Earth 2.0 - Modern views of heaven

Discussion in 'Revelation & Eschatology' started by Harley, Apr 21, 2019.

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  1. Harley

    Harley Puritan Board Sophomore

    Forgive the scattered thoughts here. Heaven is a subject where I need more study. A few years ago I thought that heaven would basically be a restored creation. So, we would continue doing all we've been doing for 6,000 years, but we would do it better, with greater capacities, and no sin to prevent us from doing it fully to the glory of God. In short, "Like earth, only better."

    Seemed to make sense... we were made to take dominion, so why not do it in a greatly improved earth and all across the cosmos? Wouldn't God get incredible glory out of man making the best possible uses of earthly skills that he's given? Why all this about work like accounting, engineering, construction, architecture, mathematics, etc., if it's not going to be something we continue to do in heaven? Why would it just drop off? And wouldn't the parable of the talents indicate that what we do in heaven has something to do with the world to come? Charge over small things, charge over many things.

    I was interested to learn from a friend that such a view is really quite recent, and you don't see it in any Puritan literature. As another had said to me, "Theology is the queen of sciences. In heaven we won't be studying sciences, but God Himself." Which, frankly, I like better. As for the usefulness of learning trades which I'll no longer apply (I happily know for sure one thing will not continue in heaven... the US Internal Revenue Code!), such things would not appear without God replacing them with something far superior, and that is fuller communion with Himself that makes such occupations impossible. I know I'm happy to leave my accounting work each week and take a Sabbath break and try to scale Mt. Zion, so I'm far more than happy to do that once for all :)

    I just want some insight on where the Earth-Only-Better idea came from. Thank you all!
  2. Taylor Sexton

    Taylor Sexton Puritan Board Junior

    How recent have you been told this view is? I haven't looked at history (yet, but I am now interested in this question), but R. L. Dabney, who wrote the following passage no later than 1878, seems to be of the same opinion:

    The answer to the question, where shall be the place of the saints’ final abode, is not vital. Where holiness, rest and Christ are, is heaven. But the doctrine that this earth is to be reconstructed after its purgation by fire, and is to become the dwelling place of redeemed men and the God-Man, in their resurrection bodies, is beautifully illustrative of some other truths; and it seems strongly supported by the Scriptures.


    This conclusion gives us a noble view of the immutability of God’s purpose of grace, and the glory of His victory over sin and Satan. This planet was fashioned to be man’s heritage; and a part of it, at least, adorned with the beauties of a paradise, for his home. Satan sought to mar the divine plan, by the seduction of our first parents. For long ages he has seemed to triumph, and has filled His usurped dominion with crime and misery. But his insolent invasion is not to be destined to obstruct the Almighty’s beneficent design. The intrusion will be in vain. God’s purpose shall be executed. Messiah will come and re-establish His throne in the midst of His scarred and ravaged realm; He will cleanse away every stain of sin and death, and make this earth bloom forever with more than its pristine splendour; so that the very plan which was initiated when "the morning stars sang together and the sons of God shouted for joy," will stand to everlasting ages.

    —Robert Lewis Dabney, Syllabus and Notes of the Course of Systematic and Polemic Theology Taught in Union Theological Seminary, Virginia, 2nd ed. (St. Louis, MO: Presbyterian Publishing Company of St. Louis, 1878), 850-52.​
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  3. Harley

    Harley Puritan Board Sophomore

    @Taylor Sexton he didn't comment on how recent it is--just that it's not a Puritan view. Obviously there's a few centuries in which it's been believed. I'm weak here because I'm still fresh to church history.
  4. Taylor Sexton

    Taylor Sexton Puritan Board Junior

    I see. Well, this is an excellent question to explore, and I'm excited to do it! I'll dig around and keep you updated on what, if anything, I may find.
  5. Harley

    Harley Puritan Board Sophomore

    Appreciated, thank you!
  6. Reformed Bookworm

    Reformed Bookworm Puritan Board Sophomore

    I was about to start powering through the works of William Perkins. Now you now have me intrigued by this question. "A History of the Reformed Interpretation of Heaven" sounds like a good thesis topic. Someone do it so I don't have to!
  7. Taylor Sexton

    Taylor Sexton Puritan Board Junior

    If you have access to it, I might suggest reading Bavinck's Reformed Dogmatics, vol. 4, p. 715 ff., in which he speaks of "the renewal of creation." Knowing Bavinck, he will likely get into historical debates over this matter. Even as early as the second paragraph of the chapter, he says this:

    In this expectation of world renewal, Scripture assumes a position between two extremes. On the one hand, many thinkers—Plato, Aristotle, Xenophanes, Philo, Maimonides, Averroes, Wolanus, La Peyrère, Edelmann, and Czolbe among them—have asserted that this world is destined to continue in its present form forever. On the other hand, Origen, the Lutherans, the Mennonites, the Socinians, Vorstius, the Remonstrants, and a number of Reformed theologians like Beza, Rivetus, Junius, Wollebius, and Prideaux believed that the world would not only be changed in form but also destroyed in substance and replaced by a totally new world.

