Saturday, October 20, 2012

Heaven and Hell or This-Worldly Judgement

Like so many of Jesus’ parables, the parable of the sheep and the goats is routinely read with the assumption that Jesus must be talking about personal salvation at the end of the eschaton. This salvation, in turn, is understood primarily or exclusively to be a matter of going to heaven when you die. The converse of this is to see Jesus’ pronouncement of damnation primarily or exclusively in terms of certain people going to hell when they die. Indeed, Matthew 25:46 is frequently detached from the rest of the parable (as well as the corpus of kingdom parables to which it belongs) and then used as the most-cited proof text for the doctrine of endless hellfire. To learn why this interpretation is faulty, read my earlier blog post, "The Sheep and the Goats."

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