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God Bless Asad Shah

 

The Facebook message that got Asad Shah killed by a fellow Muslim [1]

The Facebook message that got Asad Shah killed by a fellow Muslim

May God have mercy on the soul of Asad Shah, a Glasgow immigrant shopkeeper killed on Thursday. [2] From the Telegraph:

A popular shopkeeper was stabbed to death by another Muslim in a “religiously prejudiced” attack hours after posting an Easter message on Facebook to “my beloved Christian nation”.

Asad Shah, 40, a devout Muslim originally from the Pakistani city of Rabwah, had his head stamped on during a savage attack, according to one eyewitness.
Around four hours earlier the victim wrote online: “Good Friday and a very Happy Easter, especially to my beloved Christian nation.

“Let’s follow the real footstep of beloved holy Jesus Christ and get the real success in both worlds.”

On Friday afternoon, police confirmed that a 32-year-old Muslim man had been arrested in connection with Mr Shah’s death.

More:

Resident Isabella Graham, 64, said Mr Shah had previously employed her daughter at the shop. She said: “He was an amazing, wonderful man, he couldn’t do enough for you. He wouldn’t hurt anybody. Nobody in Shawlands would have a bad word to say about him. I can’t believe he’s gone.”

Brothers Qaiser and Omar Khan told BBC Scotland they knew Mr Shah well and had repaired his cars in the past. They described him as “a humble, sweet person”.
Omar Khan added: “I’ve known him since I was a wee boy so this is shocking news. He was a very straight-forward, humble person who was very good with his customers. He cared about his family a lot.”

Here’s a glimpse, from his YouTube page, of the kind of man this immigrant was. Fast forward to the 1:20 mark; this is him showing love to neighborhood Scottish children [3], who love him back.

And below, just a couple of days ago, is Shah’s video condemnation of the Brussels bombings. He speaks slowly, haltingly, in a heavy accent. I have tried to transcribe some of his remarks from the first seven minutes. The video is below this partial transcript; please watch at least a little bit of it so you can see how gentle and sincere he was:

My beloved, all-beloved mankind. We are created for a special, spiritual, very sacred and nobel purpose on this earth. Life, as we know, this life is very short. My beloved, all mankind, the All-Beloved Creator created us to live on this earth with love, together, without causing any disorder, any fight, any bloodshedding on this earth. … We are here for only a few years on this earth, in this life, for a special spiritual purpose: to define ourselves, to get wisdom of knowledge, and to purify ourselves. … This is our preparation for the life that is after this life. … We are here to live together because we are created as a mankind-family on this earth, to live with love and with taking care of each other … .

Asad Shah is with our Creator today. I am confident of that. Please, Christians, wherever you are this Easter weekend, pray for the soul of a righteous man, murdered for his compassion and love of mankind.

Remember, too, that if you condemn all Muslims over the bloodthirsty killers of ISIS, you also condemn this good man Asad Shah, may his memory be eternal.

UPDATE: Meanwhile, look at this scum, also in the news today: [4]

The spiritual leader of Scotland’s biggest mosque has praised an Islamist assassin amid fresh concerns about the threat of radicalism at the Muslim centre of worship.

Habib ur Rehman, the imam of Glasgow Central Mosque, said extremist Mumtaz Qadri was a “true Muslim” and equated his actions with the French resistance against the Nazis during World War Two.

He made his remarks last month as he protested the execution of Qadri for the 2011 murder of Salman Taseer, the governor of Punjab who had championed the rights of Christians being persecuted under blasphemy laws.

Is there any wonder that there walks the streets of Glasgow a Muslim willing to murder another Muslim for treating Christians humanely? If there is any way for the UK to deport cretins like that imam, I devoutly wish they would use it.

A reminder of the kind of Muslim that the leader of Scotland’s largest mosque is not:

Screen Shot 2016-03-25 at 8.41.30 PM [5]

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87 Comments To "God Bless Asad Shah"

#1 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On March 26, 2016 @ 9:03 pm

We are told that it is up to the Muslim community itself to weed out and neutralize the bad apples in its midst, who stand in contrast with the 99% of peaceful Muslim people.

Funny, I don’t remember anyone saying that it was up to the Italian American community ITSELF to weed out and neutralize the Cosa Nostra, Mafia, etc. bad apples in its midst… There was a good deal of back and forth, memorialized in serious history, entertaining novels, and cop shows written by script writers with an ax to grind, about how Italians standing up to the Mafia were an integral part of the FBI’s ability to take them down, but, as I recall, the FBI also offered to HELP good law-abiding Italian Americans break free of the “protection” of the various syndicates. Its wasn’t an all or nothing deal.

#2 Comment By John Blade Wiederspan On March 27, 2016 @ 12:28 am

About 53 years ago, I was confirmed in the Missouri Synod Lutheran Church. After pondering the hard rule that only Christians are going to heaven and everyone else will be tortured for eternity (including those born before Christ); I ceased being a Christian. Anyone who judges a person by what they are as opposed to what they do is a prejudice cruel bigot. Why should God be exempt from this judgement?

#3 Comment By M_Young On March 27, 2016 @ 12:57 am

“That the killing was precipitated by his outspoken presence as an Amadi seems far more plausible than an isolated Facebook post.”

