Christians don’t go to heaven when we die—that’s the dramatic way to summarize N. T. Wright’s book. The Christian hope is that our bodies will be raised on a transformed Earth when Christ returns, not that our souls will be freed of our bodies so that they can get to heaven.
In the beyond, in the dream, on the mountaintop, in the joy made flesh—not in the flesh still longing—is where I want to dwell. I long to be in the “new heavens and a new earth” where “former things shall not be remembered or come to mind,” as Isaiah puts it. Give me that.
When Rudolf Bultmann observed in 1941 that “there is no longer any heaven in the traditional sense of the word,” he was speaking accurately about the spirit of his age. For much of the 20th century, heaven has been treated as the theological equivalent of Timbuktu.
I would just as soon skip the first part of this Gospel reading. The Sadducees are trying to trick Jesus by getting him to respond to an impossible question about the resurrection. According to the law, if one of two brothers dies before his wife has children, then his brother marries her. But what if there are seven brothers, and each marries the woman in turn? To whom will she belong at the resurrection?
The essays in this anthology are loosely linked around the topic of death and afterlife, but there is no dialogue between the various points of view presented. The editor notes that there is a gap “between the philosophers . . .