ENCOUNTERING GOD IN THE WILDERNESS: A SPIRITUAL JOURNEY OF DISCOVERY

dscn2166-copy-640x480Part One: The Spiritual and Psychological Benefits of Nature

Three thousand years ago, King David wrote in Psalm 55: 6-7, “Oh, how I wish I had wings like a dove; then I would fly away and rest! I would fly far away to the quiet of the wilderness” (NLT). Some three thousand years later, American author, environmental advocate, and political anarchist, Edward Abby,” wrote in his widely popular book, Desert Solitaire, “We need wilderness whether or not we ever set foot in it. . . . We need the possibility of escape as surely as we need hope; without it the life of the cities would drive all men into crime or drugs or psychoanalysis.”

No two people could be further apart spiritually or philosophically than Israel’s ancient King David (c. 1000 BC) and the late Edward Abbey (1927 – 1989). Yet I’m certain both would have an answer to this question: Why do I (and as far as I can tell the vast majority of people) always experience feelings of tranquility and delight when hiking and exploring wild nature—and when back home have an irrepressible yearning to return?

Abbey would likely answer this question by pointing out that the human race, especially people living in urban and suburban environments, have a genuine psychological need for regular contact with wild, unspoiled nature. On the other hand, I suspect King David’s answer would be more in line with my own: Wild nature offers peace, quietude, and restoration—a place for spiritual reflection and insight.

The fact is King David and Abby are both correct. The human family possesses a psychological and spiritual longing to maintain contact with nature.

In the blog articles following this one, I’ll demonstrate that God has in fact revealed certain of his divine qualities and eternal character in and through nature. Thus, the family of man’s universal desire to associate with nature is spiritual in origin. It reflects an innate longing to encounter God that God himself has placed within the human heart, and nature (among other ways) can be a first step to fulfilling this longing. This is also the basis for people’s psychological desire to maintain some contact with the natural world, as recent studies in human behavior reveals. (I’ll demonstrate how this plays out in next week’s blog.)

What’s particularly wonderful about God’s self-disclosure in and through nature, and the reason nature can be an effective apologetic and evangelistic point of contact, is that it is available to all people everywhere, regardless of religion, culture, or period of human history. God has revealed enough information about himself in creation that nature can be a springboard for any serious spiritual seeker desiring a deeper, fuller understanding of God. (Through the Bible and the Christian witness.)

Exploring this remarkable fact, and helping readers discover what they can learn about God and themselves through nature, is the primary goal of this series of blog articles. And in case you think this will be a theologically challenging, esoteric, or mystical journey, don’t worry. It won’t be. With a little reflection, apprehending what I’m going to share will not be difficult at all, because I will use illustrations, analogies, and events taken directly from nature itself—many of which you will already be familiar with!

In next week’s blog we’ll begin our “spiritual journey of discovery” together, starting at my own home. ©

ENCOUNTERING GOD IN THE WILDERNESS; A SPIRITUAL JOURNEY OF DISCOVERY

ENCOUNTERING GOD IN THE WILDERNESS
A SPIRITUAL JOURNEY OF DISCOVERY

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Introduction

Since childhood I’ve explored countless wild habitats: forests, deserts, chaparral, grasslands, mountain slopes, and riparian. I’ve written two books and more than thirty articles on nature, wildlife, and environmental ethics (from a Christian perspective). And for many years I’ve sought insight into what can be learned about God through nature: What does creation teach us about God’s divine attributes, His flawless character, His eternal love and provision for humans and animals, and His promises to the human family?

Theologians call God’s self-disclosure in nature general revelation. As the term implies, this channel of divine revelation is limited in scope and in details about God. For example, it does not explain God’s plan for human redemption, nor does nature reveal anything specific about Jesus Christ. Nevertheless, general revelation does provide a legitimate way for people to learn truth and gain knowledge about God. This in turn can encourage serious spiritual seekers to consider further, fuller insight into the God of creation (i.e. through the Bible and God’s people).

