Posts Tagged ‘ Bishop Robert Barron ’

Jesus Christ. What’s the point.

A few years ago, I heard the question, “There is a reasonable hope that all are saved.”  Michael Voris was repeating what Bishop Robert Barron said Urs von Balthasar said Karl Barth said.  Voris was shaking his head as he said it; the bishop was not, and I suppose Balthasar and Barth also believed it.  That question prompted me to do my daily Bible reading with a particular focus: “Where in the Bible would anyone get that impression?”  Where does it say, or imply, that all are saved?

Over the past few years I have compiled quite a list of Bible references that seem to dispute this notion.  I have not been able to find the one quote that is so significant that no other passage could possibly stand.  Or, conversely, the one passage that supports the empty Hell theory.  Since I am no Biblical scholar or theologian, I approached trying to argue against a giant like Balthasar, or a brilliant priest like Barron with a great deal of fear: clearly I was missing something.  Clearly, any justification I might find that they could use, I was missing.  Clearly any justification that I might use, I was missing.

I met Fr Jack when I was in high school.  Some 40 years later, we still keep in touch; and altho he is now a semi-retired parish priest, he still reads the Bible in Greek and Hebrew.  He is absolutely convinced that Jesus left no wriggle room.  Nothing Jesus said leaves any doubt.  I have known Fr Jack for more than half my life; I could not possibly hold him in higher esteem.

But, a couple of weeks ago, finding yet another passage that just screamed “few are saved” I had a Damascus Road experience, an epiphany that was appropriate for me.  (So, no voices, no thunderstorm, etc.)

The most significant statement is not the Bible itself, or any words in the Bible.  There is nothing that Jesus said or did that speaks louder to the question than simply, Him.  He is The Word (gee, where have I seen that?)

While all things are possible with GOD, it was His original thought that we humans should have free will.  This is absolutely fundamental to who (what) we are.  This, I believe, is what is meant by we are created in His Image.  Free will is our sine qua non.

And so, Jesus Christ was born of a woman, just like the rest of us.  He spent some time with us.  Not too long and not too short.  Just enough to make a point – for those who have eyes to see and ears to hear.

You see, if we are all saved, if we are all going to Heaven anyway, there would have been no point in anything remotely like Jesus Christ, a Messiah.  I suppose some would have needed a magical figure to tell us we were on the right path anyway.  Or, it didn’t really matter what we did during this life, we were destined – whether we wanted it or not – to an eternity of milk and honey and song and dance.

But, that’s not what happened.  We did get Jesus Christ.  Thousands of years and thousands of pages and gallons of ink spoke of His coming.  Of the need for His coming.  Afterwards, a few hundred years and a few hundred pages told us of His life here.  If we are all doing the right thing, then why?  Why all those years of discussion and countless parchments and pages and gallons?  Just an academic exercise?  I think not.

There is that one passage in Isaiah where the lion lays down with the sheep (Isaiah 11:6), which might imply that, regardless of whether we are a lion or a sheep, in the end it won’t matter.  I’d like a Biblical scholar or theologian to help with this passage because I can’t really find that much credence in it.  I don’t mean to cherry-pick the Bible, but it doesn’t seem to me that either the lion or the sheep are living within Natural Law.  So, I don’t see this one passage as justification for the idea that all are saved.

In any event, the mere existence of Jesus Christ proves that we are not a priori saved.  Maybe we are, after all anything is possible.  But, then we wouldn’t need Jesus Christ.  We could ignore Him, casually, completely.

Some would argue that we don’t have Free Will.  Ok, if we don’t, then again, there is no point in Jesus Christ.  It seems to me that our Free Will absolutely demands Jesus Christ.  And, Jesus Christ proves that we do have Free Will.  Dunno if you don’t believe in Jesus Christ if you can have Free Will or not; I’ll save that for later (much later).

My years of careful, pointed, focused reading have lead me to just one conclusion: my salvation, at the very least, is not guaranteed.  It is not written in stone, or in some book somewhere.  I can still screw up – I pray that I don’t.  I pray every day that I do stay on the Right Road (and I am thankful that, for the grace of GOD, I did find the Right Road).  Maybe I just need Jesus Christ, and some do not?  Well, I don’t think that is true, and I certainly would not encourage anyone to think that they can do without.  But, I do have a Faith that requires that I do believe in Jesus Christ; and that He is “the point.”

Is there a “reasonable hope that all are saved”?  Obviously, there is a growing number of people who do think that; Voris calls that the “Church of Feel Good.”  And, he’s right.  For those who want this life to be as comfortable as possible, they must hope they can still sneak under the wire when the get to the Pearly Gates.  But this does not answer the question of why Jesus went to the Cross.  Whatever His life was like, it did not end well.  He’s in Glory now, but that transition from this life to Eternal Life was, well, hell.

So, I don’t belong to the Church of Feel Good.  I do “fear” GOD.  I know that Christ stands at the door of my heart and knocks (Revelation 3:20); and the things of this world make so much noise that it is damned hard to hear Him.

Oh, and don’t get me started on whether we are all going to see each other in Heaven.  Or, if our pets will join us.

Jesus Christ.  What’s the point?  My salvation.  For eternity is a long time.

A reasonable hope?

Being human, I would like to have a reasonable hope that I will not burn in hell for all eternity: it is my skin, after all. As is heard almost everywhere you turn these days, “it’s all about me.” So yeah, I’d rather put all my eggs in the Urs von Balthasar basket. I’d like to go confidently to the Pearly Gates, stand in front of Saint Peter and say, “But, Bishop Barron says….” It’d make my current life a lot – a hell of a lot – easier; the thought that, no matter what I do in this life, I will be saved in the next.

 

But, while both men are vastly more intelligent than I am, I can’t accept that theory.

 

First, and foremost, if we are all saved, then what was the point of Jesus Christ? If Hell is empty, then Adam and Eve are also now in Heaven. And Adolf and Uncle Joe and what’s-his-name and his little red book. There is evidently, no need for a messiah. And the Bible is just a collection of fiction.

 

I don’t buy that, either.

 

Then, if GOD really is omnipotent, then no sin is beyond Him, is it? Well yeah, GOD really is omnipotent; but maybe HE will pull everybody, including Lucifer and his ilk out of the eternal damnation on the Last Day? So, Hell does have somebody in it NOW; but eventually it will be empty? We just got back to my first paragraph.

 

Second, while I can easily find bits and pieces thru-out the Bible that do convince me that Hell is real, and people do go there, I’ll be damned (like that?) if I can find anything in the Bible that even hints that Hell isn’t real. Very true that I am no scholar; but I do read the Bible and I do read various commentaries on it.

Some of the stuff in the Bible is undoubtedly symbolic, or metaphorical, or allegorical; but some of it seems intuitively obvious to the most casual observer. Jesus does tell some great stories; but it’s hard to equate “It would have been better had he [Judas] not been born,” with “See ya later.” In other words, why would I ever believe just two dudes after nearly 2,000 years and countless other thinkers have validated the Bible? Put another way: who’s this von Balthasar to contradict the Bible? No friend of mine.

 

Finally (for the moment), I think it would be nice to be well thought of, this side of the grave; regardless of what my eternal future looks like. If it turns out that I’ll be listening to the heavenly choir for all eternity, then it is win-win. If there is no life after this one, then I at least I played this game the best way I could; which leaves me 1-0. Yeah, pretty thin. But the alternative, putting all my eggs in the von Balthasar/Barron basket, is just plain stupid.