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Will The United States Last Forever?

What if everything good about the United States is only a shadow or copy of the true United States?
| Jul 2, 2015 | 12 comments |

Will the United States Last Forever?

So it begins1—and so also begins the response, particularly for some Americans this Independence Day weekend.

“What, exactly, will I be celebrating this Independence Day?” one internet acquaintance asked. “… There will be fireworks and music—an atmosphere that is certainly celebratory. But I can’t help but think that this experiment has reached its end.”

Here I will suggest that the United States is like three things: my dead dog, deep-dish pizza, and fantastical stories. Read to the end and you’ll hear what I mean.

If this July 4 weekend you feel uncertain what to celebrate,2 you have at least three potential responses:

  1. Keep calm and carry on. Just don’t think about it. Celebrate like you always did.
  2. Throw a tantrum. (Tosses flag and corn dog) “Well if that’s how it’s gonna be, I quit.”
  3. Utter spiritual platitudes. “Well, this whole representative republic thing was all well and good, but some people idolized it, and anyway, our citizenship is in heaven.”

My own reactions have been a combo move of all three during more than a few Fourths that followed nasty news. But this year I’m trying something different.

No, I don’t want to celebrate a fantasy America with its illusory blend of fifes, blue jackets, and funny three-point hats as well as white picket fences, pastel baby carriages, and black-and-white gentlemen with pipes. Nor would I celebrate a place where many people have done great wrong against other people and against our God.

But I will celebrate, and for this reason: I believe the United States could last forever.

No, I don’t mean the nation in its present form with all the nasty parts—the materialism, disposable culture, depravity, false religions such as radical-right-ism or progressivism.

But I do mean the United States of ideals, colorful flags, songs, stories, cookouts, human diversity, and natural wonders, that have made this place feel just a little bit like Heaven.

Could it be that all these things were only a shadow or copy of the true United States?

The Bible never promises eternity will be some satire-spawned cloud-land where people get bored, or some vague spiritoid dimension ater all that is good about the old world was nuked into nothingness anyway. Instead the entire Story arc of Scripture—the arc so often ignored by Christians on either side of our marriage debates—promises this:

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”3

Beyond all end-times debates about beasts and persecution, beyond sin, and beyond any interim “millennium” however you interpret it, lies this Afterworld—a restored paradise born from the union of New Heaven (the Church, like a dazzling bride) and New Earth.

And who and what journeys from these heaven-glorified lands into this heaven-sent city?

By [the city’s] light will the nations walk, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it. … They will bring into it the glory and the honor of the nations.4

If “the nations” will be there, remembered as distinct nations, why not the United States?

If “kings of the earth” will be there, why not voters, city council members, mayors, state representatives, congresspersons, cabinet members, delegates, and presidents?

If the nations’ “glory and honor” will be there, why not the glory and honor of the United States? What is this glory and honor? Not imperialism, intolerance, false religions, or any gift of God corrupted by man’s sin. All that will have been purged by the fires of judgment (2 Peter 3:10). Instead this glory and honor includes things the Old Testament promised:

For the coastlands shall hope for me,
the ships of Tarshish first,
to bring your children from afar,
their silver and gold with them,
for the name of the LORD your God,
and for the Holy One of Israel,
because he has made you beautiful. …

Your gates shall be open continually;
day and night they shall not be shut,
that people may bring to you the wealth of the nations,
with their kings led in procession.

For the nation and kingdom
that will not serve you shall perish;
those nations shall be utterly laid waste.
The glory of Lebanon shall come to you,
the cypress, the plane, and the pine,
to beautify the place of my sanctuary,
and I will make the place of my feet glorious.5

All that is sin-corrupted in this world—including the nation and kingdom that does not serve God—will perish. But all that is good about the world—ships, trade, silver, gold, wealth, fine wood (from cut trees!) help make God’s sanctuary, His home on Earth, glorious.

The Last Battle by C.S. LewisOr as Professor Kirke tells Lucy and the other Friends of Narnia in The Last Battle:

“[The old Narnia] was only a shadow or a copy of the real Narnia which has always been here and always will be here: just as our world, England and all, is only a shadow or copy of something in Aslan’s real world. You need not mourn over Narnia, Lucy. All of the old Narnia that mattered, all the dear creatures, have been drawn into the real Narnia through the Door.”6

This is why in the New Earth the United States may be reborn. And those of her redeemed residents may bring her glories into the heavenly city—the stars and stripes, the marching bands, the corn dogs and the sparklers, the banners, the symbols, and the freedoms.

