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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 say what it is not


What it is like

earthly analogies
Earthly Analogies

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

earthly analogies for heaven
Earthly Analogies for Heaven

Three steps in thinking about God

Dionysius the Aeropagite

Positive Theology

Begin with earthly analogies

Negative Theology

Correct them

Superlative Theology

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

Isaiah 55:8-9

1 Cor 2:9

Words are too definite and specific

earthly analogies for heaven4
Earthly Analogies for Heaven

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

heaven what does scripture say
HEAVENWhat Does Scripture Say?

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

heaven what does scripture say6
HEAVENWhat Does Scripture Say?

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

heaven what does scripture say7
HEAVENWhat Does Scripture Say?

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

heaven what does scripture say8
HEAVENWhat Does Scripture Say?

“The clean of heart will see God”

Matthew 5:8

“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

beatific vision
“Beatific Vision”

“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.”

heaven seven alternate theories
HEAVENSeven alternate theories
  • Atheistic materialism - We are simply material organisms when we die its over
  • God but no life after death - God either does not love us enough or lacks the power to save us
  • Skepticism - No one can ever know what happens
  • Ancient Paganism - We become pale copies, ghosts inhabiting a gloomy dark underworld
  • Platonism - The body dies forever the spirit lives forever
  • Pantheism - We are part of the cosmic ocean at the end we melt back into the sea
  • Reincarnation - We get another earthly mortal body until we are enlightened enough to reach either Pantheism or Platonism
heaven ten refutations of reincarnation
HEAVENTen refutations of reincarnation
  • It is contradicted by scripture (Heb 9:27)
  • It is contradicted by orthodox tradition
  • It would reduce the Incarnation to a mere appearance, the crucifixion to an accident
  • It implies that God made a mistake imprisoning our souls to live in bodies
  • It is contradicted by psychology and common sense (no natural unity)
heaven ten refutations of reincarnation12
HEAVENTen refutations of reincarnation
  • It entails a low view of the body as prison or punishment
  • It blames sin on the body’s power to confuse and darken the mind
  • We can’t remember our former lives so how can I learn from my mistakes
  • Rememberings of past lives are really mental contact with souls in heaven, purgatory or hell
  • The beginning of the process that began our entrapment in bodies must have occurred while spiritual. How could we have committed evil in the state of heavenly bliss?
the christian alternative
The Christian Alternative

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?

objections to heaven answered
Objections to Heaven Answered

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.

objections to heaven answered15
Objections to Heaven Answered

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

objections to heaven answered16
Objections to Heaven Answered

Heaven is obviously wishful thinking.

If there were no heaven, we would have to invent it.

It is a necessary dream.

  • The heaven of the Bible is selfless, self-forgetful,love and saintliness, not the gratification of selfish desires
  • Even the physical details or symbols of heaven do not correspond to the popular picture
  • Even if there is a correspondence between our dreams and heaven it does not eliminate the possibility of God having created us for it
  • If an effect can not exceed its cause, how can the idea of heaven be caused by our finite minds
objections to heaven answered17
Objections to Heaven Answered

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

  • Distinguish imagery from substance. To disbelieve in the substance because you take the imagery literally is a foolish mistake
  • The fact that all religious cultures have imagery for heaven is proof for its existence not vice versa
  • The biblical version of heaven does not appeal to natural, worldly, selfish desires
objections to heaven answered18
Objections to Heaven Answered

Believing in heaven is escapist

  • Who talks the most against escapism? The jailers! (C. S. Lewis)
  • Heaven is not escapist it is the fulfillment of all good earthly desires
  • The first question about any idea cannot be whether it is escapist but whether it is true
  • Even an escapist idea can be true
objections to heaven answered19
Objections to Heaven Answered

Heaven is a diversion. Whether true or false, it distracts us from our present tasks.

  • Heaven is our ultimate destination our present tasks are most often a distraction from it
  • Concern for a higher thing does not lessen or demean a concern for lower things. Our concern for the future does not demean our concern about the present
  • Throughout history it has been those who believed most strongly in heaven who have made the greatest difference to earth
objections to heaven answered20
Objections to Heaven Answered

Heaven is irrelevant to the here and now. You can love or hate this world whether you believe in the next or not

  • Heaven is more than relevant to the present; it actually begins in the present
  • The joy of heaven begins now for the believer in Jesus Christ
  • If heaven is not in us now, it will never be in us forever, because heaven is where God is.
  • If God is in our souls now then heaven is in us now
  • This is one of Jesus’ central teachings (Mt 13:45-46, Mk 8:36, Rev 22:17)

What could be more relevant?

objections to heaven answered21
Objections to Heaven Answered

Heaven is a bribe. It makes religion selfish. You work for heavenly reward, not for pure love. Its’ mercenary.

