Bernard Williams questions whether eternity in heaven would be desirable If we

Bernard williams questions whether eternity in heaven

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Bernard Williams questions whether eternity in heaven would be desirable. If we had perfect bodies, no physical limitations, and whatever we wanted to do, would it get boring? Karl Rahner , a Catholic theologian, made the same point – the limited span of our earthly lives give them their meaning. He used this idea to support the beatific vision. Purgatory Purgatory was an early Catholic teaching developed by Origen and Augustine. The teaching asserts that some souls are not in a sufficient state of grace to warrant going to heaven. Some deserve punishment, but not eternally. Purging sins in this life through confession and repenting helps to reduce time spent in purgatory. Rahner developed the doctrine of purgatory in a way more appealing to 20 th century minds – arguing that it is a metaphorical place, not of great pain, but rather of the self-awareness of sin between death and the last judgement. Protestants tend to reject the doctrine because it contradicts biblical teaching and suggests that JC’s sacrifice on the cross was not the final act of salvation. Pope Gregory, in the 6 th century, developed the idea of purgatory, based on a passage from Matthew’s gospel where JC says ‘anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, whether in this age or the age to come. In the Bible, hell is sometimes described as a rubbish dump or lake of fiery sulphur into which the bad people are thrown. Hume argued that the whole concept of hell calls God’s justice into question because a finite sin could never deserve an infinite punishment. Hick rejects hell because it is incompatible with a belief in an omnibenevolent God. He argues that this view was developed as a form of control encouraging people to be fearful of disobeying religious authorities. Dante Alighieri (1265-1321) was born in Florence, Italy, and was a statesman and poet. His ‘Divine Comedy’ is an imaginative and richly poetic work with pervasive theological themes, influenced by Aquinas. The poem tells of Dante’s journey through the three realms of the afterlife. The Roman poet Virgil guides us through hell and purgatory, whereas Beatrice, Dante’s ideal woman, guides us through heaven. Dante’s inferno best exemplifies the medieval view of hell. It was created at the moment of Jesus’ death when, according to Matthew’s gospel, an earthquake cause the dead to awaken from their tombs. It is antithetical to heaven. There is a sign at the entrance to hell which says: ‘abandon hope all ye who enter here’. Purgatorio is for people who believe in Christ and have repented before death. He poetically describes how the soul ascends various ‘terraces of the mountain’ whose summit is the beatific vision. On the way up, you have the opportunity to purge yourself of all wrongful desires and actions. Paradiso is beyond description: ‘to go beyond the human cannot be put into words’. The end of the journey is Empyrean, from which God’s light radiates.

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