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Archive for May 10th, 2012

This is a debate between Dr. Michael Brown and Dr. Eric Smaw on “Same-Sex Marriage: Should it be legal in America?” at the University of Central Florida. Don’t forget to check out Dr. Brown’s massive book, “A Queer Thing Happened To America.”

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Continue to Part 2-10

Homosexuality: Speaking the Truth in Love by Edward Welch

Out of a Far Country: A Gay Son’s Journey to God. A Broken Mother’s Search for Hope by Christopher Yuan and Angela Yuan

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There are some differences of views when it comes to the common Christian belief of eternal life for believers.  In terms of what eternal life will be like and how Christians will live it out, can be seen in two basic models: the spiritual vision model and the new creation model.

According to Craig Blaising, the spiritual vision model is a combination of biblical themes and cultural ideas that can be traced back to the classical philosophical tradition.  The philosophical tradition is a tradition that has roots in Platonism.  Because this model did not follow every idea of the philosophers, Randy Alcorn coined a more suited term: Christoplatonism. In a nutshell, Christoplantonism resists the idea of bodily-resurrected body on the new Earth.

As for the biblical themes of the spiritual vision model—it can be seen in four facets.  The first facet is that God promises believers that they will see Him.  Second facet is that believers will receive full knowledge in the future state.  Third facet is that this model sees heaven as the dwelling place of God.  Fourth important facet is that heaven will also be the dwelling place for the believing dead prior to their resurrection (1 Corinthians 15).

The spiritual vision model that incorporated cultural ideas which were common from the classical philosophical tradition, is seen in three major essentials.  The first essential is the belief that there is a basic contrast between the spirit and matter.  Second essential is the identification of the spirit with the mind or intellect.  The third essential is the belief that the eternal brings about an absence of change.

In light of the basic contrast between spirit and matter, the spiritual vision model believes that heaven in free from all change. In other words, the changelessness is contrasted with human life on this material earth that humans inhabit.  Matter, which expects changes, development, and growth, will not be involved. And since there is no matter involved, changelessness is expected.  This camp also believes that the eternal state will be atemporal.  To them, the end of time and history, marks eternity.

In terms of the identification for the spiritual vision model, the spirit with the mind or intellect sees life as “cognitive, meditative, or contemplative.”  In this reality, believers will know God perfectly.  There is no development of knowledge, but a complete perfect knowledge.  This is partly due to the influence of Platonism.  Platonism sees the eternal as humans that are perfectly and absolutely in good condition, and in unsurpassed beauty.  Humans in the eternal state will have an unchanging, unbroken, and infinite reality of God.  There can be no development or growth of knowledge for humans in the eternal.

The next model is the new creation model.  This is different from the spiritual vision model or Platonism.  This model concentrates on the social, political, and geographical realities of eternal life. This model emphasizes the everlasting kingdom of a new earth, renewal of life on the new earth, and the bodily resurrection, along with the social and political interactions amongst God’s people.  The new creation model points out that the ontological order and scope of eternal life will be in juxtaposition with a present continuity of earthly life, except for the absence of sin.  Unlike the spiritual vision model, which presented a dichotomy of spirit and matter, the new creation model expects human beings to have a tangible expression (embodied life) on the new earth.  According to Blaising, passages like Isaiah 25, 66; Revelation 21; and Romans 8 speaks of a regenerated earth.[1]  The same creating power from God that grants immortal and resurrection to saints will be the same creating power from God than will renew the earth from the corruption of sin.

It must also be clear that although we are talking about the eternal state, the new creation model does not deny that the dead in Christ are not with God in heaven now.  The issue in this context has to do with the resurrection into new life.  The spiritual vision model, on the other hand, will see no contrasts of the believing saints that are alive.  They see them without the need of a physical, material, resurrected body.  The new creation model sees the resurrection differently from the spiritual vision model.

In light of both models that have been explained, I will briefly summarize the major key differences.  The new creation model sees the eternal life in a holistic spiritual and material sense, while spiritual vision model divides spirit from matter.  Spiritual vision model also hierarchicalizes the eternal state ontologically, and it also sees the eternal state in a changeless state that is also not bounded by time (atemporal).  New creation model on the other hand sees the eternal state with changes to the body and non-atemporal state because humans will live their life in an unending sequence of life and lived experiences.

The new creation model is a model that is buttressed by Scripture.  It is also a model that is important because it is ingrained in God’s purposes.  Whenever God’s purpose is in play, it is very significant because the glory of God is at stake.  In this context, God is most glorified when we hold unto the new creation model.  Here are the details of why the new creation model glorifies God—it believes in a literal physical resurrection.  I like what Anthony Hoekema writes concerning the resurrection:

If the resurrection body were non-material or non-physical, the devil would have won a great victory, since God would then have been compelled to change human beings with physical bodies such as he had created into creatures of a different sort, without physical bodies (like the angels).”[2]

If there were no resurrection, the Greek philosophers that held unto Platonism would also be celebrating in the streets because to them, physical matter is intrinsically evil.  But matter is not evil.  Matter glorifies God in this situation because God will restore His planet just as He promised and Satan will not get victory.  Also the resurrection is important because it is part of the gospel.  When Jesus rose from the dead, He resurrected with a literal body; and we too will one day have a resurrected body.  Without a physical resurrected body of Christ, there is no Gospel!


[1]Please see other new creation model verses: Genesis 1:10,31; Genesis 1:26-30; Genesis 12:2-3; Genesis 12:7; Deuteronomy 30:1-10; Jeremiah 31-33; Psalm 2; Psalm 72:7; Psalm 72:19; Isaiah 2; Isaiah 11; Isaiah 60:21; Isaiah 61:4; Isaiah 65:17-25; Isaiah 66:22; Matthew 5:5; Matthew 6:10; Matthew 8 and 9; Matthew 19:28; Luke 21:24; Acts 1:3-7; Acts 3:19-21; Romans 8:18-25; Colossians 1:15-20; Revelation 21 and 22.

[2]Randy Alcorn, Heaven (Wheaton, Ill.: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., 2004), appendix.

[3] Some concepts are adapted from Craig Blaising’s article and Randy Alcorn’s book called, Heaven.

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