Notice I said may. And with that I return to my opening comparison. Why is the United States like my dead dog, deep-dish pizza, and fantastical stories? Because God would not need to bring these back to New Earth to make that place a paradise that glorifies Him. Of course not. Yet He did promise the restored world will have “worldly” things like these.

Therefore, after the great melting of the elements and the purging of all impurities,7 the United States, my dog, pizza, and stories may just last forever.

And that possibility is worth celebrating.

  1. Or really, continues. Also, I’m taking a break from the short Evangelical vs. Progressivist Content Warnings series.
  2. And if after a certain court decision you think you know exactly what to celebrate, your comments are welcome, albeit off-track.
  3. Revelation 21:1-4.
  4. Revelation 21:24, 26.
  5. Isaiah 60:9-13.
  6. From The Last Battle, C.S. Lewis. Lewis’s metaphor could imply wrongly that the new world will be wholly separate in space, not only time, from the old world. Biblically the old world will not be annihilated forever, any more than it would lie frozen and dead behind a door.
  7. 2 Peter 3:10 again

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Greg - AKA Tiribulus
Guest

If “United Sates” is defined as a set of founding principles and ideals, rather than a geographical location,  she died in the 1960’s.

E. Stephen Burnett
Guest

DOA actually (1776-1776).

Kept on life support thanks solely to God’s common grace.

Rebecca LuElla Miller
Admin

Stephen, I agree with your comment about the US being dead on arrival. We are an imperfect people, so there never was a perfect government. But that only highlights the fact that God’s kingdom is, well, a kingdom, not a democracy. So in reality there will be no nations with national identity and individual leaders in the hereafter. Rather, God will give His people responsibility of oversight. Scripture doesn’t spell out who and when and how. But it does tell us we’ll be in a kingdom with God as the Sovereign.

Sometimes the Randy-Alcorn-influenced ideas of heaven just seem so tied to western culture, it seems to me to cloud what the Bible says.

Becky

E. Stephen Burnett
Guest

Hope you had a great weekend, Becky. We’ve previously friendly-debated over this secondary issue before, so I will re-clarify that I firmly believe it’s a secondary issue. However, I do believe it’s important, and I do get passionate on this topic. I believe this is a very biblical way–certainly not the only way–to exalt God, honor and follow his written perfect word, and pursue holiness and reject materialism (all of the things written about here are God’s gifts that He can give or take away).

On this topic I do not recall what Alcorn wrote about nations continuing, or being renewed, to operate in the Kingdom ruled by Christ as King over all. Instead I’ve gone to Scripture, as shown above, and from those texts drawn several different truths. These I do view as a “given” before even discussing the United States’ fate:

  1. Isaiah 60 (and 65-66), despite including highly poetic language, is meant to communicate a series of concrete, physical images of eternity.
  2. Revelation 21, when describing the heavenly city, is describing a physical/symbolic place. Real kings of real nations from outside the city will bring real “glory and honor” into the city.
  3. These chapters reference a presumed continuity of locations, such as the city of Tarshish or the nation of Lebanon, and nation-specific cultural goods, such as trade, silver and gold (a reference to coins and therefore trade using something like modern currency), cedars from Lebanon, and refined jewels.

I don’t believe these are Western ideas, but rather “middle eastern” (e.g., Judeo-Christian) concepts. They often challenge our Western vague-fication of eternity, despite God’s specific references and promises about how He first melts down the universe and fire-purges the planet of sin (2 Peter 3; we cannot leave out the sin-purging lest we lapse into some kind of universalism), and then renews them all.

Moreover, there are absolutely times to emphasize the oneness of the Kingdom, as a deterrent to those who would presume the negative aspects of nations and peoples would continue into eternity. And there are also times to emphasize the unknowability of the Kingdom, as a deterrent to those who would presume paradise will look pretty much like today with 9-to-5 jobs and such but only no sin.

