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word having an -l suffix: Old Frisian himel, himul ("sky, heaven"), Old Saxon/Old High German himil, Dutch hemel, and modern German Himmel, all of which derive from the reconstructed Proto-Germanic *Hemina-.
While there are abundant and varied sources for conceptions of Heaven, the typical believer’s view appears to depend largely on his religious tradition and particular sect. Some religions conceptualize Heaven as pertaining to some type of peaceful life after death related to the immortality of the soul. Heaven is generally construed as a place of happiness, sometimes eternal happiness. A psychological reading of sacred religious texts across cultures and throughout history would describe it as a term signifying a state of "full aliveness" or wholeness. In ancient Judaism, the belief in Heaven and afterlife was connected with that of Sheol (mentioned in Isaiah 38:18, Psalms 6:5 and Job 7:7-10). Some scholars asserted that Sheol was an earlier concept, but this theory is not universally held. One later Jewish sect that maintained belief in a Resurrection of the dead was known as the Pharisees. Opposed to them were the Sadducees who denied the doctrine of Resurrection (Matt. 22:23). In most forms of Christianity, belief in the afterlife is professed in the major Creeds, such as the Nicene Creed, which states: "We look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come." Examples of the different terminology referencing the concept of "heaven", in the Christian Bible are: the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 5:3), the kingdom of the Father (Matthew 13:43), life (Matthew 7:14), life everlasting (Matthew 19:16), the joy of the Lord (Matthew 25:21), great reward (Matthew 5:12), the kingdom of God (Mark 9:45), the kingdom of Christ (Luke 22:30), the house of the Father (John 14:2), city of God, the heavenly
Dante and Beatrice gaze upon the highest Heaven; from Gustave Doré’s illustrations to the Divine Comedy. Heaven may refer to the physical heavens, the sky or the seemingly endless expanse of the universe beyond. This is the traditional literal meaning of the term in English, however since at least AD 1000, it is typically also used to refer to an afterlife plane of existence (often held to exist in another realm) in various religions and spiritual philosophies, often described as the holiest possible place, accessible by people according to various standards of divinity, goodness, piety, faith etc.
The modern English word Heaven derives from the word heven around 1150, which developed from the Old English heofon around 1000 referring to the Christianized "place where God dwells" but earlier meaning "sky, firmament" (attested from around 725 in Beowulf); this is cognate with other Germanic languages - Old Saxon heƀan ("sky, heaven"), Middle Low German heven ("sky"), Old Icelandic himinn ("sky, heaven"), Gothic himins, and existed in variation with a related
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Jerusalem (Hebr., xii), the holy place (Hebrews 9:12; D. V. holies), paradise (2 Corinthians 12:4), incorruptible crown (1 Corinthians 9:25), crown of life (James 1:12), crown of justice (II Timothy iv, 8), crown of glory (1 Peter 5:4) In Buddhism there are several heavens, all of which are still part of Samsara (illusionary reality). Those who accumulate good karma may be reborn in one of them. However, their stay in the heaven is not eternal—eventually they will use up their good karma and will undergo a different rebirth into another realm, as humans, animals, or other beings. Because Heaven is temporary and part of Samsara, Buddhists focus more on escaping the cycle of rebirth and reaching enlightenment (Nirvana). In the native Chinese Confucian traditions Heaven (Tian) is an important concept, where the ancestors reside and from which emperors drew their mandate to rule in their dynastic propaganda, for example. Some faiths teach that one enters heaven at the moment of death, while others teach that this occurs at a later time. Some of Christianity along with other major religions maintain that entry into Heaven awaits such time as, "When the form of this world has passed away." (*JPII) Two related and often confused concepts of heaven in Christianity are better described as the "resurrection of the body", which is exclusively of Biblical origin, as contrasted with "the immortality of the soul", which is also evident in the Greek tradition. In the first concept, the soul does not enter heaven until the last judgement or the "end of time" when it (along with the body) is resurrected and judged. In the second concept, the soul goes to a heaven on another plane immediately after death. These two concepts are generally combined in the doctrine of the double judgement where the soul is judged once at death and goes to a temporary heaven, while awaiting a second and final physical judgement at the end of the world.(*" JPII, also see eschatology, afterlife) In some early religions (such as the Ancient Egyptian faith), Heaven was a physical place far above the Earth in a "dark area" of space where there were no stars, basically beyond the Universe. Departed souls would undergo a literal journey to reach Heaven,
along the way to which there could exist hazards and other entities attempting to deny the reaching of Heaven. One popular medieval view of Heaven was that it existed as a physical place above the clouds and that God and the Angels were physically above, watching over man. Heaven as a physical place survived in the concept that it was located far out into space, and that the stars were "lights shining through from heaven". Several works of written and filmed science fiction have plots in which Heaven can be reached by the living through technological means. An example is Disney film The Black Hole, in which a manned spacecraft found both Heaven (or another dimension) and Hell located at the bottom of a black hole. In Christianity it is believed that Heaven is a spiritual place, unreachable by humans and only to be entered after death, although it can hold physical things, such as the Ascension or Assumption. Many of today’s Biblical scholars, such as N. T. Wright, in tracing the concept of Heaven back to its Jewish roots, see Earth and Heaven as overlapping or interlocking. Heaven is known as God’s space, his dimension, and is not a place that can be reached by human technology. This belief states that Heaven is where God lives and reigns whilst being active and working alongside people on Earth. One day when God restores all things, Heaven and Earth will be forever combined into the ’New Heavens’ and ’New Earth’.
