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As humans live in this world, everyone has a different analogy on the goal of life. Besides, as much as people may be happy with life, everyone is kept in oblivion about what would happen to them after death. However, there are several theories that talk about how people would be after death. Moreover, there is an inherent belief that humans are destined to Heaven after death depending on personal actions and behavior of various people.
Nonetheless, existence of heaven and hell has been a contentious issue among various believers. This paper seeks to come up with an argumentative essay on the issue of the existence of heaven and hell with reference to C.S Lewis’ book The Great Divorce. The paper also seeks to analyze a case that would be used in assessing the controversial issue of heaven and hell.
Analysis of the theories behind heaven
There has been a widespread school of thought that the actions of any individual would not eventually affect his existence after death, just in case there is life after death. This idea that purports to support the issue of life and death has been associated with many scholars who have come up with various arguments on the issue supporting their sentiments. However, other scholars sought to dismiss the idea that the final destiny of every human being is predetermined by God and that there exists absolutely no possibility of any person redeeming themselves from the fate decided to them by God.
Through various mythical works, authors have presented both hell and heaven as the ultimate rewards for all the actions that an individual might undertake in their normal lifetime. Some of the essential ideals that are often held in various forms of writings such as the Great Heaven are directly translated from holy books such as the Bible. In the fictional theories of representing the imaginary experiences of the human soul after death, most researchers have created a worthy contest of the philosophy that all human beings will move to the same place after their demise.
In my own point of view, According to Lewis, heaven is presented to the humans as a place where the only factors existing are rest and vastly beneficial possibilities for those who will have their destiny there. However, the thought of heaven being a marvelous place is the direct opposite of how hell would look like. There is the representation of the hell as being comparatively or even exaggeratedly smaller than heaven (Lewis, 32).
This purposeful representation of heaven as a bigger place leads to the notion that there are more people that are worthy to be in the place. Heaven is a place of possibilities and abundance. People have more than they may demand, and there is definitely better than the physical world. Heaven is a reward for the people that have virtues. However, the reign in hell is not worthwhile since most of the people in hell have less inclinations to work towards a common rule.
This means that hell’s ideal of reign is all in the minds of the characters, hence, abstract. “Milton was right," said my Teacher. "The choice of every lost should can be expressed in the words, 'Better to reign in Hell than to serve in Heaven.' ..... There is always something they prefer to joy --- that is, to reality." (Lewis, 41)
The depiction of the people in heaven is better compared to the one used to refer to the people from hell. Lewis creates a mental image of the people in heaven as bright and solid. This depiction makes the notion of a second life that has pervaded most of the religions real since the people in heaven are almost as real as those on earth. He notably changes how the people in hell are. They are not actual people (Lewis, 15).
They lack the solid nature and they are just spirits or phantoms. The use of the above contrasts makes heaven more appealing to the reader compared to hell. The readers choice as a theme comes out clearly in the novel. People make many choices as it is indicated in The Hill …
Who played with life all his ninety years,
Braving the sleet with bared breast,
Drinking, rioting, thinking neither of wife nor kin,
Nor gold, nor love, nor heaven?
Most of the phantoms in hell opt to remain in the small area since they have the power to choose what to do. From the Spoon River Anthology, the following excerpt has been used to describe the nature of life after death.
All, all are sleeping on the hill.
One died in shameful child-birth,
One of a thwarted love,
One at the hands of a brute in a brothel,
One of a broken pride, in the search for heart’s desire;
One after life in far-away London and Paris
Most academic resources reveal that the heaven is of more significance to the life after death since it is the final destination for all Christians. This is a contradiction to the representation of the hell in the novel since it is comparatively or even exaggeratedly smaller than heaven (Lewis, 32).
This purposeful representation of heaven as a bigger place leads to the notion that there are more people that are worthy to be in the place. Heaven is a place of possibilities and abundance. People have more than they may demand and there is definitely better than the physical world. Heaven is a reward for the people that have virtues.
