Heaven, hell, and Barbara Walters

On TV last night, Barbara Walters talked for two hours about heaven and hell.

Watching parts of it reminded me how unintelligible such discussions are outside the means of grace.

What is heaven? Where is it? Who goes there?

Sure Richard Gere, Mitch Albom, and Caroline Kennedy can offer their answers. But they are just words. They sounded hollow to me, even when religious leaders rather than celebrities offered the answers.

I tried to figure out why this is.

Part of it is that Christianity does not have a settled answer to questions about what heaven is like. It does not even have settled answers to the question of what happens after we die, not in the immediate term. The answer to the question “who goes there?” is contested, too. Any simplistic answer to the question is incomplete and implies more unity than we have.

The other part has to do with Scripture, liturgy, the sacraments, and other means of grace. Heaven as the kingdom of God  cannot be abstracted from these.

So, in one sense, if Barbara Walters asked me these questions, I would have answers I could give, but I’d want to insist before I gave them that we first turn to the Psalms and read. Let’s pray the Lord’s Prayer. Let’s talk about the liturgy for our baptismal service.


4 thoughts on “Heaven, hell, and Barbara Walters

  1. As much as I like and respect Barbara Walters, she is not the one I turn to for guidance regarding spiritual matters. I did not watch the program, but from seeing a few tweets last night, I know that Joel Osteen was on the program. Frankly, I consider him to be outside the bounds of orthodox Christianity.

    I DO know and experience the Presence of the Risen Christ and consider that experience to be a sufficient “foretaste of glory divine.” I can handle living with mystery about the afterlife, because of Christ’s presence today.

  2. I really like you and thats why it i took 30 mins tryin to find how to respond to: will you be in heaven. I am a christian who belives in the whole bible. OLD and NEW testaments. As (TRUE) CHRISTIANS, we belive that you must:1. HEAR and BELIVE the word of GOD.2. Confess that belief in GOD, and CHRIST as our savior.3. REPENT of your sins. 4.Be BAPTISED . 5. LIVE faithful until death . Barbara if you have done these thing you will be in heaven. If not, you will have GATE TROUBLE!

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