Tuesday, July 03, 2007

I made a quick comment about Bishop NT Wright before. He's something of a critical darling in the world of those questioning the world and state of evangelicalism.

I noticed that the Washington Post has a short essay online from him on Heaven and Hell, or, rather what we've turned it into.

Heaven is important but it's not the end of the world: in the mainstream Christian tradition until the Platonists corrupted it, the ultimate destination is THE NEW HEAVENS AND THE NEW EARTH, which will involve an ultimate resurrection (bodily, of course) for God's people (in some versions, for all people).

This is something I've been thinking about for awhile. Not death so much, I'm not exactly morbid, but rather the idea of Heaven as presented in much of popular church tradition (at least in the Evangelical world where I usually work and play) seems to be far removed from what is actually mentioned in scriptures. Some days I think we're more influenced by Bugs Bunny cartoons (guys falling off a cliff and then floating up to heaven with harp in hand and wings on the back) and a desire for escapism than anything else.

When I worked in Southern Gospel radio, there were a lot of songs about heaven. Songs that talked about seeing mama (or grandpa) up there again, songs about that old time religion getting us there, songs that talked about how the singing would be in heaven would be like a gospel quartet, songs about seeing the saints of old, songs about the lack of bad guys there....it was a basically a Rorschach Test where you got to see what you wanted to see.

The more frustrating aspect of all of this is the idea of Heaven as our "home." Songs and sayings I hear these days talk about our "homecoming," aka "when we die." I think this one bothers me more than others, mostly because there is nothing in the Bible telling us that "Heaven" is our home or even our final resting place. It almost seems like we're attempting to ignore the grieving process, denying that the curse has claimed yet another as promised.

This means (by the way) that the 'second coming' is NOT Jesus 'coming back to take us home', but Jesus coming -- or 'reappearing'.... to heal, judge and rescue this present creation and us with it.

When I go out traveling, I'll eventually start referring to my motel of two nights as "home." I remember in college when I finally called my dorm room "home," and even how happy I was to be there instead of in classes or studying. It's normal, not disrespectful or short-sighted, to do this. We're in the inbetween time, and that's never a bad thing to remember. We'll move again, and someday we'll celebrate together the ending of the curse, but until then we are here. We'll be here again, in a sense.

Anyway, read the essay - especially if your mindset of the earth is "when will this be made right?" instead of "when do we get to leave?"


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