Since I needed to go home to feed my children, I didn't take the time to look into the pages of the book to see what those myths were, nor did I get to read just how Mr. Hartman became such an authority on heaven. Does he read the same Bible that I read? Because my Bible is quite vague on that topic.
This is the theological emphasis that is prevalent in my city; that the life hereafter is all that truly matters. The whole point, or at least the most important part, of faith is to get a fire insurance policy against going to hell. And the way to obtain this fire insurance is to say the magic words (the "sinner's" prayer) and *poof* you're a Christian.
I'm noticing this more now than I have in the four years we've lived here because I'm realizing that I have been wrapped in a liberal cocoon, surrounded mostly by Christians who, for the most part, think like me. Of course, at Presbytery meetings, I am around folks who have a different perspective, but I tend to stick to those who, again, are a lot like me. It feels safer that way in today's PC(USA.) Safe, but not very healthy.
In my new gig as a hospice chaplain, my job is to meet people where they are spiritually and minister to them in a language that is familiar and comforting. Considering the religious ethos of this metro area, most of my patients and their families have quite a different take on things than I do. But you know what? When I act and speak in a manner that seeks to reflect the love and grace of Jesus Christ, I find that in the sacred days before death, we are speaking the same language.
A daughter of one of my patients asked me the other day, "Are you born again?" Any other time I would have bristled, but at this moment I said, "If by that you are asking if Jesus Christ is my Savior and if I believe in the God of eternity, then the answer is 'yes.'" At another time and place, this answer may not have satisfied her, but in these sacred days as she walks this journey with her dying mother, she was comforted.
There are very real, very important and very painful issues that divide us as Christians. This is how it is and I believe I am called to work toward the goal of a church and a world that reflects the justice, peace and compassion of God; oftentimes in opposition to brothers and sisters in Christ whom I believe have it all wrong. And they I.
But I wonder...maybe I'm getting just a small glimpse of what heaven is like by walking these journeys with the dying and their families. That in the final analysis, our lives will come to an end and all that matters then is that we are precious children of a loving and merciful God.
Somehow, I doubt that Jack Hartman wrote about that in his book.
ETA: For some reason blogger will not let me put spaces between my paragraphs. Sorry of it's hard to read.