Saturday, August 16, 2003

On Heaven

Desert Spirits Fire on Heaven

I'll comment on what seems to be the central concern. Yes, I believe ultimately everyone will "go to heaven" – once again, Jesus promises to "draw all to himself." The gift of reconciliation, restoration, wholeness, healing is offered to all – and when God offers a gift, God never rescinds the offer – God's Word is sure and God cannot contradict Godself: in Christ Jesus, the incarnation of the Eternal Word, we have physical evidence of the fulfillment of all God's promises, although I'm not a universalist in the sense that I consider all "religions," all "ways" equally good and valid. Back to Elmer: I agree that whatever heaven is, it definitely needs to be "different from our present reality," though we catch glimpses of the heaven experience off and on, now and again. Doesn’t this get back to our definition of "heaven" – whether it's a here-and-now, a hereafter-now, or some of both (which is what I consider heaven to be). Being bold with my experiences and emotions again, I'll say "homecoming" is my definitive description of heaven.

Election? Well, (semi-)orthodox Reformed theologian that I am, I believe in election, but I read the Bible as proclaiming God has elected every part of creation to be redeemed, reconciled, made whole – whatever terminology works for you. Since linear time is a gift of God's condescension to humanity/creation, and because God is outside of and beyond both time and space, God has foreknowledge of any "future" creation may experience.

"Does the Bible make exclusive claims?" Yes!!!!! The song of the scriptures we affirm sings of a God of Sovereignty and Glory, a God Who expresses power and dominion in love, mercy – and justice; a God Who reveals his Glory ultimately in becoming one of us, in being "high and lifted up" on a cross of shame in solidarity with society's outcasts, those he declares most worthy of positions at his right and at his left. Scripture sings of a holy, righteous God of justice Whose children also partake of the Divine crucified glory.

For me the Bible's and Jesus' central message (in Marty Haugen's words in his "Now the Feast and Celebration") remains:

For God has come to dwell with us
to make us people of God
to make all things new!!!

And I've long assumed our faithful God will eternally indwell all creation.

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