Entrance into Heaven
See also: Salvation and Soteriology Religions that teach about heaven differ on how (and if) one gets into it, typically in the afterlife. In most, entrance to Heaven is conditional on having lived a "good life" (within the terms of the spiritual system). A notable exception to this is the ’sola fide’ belief of many mainstream Protestant sects, which teaches that one does not have to live a perfectly "good life," but that one must accept Jesus Christ as his/her savior, and then Jesus Christ will assume the guilt of his/her sins; believers are believed to be forgiven regardless of any good or bad ’works’ one has participated in. Many religions state that those who do not go to heaven will go to a place "without the
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presence of God", Hell, which is eternal (see annihilationism). Some religions believe that other afterlives exist in addition to Heaven and Hell, such as Purgatory. One religion, universalism, believes that everyone will go to Heaven eventually, no matter what they have done or believed on earth. Some forms of Christianity believe Hell to be the termination of the soul. Many people who come close to death and have near death experiences report meeting relatives or entering "the Light" in an otherworldly dimension, which share similarities with the religious concept of Heaven. Even though there are also reports of distressing experiences and negative life-reviews, which share some similarities with the concept of Hell, the positive experiences of meeting or entering ’the Light’ is reported as an immensely intense feeling state of love, peace and joy beyond human comprehension. Together with this intensely positive feeling state, people who have near death experiences also report that consciousness or a heightened state of awareness is at the heart of the experience of ’Heaven’.
Accordingly, Bahá’ís view life as a preparatory stage, where one can develop and perfect those qualities which will be needed in the next life. The key to spiritual progress is to follow the path outlined by the current Manifestations of God, which Bahá’ís believe is currently Bahá’u’lláh. Bahá’u’lláh wrote, "Know thou, of a truth, that if the soul of man hath walked in the ways of God, it will, assuredly return and be gathered to the glory of the Beloved." The Bahá’í teachings state that there exists a hierarchy of souls in the afterlife, where the merits of each soul determines their place in the hierarchy, and that souls lower in the hierarchy cannot completely understand the station of those above. Each soul can continue to progress in the afterlife, but the soul’s development is not entirely dependent on its own conscious efforts, the nature of which we are not aware of, but also augmented by the grace of God, the prayers of others, and good deeds performed by others on Earth in the name of that person.
According to Buddhist Cosmology the universe is undergoing cycles and beings are spread over a number of existential "planes" in which this human world is only one (though important) "realm" of life. In Buddhism the gods are not immortal, though they may live much longer than the earthly beings. They also are subject to decay and change, and the process of becoming. The intensity and the manner in which these processes take place however may be different and involve longer periods of time. But like any other beings, they are with a beginning and an end. However, all heavenly beings are regarded as inferior in status to the Arhats who have attained Nirvana. The gods were also from the lower worlds originally, but slowly and gradually graduated themselves into higher worlds by virtue of their past deeds and cultivation of virtuous qualities. Since there are many heavens and higher worlds of Brahma, these gods may evolve progressively from one heaven to another through their merit or descend into lower worlds due to some misfortune or right intention. One notable Buddhist paradise is the Pure Land of Pure Land Buddhism.
In the Bahá’í Faith
The Bahá’í Faith regards the conventional description of heaven (and hell) as a specific place as symbolic. The Bahá’í writings describe heaven as a "spiritual condition" where closeness to God is defined as heaven; conversely hell is seen as a state of remoteness from God. Bahá’u’lláh, the founder of the Bahá’í Faith, has stated that the nature of the life of the soul in the afterlife is beyond comprehension in the physical plane, but has stated that the soul will retain its consciousness and individuality and remember its physical life; the soul will be able to recognize other souls and communicate with them. For Bahá’ís, entry into the next life has the potential to bring great joy. Bahá’u’lláh likened death to the process of birth. He explains: "The world beyond is as different from this world as this world is different from that of the child while still in the womb of its mother." The analogy to the womb in many ways summarizes the Bahá’í view of earthly existence: just as the womb constitutes an important place for a person’s initial physical development, the physical world provides for the development of the individual soul.
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The gods of Buddhism are therefore not immortal. Neither their position in the heavens is permanent. They may however live for longer durations of time. One of the Buddhist Sutras states that a hundred years of our existence is equal to one day and one night in the world of the thirty-three gods. Thirty such days add up to their one month. Twelve such months become their one year, while they live for a thousand such years.
upon those who offend it. Heaven was also believed to transcend all other spirits and gods, with Confucius asserting, "He who offends against Heaven has none to whom he can pray." Other philosophers born around the time of Confucius such as Mozi took an even more theistic view of Heaven, believing that Heaven is the divine ruler, just as the Son of Heaven (the King of Zhou) is the earthly ruler. Mozi believed that spirits and minor gods exist, but their function is merely to carry out the will of Heaven, watching for evil-doers and punishing them. Thus they function as angels of Heaven and do not detract from its monotheistic government of the world. With such a high monotheism, it is not surprising that Mohism championed a concept called "universal love" (jian’ai, ??), which taught that Heaven loves all people equally and that each person should similarly love all human beings without distinguishing between his own relatives and those of others. In Mozi’s Will of Heaven (??), he writes: "I know Heaven loves men dearly not without reason. Heaven ordered the sun, the moon, and the stars to enlighten and guide them. Heaven ordained the four seasons, Spring, Autumn, Winter, and Summer, to regulate them. Heaven sent down snow, frost, rain, and dew to grow the five grains and flax and silk that so the people could use and enjoy them. Heaven established the hills and rivers, ravines and valleys, and arranged many things to minister to man’s good or bring him evil. He appointed the dukes and lords to reward the virtuous and punish the wicked, and to gather metal and wood, birds and beasts, and to engage in cultivating the five grains and flax and silk to provide for the people’s food and clothing. This has been so from antiquity to the present." Original Chinese: ??????????????????????? ????????????????????????????????????????? ????????????????????????????????????????? ??????????????????????????????? —Mozi, Will of Heaven, Chapter 27, Paragraph 6, ca. 5th Century BC Mozi criticized the Confucians of his own time for not following the teachings of Confucius. By the time of the later Han Dynasty, however, under the influence of Xunzi, the Chinese concept of Heaven and Confucianism
In Chinese Faiths
Chinese Zhou Dynasty Oracle script for Tian, the character for Heaven or sky. Heaven is a key concept in Chinese mythology, philosophies and religions, and is on one end of the spectrum a synonym of Shangdi ("Supreme Deity") and on the other naturalistic end, a synonym for nature and the sky. The Chinese term for Heaven, Tian (?), derives from the name of the supreme deity of the Zhou Dynasty. After their conquest of the Shang Dynasty in 1122 BC, the Zhou people considered their supreme deity Tian to be identical with the Shang supreme deity Shangdi, much as the Romans identified the Greek Zeus with their Jupiter. The Zhou people attributed Heaven with anthropomorphic attributes, evidenced in the etymology of the Chinese character for Heaven or sky, which originally depicted a person with a large cranium. Heaven is said to see, hear and watch over all men. Heaven is affected by man’s doings, and having personality, is happy and angry with them. Heaven blesses those who please it and sends calamities
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itself had become mostly naturalistic, though some Confucians argued that Heaven was where ancestors reside. Worship of Heaven in China continued with the erection of shrines, the last and greatest being the Temple of Heaven in Beijing, and the offering of prayers. The ruler of China in every Chinese dynasty would perform annual sacrificial rituals to Heaven, usually by slaughtering two healthy bulls as sacrifice.