However, in this article I chose to emphasize the distinctives that God has indicated will continue into the Kingdom in the form of nations and cultural goods. I believe that is a given. The speculation only begins when asking whether the United States in particular could continue. And again, there is no reason to insist this be so and we must hold these speculations very loosely. But given the biblical continuity of nations and cultures, there is also no reason to say “absolutely not.”

Rebecca LuElla Miller
Admin

Stephen, we have had our discussions on this subject, so I don’t mean to go down the same road entirely. However, I think it’s good for visitors here at Spec Faith to know that there are differing views among the regular contributors, that what you’ve expressed is your view and not that of Spec Faith as an entity.

in this article I chose to emphasize the distinctives that God has indicated will continue into the Kingdom in the form of nations and cultural goods. I believe that is a given.

I don’t think anything is a given when it comes to the after life. Call it western vaguery if you want, but when Paul who saw a vision (as near as we can discern) of heaven and had no words to describe what he saw, I think it is presumptuous to saw that we who have never been on the other side of the divide know what life will be like.

I think it’s hubris to suggest the US will be the model for the new earth. As I pointed out, we will be under the sovereign reign of God Almighty. I find the idea of a democracy to be nearly heretical. And I think all of it violates what Scripture says about us speculating on that which we cannot know.

But refuse foolish and ignorant speculations, knowing that they produce quarrels. (2 Tim. 2:23)

So I guess you’d say I feel passionate about these secondary things, too, Stephen. 😉

Becky

Kirsty
Guest

“I think it’s hubris to suggest the US will be the model for the new earth.”

As a non-US person, I certainly didn’t read Stephen’s article this way. I assumed he meant that the good things about the US, and Scotland (where I’m from), and India and Tanzania and Iran and Papua New Guinea would ALL be part of the New Creation.

E. Stephen Burnett
Guest

It sounds like as long as I’m touching on these topics, we will need to make those “the views expressed are his/her own and does not reflect those of the management of SpecFaith”-type disclaimers. 🙂

don’t think anything is a given when it comes to the after life. Call it western vaguery if you want, but when Paul who saw a vision (as near as we can discern) of heaven and had no words to describe what he saw, I think it is presumptuous to saw that we who have never been on the other side of the divide know what life will be like.

That makes logical sense. And yet Scripture itself describes the paradise in the passages I’ve cited above, using concrete terms that readers would understand and which would confuse or deceive readers if the actual message was “try not to think about it, because no one can know for sure and it’s wrong to think about it.” Somehow we need to reconcile Paul’s account and these texts. Notice that Paul does not see any contradiction between the unmentionable things that he saw and the very mentionable things that Scripture does mention in the texts I’ve described. Clearly New Earth will include both kinds of wonders. (Again, this assumes that Paul also time-traveled in his visions to the future New Heavens/New Earth, which is the future of the present-day Heaven.)

I think it’s hubris to suggest the US will be the model for the new earth.

Whew, absolutely. But I have not and would not suggest that. Instead I said:

[R]edeemed residents may bring [America’s] glories into the heavenly city—the stars and stripes, the marching bands, the corn dogs and the sparklers, the banners, the symbols, and the freedoms.

… Which, again, fits with the Bible’s promises that good cultural goods (the things we would have done for God’s glory, without the fall) will continue.

The heavenly city, presumably where Christ reigns, is the “capital” of the New Heavens and New Earth and Christ is King over everyone. This is another non-negotiable about Heaven that no other truth or speculation should ever undo.

As I pointed out, we will be under the sovereign reign of God Almighty. I find the idea of a democracy to be nearly heretical.

New Earth will not be any kind of democracy — that is another thing we can say for certain — but a monarchy, with Christ as the monarch. However, many texts also indicate human governorships over cities or lands, and as mentioned a few times above, the Bible clearly shares that kings will be there, serving as kings.

And I think all of it violates what Scripture says about us speculating on that which we cannot know.

I have not seen Scripture give this restriction about Heaven, though it does provide plenty of truths about our Savior and His Story that do form natural parameters around our speculations. I’ve previously said that this is more of an impression or a tradition that aims to restrict Heaven theology and imaginings, as if we are single people and Heaven theology is like details about sex. But then we would need to go down a road already traveled until we hit a fork!

