Have we gotten heaven all wrong? – N. T. Wright

N. T. Wright is my favorite biblical scholar. He has helped me work through many issues regarding biblical faith. Here’s an article where Wright addresses the concept of Heaven and how we have gotten it wrong. I highly suggest to not just read this article, but also work through the belief systems that have created a Heaven that keeps us from living out God’s life now. The Good News in all of this is that we don’t have to die in order to live!

First-century Jews who believed Jesus was Messiah also believed he inaugurated the Kingdom of God and were convinced the world would be transformed in their own lifetimes, Wright said. This inauguration, however, was far from complete and required the active participation of God’s people practicing social justice, nonviolence and forgiveness to become fulfilled.

 

Once the Kingdom is complete, he said, the bodily resurrection will follow with a fully restored creation here on earth. “What we are doing at the moment is building for the Kingdom,” Wright explained.

 

Indeed, doing God’s Kingdom work has come to be known in Judaism as “tikkun olam,” or “repairing the world.” This Hebrew phrase is a “close cousin” to the ancient beliefs embraced by Jesus and his followers, Wright said.

via Religion News Service | Faith | Doctrine & Practice | N.T. Wright asks: Have we gotten heaven all wrong?.

N. T. Wright on Heaven

I saw this and just knew I had to add it to one of my blogs:

(a) 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). The way the phrase ‘heaven and hell’ are used today implies you go straight to one or the other, ignoring the solid biblical testimony to an ultimate new creation in which heaven and earth are brought together in a great act of renewal (for those who want it, check out Ephesians 1.10, Revelation 21 and 22, Romans 8.18-27 and 1 Corinthians 15.20-28 — though once you see this theme it’s there everywhere). When Paul says ‘my desire is to depart and be with Christ which is far better’, and when Jesus says ‘today you will be with me in Paradise’, the wider context of both indicates that this will be a TEMPORARY state prior to the eventual resurrection into the new creation. This means (by the way) that the ‘second coming’ is NOT Jesus ‘coming back to take us home’, but Jesus coming — or ‘reappearing’, as 1 John 3 and Colossians 3 put it — to heal, judge and rescue this present creation and us with it.

Here’s the source link from the Washington Post.

Reflection on a Hymn

On Sunday we did the song “O Come O Come Emmanuel.” Some in the band said something about it being a ‘downer’, not to mention the fact of it being in a minor key. For some reason my mind has been reflecting on this hymn ever since. I feel that because we live in culture that is one of plenty, it is easy for us to forfeit our cries of Emmanuel coming and rescuing us for a Advent full of Christmas shopping, catchy songs about Santa, fireplaces and snow.

For many, the pleasures of now outweight the promise of heaven (or should I say, rescue). It is easy to forget in the land of plenty that we are, after all, in exile awaiting our savior to come. Yes, he has come and now we are in the time of “the now and not yet.” He calls-invites us to labor for His kingdom and His purposes. The more we embrace this call-invitation the more we discover a longing in our hearts. When we understand that God’s kingdom is about ‘putting things back to rights’ (N. T. Wright) the glitter of earth ceases to fulfill us. Instead we discover a deep yearning within us. A yearning for the kingdom of God to come to full consemation.

It is to this yearning that the hymn speaks. It is a deep call to those who long to see God’s kingdom fulfilled. It speaks to those who have discovered that nothing this world offers can fix the deep emptiness in one’s soul. It speaks to those who have taken up their cross, left the world behind, and look forward and work for God’s kingdom. For those phrases such as “morns in lonely exile here” is more than a catch phrase. It is the cry of their souls. They understand what it means to wait for that final Avent.

 

O come, O come, Emmanuel

 

O come, O come, Emmanuel, and ransom captive Israel,
That mourns in lonely exile here until the Son of God appear.

O come, O come, Thou Lord of might, who to Thy tribes, on Sinai’s height,
In ancient times didst give the law in cloud and majesty and awe.

O come, Thou Rod of Jesse, free Thine own from Satan’s tyranny;
From depths of hell Thy people save and give them vict’ry o’er the grave.

O come, Thou Dayspring, come and cheer our spirits by Thine advent here;
O drive away the shades of night and pierce the clouds and bring us light.

O come, Thou Key of David, come and open wide our heav’nly home
Where all Thy saints with Thee shall dwell — O come, O come, Emmanuel!

Chorus: Rejoice! rejoice! Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.