Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Where is Heaven?

Now suppose youre Paul, good at mixing your metaphors, and you try to say all those things at once within the biblical cosmology, which uses upstairs/downstairs language for heaven and earth, even though the writers know perfectly well that heaven is not a location in our space-time universe but rather a different kind of space that intersects with ours in complex and interesting ways.” —N.T. Wright

Recently Carolyn and I watched a movie in which two men were arguing about Timbuktu. One thought it was a “made up place”; the other insisted it was a real city, but neither man knew where it was.

So it is with Heaven. It resides in our thoughts like Timbuktu, Kuala Lumpur or Katmandu—far-away places with strange sounding names —a real place

But, where is it?

In ancient times when people spoke of Heaven they pointed up at the sky. Heaven was “up there,” way beyond the blue. But what if Heaven is not up there somewhere, but everywhere?

Studies in quantum mechanics support that thesis: Physicists argue that there must be an unobservable, parallel universe lying in and around our own. The theory is so weird and counter-intuitive that nobody understands it, but it’s the only hypothesis that fully accounts for physical phenomena, as we know it.[1] Could it be that this “unobservable, parallel universe lying in and around our own” is Heaven?

Consider the varied “appearances” of Jesus after His resurrection: In every instance he did not descend from Heaven but simply “appeared”…and then “disappeared,” or to quote Luke exactly, “became invisible” (Luke 24:31; 24:36). On the Mount of Transfiguration, while Jesus was talking to the Apostles, Moses and Elijah, long-time citizens of the Kingdom of Heaven, suddenly “appeared” (Matthew 17:1-9). As Stephan was dying he saw Heaven “standing open” (Acts 7:56). In each case Heaven and all its citizens, though invisible, seems to be, well…next door.[2]

But, you ask, is there a point to this wondering? Indeed. Faith tells me that I’m not alone in the little study in which I write. The room is crammed with Heaven—Jesus, reaching out to me in lovingkindness and compassion; legions of angels watching over me;[3] and perhaps my family and friends that have gone on before me,[4] cheering me on, watching in anticipation when I’m tempted, bursting into applause on those occasions when the world, the flesh and the devil go down in defeat. I cannot see these heavenly helpers but surely they are there.

Faith is the means by which we gain access to this invisible world. It “gives substance to things that are not seen” (Hebrews 11:1). It is, to the spiritual realm, what the five senses are to the natural: the means by which we grasp spiritual reality and bring it into the realm of our experience.

G. K. Chesterton was once asked by a reporter what he would say if Jesus were standing beside him. He is,” Chesterton replied with calm assurance.

David Roper
November 4, 2015

[1] See Brian Greene’s The Hidden Reality: Parallel Universes and the Deep Laws of the Cosmos.
[2] Additionally, there is the story of Elisha and his servant in the city of Dothan (2 Kings 6). Surrounded by a massive Assyrian army, Elisha insists that there was a greater force on their side. Elisha’s servant eyes were opened and he “saw that the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around”—an angelic army of inestimable size, present, but invisible to human eyes.
[3] Are they not all ministering spirits sent out to serve for the sake of those who are to inherit salvation” (Hebrews 1:13)
[4]Can our loved ones in heaven see us? I answer, “Why not?” Angels are watching the story of redemption unfold (1Peter 1:12). Why not the saints? Is there any compelling reason why they shouldn’t, or wouldn’t want to see how their loved ones are faring?

1 comment:

Dieter Schlaepfer said...

Nicely described!

In quantum mechanics, there's also a phenomenon called “entanglement,” where—due to our conscious observation—a property change in one particle results instantaneously in a corresponding change in a paired one regardless of their distance apart. According to the latest research (August 2015), previous loopholes in Bell’s inequality were closed in an experiment that demonstrates that no hidden local factors are involved in this mysterious connection.

One can speculate that our consciousness, which makes these changes happen, is entangled with our physical existence. We could indeed be seated in heavenly places.

"But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus." Ephesians 2:4-7 NASB


 The God-Man “If ever we get hungry to see God, we must look at his picture.”  “Where is that, sir?”  “ Ah, Davie … don’t you know ...