Hey folks, I've been in a long email exchange with some emergent folks about hell, prayer and the problem of evil. This is my sort of summary email, I'd be curious to hear your thoughts on it. I hope it makes sense out of context, if not , I apologize:
I think the two ideas are connected. I believe that God laments that evil exists in the world and is always, everywhere calling us back to himself. I believe that Free-will is real and is a beautiful and radical religious expression of the reality of the world as it is. I don’t believe it makes sense to think of a world where we have free will but somehow choose to do everything just the way God would have wanted us to. I believe that the church is to be the unique community that proclaims and welcomes and expresses the path to re-union with God. I believe that God’s judgment is real, and I say that with fear and trembling. When I read about the people Jesus describes as being deserving of judgment (the rich, the powerful, the comfortable, the religious leadership) I see myself and I ask for God’s mercy. I believe the life we live now has some sort of eternal consequences, I don’t know what and I don’t know how, but I throw myself at the mercy of God. And when I pray, I don’t (often) pray to change what God is going to do (“please heal my son”) I pray that I might better know God and God’s will (“God show me how to be a person who brings healing to the world”).