In certain settings, I’ve been a bit notorious for arguing that Heaven isn’t a place populated by the souls of the righteous dead. This, of course, is the classic picture which has been handed down to us for roughly a millennium or more and has been most prevalent since the days of Dante. A full explanation of why I have difficulty buying into this picture would take a long time to explain, but this morning I was reminded of it as I read John 6.
To set the stage, John 6 contains the “Feeding of the Five Thousand,” followed by Jesus walking on water, and then the famous “Bread of Life” discourse which is found only in John. During this last section, Jesus repeatedly describes himself as the bread descending from Heaven, given by the Father, for the purpose of bringing eternal life to those who are willing to eat his flesh and drink his blood. (No wonder early Christians were considered cannibals by outsiders!)
The picture that Jesus presents doesn’t sound like we are living souls, as per Greek dualism, but that we are human beings who will die and will await our resurrection on the last day. Based on other New Testament texts, this resurrection is a whole body experience: We’ll be given a new, incorruptible body that will not perish, just like Jesus’s resurrection body as he is the firstborn of that resurrection.
So, what do you think? Do we possess eternal souls that wait in Heaven for the resurrection, perhaps looking down upon the living? Or are we fundamentally flesh, bodies lying dormant, waiting for the resurrection?