A Theology of Heaven, 2005 Class Syllabus

This is an intensive class taught by Randy Alcorn.

When: May 20-21, 2005

Where: Western Seminary, 5511 SE Hawthorne Blvd, Portland, OR 97215, phone: 503-517-1800

Class times: 10 a.m-4:50 p.m., Friday; 9:00-3:50 p.m, Saturday

Registration: For registration costs and further information you may contact admissions at Western Seminary, 503-517-1800 or portland@westernseminary.edu.

This is a one credit hour course, or you can audit. The class is intended for anyone wanting an in-depth study and discussion about heaven. It is open to any adult (college age and above) who is interested in the subject of heaven.

If you take the class for enrichment, the cost is $100. To audit the one-credit class, the cost is $80 if you have a bachelor’s degree, $100 if not; if taken for credit the cost is $330. (To audit or take for credit you must have a BA degree.)

To register or for further info contact Steve Thomas at 503-517-1880, sthomas@westernseminary.edu, or Amy Weeda at 503-517-1809, amyweeda@westernseminary.edu. You may register as late as the first day of class but early registration is encouraged.

If you are in need of housing, you may contact Amy Weeda at amyweeda@westernseminary.edu or call her at 503-517-1809. There may be housing available six blocks from the seminary at the World View Center for $28/night which includes breakfast.

Webcasting: Can’t attend the class in Portland? Contact Rachel Gibb at 503-517-1800 or rgibb@westernseminary.edu for information on webcasting.

Inductive Study (PDF)     Course Syllabus (PDF)

Course Summary

“A Theology of Heaven,” will seek to answer from Scripture the most significant and compelling questions about heaven: what happens at death; the intermediate state as distinguished from the final state; the resurrection and final judgment; the resurrection body of Christ and what that tells us about the nature of the ultimate heaven; the judgment seat of Christ; eternal rewards; and reigning with Christ.

We will address the pervasive myths and misconceptions about heaven, and the most frequent questions. (We’ll even answer why I’m choosing to capitalize “Heaven”!) Will it be like Eden? Will there be animals? Will we learn? What will our relationship with Christ be like? How will our worship change? How will we relate to each other? Do those in heaven see what’s happening on earth? Do they remember their lives here? Will we recognize each other there? Will we still be ourselves, or will we be completely different? Will we actually eat and drink? What is meant by “resting” and “serving” in heaven? Will there be national or ethnic identities and carry-overs of culture from the present earth? Will there be libraries, art, travel, recreation, entertainment, sports or technology?

Central questions will include: 1) Is there a continuity or discontinuity between our present life on earth and our future life in heaven?; and 2) What difference does it make whether we set our minds on heaven while we still live on earth? Special emphasis will be given to the new earth as God’s central dwelling place (and therefore the primary Heaven), and the far reaching redemptive implications of Christ’s work culminating in a resurrected universe delivered from the curse.

We will also deal briefly with hell, as well as the nature of the millennium. The central focus of the class will be the Scriptures dealing with heaven, particularly those chosen by the instructor in the pre-assigned “Inductive Biblical Overview of Heaven.” Attention will be given to the book of Revelation’s depictions of both the present heaven and the new earth, as well as the interpretive tensions in dealing with apocalyptic and metaphorical language about heaven. We will discuss the problem that the instructor has labeled “Christoplatonism,” and how it has hijacked and distorted our view of the resurrection, the New Earth, and the eternal Heaven.

The instructor will present central ideas and supplementary insights, via PowerPoint presentations. Students will be called upon to draw their own conclusions, with guidance from the instructor and input from other students. Class discussions, coming out of thoughtful biblical study and contemplation of the assigned reading, will be of major importance.

Handouts on heaven will supplement class discussions, including writings from Augustine, Aquinas, John Bunyan, Jonathan Edwards, Richard Baxter, Charles Spurgeon, J.C. Ryle and C. S. Lewis.

The required text, to be read in its entirely, will be Randy Alcorn’s Heaven (Tyndale House, 2004). We will move progressively through the book, so it will serve as an outline of class content. See the Table of Contents for an outline of the book. However, with less than twelve hours of actual class-time (allowing for lunch and breaks) we will be unable to cover every issue. The book is available in most bookstores, including the Western Seminary campus bookstore. It can be ordered at discount from many online sources, including that of the author’s ministry, Eternal Perspective Ministries.

Other recommended but not required texts for supplemental study: Paul Helm’s The Last Things (Death, Judgment, Heaven, and Hell), Alister McGrath’s A Brief History of Heaven, and Randy Alcorn’s In Light of Eternity: Perspectives on Heaven. The instructor will allude to and read from a number of other books about Heaven, most of which are in the recommended reading list in back of Heaven.

Randy Alcorn (@randyalcorn) is the author of over sixty books and the founder and director of Eternal Perspective Ministries