Monday, June 14, 2004

I've heard quite a bit of talk about "heaven" over the last week, both from the Reagan commemorations and from remarks at our annual family reunion/memorial service. A recent interview with N.T. Wright helps put them all into perspective:

[S]o much of the Bible is appropriately metaphorical and we need to know what it actually refers to, as well as how it refers, but much more important than that is to get into our heads what the New Testament really is banging on about, which is resurrection, which is not a synonym for going to heaven when you die, but is what is going to happen after that. As I’ve often said, heaven is important but it’s not the end of the world. And what the New Testament is on about is what I call “life after life after death.” That is, resurrection life after whatever state we go into after death. So the New Testament teaches a two-stage post-mortem eschatology. And it goes on and on about resurrection and says very little about the intermediate state, which we can call heaven if we like. And it’s very interesting that so much western Christianity has focused on the intermediate state so much that it’s forgotten that there is an ultimate resurrection. And it actually thinks that heaven is all there is. And the answer is, no, not according to the New Testament.

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