Perhaps true. Doesn’t mitigate the hate.

#4 Comment By M_Young On March 27, 2016 @ 1:02 am

“I would add this paraphrase: if you condemn all Muslims over the bloodthirsty killers of ISIS, you also condemn the millions of good and even saintly Muslims and at the same stroke surely condemn yourself for believing that a tiny sliver of any group can stand for the whole, a belief which you never apply, however, to your own group in any negative case”

I don’t condemn anyone. It is not in my power to condemn anyone. What is in my power is to pressure my government to stop admitting people who a significant ‘sliver’ of which hope to harm us, and a more significant wedge don’t mind all that much if they do.

Or government will order recalls of cars whose airbags have a 1 in 10,000 change of discharging improperly and killing some one. Yet we won’t stop the immigration of a group who, perhaps, one in one thousand support violent actions against us, the host society.

Strange.

#5 Comment By Andrew Smethers On March 27, 2016 @ 3:38 am

Lee says:
March 26, 2016 at 3:01 pm

Yet another casualty of the Leftist globalist agenda…

What a strange thing to ascribe to “the left”, whoever they are. See below the description from Wikipedia.

Before the early 1990s, New World Order conspiracism was limited to two American countercultures, primarily the militantly anti-government right and secondarily that part of fundamentalist Christianity concerned with the end-time emergence of the Antichrist.[8] Skeptics such as Michael Barkun and Chip Berlet observed that right-wing populist conspiracy theories about a New World Order had not only been embraced by many seekers of stigmatized knowledge but had seeped into popular culture, thereby inaugurating a period during the late 20th and early 21st centuries in the United States where people were actively preparing for apocalyptic millenarian scenarios.[4][6] Those political scientists were concerned that mass hysteria could have what they judged to be devastating effects on American political life, ranging from widespread political alienation to escalating lone-wolf terrorism.[4][6][9]

#6 Comment By JonF On March 27, 2016 @ 7:29 am

Tumarion,
The Orthodox Church at least allows for the possibility of universal salvation, but not the necessity of it.
And I’m not sure where you have seen Rod condemn universalism. He has condemned la-la-la indifference but that’s a another matter.

#7 Comment By Giuseppe Scalas On March 27, 2016 @ 9:19 am

For the Catholic Church belonging to the Church is the ordinary mean of salvation, but the IIVC expressely stated that there may be extraordinary means. Which to me makes sense – God’s grace cannot be preempted.

#8 Comment By jrm On March 27, 2016 @ 2:11 pm

[ NFR: I believe it is possible to hope that God’s mercy is so great that it may even make room for a righteous man who was an unbeliever — especially one who died because he showed affection and respect for Christians. Mine is an unorthodox view, but I hope it is true. — RD]

This view is also held by Pope Benedict, so I don’t think it’s unorthodox, though it could be a minority view.

#9 Comment By Robert Alexander On March 27, 2016 @ 2:12 pm

Britain has become an utterly pathetic third world nation. But that is the fate for all of those godless, anti-life, anti-family secular western countries.

#10 Comment By William Tighe On March 27, 2016 @ 3:38 pm

“I think that a case can be made–and I follow David Bentley Hart in this–that not only is universalism not un-orthodox (i.e. heretical) but that it must logically follow if we take cretaio ex nihilo seriously;”

I would like to believe that this is true, and I can just about see how an Orthodox case for it could be made (although I’m mot really sympathetic to David Hart’s statement, in the discussion in the aftermath of his “St. Origen” end piece in First things some months ago, that if the Fifth Ecumenical Council really did condemn unuversalism, so much the worse for that council) but I’m not sure that such a view is compatible with authoritative Catholic magisterial teaching – although I would welcome correction on this point.

#11 Comment By IranMan On March 27, 2016 @ 8:06 pm

There are two ways to get “Islamic training”, one is the kind one receives through the parents and grand parents, and another one is the training one gets in Saudi financed and controlled mosques and “madrasas”. The parents and grand parents teach the kids to tell the truth, be kind to everyone, and seek to improve oneself through education and hard work. The Saudi option trains the youth to seek power according to the Wahhabi/Salafi “teachings”, and kill anyone who does not agree with you/them.

The West’s biggest mistake was to outsource the religious training of the ghettoized youth to the Saudis and their religion/business agents. The results speak for themselves.

I hope I have been able to shed some light on the root of the problem in the most concise way.

To the West, the choice is yours. Take your pick.

#12 Comment By Alexander Valenzuela On March 27, 2016 @ 9:02 pm

To M_Young: I am by no means necessarily a supporter of ‘open borders’ as a universal principle; it seems to me that immigration policies are rather contingent things and the better policy will vary dependent on time, place and circumstance. This is to say that I support neither an ideology of globalization or an ideology of nationalism. ‘Ideas over ideology’, and all that.

