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A Treatise On The Christian’s Eternal Home

In this article, I want to talk about where our hope as Christians truly lies. If you ask the average churchgoer, they will likely say “The Christian hope is to go to Heaven when we die.” However, that is somewhat problematic. While that is something that will happen to followers of Christ when we die, that is not our hope. The disembodied afterlife that believers immediately go to moments after their deaths is not our ultimate hope. If you think it is, check yourself, because that’s what the gnostics and platonists hoped for too. They saw the physical body as a crippling prison and couldn’t wait to be freed from its shackles so they could float around forever as disembodied spirits. In this article, I will talk about both the intermediate state that has become the sad obsession of many modern evangelicals, and “New Eden” which was the hope of Jesus and the apostles.

There Is Indeed A Conscious Intermediate State

There are good biblical grounds for affirming the existence of an intermediate state [1]Not to mention extra-biblical grounds like Evidential Near Death Experiences. See, for example, Gary Habermas and J.P Moreland’s book “Beyond Death: Exploring The Evidence For … Continue reading.

For example, most explicitly is what Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 5. Paul said “For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands. Meanwhile, we groan, longing to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling, because when we are clothed, we will not be found naked. For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. Now the one who has fashioned us for this very purpose is God, who has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come. Therefore we are always confident and know that as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord. For we live by faith, not by sight. We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord.” (2 Corinthians 5:1-8, NIV)

Paul says that to “be away from the body is to be at home with The Lord” and talks about how we don’t want to be naked, but to be “further clothed” with our heavenly dwelling. Here, Paul is using the state of being clothed and naked as a metaphor for being embodied and disembodied. Unlike many Christians in America today, who long to get naked as soon as possible (and seemingly want to stay that way), Paul didn’t want to be disembodied, but instead wanted to be transformed from his mortal corruptible body into his immortal incorruptible body (cf. 1 Corinthians 15:51-52,1 Thessalonians 4:13-18) . Nevertheless, Paul still affirmed that a state of “nakedness” awaited us if we were to die before The Lord returns. We would be “away from the body” and consequently be “At home with the Lord”. Those alive are “In the body and away from the Lord”. He also uses living in a tent and a building as another metaphor. The tent is a good analogy for our current bodies because tents can be more easily destroyed than sturdy buildings. I’m sure anyone who has had the displeasure of camping during a terrible storm can testify. But a building made of bricks (or even wood) isn’t as easily destroyed. The latter is representative of our resurrection bodies. Paul elsewhere describes the resurrection body as imperishable (1 Corinthians 15:51-52).

If there were no immaterial soul that survived the physical death of the body, Paul’s words would be unintelligible, incoherent nonsense. If physicalism were true, you are reducible in identity to your body. You cannot be “inside” yourself. You cannot be “away from” yourself. Wherever you go, there you are! Literally! But if some form of dualism were true (either substance dualism or idealism), then you, as a disembodied spirit, could indeed exist away from your body for a time.

Another passage that convinces me of a disembodied intermediate state is Philippians 1:23-24, “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell. I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better. But to remain in the flesh is more necessary on your account.” (ESV) In this passage, Paul confesses his conflicting desires. He would like to go ahead and depart (literally die) so he could be with Christ. Yet, he realizes that if he lives longer, he can be of more use to the Christians in the Philippian church. Paul is by no means suicidal, and he does not believe it is within his power to make such a choice. Rather, Paul is simply contemplating his impending likely demise (he was in prison after all), and is considering which one he’d prefer to happen. Despite not wanting to be “naked” or homeless in 2 Corinthians 5, Paul recognizes that being in the presence of God is a wonderful thing, whether in the body or outside the body. But how do we know Paul has a disembodied Heaven in view here rather than the future resurrection? Because of such phrases as “To remain in the flesh” and “live in the flesh”. If anthropological physicalism were true, Paul wouldn’t be “in” his flesh, he would be identical to his flesh! It seems clear to me that Paul has in mind departing from his physical body in order to be with Christ in Heaven.

Finally, I want to bring up Jesus’ response to the thief on the cross in Luke 23. Luke 23 is Luke’s account of Jesus’ crucifixion. As most Christians know, Jesus was hung between two “thieves”. In Luke’s account, one of them mocked Jesus (23:39), the other came to his defense (23:40-41) and asked Jesus to “remember me when you enter your Kingdom” (23:42). Jesus turned to him and said “Amen, I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.” (Luke 23:43). Neither Jesus nor the thief were resurrected and ushered into a new creation on the very same day that they died. Jesus was resurrected quickly (just 3 days later), but that thief is still physically dead to this day! The best explanation is that Jesus was saying that both of them would enter into a disembodied paradisiacal realm.

There are other passages that could be ushered in, such as The Parable Of The Rich Man and Lazarus in Luke 16:19-31 and the significance of the Old Testament phrase “He died and was gathered to His Fathers”. But I just want to make it clear that I am NOT denying the reality of a conscious intermediate state. I think this disclaimer is important because those who have read my book “Yahweh’s Inferno: Why Scripture’s Teaching On Hell Doesn’t Impugn The Goodness Of God” will know that I am an annihilationist, and the majority of annihilationists from my dialogues with them deny that there is any immaterial aspect of humanity at all. [2]They should not be thought of as modern-day Sadducees though. Although they believe it’s “light’s out” upon physical death, they do believe that for Christians, there will be … Continue reading I belong to that minority of annihilationists who affirm substance dualism, and a conscious intermediate state for both the saved and unsaved. Therefore, what I say in the following section shouldn’t be interpreted as a denial of an immediate afterlife.

Christian Soul Society Or New Eden?

Despite my affirmation of the intermediate state, that is not what I long for. If you look at all the places where the New Testament talks about the hereafter, you will find very little about what I’ve come to call “Christian Soul Society”, named after the Edo-period esque afterlife state in Tite Kubo’s manga series; “Bleach”. You will find a lot to be said about the bodily resurrection, the new heavens and the new Earth, Christ’s return, how glorious our resurrection bodies will be as opposed to the ones we have now, and so on. In the previous section, I almost exhausted the biblical evidence for Christian Soul Society. Jesus and the apostles just didn’t talk about it that much. They affirmed it, sure, but they were much more interested in God restoring the physical creation to the paradise state Eden was in Genesis 2. You will find much talk about “New Eden”. This is a term I’ve coined because “The New Heavens and The New Earth” is a bit of a mouthful.

“Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?” – John 11:25-26 (NIV)

“And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you.” – Romans 8:11 (NIV)

“Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. According to the Lord’s word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage one another with these words.” – 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 (NIV)

“Then I saw ‘a new heaven and a new earth,’ for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.’

He who was seated on the throne said, ‘I am making everything new!’ Then he said, ‘Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.’

He said to me: ‘It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To the thirsty I will give water without cost from the spring of the water of life. Those who are victorious will inherit all this, and I will be their God and they will be my children. But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars—they will be consigned to the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.'” – Revelation 21:1-8 (NIV)

This is but a small sampling of biblical passages about New Eden! I could cite many more! Even from the Old Testament (e.g Isaiah 65:17-25 and Daniel 12:2).

