by Zach Kincaid
"I know that many wiser and better Christians than I in these days do not like to mention Heaven and hell even in a pulpit," says Lewis (The Weight of Glory). He goes on to say that nearly all the references in the New Testament about both destinations come from Jesus himself, and, "If we do not believe them, our presence in this church is great tom-foolery. If we do, we must sometimes overcome our spiritual prudery and mention them."
The Christian calendar defines seven Sundays in the season of Easter before we reach Pentecost, or the act of transposition, as Lewis refers to it. Easter is the heightened period where the eternal meets the temporal in the resurrected Christ, and in this resurrected truth it seems an exaggerated time to reflect on heaven and hell and their more revealed reality post the crucifixion.
The question of afterlife garnered revived attention of late. Take the recent hub-bub about whether hell exists (See the cover of TIME a few weeks ago, for example and then read the book it references). Is it simply the woes of trying to market a book? Perhaps it's an outgrowth of a more settled way of church work with many pastors feeling more compelled to appeal for a "seat at the table" as one institution among many in the culture. Perhaps it's a reaction to a zealous way of offering Christianity wrapped in the bonds of choosing heaven or hell, eternal bliss or damnation. No matter, I'm sure that Lewis and Chesterton before him (and the many who pushed back against the pull toward modernity) would want us to make sure we're at the right table - the one God sets in the presence of our enemies (Ps. 23). Whether a marketing tease, a fight for acceptance that endorses a less orthodox approach to Gospel truths, or a segmentation away from less "enlightened," more directly focused evangelical folk, Lewis offers some good advice.