That being said, the analogy you use is, if you will, ‘unsafe at any speed.’ Human beings are not airbags, and the continuous relationships human beings from all parts of the globe are now able to form with each other – that is, the knowledge and experience we are able at any time to have of each other – creates a situation in which it becomes more and more often morally inexcusable for an educated person to instrumentalize ‘the other’ as a dehumanized caricature. I love my own ‘people’ first, at several different degrees, beginning with family and religious community, but I must love and seek to understand and appreciate humanity as such, all sons of Adam and children of God, to the extent, of course, that I am faced with the concrete circumstances which call for this. This is, again, not to take any particular policy position with regard to refugees; it is to say that there is nothing strange about the situation you described. Airbags feel no loss; human beings have intrinsic value and worth and do experience loss. Bearing each other’s burdens – according to circumstances and to the extent we are able and called to do so – is a criterion of being truly worthy of humanity, that is, of that being which is ‘made in the image of God’ and shares in many of His attributes. Policy is variable, but he who knows not mercy – cannot then complain when Mercy turns from him.

I don’t say, by the way, that this dehumanizing calculation is your view; you may have simply chosen an unfortunate analogy. I address my remarks not at you, per se, but at those – and they are legion – who do all they can to keep their eyes shut for the sake of their perceived interests or, often, simply out of laziness.

#13 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On March 27, 2016 @ 9:07 pm

The West’s biggest mistake was to outsource the religious training of the ghettoized youth to the Saudis and their religion/business agents. The results speak for themselves.

But… but… but… we can’t offend the Saudis by limiting how they spend their money in our country… we NEED THEIR OIL!

As the posters used to say in WW II, “Kick the Oil Habit.”

Counterpoint to John Blade Wiederspan. When I was a child, I learned from the adults around me, that Missouri Synod Lutherans believed everyone except them was going to hell, even other Lutherans. And the Wisconsin Synod was even more exclusive. Quite by accident, I found myself visiting and being drawn into the life of a WELS church in my later years, and belatedly realized that this was the dreaded Wisconsin Synod my elders had warned me about.

I’m not a communicant member, I don’t believe everyone else is going to hell (including me), even the now-retired pastor was ambivalent about maintaining that. I also could not with any integrity profess faith in God by denying what is obviously the truth, namely, the facts of evolutionary biology. But, they’re nice people, and what they preach on Easter Sunday is perfectly good Christianity without the undigestible bits. So it hasn’t made me an atheist. The discipline they adhere to is a sincere attempt to find the truth, although I rate it no more than a sincere attempt.

As for orthodoxy, it depends on which authority you consult, but in my view, Matthew 25: 31 et seq. clearly shows that many who believe will be condemned, and many who never believed will be saved. In that light, I believe that “Nobody comes to the father but through me” refers to the transcendent universal that Jesus embodied in the flesh, rather than a belief in any given dogma. Inasmuch as those who fed the hungry, clothed the naked, visited those in prison, “did it unto me,” they did indeed come to the Father “through me.” They just didn’t know it.

#14 Comment By Daniel (not Larison ) On March 27, 2016 @ 9:09 pm

I understand, especially in this current age, the appeal of universalism. It is a necessary–though not sufficent–foundation for Moralistic Therapeutic Deism. We are inherently human-centered, thinking (rather unconsciously) that the story of the universe is all about us. When confronted with the Biblical claim that not all are saved, we immediately resist, and ask “why not?!” We assume, in our wisdom, that humans are inherently savable.

But the Bible does not agree with that claim. Rather, it says that NONE are righteous and worthy of eternal life; that in a just (and even fair) universe, we would all be utterly lost.

But the question–the mystery, if you will (though that word is terribly misunderstood and misused)–is not “why are not all saved?” but rather “why are ANY saved?”

The claim of the the Gospel is not “you’re such sweet dears that God of course is compelled to save you–to do otherwise would make him a meanie!!” No, the question–and answer–in the Gospel is “while we were yet sinners, Christ died for the ungodly.” We, His enemies, justly under His judgment for rejecting our Father, our Creator, and our Lord–rejecting the source of all life and light, of all love and mercy, author of the very purpose of our existence–we, the rebels, were saved by the King from the King’s judgment. He who pronounced our condemnation bore it Himself.

Now, you may consider this folly and madness–and yes, this is expected and has been experienced from the beginning of the Gospel proclamation. I don’t find it odd in the slightest that many reject it. However, I do find it odd that those who call on the name of Christ–and can even call themselves “conservative”–reject the ancient Christian teaching, but not the form of it. I think it’s because of accepting an anthropology (in the theological sense, not the scientific sense) that is unbiblical. We make the story about us, how we’re really basically good and not righteously judged as sinners worthy of condemnation. Though we may not be as crude as Donald Trump in baldly saying we never needed to ask God for forgiveness, we secretly feel that way…”I’m not really that bad, I’m a good person, God would be lucky to have me on his side.” That is our natural state, and we remain there unless by God’s grace we move beyond this false mask of innocence. (Moving beyond it is not the whole Gospel, of course, but the Good News of grace is incoherent without realizing it. That’s why I see many Muslims actually closer to the kingdom than many post-Christians.)

As I said, reject this message–many have. But please, think about what it says about us when we create a Jesus that is far different from the one the apostles proclaimed. We may find that instead of the Christ who lives today, we instead create a golden calf after our own image, buying the assumptions of what humanity is in a thoughtless, automatic way.

Now, as to the story: I do not make a judgment in Asad Shah’s eternal state (though for some reason, many here seem compelled to do so…even you, Rod.) But regardless of that, I mourn this horrific crime, which is in a small way reflective of the message proclaimed today: the Son of God, proclaiming a message of peace and love, was killed by those to whom He proclaimed it…in the name of defending the faith from a blasphemer.

