Bad Things & Good People Revisited
CHRIST & NEIGHBOR
A recent column of mine on why bad things happen to good people (Nov.) has stirred up some interesting reader reaction.
For example, Eleanor Williams writes me that the subject “needs to be dealt with often and loudly because it is the basis on which so much doubt and faith-denial and anger toward God is set.” But she adds, “I challenge your assertion that ‘the deepest purpose of this life is to qualify for the next.’ That places you in an antediluvian era, definitely pre-Vatican II…. Jesus’ message was a commentary on the presence of the Kingdom of God on earth, a statement that human life must follow in those footsteps….”
Yes, precisely, and that is how we qualify for the next life. Concern for the next life may be pre-Vatican II, but it is also post-Vatican II. In fact, the recent extraordinary synod of bishops in Rome, in reviewing Vatican II, reminded us of this fact. Nothing in the Vatican II documents questioned or diminished the importance of our natural, healthy concern for where we are going to spend eternity.
Your challenge, Eleanor Williams, is really directed toward those pre-Vatican II types who have a mistaken, unbiblical notion of how to qualify for the next life. They think that if they go to church every week, say their prayers, confess all their sins of impurity, and try not to lust after Mr. or Mrs. Jones, that will do it. They are mistaken. Part of their problem is that they have not heard enough sermons on Matthew 25:31-46. In fact, I doubt if they have heard any, so vastly out of touch with biblical reality are so many of our clergy, Catholic and Protestant.
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We see kids on the street with guns and stacks of $100 bills. There’s no rule of law, no belief in anyone’s laws -- not man’s, not God’s.