In conclusion, it is essential to understand the fact that the actuality of heaven and hell are theories that many humans believe in. As much as everyone know that death is an inevitable plan that will have to take place in everyone’s life, majority of humans do not actually know how they will be after their demise.
Hart, James David. The Oxford Companion To American Literature. 1st ed. New York: Oxford University Press, 1983. Print.
Inge, M. Thomas. Literature. 1st ed. Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 2008. Print.
Lewis, C. S. The Great Divorce. 1st ed. New York: The Macmillan Company, 1946. Print.
Arguments in favor (showing that indeed inspiration presented in the Abrahamic mystics is the good basis for beliefs)
(1) In Christianity, wisdom is described as the ability to rule justly and is a gift from God. Solomon during his sleep is asked what he wants by God, and he states that he wants wisdom. This is an inspiration as he can be given wisdom in order to be able to discern the mind and be wise in the ways of the world. Secondly, there is the issue of wisdom truly residing within the Divine Creator, and God being able to understand everything under the heavens. He was the wisdom residing in him, and this is why he was able to create everything with equal measure. God in Proverbs argues that wisdom is humble and that the integrity of the upright often guides persons to move. The inspiration goes on with Christianity with the argument of Paul that states that there is God’s wisdom is greater than that of a human being and, in fact, God weaknesses is stronger that human strength.
(2) In the Jewish religion, there is inspiration that exists in the texts by stating that the wisdom of God often purges and illumines through souls. It further illumines through the purges of angels and their ignorance and give people the understanding and wisdom that often descends from God. The experience of God in humankind shows that persons can fully understand the situation on the ground about the wisdom of God, and understand that divinity is so intense and immense as to surpass the complete understanding that is indeed sublime knowledge.
(3) According to Islam, God often opens up the understanding of the person and things that were foreign to him or her are then showed out in the open. The scriptures describe God as being all knowing, understanding every sphere of life and consequently being responsible for ensuring that persons get this information. The increase many times occur within the soul of God and in that knowledge he can pass it to humans. The people know that the increase often occurs because of the divine self-disclosure to the people. This inspiration shows that indeed God is the grantor of wisdom, and it is only through God that one can be able to understand how to be anything and be of worth to the world in any way.
This is a deductive argument
Objection to Premise 1
Solomon argues that the wisdom that is gained from God is futile and that it is not inspirational. This is because he acquires information more than any known person and after applying his mind, he realizes that it is like chasing the wind. The wisdom is useless and those that try and find and increase knowledge only increase their sorrow. This, therefore, kills the inspiration and shows that the wisdom that God gives to the first premise might be unworthy and useless.
(1) God sometimes favors specific persons to give knowledge and inspiration. The inspiration is not open for all and the experience of God in this favor is lofty and their people understand everything remains to be understood.
(2) The Bible in books such as Ecclesiastes argues that the Wisdom is useless and it is like chasing the wind. This therefore, means that the Wisdom that persons have and the one that exists in the world is useless
(3) Despite being wise, everyone suffers a natural death without knowing their destination after death.
This is an inductive argument.
Objection to Premise 3
There are persons that have faith in their religion that indeed they will be able to see the Kingdom of Heaven and consequently, one might argue that even though they might not be the wise of people, they have the necessary information they need to know about the afterlife.
Table of Contents
The Term Son of God and the Divine
Influence of other Divinities in Christianity
Heresy against Divine
The Son of Man
The Deity of Jesus can be considered as being an essential doctrine as well as being a central non-negotiable belief within Christianity. This is also known as the divinity of Christ and this doctrine often asserts that Jesus Christ was and still is the Son of God Incarnate. The deity of Jesus Christ is not the easiest Christian belief to grasp. However, it is vital to realize that it is the most central and certainly the most controversial.
