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May 23, 2013

“Here we pray every hour on the hour, read extracts from the Bible and look solemn” – Gillan – No Laughing in heaven (from the album Future Shock).

When I was in school, we had to write an essay in English. We had to write about what heaven will be like. I still remember one pupil describing the scene poetically and ending with the “sound of a faint howzat?!”

I can’t remember anything I wrote about. I mean I came at it from a Christian perspective and maybe majored on all the nasty things that won’t be there. I didn’t plan essays. I just tended to write as it came in to my head (a bit like now really!) and hopefully get to some conclusion. By the time I was well into it, I was bored with my vision of heaven, and concluded that it sounded more like hell.

Thing is we don’t know much about it do we? And I get confused about the old heaven, the new heaven, the old earth and the new earth. Where am I actually going to be? What the Bible does say is that God’s dwelling will be with men. Wherever I am it will be with God. Everything else surely follows from that.

How can we describe what it will be like? Our words could surely not do it justice. I have sat in church services which have been dominated by long silences where I have been told at the end that we have “had a foretaste of heaven”, and even allowing for my youth, I thought “I hope not!!” Or perhaps when the worship band repeats the song 18 times, we think one day it will be like this all the time.

When I was young I used to be scared by the idea of eternity, even though I believed I had nothing to fear from it. There’s just something about all that time – that I still sometimes find unsettling.

Talking of unsettling, after some time I have finally taken the leap and started reading Rob Bell’s controversial “Love Wins”. As a man and boy steeped in the evangelical church I am of course aware that I am not allowed to agree with his conclusions, but I do find myself agreeing with a lot of the questions.

At the moment reading his chapter on heaven, it does strike me how simple we have made things. Who will be there? What will we be doing? Who won’t be there, and if they’re loved ones, how can we be happy?

What will heaven be? Will it be an everlasting church service? Will we sing Matt Redman or Charles Wesley? Will it be a party? Will we eat? Will we play? Will we know people? Will we be in the city or the country? Will we be surprised by who is there? Or not? What do we know and what is our own interpretation?

What do you think? Let me have your thoughts? Give me some explanations that do the whole thing justice. Because believe me, as Gillan sang “I wanna go to heaven”, but unlike him I don’t expect to begging to be allowed out again, because the place is so dull!



From → Christianity

One Comment
  1. <<<also steeped in evangelical church and yet finding myself agreeing with conclusions and questions. The Pope even seemed to come down on Mr Bell's side this week. I do wonder if we've forgotten something fundamental here.

    I love C S Lewis' The Great Divorce and although we never get to see 'inner heaven' the descriptions of both 'hell' and 'heaven' in that book have given me the closest I think I'll get to understanding it, this side of it!

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