How often do you hear about New Eden from pulpits and in Bible studies? Sure, you may get the bodily resurrection thrown in there if your pastor is preaching rapture stuff, but apart from eschatological speculations, how much do we really emphasize the new creation? Do you, like Paul, think a lot about the sturdy building and finer clothes you’ll inherit at Christ’s return, or do you focus on how nice it will be to be homeless and naked, away from these “carnal bodies”? Are you more excited about Christian Soul Society than you are New Eden? How many books on the bodily resurrection (like N.T Wright’s “Surprised By Hope”) became instant best sellers? How many books on someone having a near-death experience become instant best sellers? While books like Wright’s haven’t performed poorly, to my knowledge it didn’t earn him a spot on Fox and Friends either. Mostly theology nerds like myself buy up books like that.

I’m not saying there is anything wrong with looking forward to what is in between. I will sing the hymn “Fly Away” just as happily as Chris Tomlin’s “I Will Rise”. Whenever The Bible does talk about Heaven/Paradise, it does so in positive ways. In Philippians 1:21-24, Paul would like to depart and be with Christ, but he kind of wants to stay alive so he can continue to serve the Philippian church. 2 Corinthians 5:8 says “To be away from the body is to be at home with The Lord”. How could we not see being at home with The Lord as a good thing? And Jesus’ words to the thief on the cross in Luke 23:43 were obviously words of comfort to him. The thief would be with Jesus in Paradise that very day! No one can see that as a bad thing! But I am concerned that Christians become SO focused on this that it becomes the main thing. It’s gotten to the point that I’ve seen passages about the intermediate state get conflated with passages describing the new creation. For example, I can’t tell you how many times that I, as an annihilationist, have had to tell someone who believes in eternal torment that Luke 16:19-31 is not about Hell! Hell is the eschatological state for God’s enemies. It’s a post-resurrection state of affairs (regardless of whether you’re a traditionalist, conditionalist, or universalist). If you pay close attention to this passage, you can see that the setting of this story is pre-resurrection. Abraham, Lazarus, and the rich man are ghosts. And I’ve heard many a funeral sermon quoting Revelation 21 when talking about how much happier the deceased Christian is now. I think to myself “Yes, they probably are a lot happier now, but Revelation 21 is describing our physical universe recreated. And that is yet to come!” If you want know how bad the overemphasis on Christian Soul Society is, consider this; I didn’t even know there was going to be a physical resurrection for Christians until I was an adult! Because my parents and Pastor always just talked about the in-between. [3]By “my pastor” I’m referring to the pastor of the church I attended as a child. Not the pastor of the church I currently attend. Maybe part of that was a lack of paying attention. Nevertheless, even though I would sleep during my childhood pastor’s sermons, I doubt that even my apathetic foolish younger self would have missed it if the restoration of all things was emphasized as much as the intermediate state.

Biblical scholar N.T Wright puts it well; “The biblical vision is not so concerned with life after death, but about life after life after death.” [4]From N.T Wright’s book “Surprised By Hope: Rethinking Heaven, The Resurrection, and The History Of The Church”, HarperOne 2018.

After citing Revelation 22:3-5, biblical scholar Carmen Joy Imes writes “The curse of Eden is ended. The presence of God is restored in the midst of human society. Those basking in his presence will be those who bear his name. Redeemed humanity will do what it has been designed to do from the beginning: serve him by reigning as his ambassador. The new Jerusalem is a safe place for every member of the community. We need not fear being victims of attack, sorcery, rape, murder, heretical practices, or false accusation (Revelation 22:15). All rebellious powers have been defeated and barred from entrance. Everyone in the city will have been washed with the blood of Jesus and will eat freely from the tree of life (Revelation 22:14). …Jesus, the gardener, is inviting us to join him in cultivating the new creation.” [5]Carmen Joy Imes, Being God’s Image: Why Creation Still Matters (Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic: An Imprint of InterVarsity Press, 2023), 175.

What Will New Eden Be Like?

I would like to spend a little bit of time talking about what New Eden will be like. To some extent, I nod my head in agreement with the Mercy Me song “I Can Only Imagine”. However, scripture does reveal some things that gives us a clear enough picture to motivate us to pray “Come, Lord Jesus! Come!” (Revelation 22:20).

1: New Eden Will Be Physical

Revelation 21:1 says “Then I saw ‘a new heaven and a new earth,’ for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea.” (NIV) The phrase “the heavens and the earth” was a common Hebrew idiom for the entire physical universe. As Dr. Hugh Ross has pointed out, the Hebrews had no word for “Universe”, so when they wanted to refer to the totality of the created order, they would use this phrase, which is “ha-shamyaim we-et ha-‘eres” in Hebrew. [6]See Hugh Ross, “Did God Create The Universe and Earth At The Same Time?”, January 7th 2022 –> … Continue reading Now, this raises an interesting question since The Apostle John is writing in Greek. Greek did have one word for universe; kosmos. It’s where our English word cosmos comes from. So why didn’t John just say “kosmos”? Because John is writing an apocalypse, and he is purposefully drawing on a lot of Old Testament imagery, passages, and phrases. In fact, the late biblical scholar Dr. Michael Heiser wrote an entire book on just this subject called “The Old Testament In Revelation: Notes From The Naked Bible Podcast”. In this case, John is wanting the reader to remember both Genesis 1:1 and, more specifically, Isaiah 65:17. The latter speaks of a new heavens and a new earth. Revelation 21-22 is not about “Heaven”. It’s not Christian Soul Society. So if you’re a pastor reading this and you have a funeral to preach at soon, don’t draw on this section of scripture to talk about what the loved one is doing right now. Revelation 21-22 is talking about our universe, our physical universe, completely covered in its own resurrection flesh. Yes, I said our universe. As Romans 8:20-21 says “For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God.” (NIV) The same creation that was subjected to a “bondage of decay” will be liberated. God isn’t simply going to throw this creation into the trash can and replace it with a new one. The “very good” creation he made in the beginning (Genesis 1:31) will be made perfect.

2: We Will Be Physically Embodied Creatures

Just as the kosmos itself will be physical, so will our existence be. We’ve already touched upon this some, but passages like Daniel 12:2, John 11:25-27, Romans 8:11, and 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 teach that we will be physically raised from the dead. In 1 Corinthians 15:35-44, the apostle Paul gets more specific about the nature of our new bodies. He writes “But someone will ask ‘How are the dead raised? With what kind of body will they come?’ How foolish! What you sow does not come to life unless it dies. When you sow, you do not plant the body that will be, but just a seed, perhaps of wheat or of something else. But God gives it a body as he has determined, and to each kind of seed he gives its own body. Not all flesh is the same: People have one kind of flesh, animals have another, birds another and fish another. There are also heavenly bodies and there are earthly bodies; but the splendor of the heavenly bodies is one kind, and the splendor of the earthly bodies is another. The sun has one kind of splendor, the moon another and the stars another; and star differs from star in splendor. So will it be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power;” (NIV) In verse 44, he goes on to say that it was buried a natural body and will be raised a spiritual body. Some have tried to use the term “spiritual body” to mean that the resurrection body will be incorporeal.