  • Some rewards are not mercenary but natural and right
  • They are not artificially tacked on to the activity but are the result of the activity in its perfected state

Heaven is not a reward externally added on rather

It is love of God and neighbor perfected

objections to heaven answered22
Objections to Heaven Answered

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

  • Analogical and negative knowledge is knowledge. Knowing what a thing is like or what a thing is not is knowledge
  • Faith is accepting divinely revealed data
  • Philosophical reasoning and reasoned speculation can lead to truth
objections to heaven answered23
Objections to Heaven Answered

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

objections to heaven answered24
Objections to Heaven Answered

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 wholly unselfish and self-forgetful
  • Egotism is illusion and will be destroyed
  • In heaven everyone will be standing themselves in unselfconscious ecstasy
  • They will be so in love with God and others they will not notice themselves.
objections to heaven answered25
Objections to Heaven Answered

Heaven is too unselfish; too spiritual, too mystical for ordinary human tastes

  • Those who lose their life for my sake will find it
  • Self-forgetfulness is our supreme joy because we are made in the image and likeness of God whose very essence is self-giving love

Heaven’s self-abandonment brings the greatest self-fulfillment

We can test this theory even now!

objections to heaven answered26
Objections to Heaven Answered

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.

  • Images are mere analogies, pointers
  • The objection confuses culturally relative imagery with the not culturally-relative substance or essence of heaven
objections to heaven answered27
Objections to Heaven Answered

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.

  • How do we know what will be too spiritual for the changed beings we will be after death?
  • Why set limits on human growth?
  • The objection is too limited in imagination and too bound to present worldly goods as if it were impossible that higher possibilities existed.
  • Heaven’s transformation of earth (Rev 21:1) and the new humanity (1 Cor 15:44) neither simply extends and perfects, nor simply transcends and abolishes, the present humanity and earth but transforms it

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

objections to heaven answered30
Objections to Heaven Answered

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.

  • We do not become God but we do more than just imitate or approximate him
  • We share his own inner life but by grace (gift) not by nature
  • God pours himself into us

In heaven everyone will be wise and content with what they are not prideful or envious of what God is

objections to heaven answered31
Objections to Heaven Answered

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.

  • The wiser one is the less one needs pain to appreciate pleasure
  • No word for boredom exists in any pre-modern language. Only the spoiled and jaded experience boredom even now.
  • The picture of a heavenly church is symbolic of God’s total presence
  • Heaven is not the mere lulling and satisfaction of desire. It is not mere contentment. It is passionate and dynamic and stimulating pure joy.
  • Heaven is perfect love and work. Love is a work, not just a feeling, and good work must be a work of love,

Even Freud said the two things that make life worth living are love and work

objections to heaven answered32
Objections to Heaven Answered

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.

  • We know that there will be no sadness in heaven but we do not know how (Rev 21:4)
  • In whatever way God manages not to be sad, even though some turn away from him, he will teach us
  • He can not see the damned because they have chosen to step outside reality (Mt 25:31-46)
  • Hell is a place of eternal death not life
  • If your love for another is that strong then God placed you here to bring that person to him now in your own lifetime
objections to heaven answered33
Objections to Heaven Answered

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.

  • Eternity includes all time rather than excluding it.
  • Love is hard work. Only after the fall did work become onerous (Gen 3:17-19)
  • Heaven will surpass all the good in in work, change and time
objections to heaven answered34
Objections to Heaven Answered

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.”

