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By J. Richard Middleton

In recent times, an increasing number of Christians have come to understand the Bible's instructing that the last word blessed wish for the believer isn't an otherworldly heaven; in its place, it's full-bodied participation in a brand new heaven and a brand new earth introduced into fullness in the course of the coming of God's nation. Drawing at the complete sweep of the biblical narrative, J. Richard Middleton unpacks key previous testomony and New testomony texts to make a case for the recent earth because the acceptable Christian desire. He indicates its moral and ecclesial implications, exploring the adaptation a holistic eschatology could make for residing in a damaged global.

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Extra resources for A New Heaven and a New Earth: Reclaiming Biblical Eschatology

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87–99. ╯See Plato, Phaedo 64a–68b. The language is intentionally androcentric. ╯For Plato’s phrase a “moving image of eternity,” see Timaeus 37d; for a description of the beauty of the cosmos, see Timaeus 29e–31b. indd 31 9/9/14 10:14 AM 32 ↜A New Heaven and a New Earth A slightly different version of Plato’s philosophy was promulgated by his most famous student, Aristotle (384–322€BC). 29 More important, he accepted Plato’s value distinction, such that the immaterial and rational were superior to the bodily and the material.

God’s own generous exercise of power for the benefit of creatures thus provides a model for the human exercise of power in the world. Perhaps most significant of all is that the biblical God does not hoard power as sovereign ruler of the cosmos; instead, he gladly assigns humanity a share in ruling the earth as his representatives (Gen. 1:26–28). God does not micromanage the world, but instead fully expects human beings, made in the divine image, to contribute to the developing beauty and complexity of earthly life.

For the insight that God was the first gardener/culture-maker, I am indebted to Andy Crouch, Culture Making: Recovering Our Creative Calling (Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2008), 108. ╯Another important reference to humans in Ps. €35a), where the psalmist asks God to remove sinners from the earth; presumably their misuse of power impedes the proper functioning of earthly life (this perspective is important, as we will see in later chapters, for interpreting eschatological texts of judgment such as Matt.

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