This is a thorny question that I have been grappling with since my dear lovely Mum died last year. She was a truly wonderful personality and much loved by most people who knew her. Owing (I think) to early negative experiences she had with religion, she got 'turned off' Christianity and was always rather cynical about it, so didn't attend church or show much interest in conventionally accepted Christianity. As far as I know she did nothing much wrong in her life, was a very honest faithful person, great sense of humour and full of integrity. (It was easier and pleasanter to be in her company than in that of many Christians I know!) I miss her a lot, do have a personal Christian faith, and hope/need to believe that I will see her again one day in the 'afterlife'. Many interpret the Bible as teaching that those who do not openly 'accept Jesus as Lord' are automatically destined to be excluded from Heaven - and this is my problem.
- I know what the Bible says/ what Jesus taught, ie that He alone is the way, truth and life (...and tried to explain this to my mother a few times ....so she had definitely heard the gospel). I do not judge her personally, and my gut feeling is that a good and loving God could not possibly condemn such a person to the outer darkness. Not only her, but several other people very dear to me have died in recent years, and were not 'clearly' Christians, but their lives spoke volumes about their goodness and love for others. So, can a good loving God really reject such people after death?
I would love to find something to cast light on the question - even if it doesn't necessarily give me exactly the answers I would like to hear...I suppose I am seeking some solid and reliable theology to comfort me, not to increase my sense of loss (that someone so dear must have missed out on eternal life....IYSWIM). Thanks to anyone with some insights here.
I'm sure they are, Italian! I feel much more confident and reassured now that God = perfect unconditional love (before he is anything else that our limited minds can attempt to portray him as, thereby putting him into a box not of his own making...).
I'm really enjoying reading the book by Dave Tomlinson which PioneersandPirateShips so kindly lent me recently - full of common sense and wisdom, eg: 'There is nothing more fundamental to the Chrisitian faith than the message that God loves us, come what may. ...Whenever conditions are attached to God's love, the gospel is undermined and falsified'.
Surely any life, however immature or incomplete, has an equal share of that love...if he is a God who knows about the fall of every sparrow and who has counted the hairs on our heads.