There are several problems with viewing the resurrection as non-physical. For one thing, Philippians says that our resurrection bodies will be like those of Jesus’ resurrection body, and even a casual reading of the gospel narratives shows that Jesus’ body was undoubtedly physical. Moreover, even staying within the writings of Paul, the evidence reveals that he considered the resurrection to be physical. Paul taught that when God raises us from the dead, we will be raised like Jesus was raised. If our resurrection will be bodily, then that means Paul saw Jesus’ resurrection as bodily. In Romans 8:11, Paul says “And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you.” (emphasis mine). Paul explicitly says that the same Spirit who raised Jesus from the dead will likewise give life to our mortal bodies. He specifically uses the word “bodies”. Now, lest you think this is a mistranslation or a quirk of English, let’s look at the original Greek. The word translated as “bodies” in this verse is Soma. According to Thayer’s Greek Lexicon, “σῶμα, σώματος, τό (apparently from σῶς ‘entire’ (but cf. Curtius, § 570; others from the root, ska, sko, ‘to cover’, cf. Vanicek, p. 1055; Curtius, p. 696)), the Sept. for בָּשָׂר, גְּוִיָּה, etc.; נְבֵלָה (a corpse), also for Chaldean גֶּשֶׁם; a body; and: 1. the body both of men and of animals (on the distinction between it and σάρξ see σάρξ, especially 2 at the beginning; (cf. Dickson, St. Paul’s use of ‘Flesh’ and ‘Spirit’, p. 247ff));” [7]See → Elsewhere in The New Testament where this word is used, it undoubtedly refers to a physical body. For example, in Matthew 26, we read that Martha’s sister Mary was anointing Jesus with perfume. In verse 12, Jesus says “When she poured this perfume on my body [soma], she did it to prepare me for burial.” The Greek there is “ἐπὶ τοῦ σώματός μου πρὸς” The author clearly doesn’t intend for us to think Mary was pouring perfume on a ghost! The same Spirit who raised Jesus from the dead will give life to our mortal bodies/ soma. Paul clearly envisions our resurrection as bodily. That means he saw Jesus’ resurrection as bodily. Paul writes that when Christ returns, he “will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body” (Philippians 3:21). Again, the Greek word Paul uses is “soma” and everywhere in the New Testament (not to mention other Greek works) where soma is used, it refers to a physical body. The apostle could easily have said we would be like Jesus’ glorious spirit (Greek → Neuma). But instead, he used the word body (soma). For more on why this view fails, check out chapter 9 of my book “My Redeemer Lives: Evidence For The Resurrection Of Jesus”.

3: The Physics Will Be Unlike Anything In The Current Creation

Science tells us that the universe is governed by a law called entropy. Entropy is an increase in disorder over time as more of the usable energy in the universe gets used up. As a result, someday, all life in the universe will someday die, and eventually, every last star will burn out. The current creation just isn’t wired to last forever. [8]see “The Fate Of The Universe—Heat Death, Big Rip Or Cosmic Consciousness?” by Kevin Pimbblet, And so, for the next creation to endure for all eternity, it can’t be governed by the law of entropy. Moreover, if it is true that our bodies will really be as radiant as the stars (Daniel 12:3), unless this is just a metaphor, our eyes and the way light behaves (or even what light is made of) would have to be different than the way we visually perceive light in the here and now. What such scientific laws and equations will look like, I have no idea. But it is at least broadly logically possible, and since God is omnipotent, He will be able to do it. Just because we might not be able to imagine what different physics would look like, doesn’t mean God isn’t able to create them. After all, we can’t even imagine new colors! Yet God created both the colors of our world and the physical laws that governed this universe. [9]See my article “The Fine-Tuning Argument For God’s Existence” for more discussion on the constants and quantities that govern the current creation. You can also check out Hugh … Continue reading [10]For more discussions on the scientific aspects of the new heavens and the new earth, see Hugh Ross’ “Why The Universe Is The Way It Is”. Dr. Ross not only talks about the new … Continue reading

Moreover, the planet Earth currently hosts 7 billion human beings at the time of writing this. And these are just the people who are alive today! If God is going to have a nice home for all of His children, Earth will either need to be much bigger, OR (and this is the possibility that tickles my fancy), intergalactic travel will be much easier. Maybe all those “useless” planets were just waiting on something. Perhaps, as Hugh Ross says in “Why The Universe Is The Way It Is”, the dominion mandate (Genesis 1:28) was always intended by God to be interplanetary.

Pastor Brian Chilton writes this in his book “Conversations About Heaven: Difficult Discussions About Our Eternal Home”; “In a telephone conversation with Dr. Leo Percer, we discussed the ability to travel to limitless places in the new creation. Dr. Percer’s insights resonate with me as I fancy myself an amateur astronomer. On clear night skies, my telescope unveils a kaleidoscopic array of planets, galaxies, and stars that no person will ever be able to visit in our current bodies within the current space-time continuum. Consider this — if one were to travel to Proxima Centauri, our nearest neighboring star outside the solar system, it would take 73,000 years to reach the star while traveling at the rate of 17.3 kilometers per second. If the traveler were to journey at the speed of light — an impossibility with our current bodies — it would still take an estimated 4.22 years to arrive. Additionally, as previously noted, cosmologists estimate that the universe is some 250 times larger than what scientists can observe with their best instruments. With this data in mind, one can deduce that well over 99 percent of the universe will never be explored during this life. The universe is just too big. However, with their new supercharged, glorified, resurrected bodies in eternity, the new creation can be explored without limitations, unlike the present cosmos.” [11]Brian Chilton, “Conversations About Heaven: Difficult Questions About Our Eternal Home”, pages 147-148, Wipf and Stock Publications, 2023.

4: We Will All Most Likely Be Naked

You’ll probably blush during this section, but please forgive me, and please hear me out. In Revelation 2:7, Jesus says “Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who is victorious, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God. (NIV, emphasis mine in bold). A “Tree Of Life” which is “in the paradise of God”. The Apostle John is trying to telegraph to the reader that the new heavens and the new earth near the end of his apocalyptic book is a return to Eden. This is why I have coined the name New Eden. This tree only appears in one other place in scripture, and that’s in Genesis 2:8-9 and Genesis 3:22-23. Of course, it is true that “a” tree of life gets referenced in places like Proverbs 15:4, but THE Tree of Life, specifically one in a paradise run by God, only shows up in the Adam and Eve narrative. In Revelation 22:1-2, we read “Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations.” (NIV, emphasis mine in bold) Again, John wants his readers to think of the Eden account here. There’s a Tree of Life, there are rivers, there are fruit-bearing trees. The author is undoubtedly painting an Edenic picture.