In fact, if Jesus was just an inspired human teacher as some people claim, one who was able to point out the way to God, then this can be said to it nicely within the contemporary milieu (Edwards, 1968). However, Christians often claim that Jesus was not just a prophet, as affirmed, by Islam. However, they argue that he was one true God in the flesh, and this is in fact what Christianity divinity concerns itself about. It implies that Christ is not one possible way to God, but he is the unique way.
It is critical to realize that some people who are not Christians such as the Gnostics do not have a problem when it comes to Christian divinity. This is because they indeed believe that all people are in some way divine (Edwards, 1968). They often claim that people experience life fully when they are in some measure divine. From this perspective, it is critical to realize that indeed the divinity of Jesus does not seem to bother them.
This is because they believe that all people are sons and daughters of God. Therefore, it can be seen from this perspective, there is the main issue of divine v Christian. It is decisive to understand these two concepts to further understand the concept of divinity and what it means to humans. Christian divinity has always argued and affirmed that Jesus was divine in a manner that is not common to people; He was unique in his way (Edwards, 1968).
He did not simply have what can be stated to be an element of divine implanted in him. However, he was indeed the unique as well as the perfect incarnation of one true God. It is critical to realize that whether people are right or not when it comes to their belief regarding the divine spark in human beings, what is claimed about Jesus can be said to be radically different than this belief and this is the case even if it happens to be true. Christian divinity has its beliefs in the fact that early Christians believe that Jesus was divine because he was the Messiah, the Son of God.
It is without a doubt that the belief in the concept of the Messiah is one of the greatest as well as the most central of all the Christian beliefs. In fact, for example, in the account of Peter’s confession of Jesus, Matthew states that Peter when asked by Jesus who he was stated that Jesus was the Messiah and the Son of the Living God. The accounts by Luke, Mark and John also portray that indeed Jesus was the Son of God (Speer n.d). However, it is crucial to realize that although these passages suggest Jesus was the Messiah, they did not automatically believe that he was the divine Son of God and consequently, the argument of divine v Christian.
In the Judaism of the time of Jesus, the title that was given to Jesus, that of the ‘Messiah’ did not carry any implication of divinity. When one examines closely the meaning of the Hebrew word Mashiach, it means one who is anointed with oil to do a certain task or for a special purpose (Speer n.d). Therefore, the word Messiah meant that a person had a special calling and a special authority. However, it was not in any way to imply the divinity of Jesus Christ. It is critical to realize that at the time of Jesus, many Jews were looking forward to the coming of the Messiah, and this was the anointed one who would be able to bring freedom and liberation from Rome.
This person was believed at the time would be blessed by God, and he would be able to execute the judgment of God and will be the vehicle for God’s salvation. However, there is no mention regarding that the Messiah would be divine (Speer n.d). It would be hard to ignore the fact that the Jews were fiercely monotheistic. Therefore, the early Christian belief that Jesus who was the Messiah was God in the flesh could not be tolerated amongst them. Therefore, up to this point, there is no logical flow from being a Messiah to being a deity and hence Christian Divinity.
The Term Son of God and the Divine
A question that ultimately arises is then what about the apparent equation of the Messiah and the Son of God in the gospels? Do they in any manner indicate that Messiah was someone divine? There has been confusion over the centuries and in the modern age, people tend to use the phrase ‘Son of God’ in the complete sense of ‘God’s only divine Son’. However, this usage is not old, and it does not go back to the early days of Christianity (Edwards, 1968).
Amongst the Jews in the time of Jesus, the words ‘Son of God’ was used in several different ways. For example, it is essential to apprehend that the people of Israel were called God’s Son by Hosea (Hosea 11:1). Further, in the book of Wisdom 2:12-18, a righteous man can also be referred to as the Son of God (Speer n.d). The Jewish King was also referred to as the Son of God. However, there is an essential difference to be made in that unlike their neighbors in the ancient world; the Jews did not deify their Kings. God said about King Solomon that he would be a Father to him and that Solomon would be a son to Him (2 Samuel 7:14).
