A podcast for new atheists, lifetime atheists, ex-evangelicals, truth-seekers, and free-thinkers
“Heaven is a wonderful place, filled with glory and grace...”
Most AG pastors I interacted with believed in a soul sleep concept but still managed to use the “she's with Jesus now” cliché to comfort people who were grieving. Many couldn't say definitively if we were going to reside in heaven or on this “new earth” spoken of in revelation. That verse leaves the door wide open for speculation but never provides a concrete answer to the question of what the Christian afterlife will really be like.
Some believe that Heaven is the domain of God and the angels and that we only go there until the “new earth” is established. We are there long enough to enjoy the “marriage supper of the lamb” and we watch from afar as this world burns in tribulation. Instead of destroying the earth with a flood this time, God intends to purge the world of sin through tribulation and, evidently, drag it out over seven years. Those who die before and those who are raptured “start out” in Heaven and eventually go live on the “new earth” that defies all manner of science by being the one and only thing in this universe that will last forever. Death is part of nature. It is a necessary part of the equation. Nothing physical could POSSIBLY be eternal. Everything, including our planet, has an expiration date.
Relationships and Seeing Our Loved Ones Again
Matthew 22:30 – no marriage in heaven “god is a god of the living, not the dead.” Basically, all of your relationships, all of the people you knew and loved, everyone you cared about MIGHT be there, but it won't matter. We will all be of a single mind and purpose. We won't have a personality anymore. ANGELS DO NOT HAVE “FREE WILL.”
Angels are like worker bees – they have a specific mission DICTATED by their nature and, more to the point, their creator. They do what they do, not as a matter of will, but as a matter of existential mandate. Think of god as the queen bee with all the worker drones protecting his domain and doing the grunt work that keeps the community together. They don't get to make decisions. They serve god. That's it. And if they assert any semblance of will, they are simply discarded. This tells me that they have minds of their own but make the constant choice to submit unwavering to the will of god. Will we have the opportunity to make choices and decisions? The bible speaks a lot of the uniformity of the experience of heaven and the behaviors of the people who inhabit heaven. We will be like the angels: mind-shackled drones constantly worshipping, mindful of the fact that there are other people around us, but not engaging in any meaningful interactions with them. Our entire existence in heaven revolves around fueling the megalomaniacal and narcissistic nature of god and reassuring him for all eternity that he really is all that and a bag of chips. We'll be the ones responsible for keeping the worship energy flowing.
What will we do in Heaven?
Divisive messaging in Christian music
Heaven as a place of reunion:
Ray Boltz - “Thank You” - absolutely contrary messaging to what's in the bible THE BIBLE NEVER PROMISES REUNION WITH THOSE GONE BEFORE IN HEAVEN DeGarmo and Key - “No More Goodbyes”
While Hell is believed in some traditions to be an absence of place, Heaven, in my opinion could be even worse given that all indicators suggest that part of our eternal state of being will involve an absence of self. In an environment of unwavering perfection, what need is there for things like personality and emotion?
To me, it just looks like this so-called reward is just hell without the flames.
I don't exactly relish the idea of living forever in the first place, but I relish far less the notion of simply existing for eternity and not living. I'm not living if I don't experience the range of emotions I do now. Happiness, fear, joy, anger, and everything in between make up our EXPERIENCE of life.
If I'm nothing but a worker bee fulfilling a predestined purpose, what is the point? And worse, I won't have the option to just stop existing. I'll be there playing the role of the puppet for a god who is so vile and awful that it NEEDS the affirmation of the creatures it creates to validate its horrific behavior and convince itself that it is right 100% of the time. It doesn't surprise me in the least that Yahweh would construct a heaven that revolves around the eternal, unending affirmation of how great he is and that he would simply build that level of devotion into the proverbial matrix of eternity.
While I don't think that any religious construct of heaven is particularly life-affirming, the Christian heaven seems to me to be nothing more than a sort of hell in and of itself. Read between the lines and it becomes apparent that Heaven is simply the final culmination of the death of the self life that we are supposed to aspire to here.
And like I said last week, you have the right and responsibility to be you and to strive to make the best of this one and only life you will ever have to live. Aspire to live, not to die. Savor the things you love about life. Watch the sun set over the lake. Smell the crackle of a bonfire and make some smores. Love passionately and freely. Value the people you love, and especially value the ones who dare to love you back because that is not now, nor will it ever be a 1:1 equation. Settle personal differences. Forgive and ask for forgiveness. Aspire to live peacefully and see the value in life, both yours and other people's. Savor the things that appeal to you and experience them as often as you can.
Do your best to make a dent in your bucket list because this, right now, is the closest you'll ever get to any heaven. If your life is difficult, if there are things holding you back from doing everything you want in life, you're in good company. Hardly anyone is going to see and do everything they want to do before they check out, but like I said last week, you are alive right now. You have a sense of self right now. You have the freedom to make choices and decisions about how you live right now.
Right now, it's time to stop thinking in terms of eternal rewards, especially ones that rob you of your sense of self, and start thinking in terms of your own happiness, contentment, curiosity, and sense of wonder. Purpose to experience things that feed those parts of you. Don't settle for a religion that teaches you to die to yourself so that when this life is over you only wind up shackled to an eternity of subservience with no sense of self, no sense of purpose, and no way to grow or evolve. Just say no to the shackles. It's time to take back your life, stop aspiring to be some vile deity's puppet for all eternity, and start getting unbound.