“Heavens… where?”

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Recently, an atheist commentator issued a challenge on one of my posts.  Specifically, in response to the post “Is there Evidence for Christianity?” the commentator quipped, “Heavens… where?”  The phrase “the heavens” in the original post referred to creation, and I suppose a legitimate answer could have been, “Go outside, and look up.”  However, I think the commentator’s real question was, “How can you believe in an afterlife, if you do not know where that afterlife physically is?”  Maybe a better question might have been, “Where did Jesus physically go when he ascended into heaven?  And if you don’t know, then how can you believe the witnesses who saw him ascend?”

Recently, I visited the commentator’s blog, and enjoyed the experience like a splash of cold water in the face.  None of what he had to say was particularly convincing (in part because it was mostly just ridicule), but it is good to experience bracing challenges to one’s own beliefs, if only to see whether they can stand the exercise.

In the end, the real question here is not mathematical or scientific, but rather it is whether we believe the eyewitnesses who say they saw Jesus die, rise, and ascend into heaven.  Was Jesus truly God, relating to us on our own level, as he so boldly claimed?  Test tubes and telescopes cannot answer that question.  Only the testimony can.

The Apostle Peter said, “We did not follow cleverly invented stories when we told you about the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty.”  (2 Peter 1:16).

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5 thoughts on ““Heavens… where?”

  1. You are right. I’ve had many atheists challenge me, mainly because I jab at them in my blog. But, a faith that can’t stand up to questions and tests is not a faith worth having. I believe the answers of faith are legitimate and challenging to the those who would deny the existence of God.

  2. I was not issuing a challenge as much as I was responding to an absurdity of claim. If eye witnesses tell you that they saw a giant UFO beaming up a buffalo, you would remain skeptical. Now talk about an eye witness testimony some 2000 years ago about a guy ascending bodily into the clouds. Now think about all the eye witness testimonies which you readily ignore coming from other religions, many of which older than yours. Now return back to my question. Heavens… where?

  3. Scholars across the spectrum, from the most conservative to the most liberal, agree that Saul-the-persecutor-turned-missionary-Paul (Acts 8:3), and James, the brother of Jesus who once thought Jesus was nuts (Mark 3:21, 6:3), both came to faith in Jesus as the risen Lord (Acts 9:1-19; 1 Corinthians 15:7). If the original followers of Jesus just made up the resurrection and ascension accounts, it hardly explains the conversion of skeptics like Paul and James.

    Scholars across the spectrum also agree that the apostles died martyrs’ deaths because of their confession of faith in the risen Jesus. People like these men, who had a record of being “chicken” (e.g. Mark 14:50), do not die for something they know to be a lie. People have died for things that were false when they thought they were true, but to suggest that these fellows all willingly died for what they presumably knew was a lie is just not plausible when one considers the widely agreed-upon facts.

    Curiously missing from the comments are the supposed eye witness claims that provide the BASIS for other religions. Perhaps that’s because there aren’t any. And perhaps that’s also because the essence of other world religions is following principles rather than confessing historical facts, which is the essence of Christianity (1 Corinthians 15:12-23).

    The real issue is not the assumed absurdity of the claim (a quite subjective standard). The issue is the way we investigate the claim (an objective standard). The closed view of the world is to refuse to investigate this and to come to a conclusion on one’s own apart from a consideration of the high amount of evidence that exists and that would stand up in a court of law. Eternity is a long time. You don’t want to be wrong on this issue. Investigate the case for Christianity objectively like a historian (e.g. Gary Habermas) or journalist (e.g. Lee Strobel) or lawyer (e.g. John Warwick Montgomery, Craig Parton). You might be surprised at what you discover.

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