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June 24, 2011

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How I loved him. A great character. Columbo was one of the greatest TV characters of all time.

When Antony Flew and Jack Kevorkian died, some of the folks at Stand to Reason decided to share some rather smug remarks concerning the post-mortem fate of their souls (I'm thinking of the Kevorkian case in particular). Perhaps we can look forward to hearing Stand to Reason's assessment of the data concerning Columbo's fate. Do the data suggest that he is also probably in hell?

Smug? I don't remember a post about Kevorkian's death so I can't speak to that (I couldn't find anything in a search for his name), but smug about Flew's death? I remember nothing but sadness and a sense of tragedy.


Well I had the radio commentary on Kevorkian in mind in particular. I think you'll be disappointed if it's a sense of tragedy that you hope to find in those rather casual remarks, interrupted occasionally by that sort of chuckling characteristic of those who are rather pleased to tell it like it is. Witness:

And in a situation like this I have a reflection, hahaha, a thought comes to mind for me, which does frequently when I am made aware that someone who, especially who was a critic of Christianity or theism or hostile to some element of Christianity, I don’t know what Dr. Kevorkian’s particular religious views were, I don’t know if he was an atheist or what, I mean he didn’t trade on these at all, they certainly weren’t the foundation for his view about doctor assisted suicide. However, I do know what his views are now. Dr. Death has met the author of life. I actually don’t think it was a cordial meeting, if you will.

Some sense of tragedy, right? Koukl goes on to elaborate on the hopelessness of those in hell, perhaps just to remind us not to have too much hope for Jack Kevorkian. In case we didn’t get the hint already, he goes on to spell it out as follows:

When I think about Jack Kevorkian, now dead, now a believer of sorts, now he knows, but it’s too late, because there’s nothing that he can do about it. There is nothing that can be changed.

Perhaps a massive billboard reading “I have a message, hahaha, of sorts: Reality check, he’s in hell” beside Kevorkian’s face would nicely complement the radio commentary.

Well, I don't think the way you've characterized it is the tone of the overall piece, but anyone can listen and see what they think.

The whole purpose of Greg giving the "Hell, Yes" talk that he referred to in the commentary is to remind us what is at stake, not to congratulate ourselves on being better off than everyone else. And I think that was the same purpose of this commentary.

Regardless, there was more sadness over Flew because 1) we had hope that he would seek God, and 2) it's easier for us to recognize justice in the case of Kevorkian because the sin of his killing people is much more obvious to us than is the sin of Flew's rebellion against God. But that doesn't mean justice wasn't done by God in both cases. I think it's just that justice in the second case is more sobering to us because we more closely identify with Flew than with Kevorkian. It reminds us how much we are in need of being forgiven.

I remember listening to the same broadcast, and I don't recall these words being delivered in a smug or jovial manner.

It sounded more earnest to me, and I put it down to Greg trying to shake up some people to think about eternal perspectives.

What is so surprising about Greg saying something that amounts to his orthodox Christian belief that an unbeliever, now dead, is now eternally separated from God?

What strikes you as odd or wrong about that statement? (I mean here wrong in the objective sense so I appreciate it's rather meaningless for you to respond to this question).

The fact that Greg didn't pronounce the word "hell" in his statement, but rather found a very round about way of describing the situation of a deceased unbeliever, would actually seem to indicate that he was not gloating or being glib as you are trying to suggest.

Where does Greg show any lack of respect for the deceased?

As Falk shared on Inside the Actor's Studio, I hope he heard God say, "Where'd you get those shoes?"

The criminal realized that when Columbo said, "do you mind if I ask you a question?" what he really meant was, "I love you."

Malebranche accusing others of smugness? The irony is so delicious that it could have its own show the Food Network.

Brilliant! Thomas Aquinas.

anyone can listen and see what they think.

I remembered smugness to. I listened again. It could have been worse but I'd say it's smug at times. (hahaha)

I can sympathize with Greg. Certain deaths have made me smile.

But Greg believes that non-believers like Kevorkan (Greg's assumption not mine) and me are NOT

redeemed by Christ, effectually called, justified, adopted, sanctified, and saved.
That stuff is for 'the elect only'.

We (Jack and I) are pottery made for common use. Are we not?

I would think Jack and I would have Greg's sympathy because Greg believes we have no choice about heaven and hell. Even if Jack's particular career was his choice, career choices don't undo pre-destination.

Greg might temper this sympathy. Something like: I feel sorry for Jack but God knows best.

Wait! Back up a minute! I also found it interesting that Greg assumed Kevorkian was in hell even while he disavowed knowledge of whether Jack was a believer!

Jack, apparently, burns not for his lack of faith but for his works.

Where does This come From?

Glad you pointed this out Malebranche.

RonH

"I remembered smugness to. I listened again. It could have been worse but I'd say it's smug at times."

I just listened to it as well, and I'd say that's the right assessment.

This reminds me of a passage in Romans. Paul has just (in Romans 1) essentially given a justification for God's giving certain people "over" to their sinfulness. He details just how bad the people in question have become:

"They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; they have no understanding, no fidelity, no love, no mercy. Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them."

But Paul doesn't in any way rejoice in what has happened to these people; instead he uses these facts as a basis for warning people (presumably Christians) not to judge others.

