This article is a sidebar to "This World Really Is Our Home."
In one of the best-known epistolary passages, Paul encouraged the church at Corinth to "look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal" (2 Cor. 4:18, ESV).
Seems like a problem for Michael Wittmer, whose new book Heaven Is a Place on Earth argues that modern Protestants have wrongly split "spiritual" matters from earthly ones.
Not so, says the associate professor at Grand Rapids Theological Seminary. The visible thing Paul disdains is his intense persecution and the toll it was taking on his body (4:7-12), while the invisible thing he focuses on is his renewed depth of character that would never have been forged without it (4:16-17). So Paul determines to concentrate on redemption (inner renewal) rather than the fall ("light and momentary troubles"). There is nothing in this passage, he says, about the transience or temptation of creation.
But what about the next chapter? Paul writes:
For we know that if the tent, which is our earthly home, is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this tent we groan, longing to put on our heavenly dwelling, if indeed by putting it on we may not be found naked. For while we are still in this tent, we groan, being burdenednot that we would be unclothed, but that we would be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee.
So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, for we walk by faith, ...1
Already a CT subscriber? Log in for full digital access.
Subscribe to Christianity Today and get access to this article plus 60+ years of archives.
- Home delivery of CT magazine
- Complete access to articles on ChristianityToday.com
- Over 120 years of magazine archives plus full access to all of CT’s online archives
- Learn more