The Eternal Religious Dream.
The Eternal Religious Dream.

In the earliest times, people invented mythical fulfilment of their hopes.

As they experienced a seemingly endless struggle between good and evil,
they found themselves to be the pawns, expendable, powerless.
They dreamed of a Last Battle won by the good party,
followed by eternal peace and plenty;
the Kingdom of Heaven.

Feeling unrecognised and unjustly treated, they longed for justice,
for a final vindication of the innocent and righteous poor;
the theme of Last Judgement common to all religions.

They dreamed of a direct revolutionary over-turning of the present,
(in the words of Jesus "the first will be last and the last first")
with this came the idea of the elect and the last Remnant;
the restoration of forgotten lives and hopes.

The dissatisfaction of ordinary people with their lot
is reflected as a desire for another reality,
which is reflected in their vision
of religious observance.

The ancients created a three fold existence of: the delights of heaven above,
the horrors and tortures of hell below, and ourselves between;
poised to go either way at our inevitable demise,
depending whether our behaviour in this life
followed the rules that they devised.

It was an effective religious strategy which lasted for millenia,
but has no credibility when examined critically,
rather than through the blindfold of faith,

The ancient, and sadly still orthodox, view of Heaven.
The ancient, and still orthodox, view of Heaven.

Somewhere in the skies above us lies a place where God dwells.
It is place of unending delight and love and peace.
It is place illuminated by the glory of God
from where He sits on a glorious throne
with Jesus seated at his right hand.

If we believe in Jesus as our Lord and Saviour,
we can be forgiven for our inevitable sins,
(our failures to follow the right path)
and join the eternal heavenly throng
gathered around the throne.

To summarise a priestly view gathered from the Internet:
1. Heaven is a real place.
On the night before he was crucified Jesus said:
" In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you.
I am going there to prepare a place for you." (Jn 14:1-3).
Heaven is just as real as the place you call home.

2. Heaven is the dwelling place of God.
His throne is there, the angels are there, and the Lord Jesus Christ is there.
Philippians 3:20 says our citizenship is in heaven and we await the Savior there.
Jesus told the thief on the Cross, "Today you will be with me in paradise" (Lk 23:43).

3. The Bible hints that heaven is not far away.
Because heaven is a real place,
we sometimes think it must be outside our present universe
However, the early Christians understood
that they would pass immediately from this life into heaven.
How can that be possible if heaven is beyond the farthest galaxy?

4. Not everyone goes to heaven.
The Bible speaks of the saved and the lost.
The saved are those who trust Jesus Christ as their eternal Savior.
The lost are those who do not trust Christ as Savior.
This is the great dividing line of humanity.
There is no middle category.

In this view,
you will either spend eternity in heaven or eternity in hell.
But no one will go to heaven except by the grace of God and
through the merits of the spilt blood of Jesus Christ.
If a man rejects Jesus, he has no hope of heaven.

The ancient, and sadly still orthodox, view of Hell.
The ancient, and still orthodox, view of Hell.

A summary of the orthodox view gives us:
The biblical image of hell is a place for the soul
of extreme torment by being separated from the blessings of God.

1. A Place of Darkness.
From the oldest book of the Bible (Job) to the last book (Revelation),
darkness is consistently associated with hell.
Job writes of a land of deepest night, of utter darkness and disorder,
Other references throughout the Bible include:
Realm of darkness (Nahum 1:8).. Blackest darkness (Jude 1:13)
Thrown outside into the darkness (Mt 8:12; Mt 22:13; Mt 25:30)
Plunged into darkness (Revelation 16:10)

2. Gnashing of Teeth
Jesus, who spoke about hell more than anyone else in the Bible,
used this phrase to describe the intense suffering in hell.

3. Fire
Isaiah in the Old Testament prophesied about hell as
the place where the fire that burns them will not be quenched. (Is 66:24)
This unquenchable fire is also refered to in Mk 9:43 and 48.

4. Separation from God
Both the redeemed and the unrepentant experience God’s blessings on earth.
Hell, however, is eternal separation from God’s presence,
His love, and other blessings.

Somehow we need to find a more credible explanation,
something that fits our present place in existence
and all that we now know of history and science;
of what those ancient stories really implied.

A more practical and realistic view of Heaven.
A more realistic view of Heaven.

As the purely secular song-writer wrote:
"They say in Heaven, love comes first
We'll make Heaven a place on Earth
Ooh, Heaven is a place on Earth".

It is not yet, nor will be soon,
but, as Jesus said, it is at hand, coming,
if still barred by the intransigence of man.

Jesus called that final goal the Kingdom of God
and spoke of its characteristics and nature:
of justice, equality, love and peace;
the behaviour of its inhabitants;
of lack of resentment and envy;
of mutual forgiveness.

It was the power-brokers of religious self-interest,
which transposed that into a super-natural framework;
that concealed that Kingdom behind charismatic power,
that barred the gateway to heaven by sacrament
and hid the purposes of creation behind
a cloud of religious bigotry.

Within two centuries of when Jesus died,
heaven had regressed to where it had been
before he interfered with more practical ideas.
Thus heaven returned to its place beyond the clouds,
imprisoning God on his golden throne again
instead of inhabiting the earth,
and growing His Kingdom.

A more practical and realistic view of Hell.
A more realistic view of Hell.

Of course hell exists!
It is all around us and reported daily in The News.
Hell lies in our inhumanity to our neighbour
or those who suffer for our inaction.
Hell lies in their lives
and in our guilty conscience,
the uneasy processes of our minds.

Hell is here but we don't perceive it.

There is no horrific post-death experience
merely the reality of realising, as we await death,
the opportunities that we have missed to do good
and the places in which we did wrong to others.

Hell lies in the memories of the dying
and the lives of those that live
in the arms of Satan's children.

Yet the present situation suits the power-brokers of religion
and those who, through their employment, are dependent on them.
There appears, as yet, to be no way to escape the puerile doctrine
of reward-driven religion, and its comfort blanket conceptions
of meeting our departed loved ones again in another place,
contrasted with the threat of eternal punishment
for those who break religious regulations.