catapult magazine

catapult magazine


Hard Questions of the Faith


Nov 02 2007
11:33 am

I’ve heard a number of interesting ideas, though I’m unsure exactly what is correct. I figure even if I have the the details wrong right now, God will still get them right. :wink:

I’ve grown up with the understanding similar to Grant, that Hell is a place without God’s presence, since God is the source of all that is good. A few years ago, a Greek Orthodox friend of mine explained that as far as their teaching, hell is the opposite, that God cannot NOT be everywhere (because of his omnipresent nature), and that the same intense glory of God revealed fully to Christians in heaven will be revealed just as fully to those in hell, except that because they are rebellious in their stubborn opposition to God, the same holy glory of God seems unbearable to them instea dof beautiful.

I can’t think of any verses either to prove either point. Either way, I’m pretty sure that hell is less than pleasant and that heaven is more joyous than we could every presently comprehend. That much seems to be clear.

A second idea that I think the scriptures make clear and yet doesn’t seem to be taught a lot is that hell was not intended for people but was rather created for satan and his fallen angels. As I see it, some people do end up there, but it wasn’t God’s original desire (as God is "not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance").

This is slightly off topic, becuase it deals with Heaven, but another odd thing I’ve heard recently, and it does seem to be biblical, is related to how New Jerusalem comes down from heaven and lands on the New Earth. If this is a literal city (which it may or may not be), it seems to imply that Heaven will literally be on Earth, and that people will live primarily on the New Earth. If so, the idea of people living in the clouds with harps, rainbows, etc. could be very off-base scripturally.

Also, that New Jerusalem is a city and not a cloud, temple, garden, etc. seems to imply that civilization and culture are likely to continue and grow. Our time, then, might be spent not simply worshipping God as we face him at his throne (a typical image of the "Heaven" stereotype) but rather woshipping God through the human lives we continue to lead with unlimited potential as we fulfill our original designs intended by God when he first created us. We might continue to build cities and culture and technology and arts and everything good that we do now, but better because we’re not limited by our sin and its pervasive effects like death.

The only good things that seem clearly excluded from "heaven" is that there’s no marriage (as Jesus plainly tells the Saducees) and many if not all spiritual gifts will be rendered obsolete and unneccessary if my reading of 1 Cor. 13 is correct. What would be the point of prophecy, for example, if God speaks for himself face to face with no need to ever send a messenger? What would be the point of healing as Jesus and the Apostles did when there is no death or pain? Even the fruits of the spirit Faith and Hope are obsolete in this realm, since seeing God need not be hoped for and requires no faith, but "the greatest of these is Love", since it is eternal.

So anyway, those are some thoughts that have interested me on this topic in the last few years. Of course, like many things regarding the future, it’s hard to tell what’s literal and what’s symbolic. God is forever an Artist.