I’m writing this series of blog articles (and the book-in-progress from which they’re adapted) for both Christians and non-Christians. My intent is to provide visual confirmation and illustrations in nature of some of the eternal truths and knowledge that God has revealed in the Bible. At the same time, I’ll share some of the breathtaking wonders and boundless beauty of God’s creation. I’m convinced that nature can strengthen a Christian’s faith in God. It has for me.

In terms of non-Christians, there are millions of outdoor enthusiasts—campers, sportsmen, wildlife photographers, hikers, environmentalists, and neo-pagans (nature worshippers)—who hope to find spiritual fulfillment in nature. This series will show why God’s self-disclosure in nature can be a conversation starter—an apologetic point of contact—with this variety of spiritual seekers. This in turn can lead to opportunities to share Jesus Christ.

Here’s why nature can be an effective evangelistic and apologetic point of contact:

Just as the human race possesses an intuitive sense of eternity, because God has placed such knowledge in the human heart (Eccl. 3:11); just as the human race intuitively recognizes a fundamental, universal moral code, because God has placed such a code in the human heart (Rom. 2:13-15); so too God has placed within the human heart an innate awareness of His existence, which can be awakened through contact with nature (Rom. 1:19-20). By means of numerous illustrations and symbols found throughout nature, any earnest spiritual seeker can sense God’s active presence in creation, identify some of His divine attributes, gain insight into His character, and even intuit some of the eternal promises He has made to the human race.

General revelation, then, can be a bridge from ignorance of God to recognizing the reality of his existence, so that, as the Apostle Paul put it to the Greek philosophers in Athens, “men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us” (17:27, NIV). Future blogs in this series will show that nature is a universal testimony to God’s existence—and a call for all spiritual seekers to “find” him.

Beginning in part one next week, and continuing for many weeks to come, I’ll provide compelling biblical and other evidences on what I’ve briefly touched on in this introduction. Along the way I’ll share some my own insights and experiences from many years of wilderness wandering. If readers come to better appreciate and enjoy nature in the process, so much the better. ©

TIME FOR A SABBATICAL

After more than four years posting a weekly blog article (I always posted the same blog twice a week), it’s time for a break. So I will not be posting any new blogs for a while. However, my readers can choose from many dozens of blog series to read. They include everything from apologetics to environmental ethics; from what it will be like in Heaven to evangelism; from answers to the tough questions non-Christians ask to will our pets and other animals join us in Heaven–and many other topics of interest.

Thanks to all of my faithful readers during this blog journey, you have been a blessing to me and an encouragement to my ministry.

WHAT WILL IT BE LIKE IN HEAVEN?

DSCN4066 (640x480)Part Six: ARE THERE HINTS OF HEAVEN IN NATURE?

In last week’s blog we saw that the eschatological “New Earth” (Heaven) will surpass the Garden of Eden in wonder, grandeur, and beauty. In this week blog—the last of this six part series—we’ll see that God has given hints of what the New Earth may look line in nature.

God in the Wilderness
Most Christians familiar with Scriptures already know that God has revealed some of his essential divine attributes in creation (e.g. Romans 1: 19-20). This truth has long captured the imaginations and stirred the creative geniuses of artists, poets, and wilderness sojourners. Poets such as William Wordsworth, transcendentalists such as Henry David Thoreau, wilderness wanderers such as John Muir, Christian writers such as Philip Yancey, Annie Dillard, and John Eldredge, and theologians such as Alister McGrath have all sought to capture the spiritual dimension of nature.

There is a reason for this. God has graciously given the human race hints of Eden in nature—and therefore insight into what eschatological New Earth (Heaven) may look like. Although predators and poisonous snakes and stinging insects dwell in today’s wilderness, the ecological harmony and beauty of nature still show a remnant of the peace and tranquility of Eden—and the presence of our Creator.

