Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Barth on heaven

“Heaven" in biblical language is the sum of the inaccessible and incomprehensible side of the created world, so that, although it is not God himself, it is the throne of God, the creaturely correspondence to his glory, which is veiled from man, and cannot be disclosed except on his initiative.

- Karl Barth, CD III/1 453
H/T MPJ

This summarises very nicely the first four posts of my heaven series. All that he needs is the negative correlate: heaven is not the goal of the Christian hope. We hope for the return of Christ, the resurrection of the dead, the final judgement and the renewal of all things.

11 comments:

John said...

Ok, I give up, why is this post labelled 'Michael Jensen'?

byron said...

Because if you follow the H/T, I stole the quote from a post he wrote about the ascension.

John said...

This Barthian stuff is so difficult. I had no idea what an h/t was (and I still don't) but I apologise for showing my ignorance.

byron said...

No problem, I had no idea either until recently. 'H/T' is short for 'hat-tip', i.e. an acknowledgement of someone else's contribution, usually as a source for a link or quote. Thus, I labelled the post 'Michael Jensen', because he was the source of the Barth quote. I sometimes call him 'MPJ' - his initials. He was a lecturer at my college and many of the lecturers were called by their initials because this is how they appear on the timetable and in various other places. Also, 'Michael' is too common to be clear, and 'Jensen' in Sydney Anglican circles is similarly ambiguous (Michael's family are very involved in leadership circles - his father is archbishop of Sydney). OK, enough explanation...

John said...

So, if I understand your explanation properly (and, seriously speaking thanks for that) one does not actually need to read Barth to get to heaven but it would be useful to listen to at least one of the Jensen clan on the subject?

byron said...

:-)

Hey, I notice you're from North Finchley - I lived there for four months back in 1988. How long have you been pastor there?

John said...

Small world, really, Byron,
I've been here sixteen years next month. Before that I studied with Guy Davies when he was newly exiled at LTS in Church End, Finchley, so you were gone just before we arrived. Quel dommage!

On the other hand, Margaret Thatcher was still the local MP all the time you (and Guy) were here and we now have a third term Labour MP so Finchley does see rather more of the swings and roundabouts of Temple Fortune than most places do.

Thanks for the h/t by the way, David will be pleased since he's now on the first page on Google for 'Dawkins'.

Alex said...

Hey Byron,

Thanks for the heaven series. I'm going to start reading through it today. My own understanding about "the age to come" has changed a lot since reading one of John Hagee's Left Behind-type books as a kid. Yes, I've come a long way since then! :) After a path through Preterism, I read N.T. Wright's RSG and ideas from both have given me a whole new way of looking at things. Looking forward to reading your series.

Thanks!

Nancy said...

I just found your site and enjoyed reading your understanding of heaven in this series.

If heaven is the throne, or rule, of God, won't the earth become a part of heaven when Christ returns to restore all things to God?

It is my understanding that when Christ returns and defeats the enemies of God, the last being death, he will hand over the kingdoms of this world to God the Father. God will then install his King on Zion.

"'I have installed my King on Zion, my holy hill.' I will proclaim the decree of the LORD: He said to me, 'You are my Son; today I have become your Father. Ask of me and I will make the nations your inheritance, the ends of the earth your possession. You will rule them with and iron scepter; you will dash them to pieces like pottery." Psalm 2:6-9

When Jesus rules as King over the nations of the earth, his church will rule with him from the new Jerusalem.

"To him who overcomes and does my will to the end, I will give authority over the nations - 'He will rule them with an iron scepter; he will dash them to pieces like pottery' - just as I have received authority from my Father." Revelation 2:26-27, Psalm 2:9

byron said...

Nancy - thanks for your comment.

If heaven is the throne, or rule, of God, won't the earth become a part of heaven when Christ returns to restore all things to God?
My hunch is that it is the other way around: heaven comes to earth. At least, that is the picture in Revelation 22 with the heavenly city coming down out of heaven to earth. The Lord's prayer also points in this direction: Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Either way, I think the consummation is a marriage of heaven and earth so that what is presently unseen and disputed (the rule of God) will be undeniable.

God will then install his King on Zion.
I am not convinced that Psalm 2 provides evidence of God's future plans for the physical Zion. I could be wrong.

Nancy said...

Either way, I think the consummation is a marriage of heaven and earth so that what is presently unseen and disputed (the rule of God) will be undeniable.

I agree and understand your distinction of heaven coming to earth. Thank you.

I am not convinced that Psalm 2 provides evidence of God's future plans for the physical Zion. I could be wrong.

Although this began in physical Zion - "Do not be afraid, O Daughter of Zion; see, your king is coming seated on a donkey's colt." - I do believe Psalm 2 speaks of the heavenly fulfillment as you see in Revelation 21.

One of my favorite verses is Hebrews 12:22-24, "But you have come to Mount Zion, to the heavenly Jerusalem, the city of the living God. You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly, to the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven. You have come to God, the judge of all men, to the spirits of righteous men made perfect, to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks of a better word than the blood of Abel."