“we philosophers also should work more on giving good accounts of what heaven might be like.” – Alexander Pruss (http://alexanderpruss.blogspot.com/2017/03/heaven.html)
I am not sure if compelling account of heaven should increase credence of the afterlife. However, I think compelling account of heaven should increase our desire for sanctification, give us more joy, and bring a more fulfilling life. As long as we believe heaven is real. Thus, I think Dr. Pruss’ call for accounts of heaven should be answered. The description I give will first state what the bible teaches, then I shall talk about my own conjectures.
1.1 A Purely Biblical Description
The bible teaches us that heaven is a wonderful place to be. But what makes it wonderful is still a confusion for many. First thing I want to cover is that the book of Revelation makes several promises to the one that conquers the Spirit will: (1) give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God, (2) the ability not be hurt by the second death, (3) give a white stone with a name on it that only the receiver knows, (4) give authorities over the nations, (5) give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I was victorious and sat down with my Father on his throne. (Rev: 2:7, 2:11, 2:17, 2:26, 3:21)
I think promises (1) and (2) are fairly clear in what they are conveying, except for how they differ (if they differ). It seems they both are claiming to be an offer to everlasting life.
Promise (3) prima facie, is a bit weird. I hope to shed light on why this is one of the best promises. Names are important to people. They were even more important in the Greek culture because a name would represent who you are as a person (e.g, Peter= Rock/Rocky). There are also informal name which are sometimes even more endearing. A parent will often have a special title for their kid to evoke a feeling of preciousness within them. Now, I believe that God will give a name that not only represents us at the deepest level, but will endearing, and only be between ourselves and Him. I can only imagine what a special union it will be to have a name that only God will call me.
Promise (4) is straight forward in concept, but not in practice. Does everyone that goes to heaven have authority of the nation? If so, then what is a nation? I think the implication is that there will be people who make into heaven, but do not receive some of these promises. Thus, we must be extra diligent. This also indicates that heaven will be a lot like our present lives. Clearly, some things will change such as the amount of pain, but overall there will be more similarity than not.
Promise (5) is terrifying. I tremble at the thought of sitting upon the throne with God. I do not have a clue to what sitting on the throne fully means, but I am not worthy. When John, who spent time with Jesus on earth, saw the resurrected Christ in full glory, he fell down as if dead. Now the God who has this glory, offers us the potentional to sit on the throne with him, is a gift beyond measure.
Lastly, these are not all the promises even with the versus from which they are taken. There are other promises as well, but I am not sure what to make of them currently. One could argue that because these promises are to certain churches they only extend to the people in those churches. The issue of promise (4) being universal goes away if this is correct. I think all the other promises are clearly universal or easily universal. Perhaps it is a case by case basis. Either way, I think it is best to count on the promises being universal
2.1 Some Conjectures
In the above section it was established that heaven will be a lot like our earthly lives in terms of our daily lives. I believe that we will continue to grow and learn. I believe we will continue to discover too. One interesting possibility it to interact with new species that are rational. Given that God likes to create (the creation account suggests this), and God likes having personal relationship with his creation (humans and angels), then he likes creating beings that he personally knows. Now, humans and angels are a rather limited amount of personal beings. There is no compelling reason that God wouldn’t or hasn’t created more rational creatures. There are two ways I think this will come about. First, I believe some animals will evolve to have souls, moral, and become persons. Second, God may have created multiple universes to maximize his creation total. Both suggestions are plausible given the creation account in Genesis. Over time we may be stewards in developing animals into persons. And possible God we will be allowed to discover how to travel from universe to universe and meet his other creations.