Two super-popular Christian leaders have recently made public statements about what happens when you die. And they’re both terribly wrong.
First, our friend, Rick Warren, tweeted this:
This is, of course, about as unsubtle as Rick usually is. He’s obviously talking about gay people. And if he thinks, as he seems to be implying, that someone’s eternal destiny is dependent on what they think about gay marriage, he’s dead wrong. Indeed, the implication that anyone on the marriage equality side of the debate has ever insinuated that is silly.
The church has been on the wrong side of history many times, and on the right side sometimes, too. The church in America is currently split fairly evenly — as are Americans as a whole — on the question of whether GLBT persons should be able to marry. But those stats aren’t stagnant. They’re shifting, and fast. Within five years, many evangelical churches will marry gays, just as most now perform weddings of divorced persons and hire divorced clergy.
Meanwhile, the pope’s proxies made the much ballyhooed announcement that Catholics who follow World Youth Day on Twitter will get years off of Purgatory. Yes, the Catholic Church still believes in Purgatory.
In 2007, the Vatican hedged on Limbo:
“This theory, elaborated by theologians beginning in the Middle Ages, never entered into the dogmatic definitions of the Magisterium. Still, that same Magisterium did at times mention the theory in its ordinary teaching up until the Second Vatican Council. It remains therefore a possible theological hypothesis.“
However, Purgatory stayed. And indulgences are making a comeback.
Of course, Purgatory doesn’t apply to Protestants, since we don’t believe in it. So I suggest a new evangelism tactic for us: Tell your Catholic friends and neighbors to convert to Protestantism, and they’ll be able to avoid Purgatory altogether!
In the meantime, let’s disabuse ourselves of the medieval metaphysic that says we’ll be suffering year after year in a physical place when we die.