Further, in Psalm 89, God said that he would anoint David, and he would cry to him, “You are my Father, my God, and the Rock of my salvation! I will make him my firstborn.” In this passage, God anoints the king who calls God Father, and who is God’s firstborn. However, it is necessary to realize that there is no implication in this text that the King of Israel was in any way divine. Therefore, this shows that when Peter confessed to Jesus that he was the Messiah, it was much unlikely that he meant the divine Son of God. However, his confession might have meant God’s Chosen King and Redeemer.
Therefore, it is imperative to note that the common that virtually equates Christ as the Messiah with him being a deity does not in any way fit neither the historical nor the linguistic evidence (Speer n.d). In fact, a first century Jew could have easily acknowledged that Jesus was the Messiah without any notion that he was much deeper than a special man who was inspired by God and authorized to deliver God’s people from bondage from Rome (Woodley & Carthew, 1819).
The second theory regarding divine v Christian is that where early Christians indeed believed that the resurrection of Jesus was what made him divine. It is common knowledge that human beings do not rise from the dead. Therefore, the goods news of Easter convinced the early Christians that indeed Jesus was in fact God (Edwards, 1968). For one thing, Jesus can be said not to be the only person to have rise from the dead while he was still on earth. However, it is critical to realize that there is no indication that any other resurrected ones were divine. Mark tells the Story of Jesus raising the daughter of a leader of the synagogue.
The people were amazed. However, they did not think that in any manner that the girl was divine. This was the same case with Lazarus, who despite being raised from the dead was not made a deity. Matthew mentions that after Jesus was killed, there were many people that were raised from the dead; however, there was no person that stopped and wondered that these people were divine. Although Jesus resurrection was different, the raised from dead therefore God formulae does not seem to fit the context of the Christian divinity.
It is of the essence to realize that many Jews at the time of Jesus expected that when it came to God’s time, human beings would be able to experience resurrection. The Pharisees were firm believes that there was resurrection beyond death (Edwards, 1968). The Pharisees were not alone, and the likes of Daniel envisioned a time when people will resurrect from the dead if they were righteous (Woodley & Carthew, 1819).
Therefore, it can be stated that in the eyes of the first followers of Jesus Christ, who were at the time Jewish, showed that the resurrection of Jesus proved that he was righteous. It vindicated his ministry and his life, however, it did not at least at the first blush demonstrate that Jesus Christ was indeed God. The earliest Christians indeed confessed that ‘God raised’ Jesus from the dead (Acts 2:24, 1Corinthians 6:14). However, they did not state that Jesus raised himself showing that he was God (Woodley & Carthew, 1819).
Therefore, apart from the resurrection of Jesus, it would be logically correct to assume that the followers of Jesus would never have come to the determination that indeed Jesus was God in the flesh. In fact, there would not have been many followers of Jesus Christ after his crucifixion, had his resurrection not occurred. Therefore, it can be said that resurrection is crucial in the overall calculus that finally ended up with Jesus being divine and hence the concept of Christian divinity.
Influence of other Divinities in Christianity
The most popular argument amongst secularists in the divine v. Christian claims that the earliest Christians who were faithful Jewish monotheists believed that indeed Jesus was an inspired leader and that he was the Messiah, however, they did not claim that he was a divine being (Linton, 1960). However, as Christianity spread out in the outer parts of the Roman world, the authentic and original Christianity can be said to have undergone a huge transformation.
There was a heavy influence of Greco-Roman religion and culture into early Christianity, and the line between the human and the divine was in most cases crossed. Therefore, with time, the fully human Jesus Christ began to be divinized (Edwards, 1968). Therefore, with only a matter of time, the religion had penetrated to many parts of the Roman empire. Those that received the message made Jesus a deity and compared him to Hercules and Julius Caesar. Therefore, according to this theory, the authenticity of the early Christianity with a human Jesus Christ was easily hijacked, and it was led into the divinizing tendencies of the Greco-Roman world.
