“There is no final damnation.” That is a very scary thought if you believe that. If there was no eternal damnation then there would be no need for Jesus, or the Gospel, or even the bible. We’d all be going to heaven, no matter what we did, how we lived, and what we believed. And that would make a great deal of what Jesus said to us, a lie. Which in turn would mean that God is not perfect, but rather is sinful Himself.
From a facebook debate. It was started with this lovely quote from Cynthia Nixon: ”Gay people who want to marry have no desire to redefine marriage in any way. When women got the vote they did not redefine voting. When African-Americans got the right to sit at a lunch counter alongside white people, they did not redefine eating out. They were simply invited to the table… We have no desire to change marriage. We want to be entitled to not only the same privileges, but the same responsibilities as straight people.” It degenerated. My best contribution was after a 19 line comment: I wrote, “Yawn”. Happy dance, I nailed the man! All that earnest cogitation, dismissed in one word. Ha!
Having increased your adulation and wonderment at me a notch, I will now dissect his comment. There are (at least) two Christian world-views. This lawyer, who in his mid-forties has been able to retire, says that the life of Jesus only has purpose in order to save Christians. His sacrifice is the point of his life. That sacrifice is to propitiate the wrath of God against God’s creation in our original sin. This fits the Nicene creed-
I believe in one Lord Jesus Christ…by the Holy Spirit was incarnate of the Virgin Mary, and became man. For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate; he suffered death and was buried. The creed has the birth and the death, and nothing in between.
This means that the heart of the Gospel is damnation. It is Pascal’s wager in reverse: there is no point in following Jesus, or being Good, or worshipping, unless billions burn in Hell. The dogma is more important than people. This is why it is easy to idolise dogma over gay people, and call us abominable.
John rephrased: If there was no eternal damnation, then there would have been no reason for God to send his Son to suffer so greatly and die on the cross for our sins. I think the sacrifice was for the wrath of man, not the wrath of God, but that would be difficult to get over on facebook.
In the parable of the sheep and the goats, the bad are led off for eternal torment. In several parables people will be in the outer darkness, where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth. The rich man looked up from his torment at Lazarus in Abraham’s bosom, across a great gulf. The gospels are full of Damnation: and still I reject it as Afterlife. There may be other interpretations of those passages, but I do not know them; I do not want to explain away the passages, but live with them.