The Native Tourist
reformed/biblical observations on Christianity and culture

Thursday, March 06, 2008
Stop Thinking Dualistically Now!
One of the ways that Christians devalue the physicality of creation and culture-making is to talk about the afterlife as "heaven." We are not going to spend eternity in heaven but rather on the New Earth.

Or more correctly, heaven and earth will be joined together as God's-realm - heaven - will be married to the earth. God will dwell with redeemed men and women on the redeemed earth. One such argument can be found in this essay by Richard Middleton:

Heaven is also the realm—in contradistinction to earth—where God’s will is perfectly accomplished prior to the eschaton. This is the assumption behind the prayer Jesus taught his disciples: “Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10). It is the biblical eschatological hope that one day God’s salvation (which is being prepared in heaven) will be manifest fully on earth. Then earth will be fully conformed to heaven

But “heaven” simply does not describe the Christian eschatological hope. Not only is the term “heaven” never used in Scripture for the eternal destiny of the redeemed, but continued use of “heaven” to name the Christian hope may well divert our attention from the legitimate biblical expectation for the present transformatin of our earthly life to conform to God’s purposes. Indeed, to focus our expectation on an otherworldly salvation has the potential to dissipate our resistance to societal evil and the ddication needed to work for the redemptive transformation of this world. Therefore, for reasons exegetical, theological and ethical, I have come to repent of using the term “heaven” to describe the future God has in store for the faithful. It is my hope that all readers of this essay would—after thoughtful consideration—join me in this repentance.