There was a fine line when it came to the way other people looked at the concept of the divine. When it came to the Greek and Roman worlds, there was a permeable line that existed between divinity and humanity. For example, it is important to consider the myth of Hercules. His father was a god (Zeus). However, his mother referred to as Alcmene was a human being.
Hercules lived, therefore, as a God-man and he, therefore, possessed some strength as well as other abilities. It is after his death that he became a full-on god. It is of importance to realize that indeed in the basic outline, this story sounds like that regarding the early Christian belief regarding Jesus.
In the Roman world, it was not only mythical humans that eventually became gods, but the Caesars were also accorded this honor (Linton, 1960). Julius Caesar was recognized officially by the Romans as being a god after he was murder in the year 44 BC. It is also critical to realize that indeed his immediate successors such as Augustus Tiberius were also divinized, and this occurred only after they had died.
Towards the middle of the first Century A.D, the Roman emperors were recognized officially as gods before they even died (Linton, 1960). In fact, it is extremely important to realize that by the end of the first century, the Emperor Domitian referred to himself as God and the Lord, and he required other people to refer to him with that title.
Therefore, it is possible that in this milieu the early Christians proclaimed that Jesus was sent directly by God to bring salvation to the world. Therefore, it is also plausible that in competition with gods such as Hercules, and human heroes such as the divinized Julius Caesar, Jesus eventually came to be thought of as being divine. Further, this process of deification of Jesus also coincided with the movement of Christianity from Judaism into Paganism. Therefore, the early Christians commitment towards the Jewish monotheism was lost along the way and voila, Jesus was divine.
Heresy against Divine
There are several persons that fuelled the divine v Christian debate. The Heresy of Arius denied the divinity of the Lord Jesus Christ; he argued that Christ was not consubstantial with the Father and that he was indeed created. It is important to realize that even after being publicly condemned in the year 325 A.D by the council of Nicea, Arius as well as his followers caused a lot of troubles, suspicions and dissension within the Church (Linton, 1960).
The Heresy of Nestorius refused the divinity of Jesus Christ and argued that the Virgin was not the mother of God (Linton, 1960). He explained that indeed it was impossible for the Virgin to give birth to God, this was because the creation in any respect could not give birth to the Creator. Besides, he famously stated that is born of flesh will be merely flesh.
The Son of Man
It is important to realize that Jesus rarely referred to himself as being the son of God. In fact, in the opposite he frequently spoke of himself as being the son of man. This title is often rarely used by Christians in the present day when they speak about Jesus. The Son of Man can, in case, be said to be Jesus fancied title for himself. It records up over seventy times in the gospels, and almost always it occurred in the lips of Jesus Christ Himself (Linton, 1960). It can be said to be somehow ironic that indeed Jesus favorite self-designation gets very little play when it comes to Christians in the modern day.
Therefore, there to understand the Christian divinity there is a need to understand the expression ‘Son of Man’ as it applied to Jesus. The phrase can be said to be an affirmation of Jesus’ humanity and in one sense when Jesus said he was the son of man, he was simply saying that he was a human being (Massillon, 1824). However, in the gospels, there is confusion regarding the true human nature of the Son of Man.
This is because according to Jesus, the glorious Son of Man will eventually be enthroned in Heaven in the midst of angelic host. It is at this time that he will be able to exercise the power of judgment over all nations in the world (Massillon, 1824). This is no ordinary human being, and though the title points to his humanity, the functions associated with it were that which were reserved for the Lord alone.
Jesus picture of the glorious Son of Man can be said to reflect his Jewish background. In fact, it is critical to realize that indeed the account of the Son of Man can be tracked back to a crucial text that existed in the Old Testament book of Daniel (Massillon, 1824). Daniel had a dream regarding the future of humanity, and he saw four beasts that ruled over the earth and they devoured people in their political oppression. God appeared and took power away from the beasts, and then unexpectedly new figure appeared. He was one like a human being, and he was presented to God (Massillon, 1824).
