology Matters

About 16 years ago, I attended the "Perspectives on the Wold Christian Movement" course at the US Center for World Mission. It was a very interesting and moving experience, though now as a "recovering fundamentalist" I have a somewhat different perspective on that course. The (thick) reader for the course includes an essay by J. Robertson McQuilkin titled "The Narrow Way" with a nice survey of the different theories of the fate of those who have not heard the gospel. McQuilkin illustrates with an example of

"The gracious girl in Japan who, brought up in the Buddhist tradition, has been a good daughter and a good wife and loving to her children but has never heard of Christ"

and quotes the parable of Jesus (Luke 12:47ff) in relation to her:

"That servant who knows his master's will and does not get ready or does not do what his master wants will be beaten with many blows. But the one who does not know and does things deserving punishment will be beaten with few blows."

As I hope to write in subsequent posts, George MacDonald makes much of this passage. McQuilkin, on the other hand, proceeds to other passages in Romans which hold us all "without excuse", and concludes that we only know of one "escape exit" from the fire. Not only had we better take it, but we had better do everything we can to make sure that "escape exit" (Salvation in the name of Jesus Christ) is made available to the world's masses who haven't yet heard about it.

So why does theology matter?

Because if you believe that the world's masses are going to an eternal hell if you don't intervene, then there is no means which is not justified in preventing that end. Abu Ghraib is only the beginning of that line of logic. The logic can end by justifying an Inquisition. Or on a more day-to-day level, the possibility of saving one more soul justifies the neglect of one's family.

The threat of an eternal hell is a psychological weapon of mass distruction.