21 Apr 2007

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

pie in the skyPlease 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?

13 Responses to “Heaven (2): Pie in the Sky or Meek Inheriting the Earth (Part 2)”

  1. Alan Says:

    It’s not surprising nor convincing that there are famous and learned people who believed this. There are also famous and learned people who do not. Isn’t this just another ad hominem argument?

    Another passage to consider alongside Rom 8:23 is Rom 7:24

    Rom 7:24 What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?

    It sounds like we will be rescued from this “body” one day.

  2. Bob Bliss Says:

    Bobby, it’s a shame that Campbell’s and Lipscomb’s ideas on the liberation of creation from its futility (Romans 8:18-25) has not survived into our theology (well our popular theology though it is evident that some have recovered it). It is obvious that I need to do some more reading in our heritage and theology. While I may not be sure about your views on Jesus in the flesh I do believe very strongly that God sought in Jesus to restore his creation which was cursed.

  3. Laymond Says:

    “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”
    Do you understand Lipscomb, to say all will be saved by the spilled blood of Jesus, if so what happened to the narrow and straight gate where few will enter?
    As per usual a thread tends to stray from the original post, just as this one has it has turned from the description of heaven into what body will be raised. I have no doubt where heaven is and will be, it is where God and his son is right now.
    The body that will be raised is not so clear, I believe we will be raised in a spirit body ready to transport to heaven to dwell there with Jesus.
    It seems even Paul may have had some doubts as to the texture and content of the raised body. As we see Paul wrote both verses below and said God would quicken our mortal body, in Romans. Then in 1 Cor we will be raised as a spiritual body.
    Rom 8:11But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you.
    NLT ; The Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in you. And just as he raised Christ from the dead, he will give life to your mortal body by this same Spirit living within you.

    1Cr 15:44It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body.
    NLT ; They are natural human bodies now, but when they are raised, they will be spiritual bodies. For just as there are natural bodies, so also there are spiritual bodies.

  4. Falantedios Says:

    And again I say, Laymond. “Soma” is “Soma”! Whatever else a body is, it is not “not a body!” If the Biblical writers meant intangible, bodiless existence, they had a whole realm of vocabulary at their disposal. The Greek vocabulary served wonderfully to articulate the wisdom of Plato.

    Paul says, “Soma.” Body.

    Furthermore, every Second Coming reference I can think of offhand refers to Jesus’ COMING only. Yet, what you teach requires an additional activity which Scripture does not teach: another return to where He is now. Occam’s razor (a logical thought-tool that suggests that the answer that adds the fewest extra conditions to the evidence is most likely to be true)slices in favor of “renewed earth eschatology,” which has the fortuitous benefit of not adding to the Scriptural witness.

    To Alan: Romans 8 teaches exactly how we will be rescued from the “body of death.” They will be REDEEMED, not annihilated. Jesus’ original body belonged to death, and was planted therein. It burst forth on the third day ALIVE FOREVERMORE. To exposit another Pauline metaphor: our bodies are not SEED COATS only, that part of the seed that is shed when the plant bursts forth. Our bodies are the WHOLE SEED that is planted. Paul does not say, there is a body and there is a spirit. He says there is a physical body and a spiritual body. One is the seed, the other is the tree. Whatever their differences, they are intrinsically connected.

    in HIS love,

  5. Alan Says:


    I don’t think God has spelled out what we will be like after the resurrection.

    1Jn 3:2 Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears,[1]we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.

    That tells us we will be “like” Jesus — I take that to mean not identical but similar in certain ways. But the fact that we will be like Jesus does not negate the fact that “what we will be has not yet been made known.”

    One thing we do know about our future state is that we will be changed, so we will not be exactly as we are today.

    1Co 15:51 Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed–
    1Co 15:52 in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.

    Look at how Paul viewed the two states:

    2Co 5:6 Therefore we are always confident and know that as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord.
    2Co 5:7 We live by faith, not by sight.
    2Co 5:8 We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord.
    2Co 5:9 So we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it.

    Paul would prefer to be “away from the body and at home with the Lord.” Peter said the same thing:

    2Pe 1:13 I think it is right to refresh your memory as long as I live in the tent of this body,
    2Pe 1:14 because I know that I will soon put it aside, as our Lord Jesus Christ has made clear to me.

    And Paul told the Corinthians
    1Co 15:50 I declare to you, brothers, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable.

