Last night I started watching the 20/20 special on Heaven. (We have it on DVR because naturally we were too tired to finish, so I'm looking forward to watching the rest of it tonight.). I watched the first hour which showed the Christian, Catholic, Evangelical, Islamic and Jewish perspective on what Heaven is, and how you are to get there. They all sort of varied a bit on what you will find once you arrive - but of course, I suppose that's subjective to a certain extent. We all have our own personal visions of what Heaven is or isn't. What I found interesting is that most religions, even those who conflict on who their personal Saviour is -- all agreed that you should be a good person in life to gain entrance through the pearly gates. All except the Jewish religion, who believes in what I thought was sort of the most practical, at least from a parental perspective - and that's you should be a good person period, not just because you're doing it to gain access to another lifetime. That should just be a bonus. (Sort of like what we say to our kids - don't behave just to get the promise a reward; behave always and you will be rewarded because that's what happens when you behave. At least that's what I tell my kids anyway...)
Be that as it may, what I find the most confusing are the more radical Christian views of not being allowed into Heaven unless you accept Christ as God's son. Now, you'll have to forgive me - I'm much more spiritual than I am religious; I tend to have a relationship with God on my own personal level and I prefer to not follow a school that is laden with hypocrisy in any form so I take what I like from all religions and apply them in my day to day life. I practice being a good person, using probably the most basic principles of all religions (where they're all sort of the same anyway, right?) and leave all the other stuff behind. But I find it interesting that when asked the question on how people who don't practice Christianity would allow entrance to Heaven the basic answer is "well, everyone has the choice to accept Jesus..." Surprisingly, the most honest answer was from Joel Osteen who is so very polished and artificial - yet his kneejerk answer didn't have quite that finesse when he said something to the effect of "I can't pass judgement, only God can make the final decision".
And there folks, is my point.
We can all agree or disagree as to who is the Saviour, Messiah, or any other prolific figure in one's religion. But we all agree that God is God. And he is the MAN. Jesus, well that's his son -- so I'm a little confused as to why there's so much discrepancy about getting to Heaven if you don't necessarily believe Jesus rose? And I understand the whole "Father/Son/Holy Spirit" where it's all encompassing, but prior to Jesus rising - we all agreed that there is GOD. And doesn't HE get the final say? So why is there so much controversy about whether you get to Heaven. So long as you believe in God, you should more than likely have access to the afterlife - but that's just this girl's opinion.
Speaking of which... the whole Heaven vs. Hell thing -- while I totally believe when there's Ying there's Yang, and every action has an equal and opposite reaction (Religion & Science truly can go hand in hand..!), I have to say that I'm starting to think that there really isn't a Hell. I hope there's a Heaven, and I believe that there is at minimum another dimension that we aren't able to preceive here because after all, we are all energy and energy never dies; but the truth of the matter for me at this stage of the game anyway, is that I don't believe there is a Hell. While I'd like to think that awful people in this world who do terrible things are banished to eternal pain and suffering, I just don't think that's the case.
I think God is a loving and kind God. I think he is a forgiving God. And whether we like it or not, I think God forgives us all -- even those of us who might not deserve his forgiveness. Because after all, that is what God and Jesus and Mohammad and Elijah and every other prophet that every other religion has - would more than likely do. I truly believe that God does not forsake in the afterlife, even when we have felt forsaken in the present one. God is not angry or wicked, he is not vengeful. He has compassion and love for us all, even those who have lost their way.
And I don't know what kind of religion that would be a part of, outside of my own personal thoughts. But it will be interesting to see if my perspective changes any after watching the rest of the show. Though I highly doubt that it will.
What are your thoughts on Heaven?