You become what you worship

This is what N.T. Wright has to say about final judgment in Surprised by Hope (the book to which the author quoted in the last post was responding):

. . . I believe [the following possibility] does justice to both the key texts and to the realities of human life of which, after a century of horror mostly dreamed up by human beings, we are now all too well aware.  When human beings give their hearfelt allegiance to and worship that which is not God, they progressively cease to reflect the image of God.  One of the primary laws of human life is that you become like what you worship; what’s more, you reflect what you worship not only back to the object itself but also outward to the world around.  Those who worship money increasingly define themselves in terms of it and increasingly treat other people as creditors, debtors, partners, or customers, rather than as human beings.  Those who worship sex define themselves in terms of it (their preferences, their practices, their past histories) and increasingly treat other people as actual or potential sexual objects.  Those who worship power define themselves in terms of it and treat other people as either collaborators, competitors, or pawns.  These and many other forms of idolatry combine in a thousand ways, all of them damaging to the image-bearing quality of the people concerned and of those whose lives they touch.  My suggestion is that it is possible for human beings so to continue down this road, so to refuse all whisperings of good news, all glimmers of the true light, all promptings to turn and go the other way, allsignposts to the love of God, that after death they become at last, by their own effective choice, beings that once were human but now are not, creatures that have ceased to bear the divine image at all.  With the death of that body in which they inhabited God’s good world, in which the flickering flame of goodness had not been completely snuffed out, they pass simultaneously not only beyond hope but also beyond pity.  There is no concentration camp in the beautiful countryside, no torture chamber in the palace of delight.  Those creatures that still exist in an ex-human state, no longer reflecting their maker in any meaningful sense, con no longer excite in themselves or others the natural sympathy some feel even for the hardened criminal.  (N.T. Wright, Surprised by Hope, pp. 182-3)

Another interesting perspective.  I suspect, however, that this is more speculative even than some would consider Universalism to be.

(It also, incidentally, makes me think of something from a fantasy novel.  First I thought of Gollum, but that wasn’t right.  Then I settled on Ringwraiths.

Oh, and by the way, whenever I say “fantasy novel”, I mean “a book by J. R. R. Tolkien”.)

One thought on “You become what you worship

  1. Linea

    It is also a bit similar to C.S. Lewis’s picture of heaven and hell in The Great Divorce. Not so much in that humans have lost the ability to reflect their maker but more in the sense that they are so twisted by the things that they have given themselves to that they have a distorted view of their true situation and they are happy living in their own petty little ways without God – totally miserable but no longer possessing the capacity for joy and love.

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