Rebecca LuElla Miller
Admin

Stephen, Scripture does describe in some detail the new Jerusalem–much that you’ve left out: gold streets and gates made of pearls, walls with precious jewels and much more. This same passage in Rev. 21 says there will be no temple, no night, no sun or moon either because God is the light. But if I recall correctly, you said some time ago, this was metaphorical. In  fact, I believe most Bible scholars think this description is metaphoric. So how do you determine what parts of the description are actual and which parts are symbolic? (Rhetorical question, not actually expecting an answer but pointing out the inconsistency of choosing parts that fit a certain paradigm and ignoring others).

Regarding America, you also said

If “kings of the earth” will be there, why not voters, city council members, mayors, state representatives, congresspersons, cabinet members, delegates, and presidents?

“Voters” clearly depicts a democracy or some type of representative government as do a number of other terms. And the flag waving and all, why would that be present instead of the celebratory rituals of East Africa or Burma or Waurani people? There will be people of every tribe and tongue in God’s New Earth, so why would our ways be favored over other ways from previous or future times? It’s hubris to assume our ways will be the ways of the new world. I suspect we’ll have New Ways more fitting for glorifying God who we will them see no longer through a glass darkly. But I’m willing to be surprised! 😉

Which, again, fits with the Bible’s promises that good cultural goods (the things we would have done for God’s glory, without the fall) will continue.

Stephen, I think this is wishful thinking. Unless you’re thinking of ways we have praised God or loved other people in His name or some such thing. 1 Tim. 6:7 is clear: “For we have brought nothing into the world, so we cannot take anything out of it either.” Job says the same thing (Job 1:22) as part of his pre-sin response to his suffering. Solomon said the same in Ecc. 5:15ff. Whatever we have in the next life will not be stuff from this life. These verses are clear.

I have not seen Scripture give this restriction about Heaven

I simply didn’t think what we are not to speculate about needed to be listed. It’s whatever divides believers. Stephen, I’ll be honest. I don’t understand how you can post your speculation about the New Heaven and the New Earth and yet scoff at other people for their understanding (speculation?) of the events leading up to God’s triumphal renewal of Creation. Why is one speculation “superstition” and yet another is “biblical”? I dare say those taking the tribulation part of Revelation as literal would say their views are biblical.

Of course you don’t have to see these issues the way I see them, but I find it a little strange that both you and those Revelation literalists speak so adamantly about what we can’t know this side of the events (making reference to one of your recent Facebook posts). I’m not going to mock anyone for believing that the anti-Christ will actually put a mark on people during the tribulation when the events of our world seem to be snowballing to a tribulation-like end. And I’m not going to mock you for thinking we’ll be voting in the next life. But I do think I should point out places I think there is inconsistency with Scripture. So I have, and now I’ll leave you to your passionate beliefs. 😀

Becky

E. Stephen Burnett
Guest

Becky, you’re a brick. Even if the discussion is coming to a close as we each head in opposite directions after hitting the fork in this particular gold-paved road. …

Stephen, Scripture does describe in some detail the new Jerusalem–much that you’ve left out: gold streets and gates made of pearls, walls with precious jewels and much more.

Amen. Of note, though: I think some folks conclude the New Jerusalem is an image to describe eternity in toto. I don’t believe it is this, because Scripture (whether in symbol or literal or both) describes people coming into the city from lands outside (Rev. 21:24,26). New Jerusalem is part, not the sum-total, of the eternal world.

This same passage in Rev. 21 says there will be no temple, no night, no sun or moon either because God is the light.

Agreed. And yet two thoughts:

1. No temple, no night? Amen. No sun or moon? But the text actually says the city “has no need” of these (Rev. 21:23) because God is the city’s light.

2. Once more, the city is not meant to represent eternity in toto, but a place (I believe literal) on the renewed planet, the New Earth. Meaning that even if these natural light sources were not within the city, they would be outside.

But if I recall correctly, you said some time ago, this was metaphorical.

I would want to check that. Perhaps I’m one of the few who does not believe we need to view the city as metaphorical. I would prefer a real city, with real gems and pearls and streets and everything. (People may ask: Are these things symbols or are these literal objects? I would answer: Why can’t they be both?)