I have heard some Bible teachers say that the new creation won’t be a return to Eden, but it will be better than Eden. While I agree that it will certainly be better than Eden, it will be everything Eden was and more! Anything that wasn’t part of God’s Edenic creation ideal, but came about as a result of the fall won’t be present. No thorns and thistles, no death, no pain, no evil, and….no body shame. In Genesis 2:25, we read “Adam and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame.” (NIV) Adam and his wife Eve walked about Eden completely naked (Arom in Hebrew)! In Genesis 1:31, God looked over all of his creation and called it “very good”. Everything was very good, including the naked little humans running around. In Genesis 3, we read about the couple’s fall into sin. In Genesis 3:8, immediately after eating the forbidden fruit, they hear God walking through the garden. [12]I take this to be a literal description of The Second Power In Heaven walking in a humanoid form. I take this to be the first appearance of “The Angel Of The Lord”. For more info on an … Continue reading They hid themselves. God rhetorically asks where Adam is (Genesis 3:9), and Adam responds “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.” (NIV) What is God’s response? Does He say “Finally, you decided to put some pants on. I was sick and tired of you lewdly parading your genitals around my sacred space like a pervert.” No. Does he say “Naked? Whoops! I knew I forgot something when I created you!” No. He says “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?” (NIV) Some biblical scholars have tried to interpret God’s question “Who told you that you were naked?” as “How did you discover the truth? Who spilled the beans?” However, a more likely reading is that God is saying “Where did you get such a stupid idea?” It would be like if my sister told one of her friends that I was getting her a Ferarri for her birthday and I responded with “Who told you that?” I am not asking how she found out. I am repudiating the very idea! I am asking “Where’d you get that idea from?” If God meant for humanity to constantly cover themselves, He would have created Adam and Eve with a suit and dress already on their bodies right from the very first second of their existence. [13]This reminds me of a Babylon Bee article titled “Baptist Children’s Bible Depicts Eve Wearing Floor-Length Denim Skirt”, November 18th 2019, … Continue reading This is especially true if one takes the de novo interpretation of their creation. Yet presumably, had Adam and Eve not sinned, God would have never covered their bodies.

Human beings are made in God’s image (Genesis 1:26-27). While I don’t have the space to unpack the entire exegetical case here, The Bible depicts the creation of the universe in Genesis 1 as an inauguration of God’s cosmic temple after spending 6 days ascribing functions to everything and bringing them into functional existence. [14]see my article “Genesis 1 – Functional Creation, Temple Inaguration, and Anti-Pagan Polemics” for the full exegetical defense of this. See also John Walton’s book “The … Continue reading

It was a well-known fact in the ancient world that after you materially manufactured the temple of your god and then did the inauguration ceremony that you would end the inauguration by placing a carved image of the deity in the temple to represent it. The way idolatry in the ancient world works is widely misunderstood by many Christians today. Contrary to popular lay belief, the ancients weren’t so dumb as to think the image they carved was a deity itself. Rather, the carved image was a vessel to house the spirit of the deity.

As Old Testament scholar John Walton explains in his book “Ancient Near Eastern Thought And The Old Testament”;

“The deity’s presence was marked by the image of the deity. ….The existence of an idol needed to be approved by the god whose image was being made, so the gods were responsible for initiating the manufacturing process At the end of the process, rituals were performed to transfer the deity from the spiritual world to the physical world, a process that one may refer to as ‘actualizing the presence of the god in the temple.’ Consequently, the production of the image was not viewed in human terms, but as a miraculous process through which the deity worked, ….The most significant ritual was the mouth-washing ritual. This procedure was carried out to enable the image to eat bread, drink water, and smell incense, that is, to receive worship on behalf of the deity. It purified the image from the human contamination involved in the manufacturing process and thereby enabled the statue to function as deity. At the end of the mouth-washing ceremony, as the deity entered the inner sanctum, an incantation was pronounced indicating that hereafter the god would remain in his house, where he would receive his food day by day. In this way the image mediated the worship from the people to the deity. …. From the above, we can conclude that the material image was animated by the divine essence. Therefore it did not simply represent the deity, but it manifested its presence.” [15] John H. Walton, Ancient Near Eastern Thought and The Old Testament, first edition, page 118, Baker Academic, 2006

Given the close connection between “images” that represented the deity in the temple, and given that at the end of Genesis 1, we have God creating images of Himself, and given that we already have several good reasons to believe Genesis 1 is portraying the creation of the universe as Yahweh’s temple, an inference can justifiably be made that what it means for humans to be made “in the image of God” is to represent God. We are the images set up at the end of the inauguration of God’s cosmic temple. We are God’s statues, so to speak.

The late Old Testament scholar Michael Heiser agrees. In his book The Unseen Realm, he writes “Humankind was created as God’s image. If we think of imaging as a verb or function, that translation makes sense. We are created to image God, to be his imagers. It is what we are by definition. The image is not an ability we have, but a status. We are God’s representatives on earth. To be human is to image God. This is why Genesis 1: 26– 27 is followed by what theologians call the ‘dominion mandate’ in verse 28. The verse informs us that God intends us to be him on this planet. We are to create more imagers (‘ be fruitful and multiply … fill’) in order to oversee the earth by stewarding its resources and harnessing them for the benefit of all human imagers (‘subdue … rule over’).” [16]Heiser, Michael S.. The Unseen Realm: Recovering the Supernatural Worldview of the Bible (pp. 42-43). Lexham Press. Kindle Edition.

In her wonderful book, “Being God’s Image: Why Creation Still Matters”, biblical scholar Carmen Joy Imes writes “We’ve already considered the possibility that Genesis 1 is a temple creation text. Could it be that the Israelite temple lacks a Yahweh idol because God has already placed an image in his cosmic temple? Just as a statue of a god is intended to represent that god’s claim to a particular area, so humans are the physical representation of the Creator God on earth. And just as an idol is meant to deflect praise to the actual deity, so humans are to deflect praise to Yahweh.” [17]Carmen Joy Imes, Being God’s Image: Why Creation Still Matters (Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic: An Imprint of InterVarsity Press, 2023), 31.

Theologian Marc Cortez calls this “representational presence”: [18]Marc Cortez, ReSourcing Theological Anthropology: A Constructive Account of Humanity in the Light of Christ (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2017), 110–11. “We need to view the imago Dei as a declaration that God intended to create human persons to be the physical means through which he would manifest his own divine presence in the world.” [19]Cortez, ReSourcing Theological Anthropology, 109.

In light of the biblical text interpreted in its Ancient Near Eastern context, I am convinced that the image of God is a physical thing. It is not, as is often suggested, a list of mental attributes (like rationality and free will). Granted, we need these attributes to represent God well, but they are not the image in themselves. To be an image (tslem in Hebrew) is to be a visual representation of something. In light of this, why would God be ashamed of His image? Why would God want to throw tarps over his glorious images? Just imagine a pagan walking into an Ancient Near Eastern temple and being so repulsed by the statue of his deity, that he threw cloth over it, crying out “Lewd! Obscene!” Would that not be considered blasphemous?

At this point, some may point out that God clothed Adam and Eve Himself in Genesis 3:21. That is true, but I think motive matters here. Why did God clothe Adam and Eve with animal skins? We aren’t specifically told, but I think scripture and reason should lead us to reject the interpretation that God was doing it out of a modern sense of “modesty”. Given the context, the best explanation is that God clothed Adam and Eve in order to protect them. This inference makes sense considering the context. God performs the act of clothing Adam and Eve after talking about how harsh the environment outside the garden would be. There would be “Thorns and thistles” among other things. Anyone who has ever seen one episode of the TV show “Naked and Afraid” can tell you that some environments are not kind to a naked human body. We should not see God as an outraged father telling his daughter “Put some clothes on! Be decent!” Instead, God is more like a gentle father who says “Put a jacket on. It’s cold outside.” God is not ashamed of our naked bodies. We are. We’re the ones who grab fig leaves and hide. We’re the ones who sexualize certain parts of the body and then insist that those parts be covered out of a well-meaning, but misguided desire to prevent lust (Matthew 5:28).

