HEAVEN. “Eye has not seen, ear has not heard, what God has ready for those who love him” 1 Cor 2:9 & Is 64:3 Heaven can not properly be defined Lack of experience or data Heaven is unique with nothing to compare But WE CAN SPEAK ANALOGICALLY We can say what it is not and
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“Eye has not seen, ear has not heard, what God has ready for those who love him”
1 Cor 2:9 & Is 64:3
Heaven can not properly be defined
Lack of experience or data
Heaven is unique with nothing to compare
WE CAN SPEAK ANALOGICALLY
We can say what it is not
What it is like
What does not appear in our experience cannot be defined, only related to what does appear in our experience by analogy
Heaven is to earth
the butterfly to the caterpillar
the adult to the fetus
Three steps in thinking about God
Dionysius the Aeropagite
Begin with earthly analogies
Note that the reason for correction and negation of the earthly analogy is not that heaven lacks anything earthly but that it is so much more
Positive Theology gives positive analogies
1 Cor 2:9
Words are too definite and specific
There are six earthly activities that continue in heaven
They are our fundamental task, the meaning of life
To understand God
To love God
To understand others
To love others
To understand yourself
To love yourself
There are two distinctively human activities
Knowing & Loving
There are three infinitely precious objects
God, neighbor & self
Biblical descriptions of the salvation and perfection humans enjoy
eternal life glorification immortality
incorruptiblity light peace
harmony with the animals and the cosmos
banquet wedding feast homecoming
reign with God vision of God
union with Trinity union with Christ
Communion with angels and saints
Dwelling place of God
1 Kgs 8:30; Ps 2:4; Mk 11:25; Mt 5:16; Lk 11:13; Rv 21:2
Dwelling place of the angels
Gn 21:17; Lk 2:15; Heb 12:22; Rv 1:4
Dwelling place of Christ
Mk 16:19; Acts 1:9-11; Eph 4:10; Heb 4:14
Dwelling place of the blessed
Mk 10:21; Phil 3:20; Heb 12:22-24
Two basic visions of heaven
Heaven as an intimate union with and contemplation of God
Heaven as reunion with
spouses, children, relatives, and friends
Heaven is the fulfillment of the human heart’s deepest longings
“The clean of heart will see God”
“We shall see Him as He is.”
1 John 3:2
“At present we see indistinctly, as in a mirror, but then face to face. At present I know partially; then I shall know fully as I am fully known.”
1 Cor 13:12
“Benedictus Deus” (1336) Pope Benedict XII
“Since the passion and death of the Lord Jesus Christ, these souls have seen and see the divine essence with intuitive vision and even face to face, without the mediation of any creature by way of object of vision; rather the divine essence immediately manifests itself to them, plainly, clearly, and openly, and in this vision they enjoy the divine essence.”
Resurrection of the Body
After death the whole self, including the purified, perfected soul and a new, immortal body given by God’s supernatural power, is destined to live forever
What might this be like?
The idea of heaven is pre-scientific superstition
This objection is not scientific since it uses no evidence to refute the idea
Many “pre-scientific” ideas are valid, true, and important
birth, death, life, good, evil,beauty, pleasure, pain etc. etc.
There is no scientific evidence for heaven
There is no scientific evidence for the notion that nothing exists except what is proved by scientific evidence
This is simply an assumption that arbitrarily limits the bounds of reality to the bounds of the scientific method without the use of evidence or intellect
Heaven is obviously wishful thinking.
If there were no heaven, we would have to invent it.
It is a necessary dream.
The very form, or structure, of the idea of heaven is mythic or legendary. The golden streets are just another version of the “happy hunting grounds” or the Elysian Fields
Believing in heaven is escapist
Heaven is a diversion. Whether true or false, it distracts us from our present tasks.
Heaven is irrelevant to the here and now. You can love or hate this world whether you believe in the next or not
What could be more relevant?
Heaven is a bribe. It makes religion selfish. You work for heavenly reward, not for pure love. Its’ mercenary.
Heaven is not a reward externally added on rather
It is love of God and neighbor perfected
Heaven is too dogmatic. How can we know anything about heaven? I f eye has net seen, ear not heard, nor heart conceived then it can only be faith or speculation not knowledge
Heaven is egotistical. What arrogance to think you are destined to be spiritually married to God.
God said it not us
It is indeed amazing
God is amazing
Heaven is too selfish. It is the idea of infinite and eternal happiness. What makes you thing your little ego is so important, or that it can carry such a heavenly load of happiness?
Heaven is too unselfish; too spiritual, too mystical for ordinary human tastes
Heaven’s self-abandonment brings the greatest self-fulfillment
We can test this theory even now!
