Sunday, March 23, 2008

Thought for the day

When I try to think about the new heavens and earth, the future God has graciously promised, my hope cannot survive if it thinks in terms of usual possibilities or potentials. But in the resurrection of Jesus Christ I believe the dawn of the future new creation is glimpsed, a creation as depended on God as it was for its origin and continual existence. There, and only there, my hope finds its anchor, animation, energy and purpose.


At 3/24/2008 2:22 AM, Anonymous mike said...


(somebody's been reading Paul...)

At 3/24/2008 12:16 PM, Anonymous Matthew R. Malcolm said...

good stuff - I am becoming more and more convinced that resurrection is a key way of expressing the grace of God for Paul - the grace that both destroys and perfects... certainly I think this is the point of 1 Corinthians 15: We look forward to a future that has continuity with the present, but is transformed, as a gift from God. (Just discovered your blog - I'll keep posted, as my research is also on Paul - at Nottingham, under Anthony Thiselton)

At 3/25/2008 4:40 AM, Anonymous Edward T. Babinski said...

According to the book of Revelation a “new earth” and a “new heaven” will be created after Jesus returns. Occupants of other planets throughout the hundred billion galaxies of our present “heaven” will no doubt be surprised to receive such an unearned favor, all because of what happens on our little world. Or is this simply another example of how the Hebrews viewed the earth as the flat firm foundation of creation with the heavens above created simply for the earth below?

At 3/25/2008 6:00 AM, Anonymous byron smith said...

Oops - pressed 'post' before I added my line:
Great symbolism. Crummy geophysics.

At 3/25/2008 6:00 AM, Anonymous byron smith said...

(somebody's been reading Paul...)
Or Moltmann.

Edward - Not sure you'll find many readers of this blog who take those wonderful (and, as you point out, decided odd) images literally. For instance, you've noted the link to the cubic Holy of Holies; the image of the New Jerusalem also has no Temple, since the whole thing is one giant temple for God to inhabit: now the dwelling of God is with humans.

At 3/27/2008 1:40 PM, Anonymous Chris Tilling said...

Hi Matthew,
Thanks for stopping by. What is your research on?

Hi Edward,
I would second Byron

You cited: "“The New Jerusalem” must be true without a doubt because “what reason would God have for describing such details so precisely unless they were true?” [Apocalypse: The Coming Judgment of the Nations (Bantam Books, Toronto, 1994), p.351] "


At 3/28/2008 2:41 PM, Anonymous Matthew R. Malcolm said...

hi chris... my research is on the literary flow (particularly the placement of chapter 15) and therefore the essential message of 1 Corinthians. In practice, this means I am also doing substantial work on Redaction Criticism and Pauline Ethics, among other things... My supervisor is incredibly thorough and encouraging, so I'm really enjoying it. I'm off to Israel next week to deliver a little discussion paper on Redaction Criticism in Paul, so that's kinda exciting... I'm hoping to use the opportunity to make some earth-shattering archaeological discoveries at the same time, but we'll see how that goes...

At 4/01/2008 11:31 PM, Anonymous Edward T. Babinski said...

Double Groan. Yes, I'm aware of the symbolic approach to Scripture, or in fact toward life in general. Though I thought the symbolically oriented among us would still get a kick out of the way literalism has yet to be abandoned by many Christians.

And that raises the question of what happens after literalism is abandoned, after the primeval history chapters of Genesis (from the creation and garden and "fall" story--to the Flood and tower of babel), are viewed as symbolic, along with last chapters in the Bible as well, like Revelation.

Some of course, like Crossan and Spong even view the growth of the miracle stories of Jesus as well as the resurrection stories from Paul to Mark and later Gospels as a development of symbolism and myth (perhaps based on a first century preacher, but the greatest miracles remain questionable and only seen by a few--the transfig., walking on water, the resurrection and bodily ascension into the sky, quelling the storm--or such stories remain questionable on other bases, "Jesus appearing to over 500?" "the raising of the many?").

What's left in the end? A lot of symbols and some miracle tales that remain questionable, and some theological doctrines that make little rational sense (like how and why bleeding an innocent man "makes up" for little Tommy disobeying his mommy, whats kind of metaphysical transaction is taking place and how would one know for sure it is?).

At 4/03/2008 8:35 AM, Anonymous byron smith said...

It's quite possible for some things to be symbolic and others not. Give credit to the authors and (most) readers of scripture to be able to distinguish between parable and proclamation.

At 7/15/2009 7:08 PM, Anonymous Joseph E. Palmer said...

Hi! As an evangelical Christian, who is a literalist, believes that the Bible in its
original texts is inerrant, and who happens to be a Physicist, I am going to attempt to
answer Mr. Babinski's critique of the final
chapter of the Book of Revelation.

Ok, first to the objections. As I understand it the problems are:

1. The cube would see-saw on the New Earth.
2. The New Earth's crust would buckle or crack beneath it, causing earthquakes and volcanoes.
3. It would interfere with the rotation of the New Earth.
4. It would collapse into a sphere under its own gravity.
5. When it landed, it would collapse under its own weight.
6. If it did not, it would interfere with the jet streams.
7. It would wreak havoc with any satellites.
8. The majority of it would be under constant bombardment by radiation.
9. The majority would also exist above the atmosphere.
10. The pearls (from which the gates are made) are too big.

Can I add some more before I try to answer all of these?

11. The huge amount of gold would interfere with the magnetosphere which protects us from the Solar Wind.
12. None of the materials listed as what the foundations for the city walls are made of could possibly take all the weight of the wall without shattering.
13. If God is the source of light, the rest must be dark, being blocked by all that gold.

All these "problems" ignore one word.


I find nothing in the passage to even remotely suggest that this New Earth is anything like the current version (1.0?). In fact, it would seem to suggest that things are quite different. In fact, my own personal guess is that Earth 2.0 IS flat. So, as a physicist, I'm going to assume that I have to start all over. I have no idea what laws govern this world. That takes care of all the objections (except 10 - I take it that a God who can make a bug's but glow in the dark can deal with making a giant pearl). All of the listed objections make broad assumptions about how things work. Better yet, they assume that things will work as they do now. If they did, why use the word "new" twice (new heavens and new earth)?


"The author of the book of Revelation wrote in flat earth fashion: 'I saw four angels
standing on the four corners of the earth'"

I could attempt to make the point, that has been made repeatedly, that the Bible is not
a science text book, but that does not seem to get the point across. Let's look at it
another way. The Bible is God's attempt to communicate to humanity on the most
important topic to each human: their relationship to the Creator is in serious need of fixing. As such, He is going to use language that would easily communicate those ideas that He wishes to communicate.

Or to reverse the point, are you saying that God is not allowed to use idioms? That He
must always talk in the most technical of details? Or shall we conclude that all the
authors of all the history, biographies, and autobiographies that use either of the
phrases "the Sun rose" or "the Sun set" and any variations on them believe that the
Sun goes round the Earth? Or shall we conclude that we are being unreasonable, and
that idioms are an easy way of communicating ideas when using technical terms are not
conducive to communicate the point?

Shall we go further? Can we give failing grades to biographies of Sir Isaac Newton
that don't include long detailed discussions of calculus?

There is a lot in Scripture that is difficult to understand. Can we try not to add to the list? Please?

Sincerely yours,

Joe Palmer


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