Heaven (2): Pie in the Sky or Meek Inheriting the Earth (Part 2)Author: Bobby Valentine | Filed under: Alexander Campbell, Christian hope, Church History, Contemporary Ethics, eschatology, Exegesis, Heaven, Kingdom
Please read “Heaven (1): Pie in the Sky or Meek Inheriting the Earth (Part 1) Here before reading this.
Heaven: Pie in the Sky or Meek Inheriting the Earth (Part 2)
Sometimes the holders of the renewed earth point of view are characterized as having a “carnal mentality.” This view is somehow seen as less than “spiritual” to its critics. A truly spiritual view from that perspective practically necessitates defining “spiritual” as “immaterial.” I think the cleavage that has been driven between “material” and “spiritual” does not reflect a biblical mentality but an unconscious commitment to Platonism. We will come back to this point later.
Some of my critics have pointed out to me that the “pioneers” among the Stone-Campbell Movement were not inspired men. When they tell me this they then recommend that I read the Spiritual Sword or Christian Courier. But the writers in those journals are no more inspired than Lipscomb or Campbell. The inspiration or lack there of is not really the issue however.
For the moment the issue is the characterization of the holders of this view as being “carnally minded.” Yet I have a very difficult time believing men like Alexander Campbell, Robert Milligan, Moses Lard, David Lipscomb or James A. Harding were carnally minded men, yet they all held this position .
Alexander Campbell’s essay “Regeneration” in the Millennial Harbinger in 1833 is more than worth your effort to read. It is lengthy running from p.337 to p.384. In this essay Campbell provides a comprehensive overview of his theology–which he casts in sort of a mini-redemptive historical framework. God’s plan for the world does not boil down to baptism as so many among us seem to imagine (though baptism is a means of grace for Campbell in this essay), rather God seeks to regenerate his entire creation. Campbell applies this to the created order as well as humanity. AC believed that our resurrection finds significance first in the one of Christ Jesus. So he asks, what the resurrection of Jesus and our own resurrection is all about? Was Jesus’ resurrection a “spiritual” or a “bodily” resurrection? He clearly does not endorse the notion of a “purely spiritual environment.” Here is a quotation from the relevant section of “Regeneration.” Sounding almost as if he had taken a page from Justin Martyr’s essay on the resurrection (quoted in the comments yesterday), he writes:
“Immortality, in the sacred writings, is never applied to the spirit of man. It is not the doctrine of Plato which the resurrection of Jesus is a proof and pledge … Jesus was not a spirit when he returned to God. He is not made the Head of the New Creation as a Spirit, but as the Son of Man … By the word of his power he created the heavens and the earth; by the word of his grace he reanimates the soul of man; and by the word of his power he will again form our bodies anew, and reunite the spirit and the body in the bonds of an incorruptible and everlasting union.” (Alexander Campbell, “Regeneration,” Millennial Harbinger, 1833, p. 359).
David Lipscomb addressed this issue on many occasions. He has an entire essay called “The Ruin and Redemption of the World” in his book Salvation from Sin. His views are rooted in the kingdom of God and a comprehensive view of the work of Christ. Christ’s work is cosmic in scope … which is what Colossians teaches.
David Lipscomb writes in Salvation from Sin:
“The object of God’s dealing with man, and especially the mission of Christ to earth, was to rescue the world from the rule and dominion of the evil one, from the ruin into which it had fallen through sin, and to rehabilitate it with the dignity and the glory it had when it came from the hand of God” (David Lipscomb, Salvation from Sin, p.114, see the entire essay “The Ruin and Redemption of the World” but esp. pp. 115, 117, 126-128; Check out p.137).
Romans 8 figures prominently in any discussion of the Christian hope in heaven. In his commentary on Romans, Lipscomb comments on the meaning of “creation” in 8.19ff. “The ‘creation’ here means the world, embracing all animated nature below man. (p. 152). Later he writes, “then the whole creation will share this deliverance and be freed from the corruption and mortality to which it has been subjected by the sin of man. It shared the corruption and the mortality of man’s sin, and will share his deliverance from it” (p. 153)
Do we believe that the body comes out of the grave. Paul says that our bodies are to be redeemed—not simply our spirit, Rom 8.23. If the body comes out of the grave then what for?