becomes a Christian, s/he remains one forever, also referred to by the slogan "once saved, always saved") and those who believe that a person who sins continually without any repentance or penetance was never saved in the first place. Some sects do believe that those who continually sin can lose their salvation, though it is generally believed that it shows that the individual was not fully committed in the first place. According to the website "Religioustolerance.org", "Conservative and mainline Protestant denominations tend to base their belief in heaven on the literal interpretation of certain passages of the Bible, and symbolic interpretations of others. They arrive at very different beliefs because they select different passages to read literally."
Historically, Christianity has taught "Heaven" as a place of eternal life, in that it is a shared plane to be attained by all the elect (rather than an abstract experience related to individual concepts of the ideal). The Christian Church has been divided over how people gain this eternal life. From the 16th to the late 19th century, Christendom was divided between the Roman Catholic view, the Orthodox view, the Coptic view, the Jacobite view, the Abyssinian view and Protestant views. See also Christian denominations. Roman Catholics believe that entering Purgatory after death (physical rather than ego death) cleanses one of sin (period of suffering until one’s nature is perfected), which makes one acceptable to enter heaven. This is valid for venial sin only, as mortal sins can be forgiven only through the act of reconciliation and repentance while on earth. Some within the Anglican Communion, notably Anglo-Catholics, also hold to this belief, despite their separate history. However, in the Eastern Orthodox and Oriental Orthodox Churches, it is only God who has the final say on who enters heaven. In the Eastern Orthodox Church, heaven is understood as union (Theosis) and communion with the Triune God (reunion of Father and Son through love). In Protestant Christian sects, eternal life depends upon the sinner receiving God’s grace (unearned and undeserved blessing stemming from God’s love) through faith in Jesus’ death for their sins, see atonement, his resurrection as the Christ, and accepting his Lordship (authority and guidance) over their lives. Some Protestant sects also teach that a physical baptism, or obligatory process of transformation or experience of spiritual rebirth, is further required. Also, Protestantism is divided into groups who believe in the doctrine of eternal security (once a person
Early Christian writing
From the early second century, we have a fragment of one of the lost volumes of Papias, a Christian bishop, who expounded that "heaven" was separated into three distinct layers. He referred to the first as just "heaven", the second as "paradise", and the third as "the city". Papias taught that "there is this distinction between the habitation of those who produce a hundredfold, and that of those who produce sixty-fold, and that of those who produce thirty-fold". In the 2nd century AD, Irenaeus (a Greek bishop) wrote that not all who are saved would merit an abode in heaven itself. Christians in the first century, such as Paul of Tarsus, believed that the Kingdom of God was coming to earth within their lifetimes. They looked forward to a divine future on earth. After the Kingdom of God did not arrive, Christians gradually refined their hopes, so that they came to look forward to a reward in heaven after death rather than to a reward in an imminent, divine kingdom on earth; while continuing to use the major creeds’ statements of belief in the Resurrection.
In Orthodox Christianity
The teachings of the Eastern Orthodox and Oriental Orthodox communions regarding the Kingdom of Heaven, or Kingdom of God, is basically taken from scripture, and thus many elements of this belief are held in common with other scriptural faiths and denominations. Some specific descriptions of this
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Garden of Eden. After the Fall of man, paradise was separated from the earth, and mankind forbidden entry, lest he partake of the Tree of Life and live eternally in a state of sinfulness (Genesis 3:22-24). At his death on the Cross, the Orthodox believe Jesus opened the door to Paradise to mankind again (Luke 23:43), and the Good Thief was the first to enter. Various saints have had visions of heaven (2 Corinthians 12:2-4). The Orthodox concept of life in heaven is described in one of the prayers for the dead: "…a place of light, a place of green pasture, a place of repose, whence all sickness, sorrow and sighing are fled away."
