Saturday, February 20, 2016

Heaven up

Three-tier world view is natural to us human beings and found in many different cultures. There is this actual presence, above heavens or some spiritual concept of it, under chtonic world with its creatures and realm of death.

Geocentric view
In the natural geocentric view there is no difficulty of understanding that heavens are up, above the everyday realm of living with all that belongs there. In everyday parlance and daily life we similarly live under the canopy of heaven above us. How the heavens stay up is understood in different ways by different nations and cultures. The Bible uses the concept רָקִ֫יעַ (raqia) usually translated in English as the vault of heaven, the firmament. The waters above it are kept in hold by it, sun, .moon, planets and stars are fixed there and do not fall down before the end of the days. Genesis 1:6,7

The Latin Church developed a comprehensive world view that mapped human existence: we live in this world, God's heaven is up and Hell is down under our feet. The church is the gateway to the eternal bliss in heavens up there.

Heliocentric view
Astronomers introduced the concept of round Earth rotating around the Sun. This began to brake the harmony of the ancient static three-tier cosmology so natural to human mind. What is up, what is down if Earth is in constant movement and not a solid foundation of existence? It took the Church quite a while to adjust the angelic theological teaching that looked so perfect to this new dynamic reality.

The process of making sense of where are heavens goes on also today as believers try to combine Biblical and traditional Christian heritage with the changing realities introduced by Astronomy and Cosmology.

Modern view
Today the world is not understood in Euclidean geometry with up and down but rather as a  space-time continuum with its focal point in the Big Bang. Four-dimensional world view is not easy to grasp and not at all as natural to human mind to grasp as the geocentric world view.

Spiritual heaven
We have the old geometry in our confession of faith in the sentences about Jesus Christ who first descendit ad inferos and then ascendit ad caelos, sedet ad dexteram Dei Patris. 

However, be warned that the concept of spiritual heaven is quite complex in the Biblical texts and does not equate the sky with its many objects with the abode of God in the heavens of heavens.

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