Ola: I have heard that some souls will be happier than others in heaven. This does not make sense to me. Anybody who struggles through life and finally makes heaven will be as perfectly happy as others in heaven are. How can some be happier than others in heaven?
Uche: Our life on earth is a period for us to establish and grow our love for God. This leads us to an experience of God or what I can call knowing God. We do not have the same capacity to experience God because everybody does not love God equally. Our capacity to experience God can grow but it is a reality that some people have more love for God than others in this life.
Now what does it mean to love God? To love God simply means that one is ready to give up anything rather than offend God by committing mortal sin. In this you find that love resides in the will. Yemi and Kehinde can love God but if Yemi loves God more than Kehinde, he will do more for God in this life. Yemi and Kehinde love God so both will make heaven but because Yemi loves God more, he has a greater capacity for happiness in heaven than Kehinde. Kehinde however will be as happy as he can be.
The more Yemi loves God in this life, the more he grows his capacity to experience him and consequently, the more his capacity for happiness. Again, Kehinde who loves God will be as happy as he can be in heaven. One way to understand this is by considering the capacities of a 5-litre and a 25-litre container. When both are filled with liquid, they hold as much liquid as their capacities allow. In heaven everyone will be perfectly happy but some will have a greater capacity for happiness than others.
Ola: I believe that the Bible is the Word of God, hence I believe the Bible. But I do not know about dogma. As a Christian, must I believe a dogma?
Uche: You do not properly understand what a dogma is. Imagine that the Church does not exist. Jesus would have come and gone and you and I would not have heard of him. Jesus himself founded the Church and bestowed upon her the duty of propagating the truth. We know for certain that it is not everything that Jesus did and taught that is contained in the Bible. There are also many other things that Jesus did, but if these were to be described individually, I do not think that the whole world would contain the books that would be written (John 21:25).
Jesus spent three years teaching while forming the apostles. The apostles after Jesus ascended knew they had the task of spreading his teaching. You will agree that the Bible does not contain all of Jesus’ teaching; hence, there are truths from the time of the apostles which has been transmitted orally from generation to generation through the bishops who are the apostles’ successors. We call these truths that have come down to us through generations, through the living voice of Christ in his Church the Tradition of the Church. We thus have the twin sources of the Bible and Tradition.
When the pope, St. Peter’s successor, defines a dogma such as the dogma of assumption, the pope is not presenting us a new truth for us to believe. He is rather giving us a public notice that this is a truth which goes back to the apostles and as a result, we must believe it.
Ola: God is omniscient; he knows everything. If God knows that I will commit a sin tomorrow, then does it not mean that I will commit that sin no matter what happens?
Uche: God knows everything but the fact that he knows does not mean that he is the cause. God’s knowledge that you will commit a sin tomorrow is not what makes you commit sin. Rather, it is the other way around. It is your choosing to commit sin that provides the occasion for God to know. A meteorologist studies his maps and knows that it will rain tomorrow. The fact that the meteorologist knows that it will rain tomorrow is not the cause of the rain fall. Rather, it is the fact that it is going to rain tomorrow that provides the meteorologist the occasion for knowing it.