Apologetics Bible Christian Living Education Justice Theology

Cafe Online 8 – Heaven and Hell and the End of the World

The final Cafe Online – we discuss heaven and hell with Ali Macintosh – the children’s leader at St Thomas’s.  Is the world coming to an end?  How do we teach children about these heavy subjects?  What should we teach them?   These are vital and essential subjects.


Here are a couple of the quotes we used:

‘Gandalf! I  thought you were dead! But then I  thought
I was dead myself. Is everything sad going to come untrue?

What’s happened to the world?’
‘A great Shadow has departed,’ said Gandalf, and then he
laughed and the sound was like music, or like water in
a  parched land; and as he listened the thought came to
Sam that he had not heard laughter, the pure sound of
merriment, for days upon days without count
Lord of the Rings

No fire, no heroism, no intensity of thought or feeling, can preserve a life beyond the grave … all the labours of the ages, all the devotion, all the inspiration, all the noonday brightness of human genius, are destined to extinction in the vast death of the solar system; and the whole temple of Man’s achievement must inevitably be buried beneath the debris of a universe in ruins.
Bertrand Russell

He shall come from heaven with glory, accompanied by His angelic host, when also He shall raise the bodies of all men who have lived, and shall clothe those of the worthy
with immortality, and shall send those of the wicked, endued with eternal sensibility, into everlasting fire with the wicked devils.
Justin Martyr

When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the
angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly
glory. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats … Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.
Jesus Christ (Matt. 25:31-32, 46)

‘There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, “Thy will be done,” and those to whom God says, in the end, ‘Thy will be done.’ All that are in Hell, choose it. Without that self-choice there could be no Hell. No soul that seriously and constantly desires joy will ever miss it. Those who seek find. To those who knock it is opened.’
C S Lewis

Cafe Online 8 – Jesus’s Church

A.S.K 18 – Hell

A.S.K 19 – The Certainty of Heaven – How Can I Know I Will Go There?


  1. I like the way you put it David about fear of God coming from a place of respect and it not being dissimilar to you as a father being protective of your daughter and her staying safe form any potentially predatory boyfriend. I have a little sister who used to get a little annoyed with her brothers approach to any new boyfriend bu then once she thought about it considered it to be sweet that she had that protection. I imagine having three brothers as well as a father to negotiate would have been an daunting task for any potential suitor. Probably why my sister has ended up with a QC as a husband – someone who is not afraid to make a case an can hold his own in an argument!

    Also it’s true is it not that any man worth his salt has at some point in his life taken another man to task about how he has treated a woman? I know I have and I’ve had that done to me as well. And just in case any woman reading this thinks she is getting off the hook there is a reason why the phrase “hell hath no fire like a woman’s scorn” exists. There is wisdom in it and every man knows what it is like to be in the receiving end end of that!

    So yes – no-one is without sin, all have fallen short of the glory of God. Therefore there is a need for holy reverence, of a healthy fear what we might then not be afraid of anything or anyone else, and enter into the “joy of the Lord” being as God created us to be, in his image and seeing that is good.

    Where I think the church missed the mark sometimes is with an over emphasis on sin to the point of people being identified as “sinners”. I’ve thought very carefully about this and as far as I can determine, bionically the term “sinner” was not used in the sense of all not being without sin but in essence being created in the image of God and therefore have hope and with Jesus can have a share in God’s glory. Rather that the term “sinner” is used in a derogatory way that Jesus turns round to use ironically to show a so called “sinner” in a positive light when he prays “lord have mercy”. This in contrast to someone perceived as righteous but is boastful about himself in prayer, looking down on the “sinner” and claiming not to be like him.

    So I don’t buy into this any more. I think it has been human church tradition that has resulted in a prevalence of defining self and others as sinners. If someone is “in Christ”, their identity is in Him, justified. Or put another way, just as if he hadn’t sinned in that is the true “joy of the Lord”. For anyone who is not “in Christ”, they are created in the image of God and if someone looks down on them as a “sinner” then that says more about the person looking down on them that the one they are looking down on.

    Another way the church misses the mark is in taking grace for granted. It hasn’t come cheaply and there is a cost to following Jesus – it requires sacrifice. Giving up stubborn pride, letting go of things in the world that would otherwise hold back from fullness of life, sharing the sufferings of Christ and being comforted in that. Not being comforted to live a comfortable life. The road to destruction is wide and many people travel on it and the path to life is narrow with few walking on it. Not easy, but living life with meaning and purpose.

    So I guess there is the choice whether to live that way or more in line with the Bertrand Russell quote. Though with the latter it’s hard to imagine such approach not resulting in nihilism, in bitterness and resentment when suffering comes in life, which it will.

      1. What scripture would you use David to support your argument? Hasn’t there been a lot of difficulty when there has been a literal interpretation of scripture when it would be better to take a symbolic interpretation?

        Yes all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. The Fleetwood Mac song “Oh Well” is based on that. But all are created in the image of God. And for anyone “in Christ”, it does what is says on the tin, the identity is in Christ.

        I don’t identify you as a sinner David. If you wish to do that for yourself, I respect your freedom to do so. I choose to identify you as being in the image of God, with the indwelling of the Holy Spirit and therefore in Christ. Though not without sin, that being covered by Christ and being loved deeply, that covering a multitude of sins, as for me. Call me a “chief of sinners” if you like – I think when Paul did that for himself, he was using the term for rhetorical effect to bring glory to Christ, not literally identifying himself with sin. And whatever you call me – I identify you as my brother in Christ.

        The truth will be forthcoming sooner or later and win, and love never fails.

    1. This “children’s leader” is precisely the sort of person I wouldn’t let within a mile of my children.

      We used to get her sort turning up to primary school for the nonsense of “religious education” but thankfully that has long been discarded with in Victoria.

    2. Sorry if you have been at the end of a woman’s scorn, Adam, but the phrase is “hell hath no fury like a woman scorned”, so it speaks of the reaction of a woman who has been betrayed and abandoned for another. Very different!

      1. That’s an interesting take Hilary/

        Your definition Hilary of a woman betrayed, which you could say is a righteous anger in the example you have given. Another is of a woman who’s romantic interest in a man is not returned by a man. And I certainly have been on the receiving end of that – it’s viscous, let me tell you. And women can be incredibly viscous with spreading gossip and rumour, intent on reputation destruction towards both men and women.

        And you can clearly see that I have been equally critical of inappropriate conduct by men towards women just in case you or anyone else feels there has been any “toxic masculinity” in these comments where obviously there isn’t but fairness to both genders.

  2. Typo “bionically” should have been “biblicaly” – autocorrect must have been written by someone who is a fan of a 70s TV series ;).

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

%d bloggers like this: