At the check out counter I noticed a TIME Magazine heading with “Rethinking Heaven” by Jon Meacham. So, I funded TIME five clams. Meacham’s article is short, but full of good thoughts concerning the topic (Meacham claims that he is a Christian). What really got me was that he goes right into the theological outlook of N.T. Wright (Surprised By Hope), a book that was fundamental to me during my departure from Hyper Preterism (2010, as I have written elsewhere on this site, quoting it). Basically, Tom’s view is that heaven and earth “merge” on the last day. This is a far cry from the heaven only view (which is akin to Gnosticism, as Meacham – and Wright – notes).
Coupled with reading Space, Time and Incarnation by Thomas Torrance (thanks again, Paul!) and you can understand Meacham, quoting John Blanchard: “Heaven isn’t just a place you go – heaven is how you live your life…What’s trending is a younger generation, teens, college aged, who are motivated by causes. People who are motivated by heaven are also people motivated to make a positive difference in the world.”
Noting the “running debate” as to what heaven actually is, Meacham writes, “It’s about whether believing Christians see earthly life as inextricably bound up with eternal life or as simply a prelude to a heavenly existence elsewhere.” The latter view is more Gnostic-like. Escape the body, escape all our sins. Pure Platonism.
What’s strange in all of this is that Christians who support a “heaven only” or “heaven is the goal” are inconsistently for making a positive difference in the world. Lot’s of Full Preterists, for example, support Ron Paul. But, if Meacham is correct, why bother with an infinite planet? Progress, or the idea of it, is gone in terms of fulfilling any mandate. It’s pure speculation, since there are no Scriptures to back up why we should try to live in a better place, or be involved in politics at all. Isn’t that worldly? In terms of a dominion mandate given to Adam, it is very easy to come up with a biblical view of politics. In terms of an end of history (progress, as an idea, must have a telos) with the notion that God will redeem his creation and renew it, then Wright’s point is automatically seen: if this is the future God has promised, and if this is where history is going, then we must be involved in the PROCESS to which it is heading; and if it is heading towards restoration, then we should be about the task of restoring all things. The Full Preterist, though he may wish to argue along the lines of trying to make a positive impact in the world, can only do so on non-scriptural speculation. In other words, we might be able to make a difference, but as to whether or not we will (“will” involves the future) is purely left in the realms of “possible”. For the idea heaven on earth as the ultimate manifested goal of our good Creator, there is no possible about it: it will be accomplished, on earth as it is in heaven.