In Roman Catholicism
The Roman Catholic Church bases its belief in Heaven on some main biblical passages in the Hebrew and Christian Scriptures (Old and New Testaments) and also the books of the apocrypha and collected church wisdom. Heaven is the Realm of the Blessed Trinity, the Blessed Virgin Mary (also called the Queen of Heaven), the angels and the saints. According to the dogma of Assumption of the Virgin Mary, the Virgin Mary "having completed the course of her earthly life, was assumed body and soul into heavenly glory", which implies that heaven must have some facility to support human bodies as well as souls or that the experience of heaven is to be understood as a spiritual (soul) experience while still on earth. The essential joy of heaven is called the beatific vision, which is derived from the vision of God’s essence. The soul rests perfectly in God, and does not, or cannot desire anything else than God. After the Last Judgment, when the soul is reunited with its body, the body participates in the happiness of the soul. It becomes incorruptible, glorious and perfect. Any physical defects the body may have laboured under are erased. Heaven is also known as paradise in some cases. The Great Gulf separates heaven from hell. The Roman Catholic teaching regarding Heaven is found in the Catechism of the Catholic Church: "Those who die (generally understood as physical death as opposed to "body level," ego identity) in God’s grace and friendship and are perfectly purified, live forever (defined as immortality of the body as opposed to eternal aliveness in the
Eastern Orthodox icon depicting Christ enthroned in heaven, surrounded by the ranks of angels and saints. At the bottom is Paradise with the Bosom of Abraham (left), and the Good Thief (right). Kingdom as given in the canon of scripture include— (this list is by no means comprehensive): • Peaceful Conditions on a New Earth—Is. 2:2–4, 9:7, 11:6–9, 27:13, 32:17–18, 33:20–21, 60:17–18, Ez. 34:25–28, 37:26, Zech 9:10, Matt. 5:3–5, Rev. 21 • Eternal Rule by a Messiah–King—Ps. 72, Jer 31:33–34, Zech 2:10–11, 8:3, 14:9, Matt 16:27, Rev 21:3–4 • an heir of David, Is. 9:6–7, 11:1–5 • Bodily perfection—No hunger, thirst, death, or sickness; a pure language, etc. – Is. 1:25, 4:4, 33:24, 35:5–6, 49:10, 65:20–24, Jer. 31:12–13, Ez. 34:29, 36:29–30, Micah 4:6–7, Zeph. 3:9–19, Matt 13:43 • Ruined cities inhabited by people and flocks of sheep—Is. 32:14, 61:4–5, Ez. 36:10,33–38, Amos 9:14
Eastern Orthodox cosmology
Eastern Orthodox cosmology perceives heaven as having different levels (John 14:2), the lowest of which is Paradise. At the time of creation, paradise touched the earth at the
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psychological sense). This perfect (divine) life with [God] (Father Deity rather than concept of "perfect goodness") is called heaven. [It] is the ultimate end and fulfilment of the deepest human longings, the state of supreme, definitive happiness, full aliveness. The Catholic Church teaches that only those baptized by water (symbol of purification/internal cleansing), blood (symbol of martyrdom), or desire (explicit or implicit desire for purification) may enter heaven and those who have died in a state of grace may enter heaven. Upon dying, each soul goes to what is called "the particular judgement" where its own afterlife is decided (i.e. Heaven after Purgatory, straight to Heaven, or Hell.) This is different from "the general judgement" also known as "the Last judgement" which will occur when Christ returns to judge all the living and the dead. It is a common Roman Catholic belief that St. Michael the Archangel carries the soul to Heaven. The belief that Saint Peter meets the soul at the "Pearly Gates" is an artistic application of the belief that Christ gave Peter, believed by Catholics to be the first Pope, the keys to Heaven. As Heaven is a place where only the pure are permitted, no person who dies in a state of sin can enter Heaven. "Those who die in God’s grace and friendship and are perfectly purified live for ever with Christ. They are like God for ever, for they "see Him as he is," face to face." (Catechism of the Catholic Church §1023) "Those who die in God’s grace and friendship imperfectly purified, although they are assured of their eternal salvation, undergo a purification after death, so as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of God." (Catechism of the Catholic Church §1054) If one were baptized validly and then died, one would go directly to heaven (in the Roman Catholic belief, the sacrament of baptism dissolves the eternal and temporal punishment of all sins). If one never committed a mortal sin and were absolved of all his venial sins just before death, one would go directly to Heaven. Most people who would enter Heaven do so through Purgatory (or "process of purification"). In Purgatory, a soul pays off all temporal punishment one deserved for the sins he committed in life. This does not always happen though. If one receives the Sacrament of Penance validly, as well as gains a
plenary indulgence, and dies, one would directly go to heaven. There are many ways to get an indulgence, in various Papal decrees or publications. To receive a plenary indulgence, one must receive the sacrament of Confession validly, do one’s penance, validly receive Communion, say some specified number of Lord’s Prayers, Angelic Salutations and Minor Doxologies for the intentions of the Pope, and then perform some act of gaining the indulgence. Of course, one must remain free from all sin, mortal and venial, while doing all these things.
In Protestant Christianity
The intermediate state (between death and the resurrection) is understood in diverse ways in Protestant Christian thought (see the article on soul sleep), but the following is generally concluded about the eternal life which Jesus promised those who believe in him: The term Heaven (which differs from "The Kingdom of Heaven" see note below) is applied by the Biblical authors to the realm in which God currently resides. Eternal life, by contrast, occurs in a renewed, unspoilt and perfect creation, which can be termed Heaven since God will choose to dwell there permanently with his people, as seen in Revelation 21:3. There will no longer be any separation between God and man. The believers themselves will exist in incorruptible, resurrected and new bodies; there will be no sickness, no death and no tears. Some teach that death itself is not a natural part of life, but was allowed to happen after Adam and Eve disobeyed God (see original sin) so that mankind would not live forever in a state of sin and thus a state of separation from God. Many evangelicals understand this future life to be divided into two distinct periods: first, the Millennial Reign of Christ (the one thousand years) on this earth, referred to in Revelation 20:1-10; secondly, the New Heavens and New Earth, referred to in Revelation 21 and 22. This millennialism (or chiliasm) is a revival of a strong tradition in the Early Church that was dismissed by Augustine of Hippo and the Roman Catholic Church after him. Not only will the believers spend eternity with God, they will also spend it with each other. John’s vision recorded in Revelation describes a New Jerusalem which comes
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from Heaven to the New Earth, which is a seen to be a symbolic reference to the people of God living in community with one another. ’Heaven’ will be the place where life will be lived to the full, in the way that the designer planned, each believer ’loving the Lord their God with all their heart and with all their soul and with all their mind’ and ’loving their neighbour as themselves’(adapted from Matthew 22:37-38) —a place of great joy, without the negative aspects of earthly life. (The Greek "hê basileia ton ouranon", usually translated as "the Kingdom of Heaven", is indeed more literally "the rule of the skies (or heavens)", with "the skies (or heavens)" being a codeword for God, reflecting the respect shown for God’s name in first century Judaism.) Within Christianity, there are several notable belief structures on the means by which Man may enter heaven. See: • Arminianism • Calvinism
the Millennium, Christ and His angels return to earth to resurrect the dead that remain, to issue the judgements and to forever rid the universe of sin and sinners. . • "On the new earth, in which righteousness dwells, God will provide an eternal home for the redeemed and a perfect environment for everlasting life, love, joy, and learning in His presence. For here God Himself will dwell with His people, and suffering and death will have passed away. The great controversy will be ended, and sin will be no more. All things, animate and inanimate, will declare that God is love; and He shall reign forever." . It is at this point that heaven is established on the new earth.
