Guest / Limited Access /
Rejoicing in the Wrath: Why We Look Forward to the Judgment Day
Rejoicing in the Wrath: Why We Look Forward to the Judgment Day

John Lennon's 1971 song "Imagine" encouraged a generation to imagine there is no heaven or hell, and to instead embrace "living for today." Over 40 years later, many evangelicals are following Lennon's advice.

It's commonly said that the gospel is not really about the afterlife. The gospel answers much bigger questions than a person's eternal state. It's about life today—not so much about tomorrow.

And slowly but surely, we have begun to let the promise of divine judgment that appears in the Apostles' Creed—"He will come again to judge the living and the dead"—slip by unnoticed. Many Christians talk a lot about justice and very little about judgment. Justice here and now is a popular subject. Judgment there and then? Not so much.

But justice and judgment are two sides of the same coin. You cannot have perfect justice without judgment. God cannot make things right without declaring certain things wrong. It's the judgment of God that leads to a perfectly just world. Try to take one without the other, and you lose the Good News.

Downplaying Judgment

Why do we feel pressure to downplay the notion of judgment in the first place? What bothers us about this section of the Apostles' Creed?

Maybe we're embarrassed by the idea of eternal hell, and we think that if we remove the obstacle and offense of eternal judgment, we will be able to make Christianity more palatable to a society that has no room for judgment in its understanding of God. Unfortunately, when we downplay or deny judgment, we lose one of the reasons to share our faith in the first place. Our desire to remove the obstacle actually removes the urgency.

Or maybe our neglecting ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

Support Christian thought journalism. Donate to our nonprofit ministry today.
From Issue:
Read These NextSee Our Latest
Also in this IssueQ & A: Marco Rubio on His Faith of Many Colors
Subscriber Access Only Q & A: Marco Rubio on His Faith of Many Colors
The Florida senator's religious background takes many shapes, but he knows how it translates into policy.
RecommendedThe Love Shack
Subscriber Access Only The Love Shack
William Paul Young explains the theology behind his best-selling novels and why he's no longer at war with himself.
TrendingRussia’s Plan to Ban Jehovah’s Witnesses Puts Evangelicals in a Tight Spot
Russia’s Plan to Ban Jehovah’s Witnesses Puts Evangelicals in a Tight Spot
Group gives Protestants competition for souls, but also an ally on religious freedom.
Editor's PickThere’s No Crying on Social Media!
There’s No Crying on Social Media!
Young adults are desperate not to let peers see any signs of weakness or failure.
Christianity Today
Rejoicing in the Wrath: Why We Look Forward to the Judgment Day
hide thisJuly/August July/August

In the Magazine

July/August 2012

To continue reading, subscribe now for full print and digital access.