    Here is the conclusion I draw from the above scriptures. When we go to be with the Lord for eternity, we will not be in the same body we currently inhabit. It will be a different body. We will have some kind of “body” in the resurrection, but it will not be flesh and blood. Exactly what it will be has not yet been made known.

  6. Laymond Says:

    Alan; Amen. Nick as you put it so well “a body is a body” we use this descriptive word today when we talk about something that has come together in a mass rather than in another form, a mass of water formed in a depression is a body of water, a mass of cold air formed on the border to our north is often described as a massive body of air. I see no resemblance at all in these two bodies one is on the earth the other is in the heavens. yet they are both bodies. a body is an individual mass independent to it’s self.

  7. John Mark Hicks Says:

    I do certainly agree we will be delivered from “this body of death” and we will be delivered in redeemed bodies that are immortal. We will not have a body of death, but an immortal body.

    Philippians 3:21 also speaks to the point–we will have a body like Jesus’ glorious body. His resurrection body is our body. He is the firstfruit and we are the harvest.

    Jesus’ body was material, so will ours be as well. It will not be “flesh and blood” in the sense that it is not a “natural” (pusche) body–that is, a body that lives by the “soulishness” of creation (the blood that flows through the veins). Rather, it will live by the Spirit of God who will flow through the veins of the material body. Our bodies will be Spiritual in the sense that they will be animated by the Holy Spirit.

    Clearly, we don’t know exactly what that is like, but we do know that it is a reality we will share with the resurrected–and human–body of Jesus in the glorious new heaven and new earth.

  8. Stoned-Campbell Disciple Says:

    Well it is the end of the Lord’s Day here in the desert. It has been a blessed one indeed. We have communed with the Lord and his saints and I am refreshed.

    Thanks John Mark for weighing in on my blog. For those who have not seen it John Mark has also commented on Part 1 of this thread on Heaven and I encourage you to go and read those comments.

    I think the reference to Phil 3.21 is a good one. And the image of “first fruits” implies some continuity here between our bodies.

    I look forward to more discussion on these matters … in a loving and brotherly manner.

    Bobby Valentine

  9. Laymond Says:

    Easton bible dictionary: Glorify – (1.) To make glorious, or cause so to appear.

    John :17:4 I have glorified thee on the earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do.
    John 17:5 And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was.

  10. Matt Says:

    Is there a reason to think that Jesus went through a dramatic change following his ascension? If there isn’t, based on the scriptures already mentioned, it seems like the characteristics of his resurrection body should be similar to how we will be post-resurrection.

    It is easy to reject some good theology just because it reminds us of some other groups that we don’t agree with on many things.

  11. Joel Solliday Says:

    The title, “Heaven: Pie in the Sky or Meek Inheriting the Earth?” is a rather loaded dichotomy.

    I think that both sides of this dichotomy are built on biblical metaphors that call us to trust God with our future.

    I do look forward to a heavenly banquet (with or without pies) and I’m glad I was not put in charge of planning when and where it would take place. But I think God will be there.

    I also hope I don’t have to do the dishes.

  12. Stoned-Campbell Disciple Says:

    Joel my title was meant to be more catchy and tongue in cheek than a put down. With that said however it does seem to me that many of us do indeed imagine heaven to be a sort of will-o-wisp pie in the sky “state” rather than place. The question that I have heard a million times (and I quote in part 1) betrays this mentality … “will we know one another in heaven?” That question can only have meaning if you and I are not “really” you and I anymore.

    Blessings and I think you do a wonderful job with the college outreach. I read the journal on a regular basis … everytime I get an update.

    Bobby Valentine

  13. Falantedios Says:


    I believe that John is very clear in his statements in 1 John, and he is NOT saying that we have no idea how we are going to be raised.

    If “what we will be has not yet been made known” means that nothing whatsoever has been revealed concerning our eschatological existence, then John makes himself a liar in the opening verses of the epistle. He HAS seen Jesus after the resurrection, and he knows that we will be like Jesus after our resurrection. This “like” matches up perfectly with Paul’s teaching in Romans 8:29 and 2 Cor 3:18.

    The thrust of John’s argument is contained in the word “now” in verse 2. Even though the world does not know us, we are children of God NOW. No one has yet experienced the transformation that is promised, but because we are children NOW, we confidently expect it and purify ourselves in that expectation.

    John has seen what we will be but, but the world cannot see it yet. When we can see it, they too will see it.

    in HIS love,

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