Jesus Creed

Jesus Creed

Heaven 3

Four texts from Mark 11 and 12 bring us back to the big idea of what heaven refers to. Here they are:
Mark 11:25 And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.?
Mark 11:30 John’s baptism?was it from heaven, or from men? Tell me!? 31 They discussed it among themselves and said, ?If we say, ?From heaven,? he will ask, ?Then why didn’t you believe him?? 32 But if we say, ?From men?….? (They feared the people, for everyone held that John really was a prophet.) 33 So they answered Jesus, ?We don’t know.? Jesus said, ?Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things.?
Mark 12:25When the dead rise, they will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven.
First, heaven is where God is.
Second, heaven is the source of John the Baptist’s prophetic ministry. That is, it is from God.
Third, it is where the angels are, since they are in God’s presence.
Thus, heaven is where God is, where God’s authority is, the place from which God’s power comes to earth.

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posted July 2, 2008 at 4:02 am

Scot, “Thus, heaven is where God is, where God?s authority is, the place from which God?s power comes to earth.”
Act 17:28 For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring.
Is there any similarity between the two statements above.

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Rick in Texas

posted July 2, 2008 at 6:07 am

Scot, a question. “Where” seems to necessarily carry the implication of a location within the observable continuom of space. Likwise Heaven as “the ‘place’ from which…” I can therefore imagine the skeptic asking “OK; where, exactly, is that?” Do you think this implied locale concept is accurate, or would it be equally accurate to speak of a “realm” in which God and his authority dwell, etc. – Or is this unnecessary since we sometimes use “place” words metaphorically, e.g., “I’m coming at it from a different place”, etc.

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Scot McKnight

posted July 2, 2008 at 6:09 am

I agree; though we use spatial terms we’d be wise to leave the terms open to metaphor and transcendence.

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Dan Wilt

posted July 2, 2008 at 6:56 am

We’re finding in our corners of dialogue that the current biblical re-reflections on heaven, usually standing in contrast to the popular understandings of heaven rampant across the history of the Church, are not as challenging to the average Christian as the refreshed understanding of our eternal destiny on a new earth.
It would be helpful to continue to develop intentional language – both prose and poetic – that diffuses the escapism (sometimes an honest quest to “get to where God is” vs. “to stay in the painful world where we are”) lacing modern conceptions of heaven.
This hard work may lie in the realms of:
1. Interface with culture (Christ and culture all over again, and again, and again), i.e. addressing in popular language the dualism that still stings the discussion, and further to this,
2. The misunderstanding of terms such as sacred and secular, as well as
3. Misperceptions of the difference between the “world” not being our home and yet “earth” eternally being our home.
For me, as our work is primarily with the worship leaders, songwriters and artists, we are questing to somehow bring a celebration of creational theology from the worship artisans to the Church and the culture, to redefine our understanding of heaven and the eschaton through song and liturgical craft, and at the same time to find other means of effective bridge building to a fresh way of seeing the age to come.
Thanks for this journey on your blog, Scot. We’ll refer to it our online coursework.

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Matt Larsen

posted July 2, 2008 at 9:00 am

Thanks for doing this series. I traveled with you through the kingdom series and I am just as excited to see this one unfold.
It feels like the biblical material on heaven is just as vague as I thought it would be … at least thus far.
It seems that the words of the text can be made to say many things, and, in large part, our interpretation of these passages will be determined by our understanding of the 1st century culture (kind of a third quest idea).
If I come to the text with a platonic point of view, I would have no problem reading these verses and arriving at an interpretation of heaven that is miles away from where people like Wright end up.
But if I come to the text with a Jewish point of view, I will see a totally different version of heaven, a more Wright-ish version of heaven.

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Travis Greene

posted July 2, 2008 at 12:57 pm

Are you just focusing on the what the gospels say about Heaven? If you are, there’s nothing wrong with that, but it’d be interesting to look at stuff from the OT like Jacob’s ladder.

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John W Frye

posted July 2, 2008 at 1:45 pm

Richard Nisbett’s *The Geography of Thought: How Asians and Westerners Think Differently…and Why* points out that Jesus and the Bible authors are more aligned with Asian thought than Western thought. Westerners think primarily spacially from the beginning by first learning nouns–dog, tree, man, cat, chair, etc.–whereas Asians think fluidly because they first learn verbs from the beginning–run, talk, walk, dance, etc. I like to think of heaven as the unhindered active realm of God (Rick #2) and his ways and as another dimension here around us. Should an angel appear before me right now as I type this, the angel didn’t “fly” across the universe, but simply steps into my realm from his (her?) realm.

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