#15 Comment By Hector_St_Clare On March 27, 2016 @ 9:26 pm

Turmarion,

I’ve gotten a lot more sympathetic towards universalism over the years, as you know. Largely as a response to some of your impassioned advocacy for universalism, and also in response to some other things. A kind of hopeful universalism may not be compatible with Catholic tradition, but you can certainly make a case for it from scripture, and from reason.

I’m quite certain good works won’t save you, but I’m increasingly convinced faith doesn’t save you either: grace is the only thing that does, and we have no idea where it might extend, or how far.

#16 Comment By Turmarion On March 27, 2016 @ 10:36 pm

JonF: The Orthodox Church at least allows for the possibility of universal salvation, but not the necessity of it.

Yes; but there have been variations in how strongly even the possibility has been taught. Gregory of Nyssa, Isaac the Syrian, and Maximus the Confessor, e.g., are said to have taught that there is a very strong likelihood of universal salvation. OTOH, I’ve read some Orthodox writers that were fairly insistent that at least some–maybe many–go to Hell.

And I’m not sure where you have seen Rod condemn universalism. He has condemned la-la-la indifference but that’s a another matter.

I can’t off the top of my head give a specific thread, but there have been times when–at least in my reading–he seemed to conflate universalism with “la-la-la indifference”. Certainly, I’ve been accused (not by Rod) of just such a “la-la-la indifference”, which is about the exact opposite of the impression anyone who knew me in real life would have. Not saying that to toot my horn, but just being descriptive.

#17 Comment By Alyssa On March 28, 2016 @ 1:20 am

This is a deeply moving article, and I will certainly pray for Asad Shah. His death is a loss for Scotland and the world as a whole. I hope his friends and family see your article and know how admired he is.

Also, to M_Young: the only way your analogy works is if you consider human life as no more important than machinery.

#18 Comment By Turmarion On March 28, 2016 @ 7:15 am

Daniel (not Larison): The claim of the the Gospel is not “you’re such sweet dears that God of course is compelled to save you–to do otherwise would make him a meanie!!” No, the question–and answer–in the Gospel is “while we were yet sinners, Christ died for the ungodly.”

I don’t want to start yet another round of pro-universalism arguments. Those who are so inclined to look into the issue can check out David Bentley Hart’s video [6], or [7] which makes reference to Hart, [8], or finally, though I don’t make bold to put myself in the company of Hart et al., [9].

What I want to do here is to point out that what you say here is a tired caricature of what most universalists believe. I, for one, certainly do not think the human race is a bunch of “sweet dears”. So much the opposite–my view of humanity is jaundiced and it is only my faith that keeps me from being a complete misanthrope.

The point isn’t how good or deserving the human race is, collectively or individually. The answer to that is, “not much”. The point is how far God’s love and grace extend. Christ died for us while we were yet sinners (Romans 5:8); in other words he gave himself up for the undeserving. The only question is whether at some point God decides that some of those undeserving are going to stay in Hell forever, or whether He is patient enough so that the day will come when Hell is empty. I think the latter, as did many great saints.

So reject universalism if you will; but don’t claim universalists are fluffy-bunny types who think they universe is a playground.

Hector, thanks for the shout-out!

#19 Comment By Joshua Mincher On March 28, 2016 @ 9:46 am

Matthew 10:42

“Anyone who so much as gives a cup of water to one my disciples will not lose his reward.”

There is no salvation by any other Name than the Name of Jesus. But there are many ways by which He saves us.

His Church is the one means of salvation, the sacrament of salvation that is His presence in the world, and which praises His Name, by which one is saved.

But there are many ways, according to Scripture by which one can be caught up in the Church’s net. God says, “I gather where I didn’t even sow,” after all.

#20 Comment By JonF On March 28, 2016 @ 12:15 pm

Re: I’m increasingly convinced faith doesn’t save you either

In the US at least too many conflate faith with mere belief. I once heard a preacher (a Protestant in fact) say that faith really needs to be a verb: it isn’t something you have, it’s something you do. I would add that it’s something you do together with God.

Re: We assume, in our wisdom, that humans are inherently savable.

If humans can’t be saved then Jesus was wasting his time… and agony.

#21 Comment By Turmarion On March 28, 2016 @ 1:27 pm

JonF, re faith as a verb, the late, great Robert Farrar Capon gave what I think is one of the best metaphors ever. He said faith is like a bus ride. You find the bus that’s going where you want to go, and then get on it. Once you’re there, you might have doubts (Did I get on the right bus, after all?) or you might get bored or you might second-guess yourself; but as long as you just hold to the decision to stay on the bus, you’ll get where you need to be, no matter what you feel, no matter how much you might waver. Faith isn’t so much belief in an abstract proposition, but a commitment which is perpetually renewed, much like a marriage (which is why marriage is the image used of God and His people).