Jehovah’s Witnesses hold the belief that Heaven is the dwelling place of Jehovah God and all of His spirit creatures, the seat of His power as Sovereign of the Universe, and the place where 144,000 chosen faithful followers of Christ will reside ruling over the resurrected Earth alongside the anointed King, Jehovah’s son Jesus Christ. Revelation 14:1, 3: And I saw, and look! the Lamb standing upon the Mount Zion, and with him a hundred and forty-four thousand having his name and the name of his Father written on their foreheads..... And they are singing as if a new song before the throne and before the four living creatures and the elders; and no one was able to master that song but the hundred and forty-four thousand, who have been bought from earth. Not all good people go to heaven and the ones who remain on earth can look forward to a happy life in paradise on earth. Acts 2:34: “David [whom the Bible refers to as being ‘a man agreeable to Jehovah God’s heart’] did not ascend to the heavens.” Matt. 11:11: “Truly I say to you people, Among those born of women there has not been raised up a greater than John the Baptist; but a person that is a lesser one in the kingdom of the heavens is greater than he is.” (So John did not go to heaven when he died.) Ps. 37:9, 11, 29: “Evildoers themselves will be cut off, but those hoping in Jehovah are the ones that will possess the earth . . . The meek ones themselves will possess the
The Seventh-day Adventist understanding of heaven is based on Biblical writings which set out the following: • That heaven is a material place where God resides. • That earth and all the animate and inanimate things therein and within its celestial space are products of God’s creative work. • That God sent His Son, Jesus Christ to earth to live as a human being, but who "perfectly exemplified the righteousness and love of God. By His miracles He manifested God’s power and was attested as God’s promised Messiah. He suffered and died voluntarily on the cross for our sins and in our place, was raised from the dead, and ascended to minister in the heavenly sanctuary in our behalf." . • That Christ promises to return as a Saviour at which time He will resurrect the righteous dead and gather them along with the righteous living to heaven. The unrighteous will die at Christ’s second coming. . • That after Christ’s second coming there will exist a period of time known as the Millennium during which Christ and His righteous saints will reign and the unrighteous will be judged. At the close of
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earth, and they will indeed find their exquisite delight in the abundance of peace. The righteous themselves will possess the earth, and they will reside forever upon it.” Rev. 21:1-4: “I saw a new heaven and a new earth . . . I heard a loud voice from the throne say: ‘Look! The tent of God is with mankind, and he will reside with them, and they will be his peoples. And God himself will be with them. And he will wipe out every tear from their eyes, and death will be no more, neither will mourning nor outcry nor pain be anymore. The former things have died.’” Mic. 4:3, 4: “They will not lift up sword, nation against nation, neither will they learn war anymore. And they will actually sit, each one under his vine and under his fig tree, and there will be no one making them tremble; for the very mouth of Jehovah of armies has spoken it.” Matt. 5:5: “Happy are the mild-tempered ones, since they will inherit the earth.” Matt. 6:9, 10: “Our Father in the heavens, let your name be sanctified. Let your kingdom come. Let your will take place, as in heaven, also upon earth.”
• The Celestial Kingdom is the highest level, with its power and glory comparable to the sun. Here, faithful and valiant disciples of Christ who accepted the fullness of His Gospel and kept their covenants with Him through following the prophets of their dispensation are reunited with their families and with God the Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit for all eternity. Those who would have accepted the Gospel with all their hearts had they been given the opportunity in life (as judged by Christ and God the Father) are also saved in the Celestial Kingdom. Latter-Day Saint movements do not believe in the concept of original sin, but believe children to be innocent through the atonement. Therefore, all children who die before the age of accountability inherit this glory. Men and women who have entered into celestial marriage are eligible, under the tutelage of God the Father, to eventually become gods and goddesses as joint-heirs with Jesus Christ. • The Terrestrial Kingdom’s power and glory is comparable to that of the moon, and is reserved for those who understood and rejected the full Gospel in life but lived good lives; those who did accept the Gospel but failed to keep their covenants through continuing the process of faith, repentance, and service to others; those who "died without law" (D & C 76:72) but accepted the full Gospel and repented after death due to the missionary efforts undertaken in Spirit Prison. God the Father does not come into the Terrestrial Kingdom, but Jesus Christ visits them and the Holy Spirit is given to them. • The Telestial Kingdom is comparable to the glory of the stars. Those placed in the Telestial Kingdom suffered the pains of Hell after death because they were liars, murderers, adulterers, whoremongers, etc. They are eventually rescued from Hell by being redeemed through the power of the atonement at the end of the Millennium. Despite its far lesser condition in eternity, the Telestial Kingdom is described as being more comfortable than Earth in its current state. Suffering is a result of a full knowledge of the sins and choices which have permanently separated a person from the utter joy that comes from being
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
The view of heaven according to the Latter Day Saint movement is based on Section 76 of the Doctrine and Covenants as well as 1 Corinthians Chapter 15 in the King James version of the Bible. The afterlife is divided first into two levels until the Last Judgement; afterwards it is divided into four levels, the upper three of which are referred to as "degrees of glory" that, for illustrative purposes, are compared to heavenly bodies. Before the Last Judgment, spirits separated from their bodies at death go either to Paradise or to Spirit Prison based on their merits earned in life. Paradise is a place of rest while its inhabitants continue learning in preparation for the Last Judgement. Spirit Prison is a place of anguish and suffering for the wicked and unrepentant; however, missionary efforts done by spirits from Paradise enable those in Spirit Prison to repent, accept the Gospel and the atonement and receive baptism through the practice of baptism for the dead. After the resurrection and Last Judgement, people are sent to one of four levels:
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in the presence of God and Jesus Christ, though they have the Holy Spirit to be with them. • Perdition, or outer darkness, is the lowest level and has no glory whatsoever. It is reserved for Satan, his angels, and those who have committed the unpardonable sin. This is the lowest state possible in the eternities, and one that very few people born in this world attain, since the unpardonable sin requires that a person know with a perfect knowledge that the Gospel is true and then reject it and fight defiantly against God. The only known son of Perdition is Cain, but it is generally acknowledged that there are probably more scattered through the ages.