Another objection might be that we can’t be naked in New Eden because Revelation 19:7 says that the redeemed will be wearing white robes. However, the problem here is that Revelation is apocalyptic and often uses symbols. This doesn’t mean every last thing is metaphorical, but my studies have shown that most things are. One thing that immediately sticks out to me is that if the clothes are taken literally, why not the bride that Christ is said to marry here? Are we to interpret this verse as saying that Jesus will marry a literal human woman? Which of the billions of Christan women throughout history would that be? Obviously, The Bride is The Church (c.f 2 Corinthians 11:2, Ephesians 5:25-27). Space doesn’t permit a full exposition of this passage, so I defer to Matthew Neal’s blog post “But We’ll Wear ROBES In Heaven!!” on The Biblical Naturist blog.

One more objection at this point could be an argument from moral intuition. Recently, I had a little Facebook debate with a Christian brother over the issue of modesty. And he insisted that we all know it’s morally wrong for people to be naked around other people. He said “We intuitively feel that our spouses showing their body to others is wrong even if the viewers are ok with it. That seems plainly evident.” My response was “Why do we intuitively feel that? Is it really an innate intuition or could it be a taught behavior? Think of the toddler every time he is scolded for attempting to run around the house or the yard naked. Or the parent who freaks out when that child walks in on them changing. Or one’s parents quickly changing the channel if some nudity is in the scene in the movie they’re watching. I submit to you that this is not part of the moral law. This is culturally conditioned behavior. And there are many episodes in our lives which shape our belief that the human body is ugly and obscene, and must never be seen by anyone. Except our doctors, our spouses, God, And a host of other exceptions.[20]Quoted from the Facebook conversation. This is a direct copy-paste of what I wrote there. Then my Christian Brother responded “Why do we intuitively feel that? Because it could be wrong. It’s possible that it could be a completely cultural thing. But I see people who are brought up in a culture where nudity is normalized, disagree with it. So (shrug emoji) And yes to your exceptions because intuition.” My rejoinder to that was “You brought something up about other cultures. What other cultures are you talking about? From my studies, although some sense of modesty seems to exist in all cultures, not everyone agrees on what body parts have to be covered up. I mentioned the Chinese woman who thought it was OK for her breasts and vagina to be visible, but she thought she was supposed to cover her face. Obviously a learned behavior of her culture. For our culture, it’s the reverse. We think it’s silly that a woman’s face or feet should be covered, but how is that more silly than the parts we consider need to be covered? If this was really important, why isn’t there a universal standard of modesty across all cultures? Why do we disagree so much on what parts of the body have to be covered? Isn’t it interesting that it’s always those parts that we feel compelled to cover that just happened to be the sexualized body parts in those cultures? Maybe there’s a reason why Iranian men get aroused at the side of women’s hair and I can see hundreds of women’s hair on the other side of a cash register in a day and my manhood continues to be soft as a wet hot dog? Could it be that modesty is a man made convention and is actually not healthy?”

In case you’re wondering, I was drawing off of sociological data from Aaron Frost’s book “Christian Body: Modesty and The Bible” and Chad Thompson’s book “That Famous Fig Leaf: Uncovering The Holiness Of Our Bodies”. Both of these are wonderful books that poke more holes in modesty culture than a block of Swiss cheese. I bring these up because there is so much that could be said on this topic, but space does not permit a thorough treatment here. The reader is recommended these books. Another highly recommended resource is David Hatton’s book “Who Said You Were Naked?: Reflections On Body Acceptance”. There’s a large wealth of biblical exposition, church history, and sociology in all three of these resources.

So, my conclusion regarding New Eden’s dress code is “naked and unashamed”. We’ll most likely “wear” the most comfortable outfit God has ever given us; our own skin. Why not? That’s the way it was in the first Eden (Genesis 2:25), so I see no reason why New Eden will be different. Moreover, God was not ashamed of our original perishable bodies. I doubt he would want to hide our glorious resurrection bodies. I understand that for many of us who have been indoctrinated by the porn industry and the church to see even simple non-sexual nudity as horribly evil, this may come as a shock, and I wouldn’t be surprised if some of you were ripping your garments and shouting “Blasphemy!” before even getting to this paragraph. Is New Eden really going to be basically one massive nudist resort? Based on the biblical data, I see no reason to think otherwise. We need to be careful to let scripture speak for itself and not let church culture do the interpreting for us. And perhaps if that’s how New Eden will be, maybe that says something about the church’s attitude towards the unadorned human body in the here and now. If you still disagree, I want you to ask yourself this question; “Why would God want us to be ashamed of our bodies in the new creation? The very bodies that He Himself fashioned from clay?”

5: There Will Be Animals

Drawing from the fact that John wants us to see the new heavens and earth as a New Eden, we can also infer that there will be animals in the new creation. After all, if this will be a new and improved Eden, then only addition is the legitimate math to bring into the equation, no subtraction. There were animals inside the Garden of Eden. In Genesis 2:20, Adam had to name them all. We can easily infer on this basis alone, that there will be a diversity of life in the new creation as well. Many Christians believe and teach that there will be no afterlife whatsoever for animals. Humans are the only ones who get eternal life. Some will say that humans are the only physical creatures who have souls. Yet, even if lower animals were purely physical, this would mean, at most, that there won’t be any animals in Christian Soul Society. But this doesn’t rule out animals existing in New Eden.

Even if we conceded the premise (which is a doubtful one, in my opinion) that lower animals don’t have souls, we could still envision God resurrecting them at the eschaton. This would be like how Christian Physicalists (like Peter Van Inwagan or Chris Date) see the resurrection of humans; going out of existence upon biological death, but being called back into existence at the resurrection. And I say resurrection because there is no reason to think God would recreate the entire animal kingdom from scratch, especially when He knows full well that His children have formed bonds with specific individual creatures. Why not just bring back the ones that died?

Not only can we conclude this on the basis that the new creation will be Everything Eden Was + Much More, but there are explicit biblical references to animals in the new creation. Isaiah 11:1-9 is one of them. In this passage, we read “A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit. The Spirit of the Lord will rest on him— the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of might, the Spirit of the knowledge and fear of the Lord— and he will delight in the fear of the Lord. He will not judge by what he sees with his eyes, or decide by what he hears with his ears; but with righteousness he will judge the needy, with justice he will give decisions for the poor of the earth. He will strike the earth with the rod of his mouth; with the breath of his lips he will slay the wicked. Righteousness will be his belt and faithfulness the sash around his waist. The wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat, the calf and the lion and the yearling together; and a little child will lead them. The cow will feed with the bear, their young will lie down together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox. The infant will play near the cobra’s den, and the young child will put its hand into the viper’s nest. They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain, for the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.” (NIV, emphasis mine in bold)

Of this passage, Pastor Brian Chilton writes “Isaiah chapter 11 returns to the theme of a messianic hope which was previously noted in chapters 7 and 9. In chapter 11, Isaiah describes a new kingdom ruled by the Messiah. One of the biggest pushback that I have received in using this text for the new creation is that the pictures may describe the thousand-year millennial reign of Christ. I do not think that this objection holds much weight for two reasons. First, the phrase ‘on that day’ is eschatological in scope contrasting the Exodus, when a remnant returned to the promised land, with the new messianic kingdom where people from all nations will come together under the banner of Christ. While the millennial Kingdom of Christ is also eschatological, it is understood by dispensationalists to only be temporary. Isaiah tends to indicate greater permanacy. Second, even if Isaiah 11 does depict the Millennial Kingdom, would we expect the new creation to be lesser than than the temporary Millennial Reign? The new creation is anticipated to be the greatest of all possible scenarios. Thus, could we expect the blessings of the Millenial Reign to be absent from the new creation? I think not. The new kingdom is a living kingdom, vibrant with life and splendor. Not only does this kingdom have animals, but it also exudes effervescent life of all kinds!” [21]Brian Chilton, “Conversations About Heaven: Difficult Questions About Our Eternal Home”, pages 72-73, Wipf and Stock Publishing, 2023.