#22 Comment By Hector_St_Clare On March 28, 2016 @ 2:51 pm

Turmarion,

I was actually going to mention one of verses that struck me from the Good Friday Passion reading, Jesus saying Of them that thou gavest me have I lost none. Then I cross referenced it and found that John actually slightly misquotes Jesus from the Last Supper here: in the original saying Jesus explicitly excepts Judas, making it less useful as an indicator towards hopeful universalism. Still, there are others, some of which you’ve mentioned before. Ultimately I think the fundamental problem with the ‘eternal punishment’ or ‘eternal torment’ concept isn’t the ‘torment’ part, it’s the ‘eternal’ part. The premise on which it relies is that the dead are eternally fixed in the state of mind which they died with, and are incapable of any kind of change or repentance. If an entity is totally incapable of change, though, in what sense are they still human? At the very least, they’re totally unlike what we think of as humanity as we know it.

#23 Comment By Eamus Catuli On March 28, 2016 @ 4:20 pm

The premise on which it relies is that the dead are eternally fixed in the state of mind which they died with, and are incapable of any kind of change or repentance. If an entity is totally incapable of change, though, in what sense are they still human? At the very least, they’re totally unlike what we think of as humanity as we know it.

Hector, that’s an excellent point. To me it’s of a piece with my own favorite argument for universalism, which is: you can’t have people condemned to Hell if they have any loved ones who care about them and are saved. Such a situation would require that the latter entities (good word) had ceased to be continuous with their living selves, because those selves could not experience bliss if they knew that a loved one was suffering — or even if they didn’t know but were unable to find out. So “the person” in any meaningful sense would in fact have ceased to exist.

Put another way, the anthropology that a belief in Hell presupposes is wrong. We aren’t isolated from others in a way that would allow us to separate our own happiness, let alone our eternal happiness, from theirs, and thus to accept their misery and torment. Whom we love is inextricable from our identities; it is at the core of the being that we hope will be saved.

So in effect, you can’t eternally condemn those who arguably deserve it without also condemning many of the saved to perpetual unhappiness on their behalf. Which is not really saving them. The existence of Hell destroys the possibility of Heaven. But really, I like your formulation even better because it’s simpler.

#24 Comment By Turmarion On March 29, 2016 @ 9:33 am

Just to chime in with Hector and Eamus, I’ve long noted that those who support the traditional concept of Hell never explain why the damned can’t change their mind. I wrote a [10] on my blog about that, and concluded that one can neither prove nor disprove, on purely philosophical grounds, that the damned (or the saved, for that matter) are incapable of changing their minds. On a more intuitive level, though, it seems that such beings would no longer be human as we think of that term; it seems as though it would always be one’s prerogative to change one’s mind.

In any case, defenders of Hell never can come up with a reason for their view that the damned can’t change their mind. The merely assert; which doesn’t prove anything. Occasionally they’ll try to proof-text–like Hebrews 9:27 or Mark 9:47-48. That’s flimsy, though, since proof-texting is a bad way to do theology; such verses still don’t address the basic issue; and as Hart, in the references I’ve given before points out, such verses are usually interpreted wrongly, anyway.

Eamus, regarding those in Heaven with damned loved ones, [11] neatly skewers that notion.

#25 Comment By Eamus Catuli On March 29, 2016 @ 5:12 pm

@Turmarion, thanks very much for the Patheos link. I was going to say that my favorite is the “I’m a sociopath right now” defense, and then I saw that the theologian it’s attributed to is none other than Norman Geisler. By strange coincidence, I went to high school with Geisler’s kids, back in a (distant) time when Geisler himself was the token right-wing crank on the school’s board of trustees — whose meeting I sometimes attended, first as editor of the school paper and then as a cub reporter for the local weekly. Which reminds me of another theological theory, of my own devising: Hell is a school-board meeting that lasts for all eternity.

#26 Comment By Daniel (not Larison ) On March 30, 2016 @ 3:29 pm

Turmarion wrote:

“In any case, defenders of Hell never can come up with a reason for their view that the damned can’t change their mind. The merely assert; which doesn’t prove anything.”

The same question could be asked about saints: if (libertarian) free will is a thing, will the saved in heaven choose to sin and choose to leave heaven? Or is that libertarian free will abolished once we’re through the pearly gates?

At any rate, Calvinists have long answered your question: NONE of us would chose God, if it were up to us…it takes a literal act of God to raise the spiritually dead, just as Lazarus couldn’t raise himself from the tomb.

Now, you may reject this answer, but the question–and it’s answer–has been part of Reformed theology for centuries.

#27 Comment By Daniel (not Larison ) On March 30, 2016 @ 3:38 pm

Eamus wrote:

“Hector, that’s an excellent point. To me it’s of a piece with my own favorite argument for universalism, which is: you can’t have people condemned to Hell if they have any loved ones who care about them and are saved. Such a situation would require that the latter entities (good word) had ceased to be continuous with their living selves, because those selves could not experience bliss if they knew that a loved one was suffering — or even if they didn’t know but were unable to find out. So “the person” in any meaningful sense would in fact have ceased to exist.”

Though Lewis certainly toyed with universalism (as a good fan of George McDonald), he does address this in “The Great Divorce.” Remember the scene with the Dwarf leading the Shakesperarian actor on a chain? Basically, hell–and it’s children–do not get veto rights over the bliss of those that love them in heaven.

If one accepts the idea that everyone eventually receives either justice or mercy–and no one receives injustice–than there is no reason to mourn the fate of those who received justice. Our inability to see the horror of our rebellion against God is not a limit of God’s justice, but of our wisdom.