which can be obtained only in human life by turning attention inwards for uniting the soul with the Supreme Being (Parabrahman, Bhagavan, Ishvar, Krishna) through Yoga Karma Yoga, Jnana Yoga, Bhakti Yoga etc. Liberation (Moksha) is of five types as described in Puranas: 1. Sayujya: Merging into the oneness with the impersonal aspect of the Lord, and hence freedom from all material anxiety. 2. Salokya: Attaining residence in the eternal abode of the Lord, called Vaikuntha, beyond material universal creation, beyond the six material heavens, a place where only surrendered devotees of the Lord go. 3. Saristi: Attaining same opulences as the Lord in His abode. 4. Sarupya: Attaining same beautiful form as the Lord in His abode. 5. Samipya: Attaining close association of the Lord in His abode. This abode of Lord is briefly described in the Bhagavad Gita (15.6), "That supreme abode of Mine is not illumined by the sun or moon, nor by fire or electricity. Those who reach it never return to this material world". Further descriptions of Vaikuntha are in the Puranas where the Lord’s devotees reside eternally in loving relationship with the Lord. Furthermore, Vaikuntha residency has following categories: 1. Shanta Rasa: In neutral relationship of great awe, reveration and constant thinking of the Lord. 2. Dasya Rasa: Serving the Lord personally to please the Lord as master and soul as servant. 3. Sakhya Rasa: Serving the Lord as an intimate friend (formal, informal, and many other types). 4. Vatsalya Rasa: Serving the Lord from a superior position as a caretaker (like motherly or fatherly relations). 5. Madhurya/Sringara Rasa: Serving the Lord as an intimate conjugal lover including all previous rasas, the most sweet of all, with many further categories. The Lord lovingly relates to every soul in a multitude of modes and varieties of relationships as desired by the soul. The Lord from there sometimes descends into material universe, along with His associates, to redeem suffering souls and perform His pastimes. He comes either Personally (Svayam Bhagavan) or as His part incarnations (kala, amsha) or
According to Hindu cosmology, above the earthly plane are six heavenly planes: 1. Bhuva Loka 2. Swarga Loka, a heavenly paradise of pleasure, where all the 330 million Hindu gods (Deva) reside along with the king of gods, Indra. 3. Mahar Loka 4. Jana Loka 5. Tapa Loka 6. Satya Loka Below the earthly plane are seven nether planes: 1. Atala 2. Vitala 3. Sutala 4. Talatala 5. Mahatala 6. Rasatala 7. Pataal Below these are 28 hellish planes (according to Bhagavata Purana), below which is the Garbhodaka ocean with waters of devastation. Depending on good and bad activities (karma) on an earthly plane, a soul either ascends up to enjoy heavenly delights or goes down to fiery hellish planes depending on sins performed which are judged by the god of death & justice, Yama, who presides along the 28 hells. After the results of good and bad deeds (karma) are delivered, souls return to the earthly plane again as human or animal depending on desires and karma. Thus the cycle of birth and death. Eternal liberation or freedom from the cycle of birth and death is called Moksha,
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sends His messengers/prophets. There are many incarnations of the Lord mentioned in scriptures, 10 of which are famous, the most popular ones are Rama Avatar and Krishna Avatar. • • • • • • Na’iim Na’wa Darussalaam Daarul Muaqaamah Al-Muqqamul Amin Khuldi
The Qur’an contains many references to an afterlife in Eden for those who do good deeds. Heaven itself is commonly described in the Qu’ran in verse 35 of Surah Al-Ra’d: "The parable of the Garden which the righteous are promised! Beneath it flow rivers. Perpetual is the fruits thereof and the shade therein. Such is the End of the Righteous; and the end of the unbelievers is the Fire." Since Islam rejects the concept of original sin, Muslims believe that all human beings are born pure. In Islam, therefore, a child who dies automatically goes to heaven, regardless of the religion of his or her parents. The highest level of heaven is Firdaws ( -)سودرفPardis ( ,)سیدرپwhich is where the prophets, the martyrs and the most truthful and pious people will dwell. Although sharing some similarities, the concept of heaven in Islam is different in many respects to that found in Judaism and Christianity. Chiefly, Heaven (Jannat) is described in physical terms, using jewellery, and food. The Islamic texts describes life for its immortal inhabitants, one that is happy — without hurt, sorrow, fear or shame — where every wish is fulfilled. Traditions relate that inhabitants will be of the same age (32 years for men as the same age when Jesus ascended), and of the same stature. Their life is including: wearing costly robes, bracelets, perfumes; partaking in exquisite banquets, served in priceless vessels by immortal youths; reclining on couches inlaid with gold or precious stones. Other foods mentioned include fruits, milk, poultry, scented wine and clear drinks bringing neither drunkenness nor rousing quarreling. Inhabitants will rejoice in the company of their parents, wives, and children (provided they were admitted to paradise) — conversing and recalling the past. Texts also relate "pure consorts" (houris), created in perfection, with whom carnal joys are shared — "a hundred times greater than earthly pleasure". Name and level of Heaven: • Firdaus or Paradise • ’Adn
Judaism offers no clear teaching about the destiny which lies in wait for the individual after death and its attitude to life after death has been expressed as follows: "For the future is inscrutable, and the accepted sources of knowledge, whether experience, or reason, or revelation, offer no clear guidance about what is to come. The only certainty is that each man must die - beyond that we can only guess." While the concept of heaven (malkuth hashamaim ,םימשה תוכלמthe Kingdom of Heaven) is well-defined within the Christian and Islamic religions, the Jewish concept of the afterlife, sometimes known as olam haba, the World-to-come, is not so precise. The Torah has little to say on the subject of survival after death, but by the time of the rabbis two ideas had made inroads among the Jews: one, which is probably derived from Greek thought, is that of the immortal soul which returns to its creator after death; the other, which is thought to be of Persian origin, is that of resurrection. The Mishnah says, "This world is like a lobby before the World-To-Come. Prepare yourself in the lobby so that you may enter the banquet hall." Jewish writings refer to a "new earth" as the abode of mankind following the resurrection of the dead. Originally, the two ideas of immortality and resurrection were different but in rabbinic thought they are combined: the soul departs from the body at death but is returned to it at the resurrection. This idea is linked to another rabbinic teaching, that men’s good and bad actions are rewarded and punished not in this life but after death, whether immediately or at the subsequent resurrection.