Hints of a Future “Eden” in Creation
Wild nature is a privileged peek—like the tailor to a movie—into a future paradise awaiting God’s people, a place with all the joy and peace and unspoiled beauty of Eden. In God’s timing the wilderness—indeed, all of creation—will be transformed (Romans 8: 19-23), and the dim memory of Eden planted in the recesses of our minds will someday become a living reality. “We must see nature,” Oxford scholar Alister McGrath teaches, “as a continual reminder and symbol of a future renewed creation, a world that we do not yet know but believe to lie over the horizons of our human existence. It is as if we are homesick for a lost Eden, longing for a fulfillment that we know lies ahead of us but have not yet found. . . . We must learn to see the present beauty of nature as a sign and a promise of the coming glory of God, its creator.” (The Reenchantment of Nature, 183-184)

The idea of nature as a precursor or foretaste of Heaven is a concept McGrath reflects on in several of his books. In A Brief History of Heaven he writes: “For writers such as Augustine and Lewis, the memory of Eden lingers, haunting humanity with its longing to regain entrance to this forbidden realm. Nature itself becomes a parable, charged with a divinely imbued potential to recreate the memory of Eden, and make us long to return to its now-deserted meadows.” (78) And in Glimpsing the Face of God:

We appreciate the beauty of a glorious sunset, while wondering if the sense of beauty it awakens within us is somehow a pointer to another and more wonderful world that we have yet to discover . . . .
What if nature is studded with clues to our true meaning and destiny, and fingerprinted with the presence of God . . . ?
We possess a sense of longing for something that seems to lie beyond the created order, yet is somehow signposted by the creation. (9, 13, 112)

The wonderful, magnificent, breathtaking good news is that at the end of this age Jesus will return to gather His people to spend eternity with Him in Heaven. But there is also a tragic side to this. The future New Earth is reserved only for people who have received Jesus Christ as God’s acceptable substitute for their sins and rebellion against Him. Jesus said in John 3:17 that God did not send Him into world to condemn it, but to save it. But then He adds this somber warning: People who do not believe in Him already “stand condemned.” Why? Because they have rejected Jesus (18).

Everyone has the opportunity to spend eternity in the Peaceable Kingdom—Heaven. But everyone must first make a decision. As in the conclusion of Robert Frost’s memorable poem,

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference

For people who choose the road to Jesus Christ, it will make all the difference. They are guaranteed eternity in a New Earth far more wonderful than anything we can possibly imagine in this world. Our redeemed friends and family—and yes our pets and wild animals—will be waiting there to greet us. ©

Today’s blog ends this six week series. As I’ve pointed out, this series has been adapted from my book, Will Dogs Chase Cats in Heaven?: People, Pets, and wild Animals in the Afterlife. For a more in depth study of this and other related topics, I hope you’ll consider reading my book.

 

WHAT WILL IT BE LIKE IN HEAVEN?

DSCN0591 (640x480)Part Five: How Will The New Earth Surpass the Garden of Eden?

We saw in last week’s blog article that Heaven (the New Earth) will resemble the Garden of Eden. This week we’ll see that although the Garden of Eden may be its prototype, the future New Earth will be far more magnificent. It will surpass even Eden in grandeur, wonder, splendor, beauty, and enchantment. Referring to the Isaiah 11: 6-9, Bible scholar and theologian Richard Bauckham put it this way:

“That a new creative act of God is envisaged [by the Old Testament prophets] is certainly right. The new creation surpasses Eden, but one could also say it realizes the potential of Eden. The original innocence of humans and animals does provide the prophet with a model for what the future will be like. It relates the future to what has been God’s will for his creatures from the beginning, and it sees that divine intention achieving its goal fully in the future, after which there cannot be another fall into violence.” (The Bible and Ecology: Rediscovering the Community of Creation)

In terms of its physical environment, the New Earth will have many similarities to our present Earth. As Randy Alcorn points out in his comprehensive book, Heaven, “The New Earth will not be a non-Earth but a real Earth . . . with dirt, water, rocks, trees, flowers, animals, people, and a variety of natural wonders. An earth without these would not be Earth.