The conversation should begin with understanding what sin is. If we have a view of sin that misses the mark (pardon the pun), than our attitude towards God’s treatment of sin will likely ask the wrong questions.

#28 Comment By Daniel (not Larison ) On March 30, 2016 @ 3:54 pm

Turmarion wrote:

“The point isn’t how good or deserving the human race is, collectively or individually. The answer to that is, “not much”. The point is how far God’s love and grace extend. Christ died for us while we were yet sinners (Romans 5:8); in other words he gave himself up for the undeserving. The only question is whether at some point God decides that some of those undeserving are going to stay in Hell forever, or whether He is patient enough so that the day will come when Hell is empty. I think the latter, as did many great saints.

So reject universalism if you will; but don’t claim universalists are fluffy-bunny types who think they universe is a playground.”

Sorry, I apologized if I universalized (again, pardon the pun) many of the experiences I have had with universalists. I do realize that there are some thoughtful universalists.

It seems as though we may have some common ground in the belief that no one deserves heaven, and all who enter it, enter it wholly because of grace.

The question is if God does grant this grace to all. If the Bible–including the words of Jesus as recorded there–gives us at least some indication of Divine truth and God’s character, I’d say that hell is part of God’s plan.

Now, we might choose to say that the hellish parts of the Bible are man’s distortions, and just cling to the heavenly parts…but on what basis do we do that? If we acknowledge that we do, in fact, deserve hell, then why should it surprise us that some end up there?

The only reason I can think that this surprises us (and please correct me if you have another reason) is that we view God’s grace is something less if it doesn’t extend to all. But I do not know why this should be a necessary quality of God’s grace. One could say the salvation of one sinner is infinite grace…or one could say that the salvation of 7 trillion souls (let’s say that’s all who will ever live) is less than infinite grace, that only if God created 8 trillion we’d have more grace.

I don’t think numbers or percentages are truly helpful in this realm…hence why I can’t see how hell can diminish God’s grace.

#29 Comment By Pacific Moderate On March 30, 2016 @ 4:34 pm

It was the Ahmadi that was the target of a particularly disgusting bit of jurisprudence from the Pakistani supreme court (in defense of the country’s anti-blasphemy law) whose majority opinion contained language like “to prevent unscrupulous and fraudulent non-Muslim from…attracting other non Muslims not to Islam but to their own heretic fold” and “Can then anyone blame a Muslim if he loses control on hearing, reading or seeing such blasphemous material”.

Thanks to Rod for highlighting this sad case.

#30 Comment By Eamus Catuli On March 30, 2016 @ 6:28 pm

@Daniel (note Larison):

Basically, hell–and it’s children–do not get veto rights over the bliss of those that love them in heaven.

If one accepts the idea that everyone eventually receives either justice or mercy–and no one receives injustice–than there is no reason to mourn the fate of those who received justice. Our inability to see the horror of our rebellion against God is not a limit of God’s justice, but of our wisdom.

I really don’t see how that addresses the argument at all. The psychological reality is that people care about others, including others who are sinners, and that these commitments are integral to who they are. What you’re saying amounts to an argument that this isn’t really logical and wouldn’t be so if they recognized the nature of sin. Well, right — people’s willingness to feel love and concern for others, especially members of their own families, is not logical. That’s apparently how God intended it.

#31 Comment By Daniel (not Larison ) On March 30, 2016 @ 9:55 pm

Eamus wrote:

“I really don’t see how that addresses the argument at all. The psychological reality is that people care about others, including others who are sinners, and that these commitments are integral to who they are. What you’re saying amounts to an argument that this isn’t really logical and wouldn’t be so if they recognized the nature of sin. Well, right — people’s willingness to feel love and concern for others, especially members of their own families, is not logical. That’s apparently how God intended it.”

This is why the story of Abraham’s offering of his son is so difficult, from a human perspective–yet it is a core story of the three great faiths that call him a patriarch. The mind and heart reels at it–why would God ask such a thing? Surely God has no need for a dead human, so why did He ask it? Is the point of the story just to point out the absurdity of human sacrifice? Or is it something else?

Our love for fellow sinners is a beautiful thing, and reflective (in a pale way) of God’s love for sinners. Yet in the midst of this love, how does our love for God fit in? Does our love for Him exceed all other loves? Can we so thirst for His presence that all other loves fade–loves for children, spouses, parents?

Again, our hearts and minds reel at such a calculus. We also often understand that since God is in need of nothing, surely it is only animus that leads Him to not be gracious always to sinners (and indeed, life as it is does show that–though this does not necessarily mean that He will always be that way, which is of course the question at hand.) If God deems that this world, with all of the evil in it that He could easily stop, is what He desires, than is His grace diminished by that evil (even if temporary, it does in fact exist?)

I’m not sure if I’m expressing myself quite clearly…perhaps after a good night’s sleep I’ll be able to articulate clearer in the morning.

#32 Comment By Darth Thulhu On March 31, 2016 @ 4:14 am

May God guide and illumine him in all the worlds to come.

