In the Christian imagination, the two rightly go together.
To affirm the truth of heaven is to fire our spiritual imaginations for this life.
A New Heaven and a New Earth, by J. Richard Middleton
These days, we need a strong current of theological explication of Christian eschatology. Richard Middleton has stepped forward—and his book doesn't even mention zombies.
The movie Heaven Is for Real—based on the book by the same name—tells the story of minister Todd Burpo and his four-year-old son Colton. The main plot revolves around Colton’s near-death experience and his claims that while undergoing surgery he visited heaven and sat on Jesus’ lap. Burpo struggles to define what happened to Colton for himself as well as for the community of faith to which he ministers.
Since childhood, I've been uncomfortable with the idea that accepting Jesus is an automatic ticket to heaven—and with the reverse idea.
A hopeful universalism
God's "consuming fire" is the fire of holy love. It doesn't await sinners in the future; it burns up sin itself.
I am confident that the new creation will include animals. I hope that it will include Merle, my deceased smooth-coat collie.
While Christian scholars have long questioned body-soul dualism, it remains common in church circles. This may finally be changing.
We might Bible-study our way through most of this difficult parable, but what do we do with the guest who is pulled in off the streets and then kicked out?
When Acts says Jesus is "taken up to heaven," this is not a spatial claim.