But the eschatological New Earth will be much more than a reinvigorated Garden of Eden. It will be Heaven itself (see part two). It will have many astonishing features that differ radically from what we experience on Earth today. There will be no seas on the New Earth (Rev. 21:1). Nor will light be derived entirely (if at all) from the sun and moon (Isa. 60:19-20; Rev. 21:23). Unlike Eden, the New Earth will encompass more than nature. There will be civilizations, including nations, rulers, and cultures (Rev. 5:9-10). Indeed, the metaphorical language used to describe the new Jerusalem (precious minerals, pearls, golden streets, etc.—Revelation 21:18-21) indicates a world that humans words cannot adequately describe.

Best of all “there will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain” in the New Earth (Rev. 21:4). Nor will the human population include “the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murders, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars—their place will be in the fiery lake of burning sulfur” (21:8). In short, there will be no evil or sin or the possibility of a second Fall in the redeemed and restored New Earth because Satan and his minions would have been cast into hell “for ever and ever” (20:10).

But what makes this New Earth truly Heaven—and distinct from the Garden of Eden—is that God will dwell there with His people (Rev. 21:3)! While God visited the Garden of Eden (Gen. 3:8), He will actually reside on the New Earth (Rev. 21:3)! Saved, resurrected humans will see the Lord Jesus Christ face-to-face and live with Him forever (1 Thess. 4:16-18; Rev. 22:3-4). ©

In next week week’s blog article, I’ll explain how we can observe in nature “hints” what the natural environment of Heaven may look like.

WHAT WILL IT BE LIKE IN HEAVEN?

 

DSCN2422 (640x480)Part Four: Will Heaven Resemble the Garden of Eden—or Be Better?

The New Testament does not describe the natural environment in the prophesied future New Earth (Heaven). On the other hand, the Old Testament gives tantalizing glimpses of what the physical environment of the New Earth may look like. The Israelites understood that the future kingdom of God would be on this Earth; spiritually restored Israel would be an earthly abode. For example, the prophet Ezekiel wrote that on the renewed Earth the Dead Sea will be purified with fresh water and inhabited by “swarms of living creatures” (47:8-9). Indeed, the Old Testament prophets foresaw the New Earth as being similar, in many respects, to the Garden of Eden.

Speaking about the prophesied future kingdom of God, Isaiah told the Israelites that “The Lord will surely comfort Zion and will look with compassion on all her ruins; he will make her deserts like Eden, her wastelands like the garden of the Lord. Joy and gladness will be found in her, thanksgiving and the sound of singing” (51:3).

Looking forward to the Israelites return from Babylonian captivity, Ezekiel made a similar prophetic statement. But in context of the entire passage (and other passages in Ezekiel), the prophecy also reflects a messianic hope that will only take place at the end of this present age. He writes, “They [the Israelites] will say, ‘This land that was laid waste has become like the garden of Eden’” (36:35).

What did the Garden of Eden look like? Since God was its Creator, it would have been unspoiled, pristine, and indescribably beautiful. There was no death in Eden since it was created before the Fall and nature’s subsequent curse (Gen. 2-3). Thus, natural disasters, such as earthquakes, tornadoes, hurricanes, and tsunamis would have been unknown. Furthermore, there could not have been predators or other dangerous animals in Eden, and poisonous and harmful plants would have been absent. Adam and Eve, and all the animal inhabitants of the Garden, were vegetarians (Gen.1:29–30), and food was bountiful and available merely by harvesting it (2:16). Adam and Eve’s only responsibility was to tend and care for the Garden (2:15). They didn’t even have to water it (2:10). In short, the Garden of Eden was a paradise, a place where humans lived in harmony with other living creatures and in friendship with God.

The Bible further describes the natural environment in which God placed the first couple as having “all kinds of trees . . . that were pleasing to the eye and good for food” (Gen. 2:9). Perhaps these trees resembled the great forests of Lebanon, which God planted (Ps. 104:16). Ezekiel parabolically compares the ancient cedars of Lebanon, whose magnificence was widely proclaimed in the ancient world, with the trees in the Garden of Eden (Ezek. 31:1-9 cf. Isa. 35:1-2). In any case, Eden was probably not a manicured garden in the sense of what we think of as a garden today. (Perhaps it’s referred to as a “garden” because God planted it—Genesis 2:8.) Certainly, the Garden of Eden would have included an abundance of flourishing, edible green plants to feed and shelter humans and animals (Gen.1:29-30), as well as wild, stunning, natural forests along with a variety of exotic, colorful vegetation.

