An Abstract for a Paper; “Heaven and Earth Reconciled: A Trinitarian, Proper Functionalist Perspective”

Here is an abstract I submitted for a collection of papers for “Heaven and Philosophy”.



Often when we think of heaven, our concepts tend towards a dualistic view of material and immaterial. Heaven, so it is thought, is a place we go when we die, and is our final destination. Though much has been made of this position, very little evidence points in this direction. When we believe in the false dichotomy of material and immaterial, this leads us into error about the importance of the material world. The Gnostics attempted to do away with the material, as they viewed it was inherently evil. This view has been a subtle poison in the modern day Christian thought, as we seek to somehow escape the material world, and therefore the material is really of no importance. Is this true? When we search the Scriptures, is this the view we find? How are we to understand what Scripture is communicating? This question trends us towards understanding the ontology of Scripture, which would do us well in understanding what it is communicating and how it communicates. Moving from the ontology of Scripture, I will contend that ultimately Scripture is a comprehensive witness to the gospel of Christ, the Word made flesh. It is a sanctified medium in which God communicates His Word to us, which is Christ. The project of Reformed Epistemology, and more specifically the proper functionalist account given by philosopher Alvin Plantinga will be of use to give an account of how we come to have knowledge of the things Scripture communicates. What I contend, with help from T.F. Torrance, is that the existence of heaven does not render Earth pointless. The very fact that Christ became incarnate shows that the material world is not meaningless or pointless. He came to reconcile all things to himself (Col 1:20). He appeared to his disciples in the flesh that hung on the cross. (Luke 24:36-43) To quote Torrance: “He came to take our place, in all our human, earthly life and activity, in order that we may have his place as God’s beloved children, in all our human and earthly life and activity, sharing with Jesus in the communion of God’s own life and love as Father, Son and Holy Spirit.”

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