But, I’m not stuck on the city being literal. If you and the scholars you mentioned are correct, we must then ask what the metaphor represents. Clearly it represents the glory of Heaven come down to Earth for a unification of New Heaven and New Earth — the permanent paradise where the saints will work and worship. With or without an actual city called “New Jerusalem,” that is the ultimate meaning.

If the symbol that reads “actual future unification of Heaven and Earth” is actually meant to symbolize “anything but an actual future unification of Heaven and Earth,” there are many other ways the authors could have made this more clear.

And (as I mention further below) the Bible has been pointing toward this concept all along — the concept of God making a dwelling place among His people. I believe that is at the heart of the Gospel and at the heart of many, many stories that are part of the Greatest Story — such as Eden, tabernacles, temples, and the incarnation of Jesus Himself. In fact, one reason why John specifically mentions He saw no temple in the city is because the city, and (whether literal or symbol-only) what it represents: God’s glory has filled the Earth, and its people are His temple.

So how do you determine what parts of the description are actual and which parts are symbolic? (Rhetorical question, not actually expecting an answer but pointing out the inconsistency of choosing parts that fit a certain paradigm and ignoring others).

This is the most challenging question you’ve asked, especially because I’m still uncertain about large parts of Revelation and haven’t yet chosen a replacement end-times theology. (I suspect that whenever I have time to take it up again, the amillennialists will get to me.) Again, I’m more certain about the God-comes-down-to-dwell-on-New-Earth meaning because it’s constantly woven throughout the Bible, starting right back in Genesis, in the concept of God-dwelling-among-men or tabernacling among them. The biblical “tabernacle” and the “temple” were the literal places/symbols; so even is the modern image of “Jesus coming to live in your heart” on the individual level. But in Revelation 21, all the symbols point to its literal fulfillment (again, with or without an actual city with all those materials).

Regarding America, you also said

If “kings of the earth” will be there, why not voters, city council members, mayors, state representatives, congresspersons, cabinet members, delegates, and presidents?

“Voters” clearly depicts a democracy or some type of representative government as do a number of other terms.

Could be. But I was thinking more about voters as people and as kings-in-training in a sense because we are already somewhat experienced in self-rule in the U.S. (though it’s going downhill fast). As I say near the finish of this big comment, I’m with you in strongly suspected New Earth will have no need of democracies (or representative republics) because these are meant to counteract sin-effects.

And the flag waving and all, why would that be present instead of the celebratory rituals of East Africa or Burma or Waurani people?

Here I think you’ve greatly misunderstood me! I am suggesting that because Scripture says kings will bring the “glory and honor of the nations” into the Kingdom(Rev. 21:24,26; cf Isaiah 60:11-13), American “glory and honor” could be among them. A dichotomy such as “[American] flag waving versus “celebratory rituals of East Africa or Burma of Waurani” people is absolutely unlike anything I’ve said here or believe. So I’m not sure where the “instead of” notion has arisen.

Again: When I think of the future Kingdom, it is never, ever in shades of red, white and blue. It is in an array of infinite colors, all reflecting the spectrum of glorious single Light that comes from the King. We are all under Him and we are all alike in that we worship Him with a single Light. But we also reflect it in different ways.

That may be a core difference between us. Whereas I choose to focus on areas of possible different “glories” in eternity, others (not just you) believe we should emphasize the sameness (and might also conclude that someone talking about “thing X” in eternity would conclude they believe “thing X” is what eternity is all about). I would say, “Yes, we will all be together in Christ, yet also different.” We can talk about both our future sameness and our future differences.

There will be people of every tribe and tongue in God’s New Earth, so why would our ways be favored over other ways from previous or future times?

Again: I haven’t said that and would not say that. America is special to Americans, but Sweden is special to Swedes, African nations to African citizens, and tribal customs to members of those tribes. God will bring all of those peoples — and the things that are part of their humanity–their sanctified memories and cultures — in as part of the “glory and honor of the nations” He mentioned in these texts.

I would never suggest that Americans have special privilege. This is nonsense and could be “kinism,” or even racism or heresy. In fact I’m convinced many peoples and cultures will be ahead of us–such as old-covenant Israel–and the saints and the martyrs will absolutely have many more heavenly rewards than Americans will.

It’s hubris to assume our ways will be the ways of the new world.