Old and New Testament passages that refer to the prophesied future New Earth provide similar parallels with the Garden of Eden. For example, the Holy City (new Jerusalem) that will descend onto Earth from Heaven (Rev. 3:12; 21:10) will have, like Eden, a flowing river and tree of life (cf. Gen. 2:8-10; Rev. 22:1-2). Isaiah declares that the New Earth will have no deserts or wastelands (51:3; cf. 35:1, 7). In chapter eleven Isaiah further reveals that the future Kingdom of God will have no predators or dangerous animals: “The wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat, the calf and the lion and the yearling together. . . . The cow will feed with the bear, their young will lie down together . . . and the lion will eat straw like the ox. . . . [T]he young child [will] put his hand into the viper’s nest” (6-8). So although wolves, leopards, and lions will inhabit the New Earth, they will no longer be carnivorous or dangerous to humans and each other. In fact carnivores will become herbivores (Isa. 11: 7), and wild nature and humanity will serenely co-exist in this future Peaceable Kingdom, as the Isaiah passage is often referred to.

Notice that all the prophetic passages I’ve quoted or referenced, which illustrate parallels between the Garden of Eden and the New Earth (Heaven), were made within an historical context that anticipates an eschatological future Kingdom. Even Old Testament passages that seem to focus primarily on the spiritual restoration of Israel forecast the future New Earth as an eternal Peaceable Kingdom. We can be certain that an ecological balance, restored habitats, transformed predators, and peaceful relationship between humans and animals will be a literal reality on the New Earth. ©

WHAT WILL IT BE LIKE IN HEAVEN?

Al's extra photos 019 (640x432)Part Three: DOES THE BIBLE SAY THE EARTH WILL BE DESTROYED BY FIRE AT THE END OF THIS AGE?

During a radio interview shortly after my book Should Christians Be Environmentalists? was released, the host put forward a common argument some Christians use to justify unnecessary environmental exploitation: “Why should we care what happens to the environment if God is going to destroy Earth at the end of this age?” This argument is based on 2 Peter 3:10-13, which reads in part,

But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare. . . . But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness (10, 13).

This passage appears to say that there will be a fiery cataclysmic end to Earth, perhaps by nuclear war, a collision between Earth and an asteroid or comet, or some other cosmic event that will totally annihilate the planet. This will happen on “the day of the Lord” (v. 10), when Jesus returns to crush Satan and his minions and then recreate a “new” heaven and earth (Rev. 20-22).

I don’t agree with this interpretation for several reasons—as do most theologians I’m familiar with, from John Calvin to the present day. In my book, Will Dogs Chase Cats in Heaven?: People, Pets, and Wild Animals in the Afterlife, I spend a large portion of chapter five providing the correct exegesis (interpretation) of this passage, and interested readers can examine the evidence in the book. But the biblical fact is, Peter is speaking of judgment—not annihilation. Numerous passages in both the Old and New Testaments (and I quote many of them) confirm that in the last days Earth will be redeemed and transformed, not destroyed. The apostle Paul confirms this in Romans 8:19-23.

Having said this, however, it’s important to understand that even if Earth is destroyed by fire it doesn’t mean the planet will vanish and replaced by another earth. And it changes nothing with regard to God’s eschatological purpose to redeem and decontaminate the earth of sin and to restore it to Garden of Eden-like conditions, as prophesied in Isaiah, Ezekiel, and elsewhere.

Just as God will transform our mortal bodies into glorious sin-free bodies at the resurrection, rather than create entirely different bodies (1 Cor.15:35–53), so too the first creation. It will not be destroyed and replaced by an entirely new creation; it will be transformed. Earth will be restored and renewed; sin will be obliterated and the curse removed (Rev. 22:3); and humans and animals will coexist in eternal peace (Isa.11:6-9). This is all part of God’s redemptive plan for redeemed humanity and restored creation.

