by Anthony Buzzard
“Heaven in the Bible is nowhere the destination of the dying.” — Cambridge biblical scholar, J.A.T. Robinson
“No Bible text authorizes the statement that the soul is separated from the body at death.” — the celebrated Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible (Vol. 1, p. 803)
Why do we Christians talk such nonsense about our Christian destiny? On every hand we hear talk of “going to heaven when you die,” “gaining kingdoms in the sky” and “passing away” or “passing on” at death. With all this familiar language we comfort ourselves with the belief that the dead have departed to be with God in His heavenly realm. We hope to survive death and join them there.
Shouldn’t we pause a moment and ask ourselves reflectively: Where does all this “heaven-going” language come from?
Certainly not from the Bible. What, for example, did the prophet Daniel, one of the heroic, faithful men of God, expect at death? The angel told him:
“Go your way to the end of your life; then you will enter into rest and rise again for your allotted portion at the end of the age” (Dan. 12:13).
Death for Daniel was to be a rest in the dust of the ground (see Dan. 12:2, where the same divine messenger described the condition of the dead as “sleeping in the earth”) followed by a rising, that is, resurrection “at the end of the age.”
There is no word here about Daniel’s soul going to heaven to be conscious in heavenly bliss. Instead Daniel was to repose in death and eventually, at the end of the age, to arise to new life. But for what purpose? Continue reading “Anthony Buzzard – Christians and Heaven”