Giving Up Your Place in Heaven

I'm reading Cornel West's memoir Brother West. I enjoyed this story from his childhood:

Though I had accepted Jesus into my heart, it was not my nature to dwell on literal notions of heaven and hell. In fact, when my Sunday School teacher, the wonderous Mrs. Sarah Ray, posed the question, "If there is only one place left in heaven, would you take it?" my answer was, "No."

"Why in heavens not?" asked Mrs. Ray.

"Because I'd have to do the Christian thing, and the Christian theing would be to let someone else pass into heaven first."

Mrs. Ray was amazed. "And you'd choose to fall into hell, Cornel?"

I just assumed that Jesus has promised to be with me even until the end of the world. So I just stand on his promise. I have always believed that ours is in the trying; the rest is not our business.

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4 thoughts on “Giving Up Your Place in Heaven”

  1. Personally, I think the question the dear Mrs. Sarah poses is preposterous. It doesn't sit well with my heart knowledge of the size of the grace of God, and I think it would instill some warped concepts into a kid's head.
    Other than that, in this case it looks like the faith of the kid in question was very firmly based on a more solid foundation than many of us.

  2. Peter,
    I've not read any of CW's books, just heard him lecture. The book has an oral, testimonial feel (he's got a co-author so I wonder if that's how the book was written). It's breezy, conversational, soulful and exuberant. It's not an intellectual book, but if you like CW's personality you'll like the book.

    (Note, however, that I've just finished the childhood section. So I haven't gotten to his academic life. So the book may become more philosophical as I go.)

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