It is of the essence to realize in the Original Aramaic of Daniel, the phrase; One like human being reads one who was like the Son of Man. The one like a Son of man represented the faithful people of God that endured oppression and ultimately shared in God’s rule over the earth (Massillon, 1824). The vision of Daniel regarding the Son of Man dominated Jewish eschatological speculation at the time of Jesus. Jesus introduced himself as the Son of Man in a completely new manner that was unprecedented.
In conclusion, there is no plain answer to the question of Christian divinity. In fact, it is important to realize that what is clear from historical records is that by large, Jesus was not regarded as divine during his earthly life. It was only perhaps the demons that grasped his true identity. There might have been moments where the followers of Jesus Christ since his divine nature, as in the story of Matthew, where Jesus walked on the stormy water.
Those in the boat worshiped him and said that he was the son of God. However, it is critical to realize that even this text cannot simply be read without divine connotations. This is because ‘the Son of God’ was a royal title and in fact people worshiped human sovereigns (Yarn, 1978). By the end of the first century, Jesus divinity was confirmed, and the majority of the people believed that indeed Jesus was divine in nature. It is important to point out that indeed Jesus did and said things in his earthly ministry which hinted that his was indeed divine. Further, unlike other Jewish prophets who spoke in the name of God by saying ‘Thus saith the Lord,” Jesus spoke with authority as if he was God himself.
On top of this, it is important to note that Jesus with a lot of ease automatically assumed the power to forgive sins. He did not just forgive the people that had sinned against him in a personal manner, but rather he went ahead to forgive sins in a way that was reserved for God alone (Yarn, 1978). Further, he did this act of forgiving independently of the temple as well as its sacrifices. Sequentially, this was one of the main reasons as to why Jesus was killed. This is because he forgave sins and consequently decided to denigrate the temple and put himself in the place of God.
However, it is critical to realize that in his earthly ministry, Jesus spoke with his authority, and he performed miracles that only God could perform. However, he did not go around proclaiming that he was God, but he instead announced the coming of God’s reign. No matter how Jesus lived and no matter what he did or said, if he had simply died on the Roman cross like many other Jews in the first century A.D, there would be no Christian Divinity (Yarn, 1978). In fact, the story of Jesus would not even be in the blip on the radar screen in ancient history. However, Jesus story did not end with crucifixion, no matter how one tries to explain the rise of early Christian divinity, there is something extraordinary that motivated the followers of Jesus not only to go ahead and remember him but also to proclaim him as the Jewish Messiah, and God in flesh.
In fact, even the historians that deny the historicity of the resurrection on the assumption that dead people do not come back from the grave one must give credit that indeed there was a fantastic experience that turned the followers of Jesus Christ from a dejected and defeated people to one of the most effective organization in human history. The divinity of Christianity is therefore confirmed according to Christians by this great deed. Though, the early Christians might have been mistaken, they surely in their hearts believed that Jesus had been exalted from the dead by God and therefore, Christian divinity had trumped all other divinities and other gods.
Edwards, J. (1968). Christian knowledge: Or, The importance and advantage of a thorough knowledge of divine truth. Works of President Edwards, 5, 373-394.
Massillon, J.-B., & Crichton, A. (1824). A plain and popular defence of the worship of Jesus Christ, by the Christian church, against the charges of those who presume ot call it idolatrous.
Woodley, G., & Carthew, T. (1819). The divinity of Christ proved, from his love to mankind in his pre-existent state, his incarnation, and atonement. And the true Church of Christ ascertained, not by man's sincerity, but by conformity to the will and word of Christ.
Speer, R. E. (n.d.). God in Christ the only revelation of the fatherhood of God.Fundamentals, 3, 61-75.
Linton, C. D. (1960). Jesus Christ, the divine redeemer: Our Lord's teaching and works.
Yarn, D. H. (1978). The testimony of Jesus Christ. Sixth Annual Sidney B. Sperry Symposium, 87-99.
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