Weblog of a Christian philosophy student

Weblog of a Christian philosophy student. Please feel free to comment. All of my posts are public domain. Subscribe to posts [Atom]. Email me at countaltair [at] yahoo.com.au. I also run a Chinese to English translation business at www.willfanyi.com.

Location: Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

How does human nature change in heaven?

A lot of skeptics have this question about heaven: why won't people in heaven do bad things? Especially when you consider how Christians cannot avoid sinning in this life.

Is it that God changes human nature? Well then why didn't God create Adam and Eve with a nature that wouldn't sin? It doesn't make sense. But what other explanation is there?

So does God prevent evil in heaven by changing human nature?

In one sense yes, in another sense no. The answer lies in what Jesus did on the cross for us.

You could say that humans are made out of two components: a body-brain, and a soul-mind.

People will always have a body-brain (whether physical, spiritual, or glorified resurrected body) and a soul-mind. So in the sense of the 'components' of human nature, human nature never changes.

Is it a problem that the components of human nature never change?

Yes. For some reason God can't make anyone with these components like Himself when it comes to sin. By this I mean, only God can never be tempted by sin (James 1:13). And we're smart enough to know that if we mess other people around then we can often fulfill our needs and wants better. And if God hadn't given us needs and wants then we would be self-contained social islands (not a good alternative).

So how can God make heaven perfect if we're stuck with these components of human nature, and these components lead to sin?

Part of the answer is that human nature isn't the only issue. There is also the issue of our own individual moral characters.

We have free will, so in theory, heaven could have no evil in it if people just chose not to do evil there (despite our bad track record on earth).

But in practice, having free will doesn't really help things that much. We are smart enough to know that selfishness/evil often makes a lot of sense, and so we can't make ourselves do something like 'be perfect' that is clearly against our self-interest.

But maybe, the problems of human nature could be sidestepped if just one person lived a morally perfect life.

How so?

Well, if one person lived a flawless life with a body-brain and soul-mind, then perhaps God could 'give' their moral character (pattern of moral choices) to others... That would make the human nature problem irrelevant.

If God could just 'give us' a morally perfect character, then we'd still have our human nature, but it wouldn't be a problem because now everyone would have a perfect moral character.

There was such a perfect person, according to Christianity. Although Jesus had a body-brain and soul-mind exactly as we do (Rom 8:3), for Jesus sin wasn't ever a problem. This is because Jesus had God's soul (John 10:36). So Jesus had the soul of someone (i.e. God) who had chosen to never sin from eternity.

We don't exactly know how it works, but Jesus' moral character (pattern of moral choices) can be handed out to others. On the cross our sinful selves somehow died with Christ, and in return Christ now lives in us (Rom 6:6, Gal 2:20). This is referred to as getting a new nature and being a new creation (2 Pe 1:4; 2 Co 5:17).

This world is the 'choosing period', where people decide whether this is something they want. For some reason, God waits until after we die to 'fully manifest' the effects of the 'swap' - but the 'swap' is fully accomplished as soon as someone genuinely believes in Christ (Col 3:3).

So heaven makes sense. We will still have a body-brain and soul-mind, but this time there will not be any problems. Because our moral character has been changed through the cross.

[1] Part of the idea of Adam and Eve is that you can have a body-brain and a soul-mind and nevertheless avoid sinning. I think this is possible because the 'Garden of Eden' situation is one where God protects our understanding of good and evil. So we rely on God's understanding of what to do, whether to get angry with someone, or help someone, for example, rather than our own. The 'Fall' seems to be a situation where people decide to rely on themselves for working out good and evil and to let go of God's protection.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

do you mean heaven as in a platonic heaven or a new heavens and new earth?

Blogger Will G said...

I use heaven as a general term for the new heavens and the new earth, and also heaven.


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