A couple of favorite quotes from Justin Taylor’s blog, Between Two Worlds:
Everything Sad Will Come Untrue
“Is everything sad going to come untrue?”
—Sam Gamgee to Gandalf, The Lord of the Rings (chapter 4, Book Six)
“[Some mortals] say of some temporal suffering, “No future bliss can make up for it,” not knowing that Heaven, once attained, will work backwards and turn even that agony into a glory.”
—C. S. Lewis, The Great Divorce, chapter 9.
Justin Taylor is a member of the “The Gospel Coalition,” a network of theologians who have united together to protect the message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. This is a right and noble endeavor. However, we disagree that their traditional doctrine of “eternal conscious torment” for billions of God’s image-bearers was part of that original message of good news. Eternal conscious torment was not taught by the majority of the Early Church Fathers nor was it included in the historical creeds such as the Apostle’s or Nicene Creed.
Interestingly this was posted April 2011 just as Love Wins was beginning its circulation. At that time he wrote a very heavy rebuttal to Rob Bell’s book. But I find Taylor’s quote of Tolkien highly contradictory as Taylor’s personal theology has concluded that the saddest fate exceeding all comprehension will overtake most of mankind! But still he is drawn to this reality summed by this quote.
Here is yet more evidence that if we believe God is good and “God is God” He is indeed going to “make everything sad come untrue.” Somehow it comes out of our mouths; but I believe it is because it is written on our redeemed hearts. However, I do understand that Justin Taylor would qualify that this sentiment is only applicable to the “elect” or the few who have received Christ as their Savior before they die.
But as you read Tolkien’s quote ask yourself if you really want to have it qualified to say “only the sad things in my life will come untrue and those that I know for certain are Christians.” To limit this statement Justin Taylor would have to say his happiness is isolated from the state and fate of the majority around him. But is this actually possible? Can we be happy while billions of our fellow human beings are hopelessly doomed to eternal conscious torment? And what does this mean in light of all the people that you have loved whose lives have been inextricably woven with yours? How are any of us ever truly separate from the rest of humanity? How can “everything sad coming untrue” ever be only about me and relatively few others?
Your sadness is not isolated to your own personal self but inseparably tied to those you love and even your neighbors whom you have been commanded to “love as yourselves.” Just as God said that “in all their affliction He too was afflicted” so also are we afflicted by the sin and brokenness of our fellow humankind and will not find rest until all is made new and God is “all in all.”
“He who testifies to these things says, ‘Surely I am coming soon.’ Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!”
“Behold, I am making all things new.” –Revelation 21:5
Here are a couple of comments responding to Justin Taylor’s post that continued the discussion. They wrote:
“Revelation 21:4-5 (When God proclaims that ‘death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore’) has pulled me through my most desperate days. I have often wondered if on that day even the memory of evil and pain will be gone.”
Is this the way that the belief that billions will suffer in hell forever, including many we love, will be coped with–we will not remember anything or anyone from before…memory wiped out?
“I love that Sally Lloyd-Jones has retained this in the Jesus Storybook Bible. Part of ‘The Secret Rescue Plan’ Jesus and the Father are up too is making ‘all the sad things come untrue.’”
This is a great book for children by the way. It does not portray the threat of “eternal conscious torment” to children which I find interesting. If it is not fitting to give children this aspect of the Gospel, is it really a part of the true Gospel? I am thankful Lloyd-Jones also intuitively desired to tell children the really good news!