Romans 2:1-4
"You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge another, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things. Now we know that God’s judgment against those who do such things is based on truth. So when you, a mere human being, pass judgment on them and yet do the same things, do you think you will escape God’s judgment? Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, forbearance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance?"


By the way, I am not accusing Greg of being judgmental, here. My point is rather that it's striking how Paul so quickly moves from "this is how bad some people have become" to "so you better not judge anyone."

CB,
I don't think message of Romans 2 is, "so you better not judge anyone" because if that was so Paul would be a hypocrite since he is clearly giving a judgement here.

Rather, what I think he is saying is this: "Even you who judge people, thinking you are better then they are - you too are guilty of the same thing and thus worthy of condemnation".

This is not a warning to Christians of being judgmental but rather a continuation of Paul's thesis on the condemnation of man. Look at 2:5 - Christians are not storing up wrath for themselves in the day of wrath because Jesus has already borne it on the cross for them (3:24-25). So this cannot be a reference specifically to Christians but rather a condemnation of self-righteous moralists in general.

Malebranche

If Peter didn't make it to heaven, and I have no reason to believe either way at this point, it is a definite personal disappointment. I would like to have an opportunity to meet him in a way that I don't care to meet Kevorkian, Hitler, Stalin, Mussolini, Saddam, or Bin Laden.

RonH

"I would think Jack and I would have Greg's sympathy because Greg believes we have no choice about heaven and hell. Even if Jack's particular career was his choice, career choices don't undo pre-destination. "

This is plain and simple a misrepresentation of what Greg holds to be true regarding free-will choice. That God works to change an individual's nature, such that he will desire to choose God, makes that choice no less a free-will choice of the individual. You, my friend, simply cannot accept that we make our choices on the basis of our natures. This is true both in libertarian free will model as well as compatibilism model of free will. In both cases the decision is a free will decision that is determined by the individual. With freedom of choice, comes the responsibility and consequences for those choices. Apparently, you do not see pre-destination as being compatible with free will choice. What would you say that free will choices are means by which pre-destination is fulfilled? They are not at odds, they work in partnership to fulfill God's plan, which is ultimately the greater good.

It's a real shame Malebranche's comments still litter this blog.

Mike,

It can all be summed up in the condition of one's heart. If you have good intentions, God will see it. If you have evil intentions, God will see it.

I love it. "As you wish."

What I find strange is that an inclusivist like Malebranche thinks that Greg's apparent smugness results in any negative eternal consequences, or that it serves to improve the lives of people on this blog, today, to remind them of it again.

Can you can explain this, Malebranche?

Mike R., you are awesome.

What I find strange is that an inclusivist like Malebranche thinks that Greg's apparent smugness results in any negative eternal consequences, or that it serves to improve the lives of people on this blog, today, to remind them of it again.

Can you can explain this, Malebranche?

Attentive readers will notice that I have never claimed anything of the sort. Apparently there is a significant number of folks that believe that the only way something could be seriously harmful is if it somehow causally contributed to someone going to hell. Why on Earth anyone would think that is beyond me. It is not as though we have any good reasons to think such nonsense is true. If God were to tell us that he had predestined a child to salvation, would it then follow that it would do the child no serious harm to subject her to sexual molestation? Should we then conclude, “Well, if God’s going to save her anyway, then I guess it doesn’t very much matter what we do to her or what we teach her about God”?

I realize that many of those reading this blog are deeply sympathetic with the view that God has in some sense eternally decreed the final damnation of most of humanity. Clearly, then, most of the readers are not universalists. But even so, you can still ask yourself this question: if it were the case that God chose to save all of humanity, would that all of the sudden give us a good reason to do or say anything we pleased?

The plain and obvious truth is that even if God has predestined an individual to salvation, we are still responsible to not subject that individual to physical or spiritual harm. There may be many things that are problematic about universalism, but the doctrine giving us a reason to act like irresponsible clowns is certainly not one of them.

That is not, by the way, my attempt to call Koukl an irresponsible clown. My point is addressed to all foolish behavior in general, and so is not in that instance aimed directly at Koukl.

Malebranche

if it were the case that God chose to save all of humanity, would that all of the sudden give us a good reason to do or say anything we pleased?

That's it. I'm asking for your theological reasons for saying what pleased you. I see no eternal reason, nor an immediate temporal one under universalism. Can you explain?

Malebranche,

Not having heard said radio show you're referring too, allow me to clarify your intent. Let's assume Greg indulged in rejoicing that someone whose actions he'd felt were inhumane and unjust had in fact died and received what Greg saw as a just punishment. Knowing Greg somewhat through his writings I find this incredibly far fetched, but assuming this uncharacteristic lapse of judgment on Greg's part, what inference do you draw from this?

Are you establishing some character flaw on Greg's part?

Or are you suggesting that Christianity is false because of this supposed incident?

Please flesh out your claim. Currently it goes nowhere.

I thought immediately of the "Columbo questions" you guys allude to every once in a while when I heard that he died.

rip LT Columbo, you been the best detective ever and love by many. i wouldn't says goodbye but save journeys to eternal life. may you sleep in peace.

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