Bringing Heaven Down To Earth

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Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Eschatological Hymns: 'Alleluia! Jesus is Risen'

'Alleluia! Jesus is Risen' (SNC 150)

City of God, Easter forever
golden Jerusalem, Jesus the Lamb,
river of life, saints and archangels,
sing with creation to God the I AM!

Eschatological Hymns: 'Christ the Lord is Risen Today'

'Christ the Lord is Risen Today'

Soar we now where Christ hath led, Alleluia!
Following our exalted Head, Alleluia!
Made like Him, like Him we rise, Alleluia!
Ours the cross, the grave, the skies, Alleluia!

'Soar We Now': Sermon by Scott Hoezee

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

The Real World

I have some doctrinal differences with the Rev. David Feddes, but I noted an echo of N.T. Wright's fascinating "imperial parody" idea I talk about on page 170, in this bulletin announcement:

THE REAL WORLD: Have you ever noticed that when we talk about "the real world," we usually mean something bad? The so-called "real world" is where bad things happen and bad people succeed. But what if the real world is where good wins out and happiness reigns? Don't miss the April 16th Easter Back to God Hour. Check out our new website at for local stations and times.

Presumably this refers to a re-airing of Feddes' 2002 sermon on "The New City":

I know what some of you are thinking at this point. You're thinking, what about the real world? What's the use of talking about a future fantasy, when right now we're surrounded by greed, filth, and violence, by gangs and drugs and pollution? Well, friend, what we've been talking about is the real world.

Granted, our cities have many problems (at least for the moment) and we need to deal with them somehow. But let me just ask: Who's in touch with the real world? Is it people who are so bogged down in broken families and addiction and violence, in sin and selfishness, that they can't even imagine anything better? Or is it those who are in touch with the one reality that lasts forever? I totally agree that we need to be in touch with the real world, but the ultimate reality is the eternal city of God.

When we're in touch with this reality, when we really believe in the city of the future, we can also change the future of the city. We can begin to make our cities better right now, starting with ourselves. Instead of caving in to despair, we can have new hope and new energy, knowing that the future is bright. The more of us who start living right now as citizens of heaven, the better our neighborhoods will be.

The most realistic thing you and I can do, both for now and for our ultimate future, is to recognize the living God as Lord of the universe, to trust his Son Jesus as the way, the truth, and to look eagerly to the city of the future. This glorious realism has moved God's people ever since Abraham. In Hebrews 11 the Bible says Abraham "was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God" (Hebrews 11:10). That’s what we need to do as well: look forward to the city with foundations, the city that lasts forever, the ultimate reality.

Saturday, April 01, 2006


One of my favorite features at is SIPs, or Statistically Improbable Phrases. These are two-word phrases that appear disproportionately frequently in a particular book. The SIPs for Bringing Heaven Down To Earth are:

impossible promotion, small gospel, destructive devotion, big gospel, cultural commission, worldly kingdom, eternal heaven, current cities, right alignment, heavenly city

Quote at ByFaithOnline

Dick Doster outlines an eschatological view of culture in his article at byFaithOnline, "In the End, God Redeems [Humans'] Work for the Sake of His Glory." He uses my quotes of Hoekema, Mouw, and others from chapters 4 and 7, and cites my book toward the end:

In his book Bringing Heaven Down to Earth, journalist Nathan Bierma quotes Robert McAfee Brown, who said, "God's message is never: Turn away from this sinful world and find me somewhere else. God's message is: Immerse yourselves in this sinful world that so desperately needs words and acts of healing, and you will find you are not alone, for I am already there, summoning you to help me."

Christians at work in the secular world are not biding their time, waiting for eternal retirement. Rather, they are looking forward to the consummation of Christ's kingdom when they will rule, fill, and subdue the Earth—free from every sin—and for no other reasons than to glorify God and love their neighbors.

Monday morning—in business offices and art studios—Christians are to be fully engaged in creating the world's culture. Their work is to illustrate the cosmic scope of Christ's redemptive plan. Their eight to 10 hours a day—in marketing, teaching, or governing—is, Bierma points out, a means of preparing themselves and the world around them for the end of worldliness. They are, as they make their way to work each morning, to ask God to transform them and their surroundings "from people and places of worldly pride to people and places of godly goodness."

Andrew Bandstra on "The Hope of Heaven"

Dr. Andrew Bandstra, with whom I worshiped at Neland Avenue CRC when I was growing up, wrote the article "The Hope of Heaven," which earned second place in the category of Biblical Exposition from the Evangelical Press Association in 2004. Dr. Bandstra doesn't specifically sketch a terrestrial and cultural framework for heaven the way Anthony Hoekema and Richard Mouw do, but his analysis of biblical texts about heaven and hope is thorough.

What the Old Testament hints at, the New Testament teaches clearly. Jesus, the high priest and guarantee of the new covenant, has introduced “a better hope” (Heb. 7:19). Hope is related to the future. Paul tells us that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing to “the glory that will be revealed in us” (Rom. 8:18-25). The whole creation groans “in hope,” and we believers also groan inwardly as we “wait eagerly” for our adoption as sons and daughters, namely, the redemption of our bodies. Paul explains: “For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what [they] already ha[ve]? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.”

Judy Congdon response

I met Judy Congdon of Houghton College last summer in John Witvliet's summer seminar on teaching worship. I also appreciated reading her chapel reflection at Houghton on this summer seminar, and seeing her again at this past Symposium on Worship. So I was delighted and humbled to receive this note from her that said she had read my book, and glad that she agreed to have it posted here:

It was good to see you a few weeks ago at Symposium! While I was there, I took advantage of a few free minutes one afternoon to browse through the exhibits, and saw your book there. I had decided I wasn't going to buy stuff this year, but it drew my attention, mostly because I had met you last summer and was interested in what you might have to say. The title also grabbed me. Having grieved, during the past 2 months, the losses of 3 people who have been part of the fabric of my days ... heaven has been sort of on my mind.

I don't know what I expected to find when I opened the cover. Certainly I didn't expect the incredible life-affirming experience I've had in reading and processing the ideas you present. I felt such a witness of the Holy Spirit within my own spirit as I read. It's like a whole new room has been opened in my imagination, and my eyes have been opened to seeing bits (sometimes lots) of heaven every day. I'm so excited about it that I've ordered 5 more copies to give to friends and family, and may even get more than that before I'm through!

This note is a profound thank you for the beautiful, creative work you have done in writing the book! You have a remarkable gift for putting words together in compelling ways, and I am much, much richer for having read Bringing Heaven Down to Earth.