This dialogue began in the comments of The Biblical Case for Everyone Going to Heaven. While it began in the context of discussing the logical structure of that book, I moved it here when David requested that we approach the discussion with a different logical structure.
If you want to read the discussion prior to this point, here is the last comment of that discussion. From there you can work backward to reconstruct the beginning of the conversation.
If, however, you’re a reader just joining the discussion, it’s not necessary that you work backward. I’ll give a summary that will allow you to follow the discussion without backtracking. That summary is this: I believe that the Bible teaches that Everyone Is Going to Heaven (this link provides a one-page summary of my view, while The Biblical Case for Everyone Going to Heaven provides a much longer explanation).
David disagrees, and here, in his own words, is his view:
God will not have anything to do with sin. He hates it. He is spirit and thus is everywhere at once. Nevertheless, in a sense that I can not really articulate, He lives in heaven. It’s a spiritual realm in contrast to our material one.
God is one; and yet the Bible shows that He operates in three persons, Father, Son, Holy Spirit. I see each of them having what we would call personality. And, yet, Scripture clearly teaches that there is only one God. All three ‘persons’ of the Godhead have never not existed. 2000 years ago, the second person, the son, who was a spirit being, became a man on earth, Jesus. He was fully man and fully God. Don’t ask me to explain that….
God’s plan is to live with man for all eternity. Since man is sinful, He had a problem to solve and He did it with Jesus’ death. God has always been identifying men/women to ‘save.’ By this I mean, He declares them righteous. They are not righteous; but, he can do this since at a point in time (2000 years ago) He knew that their sin would be paid for and thus make His declaration just.
The way in which a person is declared righteous is when God decides that they have faith/trust in what He has revealed to them. Genesis 15:6 is a nice example of this happening to Abraham well before the cross. Yet, when Abraham died, he went to Sheol. He had been declared righteous; but, his sin had not yet been paid for by the cross. Today, it is the gospel of Jesus that one must trust to receive this declaration. Those who don’t trust this message remain unrighteous and can not come into the presence of God, heaven. Sorry.
Not only righteous people but also unrighteous people went to Sheol before the cross. And, from Luke 16:19ff it seems like there was a good part and a not so good part. After the cross, Jesus took the ones from the good part to be with Him. According to 2 Corinthians 5:8 (as I understand it, at least) Paul says he would rather be absent from the body (I take this to be physically dead) and to be home with the Lord (I take this to be with Jesus in heaven). So, when one who God has declared righteous (God did this for me on December 19, 1987) dies today, they are immediately transported to heaven as a spirit being. Their body is rotting in the earth and they never have anything to do with Sheol. They are not yet resurrected which for me means being given a body like the one Christ had when he appeared on earth after the cross. That resurrection will happen when Christ comes for His church someday.
So, what about the unrighteous. They are still flocking to Sheol; the bad part. And, not until the various judgments of Christ, will they be resurrected to go to a place nobody should ever have to go to. On the other hand, it is one to which we all (including me, of course) deserve to go to.
So, as you can see, you and I are miles apart in our theology. I’ll leave it up to you to decide what you think might be profitable for us to discuss. I still think the list of premises approach is the most likely one to yield any fruit.
I am happy to try to work with David’s structure (“list of premises”) and see if that leads to more common understanding.
David, I know you previously laid out your structure but, not knowing whether you might want to adjust that in any way, didn’t want to just repeat it without giving you the opportunity to update. Therefore, if you will begin your reply by restating your current logical construct and which part you would like me to address, then I’ll respond, and we’ll go back and forth – unfettered by the structure of my book, following your logical leanings, and hopefully having a productive dialogue.