I would not assume that about all “our ways.” I would only ask the question about God’s good gifts to us (1 Tim. 4:1-5) and point to Scriptures (Rev. 21 in conjunction with Isaiah 60) that make no sense if we approach it with a different posture.

All talk of symbols aside, if God had wanted to include prophecies that indicate the best way to think of eternity is to think unlike the activities we enjoy for His glory today, why would He include prophecies that say the exact opposite? Why all this talk of trade and silver and gold and gardening and triumphant parades?

It could also be seen as hubris to assume God would give His people positions of authority in the Kingdom, under Him, and yet that is just what He promised. It could also be seen as hubris to speak of “heavenly rewards,” especially when it might lead to legalism or self-righteous preening about them. Yet He clearly did, and expected us to try to seek them while also thinking more highly of others.

I suspect we’ll have New Ways more fitting for glorifying God who we will them see no longer through a glass darkly. But I’m willing to be surprised!

Same here. That is why I view all good cultural traits (art, music, etc.) as not a limitation but a baseline expectation. My anticipation of eternity starts with the things we can understand today — like Isaiah’s ships, grapes, silver and gold, and so on — yet a future paradise would not be a paradise if everything were predictable!

Which, again, fits with the Bible’s promises that God-given cultural goods (the things we would have done according to the “cultural mandate”) will continue.

Stephen, I think this is wishful thinking. Unless you’re thinking of ways we have praised God or loved other people in His name or some such thing. 1 Tim. 6:7 is clear: “For we have brought nothing into the world, so we cannot take anything out of it either.” Job says the same thing (Job 1:22) as part of his pre-sin response to his suffering. Solomon said the same in Ecc. 5:15ff. Whatever we have in the next life will not be stuff from this life. These verses are clear.

Perhaps. And yet Isaiah 60 promises earthly-sounding things and continuity between this world and the next (with or without specific gifts we enjoyed in this age). We still need to address these texts, because we both believe no Scripture contradicts another and that we must confront the uncomfortable ones head-on.

The simplest explanation to me is that no, we are not hoping to taking anything out of the world. All that we own is actually God’s. If He wants it to be part of the future human-cultural gifts that Scripture so clearly promises, that is up to Him.

But there is still no biblical reason to suppose that He could never do this and every reason (as in the above texts, still unchallenged) to expect that a New Earth will include things are are physical and earthly, such as natural wonders, and things that are part of intrinsic God-given humanity, such as cultural memories and agriculture and food and technology. Such as human culture with some measure of continuity from today’s cultures — the good parts about them. And really, that is where our second-issue disagreements start. I would say that God is saving His people from sin not to make them into something less- or non-human, but more human. (C.S. Lewis often explores this truth, such as in his The Great Divorce.)

I have not seen Scripture give this restriction about Heaven

I simply didn’t think what we are not to speculate about needed to be listed. It’s whatever divides believers.

I’m not certain what you mean here.

Stephen, I’ll be honest. I don’t understand how you can post your speculation about the New Heaven and the New Earth and yet scoff at other people for their understanding (speculation?) of the events leading up to God’s triumphal renewal of Creation. Why is one speculation “superstition” and yet another is “biblical”? I dare say those taking the tribulation part of Revelation as literal would say their views are biblical.

Agreed … which is why I hope I have not been dogmatic on that idea. I think there are some superstitions mixed up with belief in any biblical truth, including the nature of Christ, God’s creation of earth, the flood of Noah’s day, the Nephilim (ha!), the book of Acts, and the end times. So when I am challenging some of the superstitions about any of these, I in no way want to indicate that I’m believing the beliefs themselves are foolish. In fact, so far the only older end-times belief I’ve (reluctantly!) disregarded is the concept of a separate “rapture” before Jesus actually returns (for reasons John Otte and I have separately stated elsewhere).

Of course you don’t have to see these issues the way I see them, but I find it a little strange that both you and those Revelation literalists speak so adamantly about what we can’t know this side of the events (making reference to one of your recent Facebook posts).

Hmm, which post was that? I might be able to shed some extra light on it.

I’m not going to mock anyone for believing that the anti-Christ will actually put a mark on people during the tribulation when the events of our world seem to be snowballing to a tribulation-like end.