For those of us who have formed bonds with animals and have had death sever those bonds, we can take comfort in the likelihood that we will be reunited with them. When my cat Sunshine died in 2011, I was inconsolable. I think I mourned more over my cat’s death than I did my own mother’s. This was certainly not because I loved Sunshine more than my mother, but it was because I had bought into the idea that death was the permanent end of Sunshine’s existence. I would never see him again. My mother, by contrast, was a solid follower of Jesus Christ, and scripture is quite explicit about the hereafter concerning people like her (John 11:25-26). This is why Paul says that we mourn, but not as those who have no hope (1 Thessaloians 4:13). I have felt the bitterness of grieving without hope. But based on the data presented in this sub-subsection, I hope that you can see that such a bitter response on my part was entirely necessary. My current cat, Jellybean, is 11 years old as of the time of writing this. Although it will hurt when that day comes, I believe Lord Jesus will give her back to me some day. There is a Rainbow Bridge.

6: We Will Have A Lot To Do

I have heard many non-Christians object that eternal life would get boring after a while. After all, after living for an infinite amount of time, won’t we run out of stuff to do? Part of this may be due to thinking of eternity as a disembodied Heaven where we’ll do nothing but float on clouds playing harps for all eternity, like cartoons and comic strips depict. Some have also argued from passages in Revelation that seem to indicate we will literally do nothing but attend a worship service singing to God every second of every single day forever more. While I do enjoy worship, even I would want to do other things some of the time. I don’t really blame being turned off by a “never ending worship service”.

Revelation 4:8 says “Each of the four living creatures had six wings and was covered with eyes all around, even under its wings. Day and night they never stop saying: ‘Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty,’ who was, and is, and is to come.”

Revelation 7:15 says “Therefore, ’they are before the throne of God and serve him day and night in his temple; and he who sits on the throne will shelter them with his presence.”

However, the idea that every single second of your eternity will be filled with hymn singing is based on an overly literalistic reading of these verses. Why couldn’t it just be the case that being around the throne and singing praises to God is something that we just frequently do, but don’t always do in the strict literal sense of the term?

We use language of constancy all the time when speaking of things that occur on a regular basis. For example,

“Oh yeah, my girlfriend exercises all the time. That’s why she’s so fit.”

You don’t mean that she’s running on a treadmill every second of her life without stopping.

“My cat is always hungry.”

It doesn’t mean my cat is experiencing hunger pangs every second of her life.

I argue that this is how the language of “Never stopping” and “Day and night” is being used. Regarding the idiom “Day and Night”, we find this idiom used in a number of verses.

Psalm 1:2 says “But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night.” (KJV)

Does the psalmist intend for us to think that a faithful follower of Yahweh does nothing but think about scripture 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days of the year? Every second of every day? He literally thinks of nothing else? Preposterous! The human mind does not and cannot work like that. Obviously, you’re going to think about things besides the contents of The Torah or even scripture in general. Even a Jew as faithful as Jesus probably didn’t think about the contents of scripture to the exclusion of every other thought he could have. Otherwise, how could he have the thought to get something to eat, or what direction the next town he wants to go is in? What Psalm 1:2 is clearly saying is that meditation on God’s Word is something we should do frequently, or in modern terminology, “all the time”.

Luke 18:7, the context of which is The Parable Of The Persistent Widow, talks about how God’s elect will cry out for justice day and night, and Jesus rhetorically asks if God will deny it to them. Does Jesus think God’s elect are doing nothing but calling out for justice, even when they eat, sleep, poop, and brush their teeth?

Psalm 55:9-10 says “Destroy, O Lord, divide their tongues; for I see violence and strife in the city. Day and night they go around it on its walls, and iniquity and trouble are within it;” (ESV)

This Psalm is a prayer of David for God to deliver him from his enemies. He says that Day and Night they go around the city of Jerusalem. So given this biblical idiom being functionally equivalent to our modern English idiom “all the time”, there is no reason to think that we won’t have any other activities in New Eden other than singing a never-ending worship playlist. Another worthwhile observation is that these passages come pretty early in the book of Revelation, so they probably don’t refer to our eternal home anyway, but the temporary Heaven where disembodied believers dwell. writes “The new heavens and earth are the eternal home for the believer. The imagery in Revelation 21—22 seems to point to Eden-like conditions. Once again God will dwell among His people. Adam and Eve were given the job of tending the garden and subduing the earth before the fall, and there is every reason to believe that the people of God who inhabit the new earth in resurrection bodies will continue the work of Adam and Eve before the fall, enjoying the work they do and the unhindered fellowship with God. On the new earth, we will continue to work, learn, grow, develop, and accomplish things. Since there were animals in Eden, there may very well be animals on the new earth as well.” [22] from the article “Will Heaven be on Earth?” —

At this point, some skeptics will say “Ok, so maybe we’ll be able to do lots of different things in addition to our frequent-but-not-literally-constant praise of God. Nevertheless, given an infinite amount of time, we’ll get bored of everything eventually. Eventually, I’ll have played every sport, card game, and video game that exists. I’ll have sung ‘How Great Thou Art’ a literal septillion times. I’ll have played chess with every apostle literally trillions of times. Given an infinite amount of time, every conceivable activity will be conducted a finite, but extremely large number of times. Eventually, we will run out of things to do. So while New Eden may not be initially boring, it will get boring eventually.”

To this objection, here is my response; I have faith that God who was creative enough to create over 270,000 different kinds of flowers, billions of species of animals, and billions of people who are each unique and, like snowflakes, are not 100% identical to anyone else in every way, is able to come up with new and inventive ways to keep us from becoming bored.

When you think about it, the advance of technology has caused us to invent new ways to entertain ourselves that didn’t used to exist. New musical genres came into being like hard rock and metal, video games became a thing in the 1980s and those have been evolving over the past 40 years. In addition, we have TV shows, movies, and novels that are constantly being written.

While I’m not saying we’ll have video games and movies New Eden (maybe we will, maybe we won’t), what I am saying is that we humans have crafted new ways to keep ourselves entertained. If Adam’s son Seth had attained immortality and was able to live for the entirety of human history, do we think he’d ever find this world of ours dull? No. He’d never cease to be amazed. Despite living for thousands and thousands of years, he would not be bored yet! And let’s suppose this hypothetical immortal Seth were to live 3,000 years into the future? Would he be bored? Probably not. He’d likely get on the spaceflight to visit all the different planets in our solar system.

