Distorted Views of Heaven

February 9th, 2008

Just watch cartoons, they’ll tell you all you need to know about heaven and hell. Heaven is a bright airy place where winged babies fly around and rest on puffs of cloud all day. Hell is an ongoing masochistic party of sorts, with a very high thermostat. Needless to say, both are gross distortions. We owe them to rennaissance artists and medieval writers, like Rafael and Dante, whose visions of heaven (and hell) have shaped Western societies views of God, heaven, and hell for centuries.

In an article on TIME magazine, Tom Wright, the bishop of Durham, seeks to dispel some of the myths surrounding the final destination for believers. He shows the Bible teaches heaven that is not in insubstantial air, but in a newly-created Earth. While he does not believe in the rapture and tribulation, the rest of the what he is saying is very accurate. The rapture is a seven year period when all Christians will be taken away from the Earth before the antichrist’s reign of peace…and terror. They will return to Earth in new bodies at the end of this time.

He doesn’t mention the Biblical teaching as to who will go where, though. According to the Bible, although humans were created innocent, all have the inclination to sin, from birth. Therefore all are destined to hell…but! (and it’s a big one): no one needs to be condemned. God offers total and permanent amnesty to all believers in his Son, regardless of past, present, or future sin.

Image by elbisreverri, used with a Creative Commons license

  • Anonymous

    It all sounds so simple.


  • Aaron Ortiz

    Salvation is simple to receive. It’s being a good person that is impossible. But both can be achieved by God’s grace through our faith.

  • Honduras Sprout

    Interesting Aaron.

    I have never heard of Christians being taken from the earth. Do you have a passage where it talks about this in the Bible?

    I was taught that there are two kinds of sin. “Original sin” that you inherit from Adam and Eve. Hence, we are born innocent but not without sin. The second is called “Actual sin” which is the sin you commit. This is why many practice infant baptism because Baptism forgives sins (both kinds) allowing the Holy Spirit to come in since the original sin is forgiven that you were born with.

  • Aaron Ortiz

    1 Corinthians 15:50-57 talks about how the dead will rise. Those who are alive won’t experience death, but will be instantly transformed into the resurrection body.

    Theologians disagree about when this will occur, but that’s OK, the Bible doesn’t say exactly when. Many evangelicals (like me) think it will occur before the “tribulation” a 7 year period when there will be one world government.

    Romans 3:20-24 explains that no one will be justified by observing the law (of Moses). “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” But we are all “justified freely by his grace” if we believe in him.

  • Honduras Sprout

    Okay, I hear that. But from what I have previously studied and thought I understood, was that there will be the remnant that remains on the earth to experience the years of terror and tribulation, etc. I’m sorry I’m not going back to give quotes so correct me if I’m way off here; But I remember reading something about in those days it will be very terrible for women with small children and pregnant women living on the earth. Also many will be martyred.
    Then…just before the second coming, those who are living will go through the “fire” and be clothed in white and then the resurrected will join the party, so to speak. Then all those written into the book of life will be escorted on into heaven and those left behind will face judgment.
    I may have to go back and read some more. I suppose ultimately, it’s not critical I understand everything; just that I have faith.

  • Aaron Ortiz

    You’re completely right! The traditional explanation for that is that the Christians who are on Earth during the tribulation will all be people who become Christians because of the tribulation, but who weren’t Christians before.

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