What will this redeem, transformed New Earth be like; this eternal home of God’s people and animals? It will be similar to the Garden of Eden—but better! Paradise lost will become paradise regained and glorified. This brings us to the topic of my next couple blog articles: What will the physical environment of the Heaven look like? ©

WHAT WILL IT BE LIKE IN HEAVEN?

DSCN0501 (640x480)PART TWO: WHERE WILL HEAVEN BE LOCATED?

The Old Testament prophets and Revelation tell us what God will do at the end of this present age. In particular, creation will be redeemed, transformed, and united with Heaven. The merging of these two realities—the physical with the spiritual—will become the everlasting abode of God’s people (and animals). The Bible refers to this future eternal home of redeemed and resurrected humans—those who are saved by the atoning work of Jesus Christ (Rom. 8:1; 1 Cor. 15:3)—as a new heaven and a new earth (Rev. 21:1-4). Many Christians, however, are confused about where this eternal Kingdom of God’s people will be located, which Isaiah (65:17), Peter (2 Pet. 3:13), John (Rev. 21:1), and others prophesied.

So the first thing that needs to be established, as I begin part two of this series of blog articles, is that Heaven is not an alien, mysterious, otherworldly place located somewhere “far off in space.” Rather, Heaven will actually encompass this Earth, but transformed and restored (hence the term “new earth”). To be sure, the wicked will be removed from Earth (Rev. 20:7-15) and the righteous will inherit it (Rev. 5:10; cf. Matt. 5:5). But nothing in Old or New Testament eschatology suggests that God’s children will be removed from Earth and transported to some kind of parallel universe or to a Heaven located far out in the cosmos. As Hank Hanegraaff, President of the Christian Research Institute, in his book, AfterLife: What You Need to Know about Heaven, the Hereafter & Near-Death Experiences, put it:

You and I are not going anywhere! Heaven and earth [will be] conjoined. . . . When [Jesus] appears again heaven and earth will be as one—united, as it was before the advent of decay, disease, destruction, and death. The dwelling of God will be here. . . .
We are not going to be resurrected to another world. We await our resurrection in this world! This world is not about to be scrapped; it will ultimately be redeemed. (132)

In other words, there will be continuity between this Earth and the prophesied restored New Earth, which will be our eternal home—Heaven. The prophet Ezekiel gives an example of this continuity when he spoke of Israel’s restoration in the prophesied Messianic Age. He wrote that a river will flow “east through the desert into the valley of the Dead Sea. The waters of this stream will make the salty waters of the Dead Sea fresh and pure. . . . Fish will abound in the Dead Sea, for its waters will become fresh” (47:8–9 NLT). Unless God creates another Dead Sea on another earth, this prophecy will be fulfilled here on Earth.

Here’s how it plays out in the eschaton. When we Christians die, our souls go immediately to be with the Lord in Heaven (2 Cor. 5:1-8; Phil 1:21-23). At the end of this age, when Jesus returns to initiate His eternal Kingdom, our souls will then be reunited with our resurrected bodies (1 Cor. 15; Phil. 3:21) At that point, Earth will be redeemed and transformed into a New Earth, and Heaven (God’s abode and where yet to be resurrected souls presently dwell) will unite with this New Earth to become our flawless, eternal home—one free forever of sin, suffering, grief, hardships, natural disasters, and all the others evils that plague the human race and nature on Earth today. (C)

In upcoming blogs, I’ll describe what I believe this New Earth (Heaven) will look like, in terms of its physical environment, its inhabitants, and other features that can be gleaned from the Old and New Testaments. But first, in next week’s blog article, I’ll explain how we can know the new heaven and earth will be this Earth gloriously redeemed and transformed.

This blog series is adapted from my book, Will Dogs Chase Cats in Heaven?:  People, Pets, and Wild Animals in the Afterlife, which contains a more in depth treatment of this topic.

