republished with permission from ROLLER UPDATE #34 – September 29, 2010
QUESTION OF THE MONTH
Q: How do you respond when someone who knows that you believe in “soul sleep” goes through the death of a loved one and tells you that they find comfort in thinking that that loved one is in Heaven looking down?
A: Depending on the situation, maybe I just smile and give them a hug. Not every situation is a good opportunity for theological discussions! But, if the situation is appropriate, and the person is seriously interested in discussing the issue, I try to (gently) point out to them that I think that it’s unwise to draw “comfort” from what isn’t true. An analogy, if you don’t mind: do you really want your adult children to believe that it was Santa Claus who brought them all those Christmas presents during their childhood? Although it might not “feel” as good, wouldn’t it be better for them to come to an understanding of the truth? So, why should I allow my friends to believe something that isn’t true? Wouldn’t it be better for me to share the true teaching of the Bible with them? Here’s another point: the idea that one’s “loved ones” go to Heaven when they die is built on the assumption that the “soul” survives death, and that those loved ones were saved, and therefore headed for their eternal reward. But, the other side of that coin is that those who die unsaved would go to Hell when they die. What if someone’s loved one wasn’t a Christian? Would they still find comfort in thinking that that loved one is in Hell? I kind of doubt it. Maybe “soul sleep” is more “comforting” to people (like me – and maybe you?) who have gone through the deaths of loved ones that weren’t saved than it is for those whose entire circles of family and friends are Christians; I don’t know. Be that as it may, people have a right to believe whatever they want to believe, even if it isn’t true. Personally, I’d rather believe what’s true than what’s “popular” or what “feels good.”
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