Whatever the case, I don’t think that, even given an infinite amount of time, we will ever run out of things to do. God and/or the redeemed will invent new things to do. New songs to sing in worship, new games, perhaps new musical genres in which to perform these newly written worship songs to God. Perhaps God will aid us in our endeavors. God can even imagine new colors that don’t currently exist. Why not? He imagined the ones we have now. And since God is able to invent new colors – which not even the most creative human mind can do – maybe he’s able to invent activities that no one has ever conceived. Perhaps we’ll even be able to do science in the new heavens and earth; and we’ll map equations of how this new universe – which is not subject to entropy and decay – works. Perhaps there will even be science classes that teach us how the workings of the new universe compare and contrast to that of the old. Maybe there will be biology lessons that inform us about how the resurrection body works.

Moreover, I have experience of getting tired of some activity only to find it enjoyable again after a prolonged period away. For example, I watched Digimon Adventure so many times as a kid that I got sick of watching it. But then, as an adult, I pulled up the episodes online and watched through the whole series with great pleasure. I have a tendency to eat ramen as much as Naruto from the hit anime, Naruto. As much as I love Ramen, unlike the teenage shinobi, I get tired of it after a while. But maybe a year or two passes and I grab myself another bowl. What I find is that I like it again. And this is just within my temporary earthly life. Why think living for eternity would make repeat experiences any different?

Those who think eternity will be boring because “We’ll run out of stuff to do” just lack imagination!

7: There Will Be No Sin To Ruin Relationships

No duh, right? However, some people wonder how this can be so. Won’t we have free will in New Eden? Well, Dr. Tim Stratton of FreeThinking Ministries points out that in New Eden, we will have something that Adam and Eve didn’t have; experiential knowledge of how stupid and horrible sin is. In his blog post “3 Circles & ALL The Problems Of Evil”, Dr. Stratton lays out the “Three Circles Model,” which implies Mere Molinism along with other theological truths in the following series of “planks” (this is not to be taken as a syllogism):

a) Suffering, whether it be moral evil, natural evil, or seemingly gratuitous evil, points us to the way things ought to be (we learn from suffering and evil that it ought not be)

b) The “way things ought to be” is an eternal love relationship with God and all people in a perfect state of affairs. This is what we refer to as “Heaven.”

c) Libertarian freedom is necessarily required for true love.

d) Finite creatures who possess libertarian freedom learn over time.

e) Supernatural “zaps” of knowledge do not work. Most created beings must attain experiential knowledge (See Can God Create a Morally Perfect Creature?).

f) Adam, Eve, Satan, and a third of all the angels took suffering-free states of affairs for granted, and freely chose to “wreck” it.

g) You and I have experienced evil, suffering, and affliction — and we are aware of so much more. Because of our experiences with evil and suffering, you and I will not take suffering-free states of affairs for granted because we have genuinely learned from our experiences.

h) Because you and I have learned how stupid evil is, although we possess the same ability to “wreck” a perfect state of affairs, God created a world in which He knew that we we will always freely choose to love God and all people exactly as God intends us to for eternity. (That is to say, although we could “wreck it” and sin as Adam did, God knows that we never would or will sin into the infinite future after experiencing limited amounts of evil on earth.)

i) Some creatures have freely chosen not to learn from evil. They will be eternally separated from those of us who have. [23]Indirect quote from “3 Circles & ALL The Problems Of Evil”, by Tim Stratton, January 22nd 2019, — Speaking of The Problem of Evil, for those of you who may be troubled by it, check out my article “Why The Problem Of Evil Is A Failed Argument For Atheism”. As well as articles like “Super Hero Theodicies” and “Anime Theodicies”. I’ve incorporated some of Stratton’s insights into my own theodicy.

And so, even if there were a new serpent (another Seraph who decided to go rogue), Eve will know better. The resurrected Eve will remember the pain of being removed from God’s presence in Eden. She’ll remember the horror of holding the corpse of her dead son Able in her arms as Cain was fleeing the crime scene. She will remember the agony she went through for every boy and girl she birthed (Genesis 3:16, Genesis 5:4). Rather than lust after the thought of being like God, adding to God’s word, and doubting what He said, Eve will respond “Away from me Satan! It is written ‘Worship the Lord your God and serve Him only’!” (Matthew 4:10). [24]For why I said the serpent was a seraph, check out Inspiring Philosophy’s video “Genesis 3a: The Serpent”. –> Not only that, but we will see Jesus’ scars and remember what our rebellion did to Him. I sometimes wonder if this is why God did not completely heal Jesus’ body at the resurrection, such that there were holes for the apostle Thomas to put his fingers in (John 20:27). No matter how much time has passed, we will always see Christ’s visible scars and sing “Worthy is the lamb who was slain!”

The Kingdom Of God Is Already, and Not Yet.

I know this article is pretty lengthy, but I would be remiss if I didn’t talk about what biblical scholars such as N.T Wright and Michael Heiser have called the “Already, but not yet” paradoxical aspect of God’s kingdom. All that I’ve written thus far concerns the “Not yet” aspect of the Kingdom. But although the full and complete inauguration of the Kingdom of God is yet in our future, there are many ways in which we live in God’s Kingdom in there here and now.

Hebrews 2:8–9 says, “At present, we do not yet see everything in subjection to him. But we see him who for a little while was made lower than the angels, namely Jesus, crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death” (ESV). This verse presents us with the “nowness” (we see Jesus crowned with glory), and we see the “not yetness” of the Kingdom (i.e not everything has been subjected to Christ). Jesus is the King, but His kingdom is not yet of this world (see John 18:36).

The “Already But Not Yet” aspect can also be seen in Jesus’ parable of the mustard seed in Matthew 13:31-32. Dr. Michael A. Milton at comments “When the Lord Jesus spoke of the Kingdom of God being compared to a mustard seed that is the smallest of seeds that grows to a comparatively giant size, His listeners would have understood the folksy simile. For the mustard plant was a great, tree-like biosphere in their gardens, making a home for birds and other creatures.” [25]Dr. Michael A. Milton, “How Is The Kingdom Of God ‘Already, But Not Yet’ What Else Does The Bible Say?” May 30th 2019, — … Continue reading

Jesus is seated on the throne at the right hand of God the Father now (Mark 14:62, Luke 22:69, Acts 5:31, Acts 7:56). The evil sons of God who ruled over the nations have been dethroned. Jesus the King. The nations have been and are being reclaimed. [26]see my article “Genesis 10-11: The Tower Of Babel, The Fall Of The gods, And The Divine Council Worldview” if you don’t understand what I mean by that. The devil might be roaming the Earth causing trouble (1 Peter 5:8), but the battle is lost for him! The battle belongs to The Lord!