Heaven is too earthly. Golden streets and jewelry and city gates and a sea of crystal this is obviously a mere projection and extension of some of the earthly things valued by a past culture.
Heaven is too unearthly, too spiritual. How can we be human and be happy without sex, food, clothing--even some frustrations and challenges? Perfection would be terrible for us.
caterpillar to butterfly
tadpole to frog
frog to prince
God goes around kissing earthly frogs and transforming them into princes!
Transformation answers all questions of form:
Will we have X in heaven?
Emotions - YES! Aquinas, But rather than coming from the body into the soul they will come from soul into body
We will control our emotions not our emotions us
Joy - Yes! Augustine, The love we receive from God will “overflow in a torrent of joyful pleasure”
All will be greater because sin harms and never helps any good
Do we become part of God in heaven or not? If so, this is pantheism, not Christianity. If not, if we only approximate and approach and imitate him from without; this is not enough, for we still have something more (God himself) to aspire to and desire.
Such a heaven would not be complete fulfillment.
In heaven everyone will be wise and content with what they are not prideful or envious of what God is
Heaven will be boring. Nothing to do but worship--an unending church service. Sheer happiness without unhappiness is boring. We appreciate everything only by contrast with its opposite. We need darkness to set off light, if heaven has no pain we won’t appreciate its pleasure.
Even Freud said the two things that make life worth living are love and work
How can we be happy in heaven if any of our loved ones are in hell? If we stop loving them we are not good; if we keep loving them, we are not happy.
Heaven is eternal. But eternity seems inhuman because without time there is no change, no progress, no work,. Passive, changeless adoration perhaps seems fit for angels, but not for us.
If all time is present at once in heaven, there can be nothing future, only present, and thus nothing left to hope for. But we cannot live without hope. “It is better to travel hopefully than to arrive.”
Heaven is far better than hope it is :
The “resurrection body” and the “new earth” seem impossible, mythological and anthropomorphic
Are we free to sin in heaven? If not, we are unfree robots, not free willed humans. If so, heaven is dangerous, like earth. And if anyone chooses to sin, it’s Eden and the Fall and earth all over again
If we will all be perfect saints in heaven, where will individuality be?
Our heavenly individuality is so real that only God knows its secret
Then heaven sounds so individualistic that it is egotistical
Outside the system of self-giving is not earth, nor nature, nor “ordinary life,” but solely and simply hell.
Will we all be equal in heaven? The traditional picture is one of inequality: a hierarchy of greater and lesser rewards. But this seems to make God and elitist, an aristocrat
If God’s light and truth permeate heaven, there will be no privacy. That will be intolerable
In heaven there is no shame
(for all sin is gone)
and no misunderstanding or rejection
by God or his saints.
We will share there the intimacy we long for but fear here
Is there sex in heaven? If not, most people today will not want to go there. If so it just seems too earthly.
To love heaven is to be a traitor to earth, leaving it behind like a rat leaving a sinking ship.
We are now surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses
Given a choice most people would prefer earth to heaven
Earth and heaven are not rivals
Earth is related to heaven as:
shadow to substance,
seed to plant,
courtship to consummation,
pregnancy to birth,
hope to fruition
An eternity of earth would grow boring
Earth is the just the nest when we are meant to fly
Heaven sounds so alien, far, other, threatening, unfit for human habitation. Like trying on new clothes that just aren’t you
We are designed and made for heaven
it is our home
A place is set at the table with our name on it
Our Father has been waiting for a long time
He knows us each by name
When the time comes
We will gladly put away our toys and go home.
a foretaste and anticipation of
God’s supernatural created gift infused in the soul truly transforming it and enabling it to partake in the divine nature
The Triune God dwelling in the just
Grace is a participation in the life of God.
It introduces us into the intimacy of Trinitarian life:
A proper and truly differentiated relationship
The Christian is the son or daughter of the Father
(and not of the Son and the Spirit)
The brother or sister of the Son
(and not of the Father or the Spirit)
The temple of the Holy Spirit
(and not of the Father or the Son)
These relationships are not interchangeable thus it is more proper to pray to God the Father, the Son, and the Spirit in different ways rather than to God in a generic sense.
Heaven will maintain these relationships
Our immediate “beatific vision” of God in heaven is “mediated” to us through the humanity of Christ
Bishop Joseph Ratzinger
“Heaven, therefore, must first and foremost be determined christologically. It is not an extra-historical place into which one goes. Heaven’s existence depends on the fact that Jesus Christ, as God, is man, and makes a space for human existence in the existence of God.”
One is in heaven when and to the degree that one is in Christ
Each will receive the degree of happiness according to his or her merits
Council of Florence (1439)