Sunday, 10 August 2014

The nature of Joy in Heaven

I want to 'relate' to God rather than just seeing Him as an abstract 'good' that I have to force myself to desire by knowing I will desire Him when I see Him. I know I desire an unexplainable, unimaginable thing yet it is brought about via interests I have within this world. Indeed, if those interests have nothing to do with the ultimate goal or ultimate perfection, it makes me feel the same way about the arts and sciences as I did about mankind as an atheist...that all is met in death and therefore all is a fleeting thing, forgotten and not even allowed to make a lasting mark. A waste. They are lovely but pointless in the same way as a true love would be if you never could manage to meet her and bring about the satisfaction of marriage.

To be utterly honest, when I read the words of famous writers like Jonathan Edwards talking about how beatification is perfect and joy, as a word, is but a low shadow of the reality of the enjoyment we will have...I feel suspicion. I feel nothing can be verified and the more I research the more it seems everything we say about Heaven is made up. The idea of eternal linear time is disturbing...and the object of my longing seems so undefinable (although it seems (to me) as though some of my loves may be distant reflections) that, on the whole, trying to pin point what I'm seeking is torturous! ... I believe it to be vital because it is a desperate search to find out what God is 'like'. Obviously, as He is infinite, we cannot know Him perfectly in this mortal world, however me must be able to relate to Him via our hopes/loves and desires (so long as they are not sinful). We must follow His words, no doubt, yet I also wish to love Him as well as serve Him...or, else, attempts all seems rather hollow and meaningless. Platonism has, through reading CS Lewis, given me a glimmer of an idea.

How widely is it thought everything in 'this World' reflects a greater reality where those things are perfect (in God)? That we might reach this perfection via beatification? And how widely do they take that claim; can a love of fiction reflect this higher reality? Can films? Can objects?

And if this reality (to be) is greater, to what degree would it be sensible to assume it (they) might be perfected? Are words, to quote Jonathan Edwards,like joy but "low shadows" of how great and perfectly satisfying the joy of the World to come is?

To use an example, I have often hoped (via reading CS Lewis's Platonism inspired writings) that my love for Norse Myth, Tolkien, 'Dr Who' and my nerdy interest in collecting figures based on that program's characters and monsters, might in fact be instigations of something. I feel, via such, as CS Lewis felt via fairy tales, a desire for something 'ineffible' and far mightier/joyful than we might know or guess- sehnsucht. Wordsworth felt a similar desire through nature...but how many Christians believe that these feelings are 'for something' that they reflect when, as some do say (and intelligent men within the Church say) it may well be that the only similarity between objects and enjoyments here and the World to come, is that both are enjoyable.

The only really reliable answer we have to “what is God like” is “God is like Jesus”.
If you look at the starcourse blog you’ll see I’ve recently finished “Tokens of Trust” by Rowan Williams. He makes the excellent points that:
  • Ultimately Christians believe in eternal life not because they believe something about themselves as human...but because they believe something about God: that God is trustworthy.
  • When we have done our worst, God remains God - and remains committed to being our God...The resurrection displays God's triumphant love as still and for ever having the shape of Jesus
We do get intimations of God’s love and beauty in this world. And we know, intellectually, that God is perfect love and perfect beauty. But we can know more through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus.

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