Bishop NT Wright, of the Diocese of Durham is interviewed this week in Time Magazine on the topic of the Christian view of heaven. Wright takes issue with much of the imagery used to describe the location and experience of heaven in popular culture.
From the article:
"TIME: At one point you call the common view of heaven a 'distortion and serious diminution of Christian hope.'
Wright: It really is. I've often heard people say, 'I'm going to heaven soon, and I won't need this stupid body there, thank goodness.' That's a very damaging distortion, all the more so for being unintentional.
TIME: How so? It seems like a typical sentiment.
Wright: There are several important respects in which it's unsupported by the New Testament. First, the timing. In the Bible we are told that you die, and enter an intermediate state. St. Paul is very clear that Jesus Christ has been raised from the dead already, but that nobody else has yet. Secondly, our physical state. The New Testament says that when Christ does return, the dead will experience a whole new life: not just our soul, but our bodies. And finally, the location. At no point do the resurrection narratives in the four Gospels say, 'Jesus has been raised, therefore we are all going to heaven.' It says that Christ is coming here, to join together the heavens and the Earth in an act of new creation."
Wright points out the way that popular literature and ideas over the ages has influenced our expectation of the heavenly reality.
He takes on the question of the Rapture and Armageddon later on in the interview, pointing out the slim scriptural support for these ideas.
Read the rest here.