    —Herman Bavinck, Holy Spirit, Church, and New Creation, ed. John Bolt, trans. John Vriend, vol. 4, 4 vols., Reformed Dogmatics (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2008), 715.​
    Last edited: Apr 21, 2019
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  8. Reformed Bookworm

    Reformed Bookworm Puritan Board Sophomore

    For a Puritan perspective, I will check Durham's commentary on Revelation to see if he discusses it.
  9. Harley

    Harley Puritan Board Sophomore

    @Reformed Bookworm you might try Christopher Love on heaven. My wife was reading just now his views from Puritan Theology. Edifying!

    Reformation Heritage Books? Grand Rapids? You're literally down the hall from my church! Would love to get together sometime:)
  10. Reformed Bookworm

    Reformed Bookworm Puritan Board Sophomore

    Thanks for the lead! I will reread that section and check his collected works when I have an opportunity.

    What church do you attend? I would love to get together sometime. Do you know Sean from RHB? I believe he mentioned knowing you. I may be wrong there.
  11. Harley

    Harley Puritan Board Sophomore

    Oh, my friend Sean? @Kaalvenist ? Yes, I know him well. Fellow church member at First RP of Grand Rapids inside PRTS chapel. If you haven't settled on a new church come visit us tonight if you don't have plans. Our regular pastor isn't in but will be in May. If not we'll do coffee or something... on a different day of course :)

    Yes, Christopher Love is excellent, what little I've read. I cannot imagine, based on what little I know, that anyone will excel Richard Baxter's "The Saint's Everlasting Rest.". The books leaves you breathless in places! A group of our members, they recall listening to this on audio, and they need to pause every few minutes just to digest the wonder of this work.

    I suppose the story is that Baxter in his mid-twenties was bedridden and thought he would die. In this time, heaven and eternity came to be seriously pressed upon his mind. Since recovering he determined to think on heaven at least a half hour each day. That's probably where that book came from.
  12. Reformed Bookworm

    Reformed Bookworm Puritan Board Sophomore

    Do you attend the RPCNA church held at the PRTS chapel?
  13. Reformed Bookworm

    Reformed Bookworm Puritan Board Sophomore

    From my understanding, that is indeed where that work came from. It is indeed a delight to a "bruised reed."
  14. Harley

    Harley Puritan Board Sophomore

    That's the one.

    I think a good view of heaven will take one from a bruised reed to a mighty oak... still working on it myself. In any case, we will be. Matter of time.

    Lydia was just reading Christopher Love... he seems to have taken a view that the earth remains, but the saints dwell in the third heaven far above it. Not sure then why the earth is kept around... can't be for #144001 and onward... Seems to fit well when Jesus says we will inherit the earth, and when Scripture talks about a new heaven and earth. Abraham also expected in Romans 4 to be heir of the world.

    I'll throw this out as a challenge: if our earthly labor continues, can we call heaven an eternal Sabbath?
  15. Reformed Bookworm

    Reformed Bookworm Puritan Board Sophomore

    Does your evening service start at six or seven? Sean has told me at least four times but I keep forgetting.
  16. Harley

    Harley Puritan Board Sophomore


    We start at 6.
  17. Reformed Bookworm

    Reformed Bookworm Puritan Board Sophomore

    Lord willing, I will see you then.
  18. Jo_Was

    Jo_Was Puritan Board Freshman

    Trick question? Adam and Eve were tasked with working (tending the earth) BEFORE the fall, and this work was good and given by God. And when God rests on the 7th day, it's certainly a rest from the creation, but not of his work of providence, in preserving and governing the universe. "Rest" does not mean no work, but the Sabbath is a setting aside ordinary work, for the particular work of communing with and worshipping God. Assuming that we will no longer labor in eternity assumes that the concept of Sabbath, even the Sabbath day, the Lord's Day, as we consider it weekly, merely applies to "not working" -- yet there are many positive "labors" if you will, not of the ordinary, that we are called to participate in during the Sabbath, and that Israel partook in during Sabbath years.

    Sinclair Ferguson on the topic:

    Also, I wonder if what Harley might be alluding to with the "Like earth, only better" is a strain of hyper-Kuyperianism? I wouldn't say that's "new" per se, but I do see that it has become a popular trend in certain circles. I think that rises from particular eschatological emphasis being applied today, and eschatological views do tend to ebb and flow a bit based on social/cultural factors of the day. I tend to lean a little post-millennial myself (on my overly-optimistic-amillennial days ;)), but I still believe that "new" heaven and earth doesn't just mean Earth 2.0, but "NEW!" completely.
  19. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritan Board Doctor

    The most important thing is to reject the idea that we will just be floating in the aether thinking about right triangles. That's Plato, and to be rejected.