WHAT WILL IT BE LIKE IN HEAVEN?

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Part One: Introduction

One thing the Bible makes unequivocally clear is that at the end of this age God’s people will join Jesus and the rest of His “saints” in Heaven. This is a biblical given. However, when it comes to envisioning what Heaven will actually look like . . . well, that’s an entirely different issue.

There are at least three reasons for this. Most significant is that the Bible simply doesn’t give us all the information we would like to have concerning what Heaven will be like—especially what its physical environment will look like and its non-human inhabitants. Second, the Old and New Testaments seem to present somewhat different perspectives on Heaven (I’ll harmonize these two views in a later blog). And third, although many books have been written about Heaven, not all of them interpret the biblical data the same.

Having acknowledged these challenges, I still believe there is enough information in Scripture concerning the prophesied “new heaven and earth” (Isa. 65:17; Rev, 21:1) to allow us to imagine a fairly accurate depiction of what God’s eternal kingdom may look like. Examining this evidence, and sharing what I’ve learned, is the subject of my new blog series: “What Will It Be like in Heaven?”

This series is adapted from my book, Will Dogs Chase Cats in Heaven?: People, Pets and Wild Animals in the Afterlife. Despite the title, however, the book is not just about animals. As the subtitle implies, it’s about people too. It includes four chapters specifically about Heaven, as well as chapters on how we can know human and animal souls are immortal.

Likewise, this blog series will not focus on animals. Rather, it will explore such things as, Where will Heaven be located? What will its physical environment look like? Does Eden offer clues to what Heaven will be like? And so on. Clearly, I can’t begin to share in a weekly blog all I’ve learned and wrote in the book, so interested readers should read the book itself for a full treatment of the topic.

Now, a couple remarks about how I approach this subject, in both my book and upcoming blog series. First, I use the entire Bible—not just the New Testament—as the basis for my research and conclusions. (It may surprise some readers to know that there is more information revealed about the physical environment of Heaven in the Old Testament than the New.) Second, I focus on the unambiguous biblical references to Heaven, and therefore, wherever possible, limit interpretations of obvious metaphorical and apocalyptic scenarios—which can be open to various interpretations.

One more thing. Although I appreciate and encourage comments and fresh insights into this topic, I am not writing this blog to engage in debates. What I share is my view, based on what I believe is an accurate biblical perspective after much research and study. Readers are free to accept it or reject it. However, I do encourage blog readers with opinions different than mine to read the book itself. Obviously, the only way to gain a full understanding of my perspective is in context of the total narrative.

Next week I’ll begin the series by exploring where Heaven will be located. Not where many people imagine! ©

WHAT WILL IT BE LIKE IN HEAVEN?

In today’s world, many non-Christians avoid reading anything that hints of Christianity. In light of this, as a Christian apologist who has written several books, I have spent a lot of time thinking about ways to initiate conversations with unbelievers; ways in which they will listen and give us a fair hearing (I give other examples in my book, Engaging the Closed Minded).

One of the reasons I promote my book in apologetic and evangelistic circles is because I believe that it has the potential of being a terrific conversation started—point of contact—with non-Christian pet owners and people who love wildlife and animals in general. There are more than 40 million households in America alone with just dogs, and probably even more with cats. Most of us have unbelieving family and friends with pets, and we’d like to share our faith them. This blog (and the book it’s based on) can help.

Will Dogs Chase Cats in Heaven?: People, Pets, and Wild Animals in the Afterlife—and upcoming blog series I’ll begin next week—is not just about animals. As the subtitle implies, it’s also about people. It includes four chapters specifically about Heaven, as well as chapters on how we can know human (as well as animal) souls are immortal. In terms of evangelism and apologetics, the blogs and book can be a gentle and non-confrontational way to introduce unbelievers to a fascinating feature of Christianity they may have never considered—or been confused about: The wonderful reality of Heaven.

If you share this new blog series with non-Christian Facebook friends and family members (or better yet recommend my book), they will learn about the breathless wonders of Heaven awaiting God’s people—and meet Jesus Christ in the process. ©

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