08 August, 2005


So, what is heaven? I recently had a conversation with two classmates about heaven, and I also watched the movie "Finding Neverland" (which wasn't as creepy as I thought it would be). The views of heaven varied greatly.

One classmate seemed to never have even considered heaven. The idea of a perfect place was blocked by the idea of a Purgatory, which he seemed sure would entrap him forever to repay his debt of sin to God. I asked him a question that I often ask Catholics, and he replied with a common answer. "What about the saving grace of Jesus? Isn't the cross sufficient to cover your sins?" I ask. "Well, Jesus forgave me of my sins, but I still have to make up for them" is the usual reply I get. He seemed to view heaven as an impossible place for his own existence, since dwelling there would require him to be someone other than himself. He could not separate himself from his sin.

Another classmate never really produced much of a personal view on heaven. She seemed to think that heaven was what one wanted it to be, and it was the perfect world for one's individuality. Heaven served no purpose other than to satisfy oneself forever. I shuddered at this thought, and asked her if she'd like to live a life that had no other purpose. She never had the chance to reply directly, but I could see that the idea disappointed her somewhat.

"Finding Neverland," which is an excellent movie (and cemented the idea in my head that Johnny Depp is indeed an excellent actor) also addressed the idea of heaven, though the word was never mentioned. In this movie, death and disappointment are addressed quite often. J. M. Barrie befriends a fatherless family of four boys and their mother (the Davieses). Peter, the boy that Mr. Barrie seems to have the deepest relationship with, struggles with the death of his father and dealing with the emotional pain that he feels. By the end of the movie, Peter's mother has also died, and the conversation between Peter and Mr. Barrie is touching. Like many people who have lost loved ones, Peter does not understand why his mother had to die. Mr. Barrie comforts him, saying she lives on, "in every page of your imagination...she went to Neverland." To the writers of this movie, Neverland seemed equivalent to heaven. And Neverland was where one never had to grow up (time was irrelevant), and if you believed in something long enough and hard enough, it became real.

So, what is heaven? Well, one could start with our purpose to deduce perhaps part of what heaven is and its meaning. Thanks to the Westminster Catechism (and the excellent education that required me to learn some of it), I can reply with confidence that the sole purpose of Mankind is to glorify God and enjoy him forever. Is this not also the purpose of heaven? We are not there simply to enjoy ourselves, but to glorify God, and through this glorification, we then also satisfy our deepest longings and enjoy it. Complete satisfaction cannot be separated from God. (Luke 15:7 "Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over the one sinner who repents than over the ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.") We can enjoy this relationship because of the completely redeeming work of Christ on the cross. Since we can do nothing to add to this salvation, there is no other requirement or deed necessary to enter this eternal paradise. There is no thought of boredom, either. Our minds are finite, and since God is infinite, it follows that, though we may know much about God, we cannot know him fully. There will never be nothing new to learn about God.

Of course, since we are finite, and heaven has been designed and built by an infinite mind, we will never know all there is to know about heaven while we exist on this earth.

What's your favorite aspect of heaven?

1 comment:

Bubs said...

ok, thats too deep for me at 3 am...