About Judgment Day
Written by: Robert D Brinsmead
I quote from J. Harold Ellens, the author of ‘Honest Faith for Our Time’, pages 42-43:
“The reason to be a Christian is because it is more fun to live one’s life in the freedom of God’s unconditional, radical, and universal grace, than to life in the false fear that is blind to and neglects God’s grace, acceptance and forgiveness. There are Bible students who are going to be disappointed that there is never going to be a second coming of Christ. There is never going to be a final judgment. There is never going to be a Judgment Day. Their disappointment will be the same as that of the early church when Jesus failed to return, the same as that of the bishops who created sick religion out of selective, threatening passages from the Synoptic Gospels ; the same disappointment that all false prophets have experienced when they predicted dramatic divine interventions that still had not happened when those poor fools were enclosed in their coffins…. In translation that means that all will see that God is not in the business of judging anyone, and is in the business of saving everyone, and that is all there is to it. The ‘day of judgment’, for each of us, is the moment each of us dies and goes to be with the Lord. The judgment for all human kind will be the same, without exception. ‘Enter, thou, into the joy of the Lord.’
“Anyone who is disappointed in that has a sick spirituality, informed by bad theology, probably, in part, from the Apostles Creed. Such folk do not get it. Thanks be to God, the God of utter grace. Anyone who is relieved, and joyfully optimistic, about anticipating that universal salvation by God’s grace, has a healthy biblical spirituality, informed by trust in God’s unconditional grace. That is of God. That is of God’s Holy Spirit.”
“’Love your enemies and pray for those persecuting you, so that you may become sons of your Father, for he raises his sun on the bad and the good and rains; on the just and the unjust.’ (Q. 6:27-28, 35c-d).This is a completely new revelation of God, which transcends the God who calls on you to retaliate (Matt 5:38-42). Jesus called on his followers to forsake the age-old legal tradition of a just revenge, in favour of his new revelation of an all-forgiving God (Q 10: 21-22)…This has led to Jesus revelation of a new kind of all-forgiving God, in whom we are invited to have complete trust.” Pages 150-152
I will only comment that the forgoing kind of trust is not possible if we make God’s love/grace conditional. Religion is all about spelling out the conditions. Religion therefore makes it all very iffy. If you do this, if you do that! Even if you say, “It is conditional only on faith,” then you open a Pandora’s box of uncertainties. If you say, it depends only on you accepting it, it is no different. You can then get bogged down in a 1000 arguments and uncertainties about what faith and accepting it means, and anyone with a trace of honest human introspection will start analysing and questioning the adequacy of his faith – or whatever the condition is supposed to be. So the Catholic versus the Protestant debate as to whether saving faith must first be formed with charity or is it formed with charity after it has justified?
Let me state it plainly that this unknown author falsely called Matthew for centuries of church tradition does not accept the new teaching of Jesus. He qualifies it and bandies it about; he puts this new wine into his old apocalyptic wineskins of a God who hates, a God who eventually throws his enemies into an eternal hell, and puts all this abominable stuff on the lips of Jesus who does not hesitate to damn those who don’t agree with him to hell after raking them over with withering, bitter personal judgments.(See Matthew 23). No, Matthew does not accept this is a new teaching that is clear, contrary to the law of Moses, but he insists on qualifying what Jesus says until he makes it all very compatible with Moses and the OT God of vengeance. For this teaching of the Jesus taken from the Q refutes the ethic of the law of Moses (the eye for an eye, the hating of the enemy), but Matthew is a Jewish Christian who insists on having a Jesus who teaches that the law of Moses in every jot and title has to be kept, that Jesus comes to abrogate nothing, only to fulfil. And by “fulfilling the law” he does not mean what Paul means, that love is the fulfilling of the law in the sense it fulfils the essential spirit of it and therefore we do not try to observe the law as to its letter (i.e. no Sabbath keeping for the Galatians, no circumcision, no eating kosher, no yoke of 613 commandments. But Matthew’s teaching, even contrary to Mark who has Jesus abrogate the law about unclean food, is that we must keep the law in letter as well in spirit.
This is why the words of Jesus from the Q have never had the impact they deserve – all because of Matthew’s qualifying and even contradictory context. Because of other words he puts into the mouth of Jesus – like being in danger of hell fire, the unpardonable sin, and more – we have not been able to take the core words of Jesus about unconditional grace and love at face value. What the words are watered down to mean is this: Yes, for the here and now, God sends his rain and sunshine on the good and the bad (the Calvinists call this “common grace”).
But ah, don’t be fooled by these words of Jesus to think God will always act so kindly and gently toward his enemies. No sir! The time is coming, namely the holocaust of the Second Coming and Day of Judgment and Wrath when God will toss these people into the fire and fury of hell. You see, he only gives his enemies rain and sunshine now so that they will come to their senses, to repentance, to change their ways and accept Jesus as the only way to escape from the Day of Wrath and Anger. Matthew is a moralist who has Jesus use the carrot of grace and the stick of the fear of hell.
Jonathan Edwards of “Sinners in the hands of an angry God” fame knew of the words of Jesus in Matthew 5:38-48? How did he reconcile these words about loving our enemies as God does? Well, he cited the other qualifying, contradictory words of this apocalyptic interpreter of Jesus who covered up the core teaching of Jesus with so much dung that his readers have generally missed the diamond – So that’s what Matthew did when he insisted on interpreting Jesus apocalyptically – and apocalyptic Matthew who has a couple of chapters devoted to apocalyptic is all about the intervention of divine vengeance.
So I am not going to be impressed if anyone starts quoting Matthew to me for the purposes of qualifying the radical words of Jesus about unconditional love. I reject and even detest this apocalyptic interpretation of Jesus.
I have done quite a bit of research on Muhammad and the sources of his thought, and I found that he was brought up by his mentor, Waraqa, in the Nazarene or ‘Jewish Christian’ faith. Waraqa’s source of teaching in this Nazarene sect in Mecca was Jewish Scripture plus a Gospel called the Gospel According to the Hebrews. Although a copy of this Gospel has never been recovered as yet, scholars tell us that it was basically the Gospel of Matthew.
I have just finished re-reading the Quran. I would have to say that its most prominent teaching is a warning about Hell. It is on almost every page of Quran, and never lets up on this miserable, sadistic and grossly inhuman dirge about Hell and its endless torment for infidels. Where did Muhammad get this teaching? He did not get it from Moses and the OT prophets. But he got it straight from this Jewish Christian Gospel that is basically the Gospel of Matthew.
Matthew has more to say (or rather, his Jesus has more to say) about hell fire and torment for lost humanity than any other book in the entire Bible. Matthew, in the tradition of real Jewish apocalyptic, is fixated with hell, as shown by his repeated harping on “weeping and gnashing of teeth.” Muhammad got this emphasis all right, and he ran hard with it on almost every page of the Quran. It is a message of vengeance awaiting those who don’t believe what the messenger is teaching. History has clearly demonstrated that this is the kind of religion that has turned the believing community into instruments of terror to the rest of mankind.
So to repeat, I am not impressed by any quoting of what Matthew says to compromise Jesus core teaching of unconditional love.