  • If that were true how could anyone travel hopefully. There would be nothing to hope for.
  • If “arriving” is threatening, boring or less joyful than hoping then we do not hope to arrive

Heaven is far better than hope it is :

fulfillment, consummation

objections to heaven answered35
Objections to Heaven Answered

The “resurrection body” and the “new earth” seem impossible, mythological and anthropomorphic

  • The God who created this earth can surely create a new earth and if an earth then a new body as well
  • Myths are but dim confused foreshadowings of this truth
  • The new earth and new body are not a reduction of God to present human proportions but are rather beyond our present power to comprehend
objections to heaven answered36
Objections to Heaven Answered

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

  • Free to sin is like healthy disease. It means freedom of enslavement
  • Free will is the means to a higher freedom
    • the means is freedom from compulsion
    • the end is the freedom from evil
  • In heaven no one will sin because no one will want to
  • We are now enslaved by sin and ignorance in heaven we will be free. Sin will loose its attractiveness
objections to heaven answered37
Objections to Heaven Answered

If we will all be perfect saints in heaven, where will individuality be?

  • God is like a diamond with infinitely diverse facets not dull but infinitely interesting
  • It’s the tyrants and sinners that are alike individuals are the saints who dance to God’s music
  • God is like salt that brings out the individual flavor of each food it seasons

Rev 2:17

Our heavenly individuality is so real that only God knows its secret

objections to heaven answered38
Objections to Heaven Answered

Then heaven sounds so individualistic that it is egotistical

  • He that loses his soul will save it
  • Love is self-giving.
  • Through self-giving we touch a rhythm not only of all creation but of all being
  • Self exists to be given away

Outside the system of self-giving is not earth, nor nature, nor “ordinary life,” but solely and simply hell.

objections to heaven answered39
Objections to Heaven Answered

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

  • We will all be equal in heaven in the same sense that we are all equal now
    • equal in worth and dignity as possessing human nature, the image of God, and equal in being totally loved by God with nothing held back.
    • This does not mean we will be the same
    • We will be totally filled with the love of God but some vessels will hold more than others
  • One of the chief joys of this life and the next is sharing differences and experiencing the pleasure of humility, to look up to, admire and learn from another who knows
objections to heaven answered40
Objections to Heaven Answered

If God’s light and truth permeate heaven, there will be no privacy. That will be intolerable

  • Privacy is needed only because of sin
  • We hide from others because
    • we feel shame
    • we fear misunderstanding and rejection

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

objections to heaven answered41
Objections to Heaven Answered

Is there sex in heaven? If not, most people today will not want to go there. If so it just seems too earthly.

  • That many will not want to go there says much about our society
  • Sexuality, or sexual identity, is part of our divinely-designed humanity, and is not abolished but transformed
  • Sex is first something we are, not something we do
  • Since we will have real bodies, physical copulation will be possible, just as it will be possible to eat (Christ did that).
  • But we will probably never give it a thought since total intimacy and oneness with other souls is available versus the clumsy, partial, temporary oneness of intercourse
objections to heaven answered42
Objections to Heaven Answered

To love heaven is to be a traitor to earth, leaving it behind like a rat leaving a sinking ship.

  • Unless the Bible lies earth is not our true home heaven is
  • Earth is only the setting of the play remove the people and it will no longer be dear to us
  • The people left behind will join us
  • Perhaps we do not even leave them behind
  • Perhaps the blessed dead are present but invisible observers of us the living (Heb 12:1)

We are now surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses

objections to heaven answered43
Objections to Heaven Answered

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

objections to heaven answered44
Objections to Heaven Answered

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.

heaven our relationship with god
Heaven Our Relationship With God


a foretaste and anticipation of

eternal life

Sanctifying grace

God’s supernatural created gift infused in the soul truly transforming it and enabling it to partake in the divine nature

Uncreated grace

The Triune God dwelling in the just

heaven our relationship with god46
Heaven Our Relationship With God

Grace is a participation in the life of God.

It introduces us into the intimacy of Trinitarian life:

  • TRUTH - by Baptism the Christian participates in the grace of Christ, the Head of his Body.
  • OMNIPOTENCE - As an "adopted son" he can henceforth call God "Father," in union with the only Son.
  • LOVE - He receives the life of the Spirit who breathes charity into him and who forms the Church.

A proper and truly differentiated relationship

heaven our relationship with god47
Heaven Our Relationship With God

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

heaven our relationship with god48
Heaven Our Relationship With God

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

can we lose our blessedness
Can We Lose Our Blessedness?

Each will receive the degree of happiness according to his or her merits

Council of Florence (1439)

  • “The blessed see clearly God himself, one and three, as He is, though some more perfectly than others, according to the diversity of merits”
  • All are perfectly and fully happy but in diverse manners
  • All the blessed are forever united with God and therefore are no longer subject to the possibility of ever losing God