7th issue in series (find the other parts here.)
Post-Death Consciousness (Leg 5)
[I think my suspicion of a larger dogma comes out rather unchecked in this installment. I had the nibbling suspicion from the first. About here (what was later to become Leg 5) I become more certain that “soul sleep,” is part of a larger systemic theology, wherein a sect within the name of Christian denominations is squeamish about severe punishments administered by a loving God. Therein, the “need” for death to hold lapse from regret over a misspent life and terror over the coming judgment (and sentencing) is borne of “gentle-kindness.” (I’ll bet you’ve heard of a man’s right to secure his reservation in Hell blamed on God’s “gentlemanliness”?) Without realizing it, my strong suspicion that annihilation theology (belief that the fires of the punishment place will simply burn those who go there into non-existence) is the larger belief backing this “hiatus of consciousness” doctrine comes crashing unapologetically (nearly confrontationally) through the underbrush.
On a personal note: When I wake up tomorrow—assuming I sleep—my splendid daughter will be a free agent, able to go her own way in life and make her own decisions. As she answers to no man, the opportunities open to her are literally endless! By the time I go to bed tomorrow evening, she will be married. Alas, alas!]
I began this paper without a clear idea of where it would go. Truly, I have brought new scripture into the discussion—parts of the Bible that I felt thematically relevant, which you had not brought to the topic, that I considered essential to a thorough examination. I now see, however, that I have done little or nothing to dispute your scripturally based proofs that a man’s consciousness ends when he dies. I now beg the right for a little latitude in so doing.
On an extra-biblical principles level (meaning I will, to some extent, reason outside of the Bible—which practice is biblical), I would personally, in a strict sense, find God mocked IF one (a previously fallen) could enter an arena and disrupt what God was doing.
If a thief—coming to steel, kill and destroy—is caught, sentenced and incarcerated after having stolen my TV, killed my loved one and broken the lock on my front door, but I remain un-restored from my loss, I have still—as I say, in a strict sense—been mocked. As:
1) Where is the redress for my (missing/damaged) television?
2) I will not even take compensation for my loved one. I want him/her back.
3) I only had to buy the lock for my front door because of criminals in the first place. If a caught thief is require to pay seven-fold, he now owes me the price of 14 locks: the first one that I had to unjustly buy, as well as its replacement. (In Heaven, we will have no locks on our doors, as no malefactors will be in attendance.)
4) I must also be well compensated for the time I was deprived of my possessions/loved ones, and the time I took to give police interviews, etc.
From a justice standpoint, would any of this be unreasonable?
I may not be able to enforce my demand for redress, reparation, restoration, but God certainly is. If what you’re getting at is that Adam’s Maker “suffers permanent loss” from a thief—even if the thief is brought to punishment—God is really mocked after all. Come now, let us reason together: The All-knowing wasn’t taken by surprise via Satan’s escapades in the Garden of Eden, was He? Uh, I’m pretty sure that if I really believe He is omniscient, the question takes the form of a non-starter.
So I ask myself, “What was the whole serpent-in-the-Garden scene about?” No answer comes back but the one bearing much resemblance to Peter’s answer to the gaping-mouthed hoards in Acts 2, where he tells them, “This man was handed over to you by God’s deliberate plan and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross.” Okay, “God’s deliberate plan” is half of an answer. Yet the why remains below the surface.
Isaiah 27:4 (ESV) has God pictured as a man longing to show masculine zeal to His lover: “I have no wrath. Would that I had thorns and briers to battle! I would march against them, I would burn them up together.” That gets us a little closer to a motive. If God wants an enemy (for the purpose of displaying the ardor of His love to the one He cherishes) He will have to provide one for the occasion. Now I have a large part—call it 2/3—of the answer to what the snake-in-the-Garden scene is all about, but it takes a little more probing.
When my college literature professor thought it time to provoke our minds he would give us little verbal quizzes. “What must every story have?” When all we returned was the puzzled dog look, he might give a clue or two. “Seven letters; starts with a p, ends with an m.” Many had had him previous years, and one of them finally answered, “A problem.” Seems the one thing most essential to a story is that a problem arise.
So, what if God had a love story he wanted to tell? The problem was . . . there was no problem. Without a problem, love can only be known at the surface level.
The Pacific Ocean is pretty renowned for its size. Hearing for the first time of its length and width might amaze someone. However, without an understanding of its depth, its true immenseness is lost! In the same way, because of creation’s fall and reclamation, we will get to know how (fathomlessly)
is the love of Christ.
The glorious ever after is yet ahead. We are here to gain experience invaluable to the fullness-of-joy afterlife: Our post-restoration appreciation can only be heightened and intensified for the experiential memory of having lived in a perfectly created—but shattered—world.
“Amazing love, how can it be, that You my King would die for me?” A king . . . willing to die . . . for a single subject? Yes. The treasure of which knowledge I will have for Eternity. Love hasn’t changed, but I will intimately know what I would have had no basis to know had the original creation remained pristine, had I never needed a Savior. Just like the woman who found her lost coin, the only real gain I have over the beginning of the day, before a loss was discovered, is . . . perspective!
And I have come to “know this love that surpasses knowledge—[and to] be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” I have chosen the better portion, and it won’t be taken from me—especially since “death” can’t separate me from His love.
Finally an answer for what the serpent-replete Garden Scene is all about begins faintly to take shape: In this view, God is truly not mocked. Satan, who tried (who ever tries) to hinder Him, can only serve Him. Like Satan, the man who supposes to mock God, is only heaping mockery upon himself, setting himself up for a future ironic derision.
I suspect Heaven will reverberate with perpetual laughter from end to end. While uncontainable joy will be a part of this laughter, Divine comedy will constitute another: The recorded frolics of defeated Satan and his “helpers” will play on the theater screens of Heaven, I have no doubt. The exposed antics of the good Methodist Hillary Clinton should alone be enough to keep Heaven in stitches for billions of years!
Satan is a huge grinding wheel that would love nothing more than to maul the instruments God wants to sharpen. If [which can only become a when] we comply with our Maker’s will—if/when we stop fidgeting in His skillful hands—the giant stone can only sharpen us. Try as he might to rebel, Satan can only serve God, who outwits him at every turn.
Your salvation was NEVER an afterthought with God
 My ironic way of saying, “I will now argue biblically from outside of Scripture.
 Revelation 21:3-5
 Luke 12:2-3
 No disrespect intended to one or more of Susanna Wesley’s sons, nor the early American evangelists belonging to this once great denomination, known for braving inclement weather, and incurring a reputation for same, viz. the saying, “This weather is only fit for crows and Methodist preachers.”
 No pun intended, except, perhaps, by my subconscious mind.