I am looking forward to New Eden. I hope this treatise has blessed you in reading it as it has me in writing it. Someday Jesus will return the way he went away (Acts 1:11) and receive us all unto Himself, but no man knows that day or hour. When he does, the dead will rise and those of us who are still alive will be transformed. We will meet the Lord in the air as he descends with the sound of a loud trumpet. All of God’s enemies will be destroyed, and thrown into the lake of fire. And we will enjoy an unencumbered relationship with both God and each other for all eternity. And yes, we will be naked with many animals, like our first parents in the first Eden. But for those minority of Christians who have donned the label of “naturist”, that won’t be as much of a culture shock as it might be for those of us who keep grasping for the fig leaves. We will be physically embodied, glorious beings for all eternity. We will experience no more death, mourning, crying, or pain, for the old order of things will have passed away. We, the bride of Christ, will enjoy the company of our husband forever more, and all those who refuse to turn from sin will not being able to taint New Eden with their ungodly ways. I hope I will see you there; but there is only one way and His name is Jesus (John 14:6, Acts 4:12). If you haven’t repented of your sins and confessed Him as your personal Lord and Savior, I pray that you would do so today.

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1 Not to mention extra-biblical grounds like Evidential Near Death Experiences. See, for example, Gary Habermas and J.P Moreland’s book “Beyond Death: Exploring The Evidence For Immortality” Published by Wipf and Stock, 2004. Evidential Near Death Experiences are Near Death Experiences (NDES) of the kind that involve a person with no measurable brain or heart activity claiming to experience things in the physical world. Sometimes these are observations of what doctors and nurses are saying in the room while the patient has no brain or heart activity, and sometimes the person describes things being said or done in other rooms of the hospital, or in another building entirely. After the person is resuscitated, they report what they saw and heard. The people alleged to have said or done X, Y, and Z verify that they really did say or do X, Y, and Z. It is difficult to account for these types of NDEs under anthropological physicalism. The best explanation is that the person was somehow able to transcend their physical bodies and go places where their bodies weren’t. For a free resource on this, see the video “Over 3,000 EVIDENCED Near Death Experiences” on Dr. Gary Habermas’ YouTube channel. –> “Over 300 EVIDENCED Near Death Experiences” – Gary Habermas (
2 They should not be thought of as modern-day Sadducees though. Although they believe it’s “light’s out” upon physical death, they do believe that for Christians, there will be a resurrection at the return of Christ. Consciousness will be returned to believers at the physical resurrection.
3 By “my pastor” I’m referring to the pastor of the church I attended as a child. Not the pastor of the church I currently attend.
4 From N.T Wright’s book “Surprised By Hope: Rethinking Heaven, The Resurrection, and The History Of The Church”, HarperOne 2018
5 Carmen Joy Imes, Being God’s Image: Why Creation Still Matters (Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic: An Imprint of InterVarsity Press, 2023), 175.
6 See Hugh Ross, “Did God Create The Universe and Earth At The Same Time?”, January 7th 2022 –> Although I largely disagree with Ross’ concordistic approach to biblical cosmology, he’s right on the money on the Hebrew idiom at least.
7 See →
8 see “The Fate Of The Universe—Heat Death, Big Rip Or Cosmic Consciousness?” by Kevin Pimbblet,
9 See my article “The Fine-Tuning Argument For God’s Existence” for more discussion on the constants and quantities that govern the current creation. You can also check out Hugh Ross’ book “The Creator and The Cosmos: How The Latest Scientific Discoveries Reveal God” 4th edition, March 7th 2018, RTB Press. And Luke Barnes’ and Garraint Lewis’ “A Fortunate Universe: Life In A Finely Tuned Cosmos” Cambridge University Press, October 6th, 2016, for an even more in depth study.
10 For more discussions on the scientific aspects of the new heavens and the new earth, see Hugh Ross’ “Why The Universe Is The Way It Is”. Dr. Ross not only talks about the new creation, but about the science of the current one as well, discussing the theological reasons why God made it so huge, so old, didn’t design the current creation to last forever, and so on. While I don’t always agree with Dr. Ross’ interpretations of specific biblical passages, I do agree with the major ideas he puts forth. Dr. Ross is a Christian with a doctorate in astrophysics.
11 Brian Chilton, “Conversations About Heaven: Difficult Questions About Our Eternal Home”, pages 147-148, Wipf and Stock Publications, 2023.
12 I take this to be a literal description of The Second Power In Heaven walking in a humanoid form. I take this to be the first appearance of “The Angel Of The Lord”. For more info on an Old Testament Godhead and Jesus’ pre-incarnate humanoid appearances, check out my YouTube presentation “The Angel Of The Lord and A Two Person Godhead In The Old Testament” on the Cerebral Faith YouTube channel.
13 This reminds me of a Babylon Bee article titled “Baptist Children’s Bible Depicts Eve Wearing Floor-Length Denim Skirt”, November 18th 2019,
14 see my article “Genesis 1 – Functional Creation, Temple Inaguration, and Anti-Pagan Polemics” for the full exegetical defense of this. See also John Walton’s book “The Lost World Of Genesis One: Ancient Cosmology and The Origins Debate” published by InterVarsity Press, and Carmen Joy Imes’ “Being God’s Image: Why Creation Still Matters”, published by IVP Academic.
15  John H. Walton, Ancient Near Eastern Thought and The Old Testament, first edition, page 118, Baker Academic, 2006
16 Heiser, Michael S.. The Unseen Realm: Recovering the Supernatural Worldview of the Bible (pp. 42-43). Lexham Press. Kindle Edition.
17 Carmen Joy Imes, Being God’s Image: Why Creation Still Matters (Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic: An Imprint of InterVarsity Press, 2023), 31.
18 Marc Cortez, ReSourcing Theological Anthropology: A Constructive Account of Humanity in the Light of Christ (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2017), 110–11.
19 Cortez, ReSourcing Theological Anthropology, 109.
20 Quoted from the Facebook conversation. This is a direct copy-paste of what I wrote there.
21 Brian Chilton, “Conversations About Heaven: Difficult Questions About Our Eternal Home”, pages 72-73, Wipf and Stock Publishing, 2023.
22 from the article “Will Heaven be on Earth?” —
23 Indirect quote from “3 Circles & ALL The Problems Of Evil”, by Tim Stratton, January 22nd 2019, —
24 For why I said the serpent was a seraph, check out Inspiring Philosophy’s video “Genesis 3a: The Serpent”. –>
25 Dr. Michael A. Milton, “How Is The Kingdom Of God ‘Already, But Not Yet’ What Else Does The Bible Say?” May 30th 2019, —
26 see my article “Genesis 10-11: The Tower Of Babel, The Fall Of The gods, And The Divine Council Worldview” if you don’t understand what I mean by that.

This Post Has 3 Comments

  1. Gary

    When I grew up evangelical in the 60s and 70s I never heard any evangelical talking about being an annihilationist. I’m sure they probable existed, but it was not widespread. Now, many evangelical apologists tend to be annihilationists like yourself, Evan. This is wonderful. I hope that more and more Christians move away from the awful, sadistic concept of eternal torment. Burning people alive in a lake of boiling fire for the crime of non-belief still seems very unjust to me, but it is a major improvement over burning people forever without end.

    1. Evan Minton

      What can I say? I’m more concerned with following the data where it leads than what the majority says. And the biblical text contradicts the majority of theologians on the topic of Hell.
      Truth over popularity. Truth at all costs. 🙂

      1. Gary

        I admire that quality about you, Evan. Keep looking at the evidence. Truth matters.

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