Guest / Limited Access /

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.

From Issue:
Read These NextSee Our Latest
RecommendedAn Explosion of Joy
Subscriber Access Only An Explosion of Joy
What it means to be the apostolic church.
TrendingMeet the Failed Pastor Who Ministers to Other Failed Pastors
Meet the Failed Pastor Who Ministers to Other Failed Pastors
J. R. Briggs sympathizes with church leaders who don't live up to expectations.
Editor's PickThree Views: Would Jesus Hang Out in a Strip Club?
Three Views: Would Jesus Hang Out in a Strip Club?
Testing the boundaries of outreach evangelism.
Comments
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.