#33 Comment By Eamus Catuli On March 31, 2016 @ 4:17 am

I think you’re expressing yourself just fine, Daniel not L. I think maybe we’re talking about different issues. Maybe I should give an example. I’ll pick up on yours, the story of the sacrifice of Isaac. Let’s say that according to a traditional Christian understanding, my father is the kind of person who is saved, while I am not. (I’ll omit the details, but it wouldn’t be hard to make such a case.) Now, one thing that makes my father the saintly person that he is is his deep concern for others and his unqualified, overwhelming love for his children. I mean, that’s who he is. If that were somehow removed — let’s say if he had Alzheimer’s (thanks the good Lord, he doesn’t) and couldn’t remember who we even were, or he became a paranoid schizophrenic who turned hostile because voices in his head told him we were trying to kill him — he would no longer be “himself” in the sense that we (or as he currently) understand the the term. At best, he would be an extremely damaged shadow of his former self.

Well, if he is saved — he himself — then in the afterlife, he could not cease to feel the love and concern and anxiety for our well-being that were so integral to his life and identity in the world. Conversely, to imagine some shadow of the man who didn’t feel those things would be to imagine a different entity than his living self — maybe not a damaged one, maybe a “perfected” one in some abstract sense, but still: not the same guy who raised me and my sister. That guy would have disappeared, i.e. would not have been saved.

Likewise: If he is “saved,” but only to spend eternity worrying over or lamenting the fate of the people he cared so much about in life — concern for whom defined him in life, were apparently deep in his soul — then what kind of salvation is that? Doesn’t sound very pleasant.

Now, if we’re going to try to reason out a solution to this conundrum, to imagine how we think it appears to God and what God does to resolve it — which is what you and I are both doing — then the only other answer I can see is that God so arranges it that people like my father will have no worries in the hereafter, which means that their loved ones, however sinful and undeserving, will not be in jeopardy. If that condition isn’t met, then there cannot be a Heaven that includes the soul of the man we know as “my father,” not in any meaningful sense.

The interesting thing about the sacrifice of Abraham story is that, yes, it tells of God overriding a father’s love and concern with a call to a higher duty. But, first: it’s in the OT, which also includes stories of God ordering genocides, including the deliberate killing of innocents, even infants. So it is a story from the old Covenant, which has been superseded. And second: it turns out to be a test; Isaac doesn’t have to die, in fact he is going to inherit the Promise and pass it on to his children and children’s children; and what God is really arranging, despite what He seems to threaten, is a feast and a celebration. If we’re going to analogize that to the problem at hand, it seems like what it’s suggesting is that God may have temporary reasons for making harsh demands accompanied by dire threats, but in the end, He doesn’t destroy people’s love; He saves it. It’s actually a pretty good little parable of universalism.

#34 Comment By Darth Thulhu On March 31, 2016 @ 4:23 am

As to this kind man’s beliefs, yes, he seems to be firmly of the Ahmadiyya. Similar to the Baha’i and LDS belief that the turning of the Age was at hand in the 19th Century, but focused on a different individual as source of the new Revelation.

There really isn’t a way to perfectly address an Ahmadi who wishes to be known primarily as a Muslim, anymore than there is to address one of the LDS who wishes to be known primarily as a Christian. Most Christians reject the association when it is proclaimed from Salt Lake … and most Muslims likewise reject the association when it is claimed by an Ahmadi. There are things Ahmadis believe that no group of Muslims anywhere believes, and it would be more coherent and consistent if they accepted that they were a new religion, in exactly the same sense that Christianity is not Judaism anymore.

#35 Comment By Darth Thulhu On March 31, 2016 @ 4:38 am

Daniel (not Larison ) wrote:

This is why the story of Abraham’s offering of his son is so difficult, from a human perspective–yet it is a core story of the three great faiths that call him a patriarch. The mind and heart reels at it–why would God ask such a thing?

At the time that God asked such a thing, it was not remotely an unusual thing to ask. If one sacrifices what is precious to the Divine, what could possibly be more precious than sacrificing a loved one? Human sacrifice was a common feature of many ancient Faiths, and Amerind Empires continued to accept that human sacrifice was the highest sacrifice until only a few centuries ago.

Not asking for such a thing would be what was unusual. Thus, God asking Abraham not to go through with the sacrifice of Isaac/Ishmael is the heart of the story, and the crux of the revelation, whereas asking for the sacrifice in the first place was just par for the course.

Surely God has no need for a dead human, so why did He ask it?

Why did He ask Cain and Abel for sacrifices? Surely God has no need of animal carcasses nor plant offerings, so why did He ask it?

Why did He ask the Jews of the Temple to sacrifice no end of offerings to Him? Surely God had no need of such things, so why did He ask it?

The exact same reality holds for human sacrifice, which would be, if anything, even more precious an offering still. At one point it was not only requested, but expected, and at a later point it was banned. The important point is the banning, not the prior ubiquity.

Is the point of the story just to point out the absurdity of human sacrifice? Or is it something else?

Human sacrifice was not absurd. It made complete sense. No sacrifice could possibly be more valuable. The practice was ubiquitous … and then it was banned. The point of the story is that God expected the old-school hard-core levels of commitment … and then unilaterally changed the deal to be vastly more merciful.