    Whether or not New Heavens and New Earth is hyper-Kuyperianism, it's biblical. As to "earth only better," whether that is true or not, I don't think we have enough info to go on. The important thing is that we won't be floating in the realm of essence, but will be on a New *Earth* which will be united to the New Heavens (the New Jerusalem comes down from heaven).

    Stick close to Bavinck on this one.
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  20. Taylor Sexton

    Taylor Sexton Puritan Board Junior

    Yes, that’s the main reason I recommended Bavinck above. Every time I have referenced him on the new heavens and new earth, it has been a thrill.
  21. bookslover

    bookslover Puritan Board Professor

    I happen to know that, in heaven, there is no pizza with pineapple as a topping. Heaven, after all, is a civilized place.
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  22. Taylor Sexton

    Taylor Sexton Puritan Board Junior

    Indeed. There will certainly be no degeneracy there.
  23. Ryan&Amber2013

    Ryan&Amber2013 Puritan Board Junior

    I love studying the topic of Heaven. From my understanding, I don't believe the reformers or Puritans wrote much about it, sadly. I believe the prevailing view in our day is the idea that God's original intent to have His people, dwelling on His earth, with Him, in perfection, is what God is ultimately accomplishing. All things, including our bodies and this very world, will be recreated. Life on the new earth will be very familiar and full of the joys we currently have, but with no trace of sin.
  24. Harley

    Harley Puritan Board Sophomore

    I think you caught what I anticipate the "not laboring" in heaven to be: the ordinary labor4s of this world set aside, we take on the joyful labor of knowing God in a capacity and with an opportunity not previously available.


    United? This I have to get some insight on. What's it look like for heaven and earth to be united as you describe?

    You mention Plato... somehow, naturally, our views of heaven start out this way, but we need to be guided by Scripture to perceive and understand heaven as a real, tangible place.
  25. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritan Board Doctor

    United might be a vague word. In any case, the New Jerusalem comes down to earth.
  26. Dachaser

    Dachaser Puritan Board Professor

    Your viewpoint expressed here to me would be a great description of How I see the premil reign of Jesus here, and then we would go off into that Eternal State of Heaven as seen by the Puritans.
  27. Jerusalem Blade

    Jerusalem Blade Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    Hello Harley,

    I'm not sure why folks refer mostly to the older authors than more contemporary ones, such as G.K. Beale or (slightly earlier) Anthony Hoekema. Even though Hoekema wrote a chapter on the topic in his The Bible and the Future, "The New Earth", which was adapted by CT for an article, "Heaven - Not Just an Eternal Day Off" (uploaded below), Greg Beale has focused on this topic extensively.

    Beale has written, God Dwells Among Us: Expanding Eden to the Ends of the Earth, which is a condensed version of his larger, The Temple and the Church's Mission. I'd recommend the first mentioned (God Dwells...) for starts.

    In a nutshell, the view of these modern writers is that Heaven is but the intermediate state for the saints before the resurrection, while they do not yet have their glorified bodies (I'm not sure what kind of bodies Enoch, Elijah, and Moses have). When the New Jerusalem (Heb 12:22,23,24) comes down from Heaven to be upon the earth this shall be the final state realized, as it is written,

    And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea. And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.
    And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful (Rev 21:1-5)​

    As John continues writing in Rev 21 he pictures in mostly symbolic language the glory and beauty of the City of God. New Jerusalem (this City) is not only an actual dwelling place—with actual dwellings— but also the people themselves, who are united to Christ (and in Him to God) who is Himself the temple filled with the glory and wonder of the Godhead (Rev 21:22).

    This temple / City / people of God extend across the whole of the New Earth. We have a great future with our King to look forward to!

    Attached Files:

  28. Jerusalem Blade

    Jerusalem Blade Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    P.S. to the above—I would also recommend Beale's, Revelation: A Shorter Commentary (his larger one is more difficult to get through quickly, though it is excellent), for seeing things pertaining to the New Earth and our lives on it in Revelation 21 and 22.
  29. Pergamum

    Pergamum Ordinary Guy (TM)

    Thank you for the file.
  30. Eoghan

    Eoghan Puritan Board Senior

    One booklet I particulary appreciated was J.C Ryles book "Shall we know one another in heaven".

    Interestingly the N.T. probably uses the term "the world to come" re: the new heaven and the new earth, where the resurrected saints will dwell. I equate Christ's use of the term "Paradise" with our immediate destination as believers, and the new earth after our resurrection. Am I wrong?
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