In Kabbalah Jewish mysticism
Jewish mysticism recognizes seven heavens. In order from lowest to highest, the seven Heavens are listed alongside the angels who govern them:
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1. Shamayim: The first Heaven, governed by subdivided in a manner reminiscent of Archangel Gabriel, is the closest of Dante’s Divine Comedy, but the number of diheavenly realms to the Earth; it is also visions and their names differs from one considered the abode of Adam and Eve. Polynesian culture to another. 2. Raquie: The second Heaven is dually controlled by Zachariel and Raphael. It Māori was in this Heaven that Moses, during his Among the Māori, the heavens are divided invisit to Paradise, encountered the angel to a number of realms. Different tribes numNuriel who stood "300 parasangs high, ber the heaven differently, with as few as two with a retinue of 50 myriads of angels all and as many as fourteen levels. One of the fashioned out of water and fire." Also, more common versions divides heaven thus: Raquia is considered the realm where the 1. Kiko-rangi, presided over by the god fallen angels are imprisoned and the Toumau planets fastened. 2. Waka-maru, the heaven of sunshine and 3. Shehaqim: The third Heaven, under the rain leadership of Anahel, serves as the home 3. Nga-roto, the heaven of lakes where the of the Garden of Eden and the Tree of god Maru rules Life; it is also the realm where manna, the 4. Hau-ora, where the spirits of new-born holy food of angels, is produced. The children originate Second Book of Enoch, meanwhile, states 5. Nga-Tauira, home of the servant gods that both Paradise and Hell are 6. Nga-atua, which is ruled over by the hero accommodated in Shehaqim with Hell Tawhaki being located simply " on the northern 7. Autoia, where human souls are created side." 8. Aukumea, where spirits live 4. Machen: The fourth Heaven is ruled by 9. Wairua, where spirit gods live while the Archangel Michael , and according to waiting on those in Talmud Hagiga 12, it contains the 10. Naherangi or Tuwarea, where the great heavenly Jerusalem, the Temple, and the gods live presided over by Rehua Altar. The Māori believe these heavens are suppor5. Machon: The fifth Heaven is under the ted by pillars. Other Polynesian peoples see administration of Samael, an angel them being supported by gods (as in referred to as evil by some, but who is to Hawai’i). In one Tahitian legend, heaven is others merely a dark servant of God. supported by an octopus. 6. Zebul: The sixth Heaven falls under the jurisdiction of Sachiel. Tuamotus 7. Araboth: The seventh Heaven, under the leadership of Cassiel, is the holiest of the seven Heavens provided the fact that it houses the Throne of Glory attended by the Seven Archangels and serves as the realm in which God dwells; underneath the throne itself lies the abode of all unborn human souls. It is also considered the home of the Seraphim, the Cherubim, and the Hayyoth.
In the creation stories of Polynesian mythology are found various concepts of the heavens and the underworld. These differ from one island to another. What they share is the view of the universe as an egg or coconut that is divided between the world of humans (earth), the upper world of heavenly gods, and the underworld. Each of these is An 1869 illustration by a Tuomatuan chief portraying nine heavens. The Polynesian conception of the universe and its division is nicely illustrated by a
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famous drawing made by a Tuomotuan chief in 1869. Here, the nine heavens are further divided into left and right, and each stage is associated with a stage in the evolution of the earth that is portrayed below. The lowest division represents a period when the heavens hung low over the earth, which was inhabited by animals that were not known to the islanders. In the third division is shown the first murder, the first burials, and the first canoes, built by Rata. In the fourth division, the first coconut tree and other significant plants are born.
The anarchist Emma Goldman expressed this view when she wrote, "Consciously or unconsciously, most atheists see in gods and devils, heaven and hell; reward and punishment, a whip to lash the people into obedience, meekness and contentment." Many people consider George Orwell’s use of Sugarcandy Mountain in his novel Animal Farm to be a literary expression of this view. In the book, the animals were told that after their miserable lives were over they would go to a place in which "it was Sunday seven days a week, clover was in season all the year round, and lump sugar and linseed cake grew on the hedges".  Fantasy author Phillip Pullman echoes this idea in the fantasy series His Dark Materials, in which the characters finally come to the conclusion that people should make life better on Earth rather than wait for heaven (this idea is known as the Republic of Heaven). Some atheists have argued that a belief in a reward after death is poor motivation for moral behavior while alive , arguing that "It is rather more noble to help people purely out of concern for their suffering than it is to help them because you think the Creator of the Universe wants you to do it, or will reward you for doing it, or will punish you for not doing it. [The] problem with this linkage between religion and morality is that it gives people bad reasons to help other human beings when good reasons are available."
Heaven in fiction
Works of fiction, especially in the modern fantasy genre, have included numerous different conceptions of Heaven and Hell. C. S. Lewis offers one example of Heaven at the end of his Narnia sequence in the ’Last Battle’. Piers Anthony in his series ’Incarnations of Immortality’ portrays examples of Heaven and Hell via Death, Fate, Nature, War, Time, Good-God and Evil-Devil. Robert Heinlein offers in his book ’Job’ a Yin-Yang version of Hell where there is still some good within. Heinlein also offers the Schrödingertype of Heaven, Hell and Universe which is entirely the creation of the mind and thereby infinitely changeable in ’The Cat who walks through Walls’ and others. Lois McMaster Bujold suggests five Gods ’Father, Mother, Son, Daughter and Bastard in her ’Chalion’ series with a mention of Heaven and a more graphic version of The Bastard’s Hell as formless chaos. Michael Moorcock is one of many who offer Chaos-Evil(-Hell) and Uniformity-Good(-Heaven) as equally unacceptable extremes which must be held in balance; most evidently in the Elric and Eternal Champion series.