I wouldn’t either. It’s a legit Christian belief with long precedent in church history (with a side effect of identifying popes and presidents as the real actual Antichrist). And remember, you’re talking to the chap who still loves the Left Behind series and takes heat from folks who do mock not only the fiction but the beliefs behind it.

And I’m not going to mock you for thinking we’ll be voting in the next life.

Thanks! 🙂 For the record, I could do without voting–especially because, like you apparently, I do see this (along with branches of government) as a temporary measure to deal with sin in human beings. The overall imagery, as the “kings” term would indicate, is of monarchy. And although some (who likely have experiences with power-abuse) claim that God is only good if He surrenders all His power or something, it’s clear that in eternity our good/holy/beautiful King with absolute power will prove every single Light-illumined day that His power is perfect.

Rebecca LuElla Miller
Admin

Stephen, just a few things to clarify:

But if I recall correctly, you said some time ago, this was metaphorical.

I would want to check that. Perhaps I’m one of the few who does not believe we need to view the city as metaphorical.

I was referring to God being the light and there being no sun or moon. You’ve been clear that you think the city is real and physical, though you haven’t given the same consideration to things such as receiving the mark of the beast, apparently (the FB post I was referring to was the one you posted about the mom who was teaching her children not to accept face painting and hand stamps so that they’d be in the habit of rejecting the mark of the beast. This you identified as “superstition.” Unfortunately I don’t know how to find things on FB so can’t give you a link.)

Stephen, I’ll wrap up my comments by saying, I believe some of the division about these matters come from adamant “I know” kinds of statements, based on Scriptures taken out of context. What about the passage in 1 Peter that says,

But you are A CHOSEN RACE, A royal PRIESTHOOD, A HOLY NATION, A PEOPLE FOR God’s OWN POSSESSION, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light

Are we who believe only a nation here on earth, but then in the new heaven and new earth, we’ll be no longer a nation? See? It appears you are selective in choosing  only the verses that support your position. Because of what I consider an unclear picture–some verses saying one thing, others saying something else, some verses metaphoric, others literal, it seems wisest to refrain from saying “this is how it’s going to be” statements. The truth is, we don’t know.

No disagreement about being more fully human, more fully alive in the life after this one. Christ’s own resurrected body shows us the body is an actual, physical body, just one that can do more than this earthen vessel we now inhabit. I don’t know that I’ve said anything to suggest that the new earth isn’t going to be a physical place–just a better one, the one Jesus said He was going to prepare.

Regarding the Isaiah 60 passage, I think it’s shaky grounds to declare that verse as showing continuity between this earth and the new earth. The passage is littered with references to the world at the time of Israel, and clearly the first level of prophecy was to the Nation of Israel, not the Nation of Believers. Which parts were fulfilled and which parts are yet to be fulfilled? It’s a slippery slope, I think, to form doctrine on such a passage when other clear scriptures say we will take nothing with us. To say that God will take it for us is speculation of the kind I’m talking about. I personally think God is a lot more creative than that, but that’s my opinion and not something I’m going to try to convince others to believe.

the Bible has been pointing toward this concept all along — the concept of God making a dwelling place among His people. I believe that is at the heart of the Gospel and at the heart of many, many stories that are part of the Greatest Story — such as Eden, tabernacles, temples, and the incarnation of Jesus Himself.

Absolutely agree. But then you said

I’m more certain about the God-comes-down-to-dwell-on-New-Earth meaning because it’s constantly woven throughout the Bible, starting right back in Genesis, in the concept of God-dwelling-among-men or tabernacling among them.

Actually the theme of man’s need for reconciliation with God and His judgment on those who reject Him is also woven throughout Scripture, starting right back in Genesis. Satan’s part is also clear, so I don’t see why that part of Revelation is not to be considered with the same understanding as Rev. 21.

At any rate, I’m glad you backtracked on the voting thing. I was mostly disturbed at the idea that you were intimating there’d be a democracy in the new earth. I’m relieved to know you don’t believe that.

Becky

Kirsty
Guest

That flannelgraph picture REALLY doesn’t create in me a desire tfor the new earth 🙂

E. Stephen Burnett
Guest
E. Stephen Burnett

Nor I. But in terms of Christian art about the renewed world, it’s somewhat closer to what the Bible actually promises (e.g., something a bit more literally grounded than floating cities on clouds).