A chap I knew once had a disagreement with none other than the great Dr Billy Graham on a theological point.
In a sermon Dr Graham stated that in heaven there will be a great screen on which will be shown all the wicked things done in our lifetime.
I remember as a child the idea used to strike fear in my heart, but, I’m not sure where the notable evangelist got that stuff from, for it is certainly not in the Bible. I equally wonder what was his motivation; was it to frighten his listeners into God’s kingdom?
Probably, for it’s not uncommon for religious leaders to use this dubious ploy.
For example, I’ve just been listening to a recording by one such: Dr Alan Clifford, who referring to the new legislation in GB in relation to same sex marriages, warns that ‘sodomite society invites the wrath of Almighty God.’
Dr Clifford draws his support from the Book of Isaiah, and claims that God’s wrath is unavoidable. The Archbishop of Canterbury and the Queen are numbered with those who are but a ‘...short step from disaster’ because they have failed in their duty to ‘defend the faith.’
My position on same sex marriage is well documented, but the basis of my rejection of the direction in which the coalition government in Westminster has taken us is not a fear that God will deal with us as he did in the days of Noah.
No, my rejection is based on the simple argument that we are, for no good reason, tinkering with an institution that has served civilisation well for millennia. There is nothing that marriage can give same sex couples that is not already available in civil partnerships, and if adjustments need to be made to certain aspects of pension provision, for example, that can easily be done without the need to redefine the ancient institution of marriage.
Back to my Canadian friend and Dr Billy Graham. No, there is no big screen with front-row and circle seats for everyone to sit and watch your past sins. There is no video recorder in heaven recording your sins right now, because your sins have already been dealt with on the Cross of Christ at Calvary. And as a direct result God has proclaimed, ‘Your sins and lawless deeds, I will by no means ever remember!’
Now, this is where it gets really radical, and I do have the audacity to accuse Christendom in its entirety selective blind-spots. Pronouncements such as that by Billy Graham and Dr Alan Clifford are based on readings from the Old Testament, not the New.
So am I saying that the Old and the New Testaments are in disagreement? Yes I am - Shock! Horror! Well, it was not I who penned the New Testament letter to the Hebrews.
Here is arguably the most radical scripture you will read in the entire Bible: ‘By calling this covenant “new” (the New Testament), he has made the first one (the Old Testament) obsolete.’ What does obsolete mean? It means, no longer in use. What about that then?
Isn’t it wonderful to know that when Jesus said, ‘I give you a new commandment’, he didn’t mean another to add to those given by Moses, no, he was giving us one to supersede those that had been rendered obsolete by his coming.
And the big screen in the sky? There can be nothing on it, for God himself has said, ‘I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more’
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