God reasonably expects you to offer up everything you’ve got. You’re asking for infinity and coming to the table with almost nothing. Reasonably enough, “everything you’ve got” is a fair asking price. Including your kids. Except that God, in His mercy, eventually ruled that you don’t actually have to offer up your kids. Or, eventually, offer up anything else other than your own life … which you were going to lose anyway.

As deals go, there are worse ones to entertain.

#36 Comment By Daniel (not Larison ) On April 1, 2016 @ 1:28 am

Eamus, thanks for your kind reply.

You look at the perspective of the saved, concerned for their loved ones–and that concern is part of what makes them what they are.

Well…what if being an awful person is part of what we are? What if, objectively looking at (someone else’s) loved one, we realize that deep down, the very core of that person is a truly evil being? That letting such a person into heaven would be like bringing Lucifer back into the fold–knowing full well that he’d rebel again?

I know it might be difficult to think of our own parents or children or spouses in this way (though I know a few people that have had truly evil spouses that, although they may not wish them harm, can not imagine living anywhere close to that person.) But as life goes on, we grow, we change–perhaps better, perhaps worse. After, say, 10,000 years of selfish behavior, being consumed with only satisfying one’s own appetites and never thinking it a concern the pain it might cause others, how could one abide in heaven? And if you–say their saved child–saw them as they truly are (or have become), that at their core, they were defined as totally self-consumed and any compassion they may have once expressed was but a temporary aberration, and that their truest self was unable to love?

We often–sometimes glibly–talk about unconditional love, that true love has no conditions. That’s true on a certain level; but if my love for a psychopathic son meant that I’d want him to be free to make other people’s lives miserable, I’d say my “unconditional” love would enshrine his treatment of others as objects to be something more important than the good of many others (and ultimately his own rejection of what it means to be human). Such love is pathological; a love for a partitular person that says “I don’t care what evil may happen; my child must be free!”

I do think, just like our “freedom” to chose to sin will be an aspect that seems so core to our identity as human beings today, the pathological aspects of our “love” will be gone in the eternal realm. Just as we will be unable to sin in heaven and yet be freer than we are today, our love will be truer and fuller–as our Joy will be–in this state…and if our loved ones are not there, we will know and understand that they would be as out of place in heaven as a murderous lunatic would be out of place at a wedding feast.

Such a person in heaven? As many have said, heaven would be a torment far greater than hell.

As to the old covenant vs new, I don’t see that distinction the same way as you do. Jesus, as recorded in the Gospels (and beyond that we can easily start defining a Jesus of our own making), continually quoted from the Old Covenant, never suggesting that it painted a wrong picture of God (and indeed talking far more about hell than the Old Testament did). Maybe you can reject the gospels as being truth and error, but once you start down that road I think you honestly can’t call your faith “Christianity” any more. We might take a few principles from the gospels and say “THIS is the core of Jesus’ teaching–all else is dross!”–but who’s to say we choose the “right” core, and the “love thy neighbor as thyself” (quoted from Leviticus) was in fact the dross?

#37 Comment By Eamus Catuli On April 1, 2016 @ 4:11 pm

Daniel, thanks for your reply as well. I appreciate how carefully you’ve thought about all this. A couple of things occur to me. It sounds like you’re setting the bar for getting into heaven pretty low. The example I gave presupposed that a person like myself might well not make the cut, even though I flatter myself to think that I’m not a psychopath or a murderous lunatic. (I try to keep the murders within a reasonable quota, you know. 🙂 ) So in my example, we’ve got someone who is saved worrying over the well-being of someone who’s not an appalling wreck of a human being, not an SS death-camp guard or anything like that, but just an ordinary, albeit unsaved, sinful person. It’s not clear to me why heaven would be corrupted by the presence of such a person, or — more to the point — why the saved person in my example would accept that as an explanation for the loss of his loved one.

But, if you believe that nearly everyone except the most extreme wrecks of humanity are saved, then perhaps what you’re suggesting is a kind of near-universalism in which the hard cases don’t really arise. OK, I can certainly go with that too for the time being.

As to the hard cases: I suppose I’m also assuming a somewhat different anthropology, i.e a different theory of what makes people what they are. I think the psychopaths and sociopaths, the evil people, are in virtually and maybe every case examples of some kind of damage not of their own making — mental disease, neurological disorder, severe childhood abuse or neglect, things like that. I think this will become ever clearer as we learn more about how the brain develops and functions, and that our current understanding of “evil” will eventually go the way of medieval ideas about witches causing smallpox and crop failures. That is, our received explanations are provisional, crude approximations that seem plausible mainly because we don’t yet know the real causes.

Is that view “Christian”? I don’t know. I think so, but if I still qualify as a Christian at all, I’m obviously a very liberal one. In my defense, so was Jesus, I think — but then, that’s what a liberal Christian would say, right? Anyway, this is how I see it, and of course it’s impossible for me to imagine that either a merciful OR a just God condemns people for being ill or for being victims of mistreatment. If anything, those would be the lost sheep of the parable, the ones for whom the shepherd feels the most protective.

One P.S.: I don’t know if Turmarion is still reading this, but he is vastly better informed about the issues we’re discussing, and has spent much more time thinking and writing about them, than I am or have. If you’re interested in them, you definitely want to hear as much from his as possible. He has a blog; you might find it worth your while, as I have:

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