The Times OnLine has an an interesting extract of Norman Mailer’s final book titled On God: An Uncommon Conversation by Norman Mailer with Michael Lennon.
When posed with this question: Let me take up the “Four Last Things” of Christian eschatology: death, judgment, Heaven, Hell. You have commented, at least obliquely, on all but one, Heaven. Why have you given Heaven such short shrift?
“Because I don’t believe in it. Just think of what it means to be a good man or a bad one. What, after all, is the measure of difference? The good guy may be 65 per cent good and 35 per cent bad — that’s a very good guy. The average decent fellow might be 54 per cent good, 46 per cent bad — and the average mean spirit is the reverse. So say I’m 60 per cent bad and 40 percent good — for that, must I suffer eternal punishment?”
“Heaven and Hell make no sense if the majority of humans are a complex mixture of good and evil. There’s no reason to receive a reward if you’re 57/43 — why sit around forever in an elevated version of Club Med? That’s almost impossible to contemplate.”
I must admit, if the majority of humans were a complex mixture of good and evil, I would agree with Mr. Mailer. The fact of the matter is, however, that humans are not a mixture of good and evil. The truth is we are all bad and completely devoid of anything that can be considered good.
The Bible describes this fact of the human condition in the most graphic way: our throats are like open graves and our tongues are instruments of deception, our lips drip with snake venom, and curses and bitterness fills our mouths. We fill our life with ruin and misery; instead of knowing the way of peace we hurry to shed blood and in all of this, we do not fear God (Romans 3: 13-18). Little wonder the Bible concludes there are none that are “righteous no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.” (Romans 3:10-12)
This being the case, we are all, using Norman Mailer’s analogy, 0 percent good and 100 percent bad. This is why hell makes sense. If Norman Mailer can reason that someone who is 57% good and 43% bad doesn’t deserve heaven, we can conclude with more confidence that all of us (being 100% bad) deserve nothing less than hell!
Mailer’s disbelief in Heaven was because he correctly concluded that none of us are good enough to deserve it. What Norman Mailer failed to take into consideration, however, is that for this condition there is a Cure that Only Jesus Can Offer.