What I’m Going to Try to Argue for after Church Tonight, Should Circumstances Be Amenable and if People Want to

This morning the phrase was heard in our Sunday school that heaven is a created realm. The idea appeared to be that it was another space. It made me wonder. Is it spoken of as a place because essentially that is what it is, or is it the best way of speaking about something like that that is not a space to us who understand existence in terms of space?

All that is not God, has to be created, of course, but the idea seemed to be that heaven had space. Is the point in question to see whether it is a place or just a time? I wonder. I afterward had a conversation with a chap who said he believed that it was a space. I’ve encountered it before, people who believe that heaven includes space (extension), and that it is in fact somewhere in space. I asked if I could in theory take a space ship there, and was told that in theory it should be possible.

They seem to think that when Hebrews says Christ entered into the heavenly sanctuary, it is not so much speaking in figures of something spiritual as it is about a place where Christ went to do something. That the physical copy of the sanctuary was smaller and less perfect, and Christ went to the bigger and altogether perfect locale; rather than that a physical copy is a copy in extension of something that has no extension, just as a tree is a physical manifestation of the principle of intelligible coherence that is true treeness.

It blows me away. One of the arguments I’ve read is that since Christ has a resurrected body, that body has to be somewhere at the moment, and so that spatial location is heaven. I once had a conversation with an ancient instructor in mathematics and physics in which he thought it was more about another dimension, which I think is a bit more reasonable because when we say dimension we are more obviously using a figure of speech for that which we cannot conceive of in terms of the dimensions we experience.

What is the issue? Does the doctrine of the resurrection as so many today hold teach us that we have to expect a material body like the present? Is that irrefutably what Scripture is speaking of? Because I will submit to what Scripture must say. I subscribe to the creeds. I do not deny the hope of the resurrection, I do not deny that it involves real bodies, but I wonder if the point of them is their materiality as much as it is their reality. Are there different kinds of body?

I think the resurrection involves something like a body, not in the sense that it is unlike a body, but that it is much more. I think I can conceive of it in terms of a desktop icon. When you double click it, the icon is still there, but the point is the running program. The seed is sown corruptible, but it rises incorruptible, no longer recognizably a seed, though at the level of the principle of intelligible coherence the seed contains the plant.

Do you think the resurrection will involve a finding of the particles that were yours? What need? And what confusion, now that they’ve no doubt been recycled through a few of us! Do you think it is your DNA? Tomorrow science will change and DNA will be like the four humors of old. The answer is noumenal, not phenomenal. What makes you is your soul, not your DNA, and not the heap of organized dust your body is. For all I know, your DNA is the body’s residual awareness of the soul that animates it, if it isn’t the dream of a scientist who has extended his physical senses by the hallucinogenic narcotics of technology. The point is to get beyond a shadow to the substance. The body can have a manifestation in the world of objects, but I wonder if the point is that it has to be manifested there, or for me to live at that level of awareness exclusively. Perhaps it does require the world of objects, the world of physical phenomena in order to exist in communion with other beings or as an integrated, incarnate human being, but perhaps this level is at that point almost too insignificant for consideration since the body now has those meanings (all the faculties of a body) in a higher realm–their true realization, or truer.

I guess I understand heaven not so much to be a place, as to be the dematerialized uncreated non-place realm of subjects (selves, souls, forms of the individual if your soul is your form–which implies a hierarchy of forms, I admit and I entertain with some enthusiasm), but the point is that it is the place when (not so much the place where, as the age to come which already begins) we are in constant awareness of the presence of God. Hell is the place when you are not aware of him, and this present world (age) is the place when intermittently (increasingly) we are.

Think about it: at present we have a Comforter, he is the Holy Ghost, God’s ghostly third person presence sent in the second person’s physical absence to assure us of the Father’s electing love in the absence of God from the world because the Holy Trinity is not by nature anything created; he is altogether other, even in terms of being or not-being. But we are not always meant to live that way. He has made us for better apprehensions, which even now we have, though not maturely. Think about it: true worship is our search for assurances of his presence in this world, achieved by faith responding to what has been revealed; nobody truly worships who does not believing seek the real presence of God which cannot be counterfeited, anything else is something else and idolatry is never worship. It is a kind of dance, constantly re-enacted but nevertheless nourishing though not completely satisfying since it is not meant to satisfy.

Our present being has no sure way to communicate with God except through this extraordinary faculty of faith which requires a regeneration, it apprehends dimly, since we are associated with the body of shadow with all its inferior senses and want to rely on these instead. But God is not apprehended by these, though he can be said to be apprehended through these, and I believe we only have them in order to learn as spiritual beings what it is to grow, until our new better faculties (what now we still call faith) is what we go by, rather than these lower faculties. We are made to be incarnate in a world of objects, and those objects for us are at this present time the material, the shadow-substance which is not entirely real. Reality is something more, giving substance and color and all the possible qualities to matter which has none, lending but not bestowing. And heaven is more real, more immediate, more coherent and not, I think, extended but far better, or if it is extended somehow (if substance is not a form but essential matter, which I stand with Plotinus on, denying) it must come with better media–if you are going to go with Aristotle. Not me.

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