Reconciled in the end

As the end of the millennium approaches, many Christians are preoccupied with questions that concern the end of the world. Here is one important eschatological theme on which you are unlikely to have heard a single word. When asked whether it is true that one day in heaven we will see our loved ones, Karl Barth is reported to have responded, "Not only the loved ones!" The sting of the great theologian's response—be ready to meet even those whom you dislike here on earth—is more than just a personal challenge. It contains a serious and, as it turns out, inadequately addressed theological problem.

How can those who have disliked or even had good reasons to hate each other here come to inhabit together what is claimed to be, in Jonathan Edwards's memorable phrase, "a world of love"? The not-loved-ones will have to be transformed into the loved ones and those who do not love will have to begin to do so; enemies will have to become friends.


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