Today I respond to Bart Mitchell’s inaugural question to the Questions That Haunt Christianity series. Before I proffer my response, let me say that I am both humbled and astounded at the outpouring of responses to Bart’s question. I agree with many of your comments, and if I were a wiser man, I’d probably just copy and paste them here.
I’m also very grateful that Bart himself has been heavily engaged in the conversation. It’s not easy for a non-believer to repeatedly put himself in dialogue with committed believers, so it says a lot about Bart that he has. Now, without further adieu, my response.
Thanks for your question. It’s a tricky one, and I’ll admit that it’s not one I’ve spent much time thinking about. Unlike the Christians that you seem to meet, I did not grow up in a version of Christianity that was preoccupied by the afterlife. Sure, we talked about it, but it really wasn’t the motivating force for our Christian faith.
Of course, I am familiar with Christians who are preoccupied with what happens after you die — they seem to think that their purpose, as one pastor told me, is “to depopulate hell and populate heaven.” I’m not one of those. But the recent spate of books about “after death” experiences shows that it’s not just Christians who wonder what happens when we die.
You asked a two-part question: [Read more...]