 The Anglo-Saxons knew the concept of Paradise, which they expressed with words such as neorxnawang, lit. (place of) no toil nor worries.  Barnhart (1995:357).  (but no soul actually goes through rebirth; see anatta)  Does The Black Hole still suck? Movie review by Joshua Moss, June 2, 2000.  "What do you think?". AllAboutJesusChrist.org. http://www.allaboutjesuschrist.org/. Retrieved on 2008-10-05.  Jorgensen, Rene. Awakening After Life BookSurge, 2007 ISBN 1-4196-6347-X  ^ Masumian, Farnaz (1995). Life After Death: A study of the afterlife in world religions. Oxford: Oneworld Publications. ISBN 1-85168-074-8.
Criticism of the belief in Heaven
Atheists reject the existence of heaven. Some atheists have viewed the notion of heaven as an "opiate of the masses"—tool employed by humans to cope with their lives’ misery—or "opiate for the masses"—a tool employed by authorities to bribe their subjects into a certain way of life by promising a reward after death. 
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 Bahá’u’lláh (1976). Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh. Wilmette, Illinois, USA: Bahá’í Publishing Trust. pp. 157. ISBN 0-87743-187-6. http://reference.bahai.org/en/t/b/GWB/ gwb-81.html#pg157.  Bahá’u’lláh (1976). Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh. Wilmette, Illinois, USA: Bahá’í Publishing Trust. pp. 162. ISBN 0-87743-187-6. http://reference.bahai.org/en/t/b/GWB/ gwb-82.html#gr7.  Herrlee Creel "The Origin of the Deity T’ien" (1970:493-506)  Joseph Shih, "The Notion of God in the Ancient Chinese Religion," Numen, Vol. 16, Fasc. 2, pp 99-138, Brill: 1969  Joseph Shih, "The Notion of God in the Ancient Chinese Religion," Numen, Vol. 16, Fasc. 2, pp 99-138, Brill: 1969  Homer Dubs, "Theism and Naturalism in Ancient Chinese Philosophy," Philosophy of East and West, Vol 9, No 3/4, pp 163-172, University of Hawaii Press: 1960.  Roman Catholic Catechism section #982  What Christian groups say about the afterlife: Heaven, Hell, Purgatory, Reincarnation... at Religioustolerance.org.  ^ Ehrman, Bart. Peter, Paul, and Mary Magdalene: The Followers of Jesus in History and Legend. Oxford University Press, USA. 2006. ISBN 0-19-530013-0  Book for Commemoration of the Living and the Dead, trans. Father Lawrence (Holy Trinity Monastery, Jordanville NY), p. 77.  Treated extensively in C. S. Lewis, The Discarded Image: An Introduction to Medieval and Renaissance Literature (1964).  See discussion at http://forums.catholic.com/ showthread.php?p=3322510, where a.o. Hebrews 12:22-24 is quoted.  "The Necessity of Baptism". Catholic Answers. Retrieved on May 07, 2008.  For example, see http://www.zenit.org/ english/visualizza.phtml?sid=64735 and http://www.cwnews.com/news/ viewstory.cfm?recnum=40979.  General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, Adventist Fundamental Beliefs, Fundamental Belief # 4: The Son, 2006
 General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, Adventist Fundamental Beliefs, Fundamental Belief # 26: Death and Resurrection, 2006  General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, Adventist Fundamental Beliefs, Fundamental Belief # 27: Millennium and the End of Sin, 2006  General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, Adventist Fundamental Beliefs, Fundamental Belief # 28: New Earth, 2006  Reasoning From The Scriptures. Watchtower. 1989.  Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints Doctrine and Covenants 128:18  ^ Nicholas de Lange, Judaism, Oxford University Press, 1986  The Legends of the Jews I, 131, and II, 306.  The Legends of the Jews V, 374.  Animal Farm Character Profiles at Charles’ George Orwell Links.  Goldman, Emma. "The Philosophy of Atheism". Mother Earth, February 1916.  Opinions: Essays: Orwell’s Political Messages by Rhodri Williams.  Background information for George Orwell’s Animal Farm at Charles’ George Orwell Links.  The Atheist Philosophy  Quote by Albert Einstein at Quote DB.  Sam Harris at the 2006 Beyond Belief conference (watch here).
• Barnhart, Robert K. (1995). The Barnhart Concise Dictionary of Etymology. HarperCollins ISBN 0062700847 • Bunyan, John. The Strait Gate: Great Difficulty of Going to Heaven Liskeard, Cornwall: Diggory Press, 2007. ISBN 978-1846856716. • Bunyan, John. No Way to Heaven but By Jesus Christ Liskeard, Cornwall: Diggory Press, 2007. ISBN 978-1846857805. • Craig, Robert D. Dictionary of Polynesian Mythology. Greenwood Press: New York, 1989. ISBN 0313258902. Page 57. • Ginzberg, Louis. Henrietta Szold (trans.). The Legends of the Jews. Philadelphia: The Jewish Publication Society of America, 1909–38. ISBN 0801858909.
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• Hahn, Scott. The Lamb’s Supper: The Mass as Heaven on Earth. New York: Doubleday, 1999. ISBN 978-0385496599. • Jorgensen, Rene. "Awakening After Life A Firsthand Guide through Death into the Purpose of Life". BookSurge, 2007, ISBN 1-4196-6347-X / ISBN 978-1419663475 • Moody, D.L. Heaven. Liskeard, Cornwall: Diggory Press, 2007. ISBN 978-1846858123. • Young, J.L. "The Paumotu Conception of the Heavens and of Creation", Journal of the Polynesian Society, 28 (1919), 209–211.
• Mysteries of the Bible: "Heaven and Hell". A&E Network.
• Catechism of the Catholic Church I believe in Life Everlasting Explanation of Catholic teaching about Heaven, Hell & Purgatory. • Salvation Versus Liberation, A Buddhist View of the Paradise or Heavenly Worlds. • Everlasting Life in Paradise according to Qu’ran Seven Steps rising to the heavens. • Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy entry on Heaven and Hell. • Heaven from In Our Time (BBC Radio 4).
• Heaven: Beyond the Grave. A&E Network. (IMDB)