Bringing Heaven Down To Earth

blog for the book by Nathan Bierma • > Heaven > Blog

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

"Urban Paradise" at

Melody Pugh at

In the popular imagination, the city often represents society's vices: violence, crime, sexual deviance, drugs. With the heightened visibility of suffering through homelessness, poverty, and racial discrimination, we see the more extreme effects of living in a sinful world. And though certainly not exclusive to the city, these realities are, like everything else in an urban environment, more concentrated. ...

To urban church leaders, led by nationally recognized figures like Ray Bakke in Chicago and Tim Keller in New York City, cities are more than just a present-day Sodom and Gomorrah, quietly awaiting their downfall, or crying out for salvation from the redeemed rural world. Instead, they're concentrated centers of transformation, communities with the opportunity to demonstrate God's grace. They're opportunities for individuals from diverse backgrounds to live, work, and play in near proximity, and in so doing, to participate in the authentic work of the gospel. Cities allow close-knit networks of churches to provide vital resources, for Christians to share the news of God's desire to break down barriers to justice, responsibility, and brotherly love.

Also see my B&C online article: Why There Will Be Sidewalks in Heaven

Related Chapter: 5

Theologically suspect Blog Heaven banner

Blog Heaven banner

This Beliefnet banner gets cute with its subtitle, "Where faith blogs go if they're good," enforcing the erroneous and harmful notion (as I argue at the end of Chapter 8 and elsewhere) that going to heaven depends on how good you are. The Bible is clear: No one is good enough. So God made entrance to heaven a matter of whether you're saved, not whether you're good.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Howard Vanderwell response

I was honored to have my colleague, Rev. Howard Vanderwell, read my book over Christmas break and stop by my office yesterday to share his reflections. He said he appreciated the book, especially the point about "the artificial heaven of retirement" in Chapter 7--since Vanderwell works full time in his retirement--and the big gospel/small gospel distinction in Chapter 7. Small gospel believers, he agreed, are missing out -- "it's like standing in front of a skyscraper and looking only at the 1st floor," as he memorably put it. Vanderwell said the book's title may suggest the book is going to be mostly about heaven, when he thought "it's more about the 'bringing' and the 'connecting.'" I was a little worried about the same thing, but I figured the "bringing" and the "connecting" were the important parts, anyway--at least more than speculating about the nature of eternal life.

First Things recommendation

My former editor John Wilson mentions my book in the company of three other works of apologetics, including Debra Rienstra's So Much More, in his year-end books roundup in the December issue of First Things (the article is not yet available online) (update: now it is). I hadn't really thought of my book as apologetics before this, but I guess the theological framework the book lays out can and should serve as a defense of the Christian faith. In any case, I'm honored by the mention.