Notes on a Godless Church: Part 5, No One Needs God to Buy a Tesla

Another way churches have become unintentionally disenchanted and atheistic is in the loss of the Christian eschatological imagination. Anyone remember heaven?

For over two thousand years, Christians looked forward to heaven. Nowadays? Nowadays heaven is an embarrassment. Heaven is a joke.

There are some very good reasons for marginalizing talk of pearly gates and streets of gold, along with making jokes about playing a harp for eternity while sitting on a cloud. Pastors and preachers are taught to fear preaching an "over-realized eschatology" or a "triumpalistic eschatology." We don't want our theology to become "escapist." Stop singing "I'll Fly Away"!

The worry here, and it's a good one, is that too much focus on heaven will cause us to ignore our moral responsibilities on earth and to the earth. Don't lean too far into the future, keep your eyes on the here and now. This world, in all its ruin and injustice, needs you. Heaven, as they say, can wait.

Like I said, these concerns are legitimate. But a persistent habit of avoiding talk of heaven, like it's a dirty little secret, nurtures functional atheism within the church. How so? Without the Christian eschatological imagination the kingdom of God reduces to social justice activism and creation care. Which are two hugely important things. But if the gospel reduces to being woke and buying an electric car, well, you can do those things without going to church. No one needs God to buy a Tesla. 

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