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Vision of Heaven leaves Reformed Community Disappointed.

November 20, 2012

Moscow, Idaho. For centuries, theologians have pondered the question of what heaven will be like. For many, the answers to this question have been vague and unsatisfactory. Tonight, Calvin Dante, a graduate student at New St. Edward’s University, gave a keynote speech about his recent trip through Hell, Purgatory and Heaven, at the “Expanding the Horizons of Reformed Theology” conference, featuring Douglas Wilson, Mark Driscoll and Ben Merkle. It was hoped that this talk would shed new light on the afterlife and offer new insights to the world of Reformed Theology. However, it seems that the Reformed Community has been fractured and disillusioned by the results.

Dante’s speech was the most highly waited-for event of the conference, but from the beginning, it was met by confusion, disappointment, and even hostility from the audience. Some pastors in the audience were concerned about his inclusion of Purgatory in his journey. Others were bothered by his inexplicable lack of concern over whether the souls in heaven used wine or grape juice for communion.  Dante’s list of the people he met in Heaven was met with blank stares by audience members who were skeptical of his inclusion of figures like Charles Finney, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, and Elvis.

A common source of disillusionment in the audience was Dante’s portrayal of the high levels of comity and brotherly love in Heaven. Dante’s statement that “I saw Clark and Van Til having a beer together in New Jerusalem Tavern, laughing like old friends. Then John Robbins came in and bought everyone a round.” was met with sighs and gasps, as well as several blog posts.  Dante also reported that Francis Schaeffer and Karl Barth “chill together all the time,” and that if he ever returns, he expects to see Jim Wallis and James Dobson doing the same. These displays of affection have puzzled members of the Reformed Community, as have Dante’s reports that John Calvin “really digs Gospel Music.” The audience reacted positively, howeve to the fact that J.S. Bach intends to resign his post as chief organist in Heaven once John Frame arrives.

Another source of disappointment was the lack of answers to theological questions that Calvin Dante received in Heaven. Many of the people in the attendance were surprised when Dante said that the Federal Vision controversy had not affected the New Jerusalem. Others were disappointed to learn that St. Peter did not give a clear answer on the question of sprinkling vs. immersion in Baptism. A heated debate broke out during the question-and-answer session involving St. John’s position on supralapsarianism, which escalated into a fight resulting in several injuries, including four cuts, three broken bones, and at least two new James Jordan articles. By the time that Dante related that “John Calvin thinks that John Piper is a pretty cool guy,” the tension in the room had become so heated that Peter Leithart leaped onstage and delivered an impromptu lecture in order to bring the crowd into a sedate, trancelike state. This, however, only lasted for a few minutes, as another controversy erupted due to the question “Do you think Gary North will make it in?” The reaction was so strong that a new edition of Credenda/Agenda was written, edited and printed on the spot, with cover story by Nathan Wilson making fun of the entire thing.

Audience reactions were lukewarm at best. Harry Standish of Sovereign Lord Presbyterian Church said that he is “Puzzled that no major church splits have taken place in Heaven,” while Jim DeBrett of Five Points Presbyterian says that he is “confused that CREC, OPC, PCA, PCUSA and CRC members are all in the same place.” Timothy McAllister Smith, who goes by the blog alias “caveman1,” said he was “surprised that so many Arminians and Charismatics got in,” and was “shocked that some of the people there had never read Berkhof’s Systematic Theology.” A common concern among all the audience members was an apparent lack of concern in Heaven for the failure of American Baptist Culture.

Among those involved in the actual conference, the reaction was much more positive. William Elburn, pastor of John Knox Presbyterian, spoke highly of Calvin Dante’s excellent content, meticulous research, and really cool bowtie. James Jordan very much approved the fact that the souls in Heaven sang all 150 Psalms, and Peter Leithart told us that he has begun writing a 200 page book on the subject, which will explore the subject and its relation to aesthetic theory, the philosophy of Derrida, and chocolate chip cookies. Doug Wilson gave us a witty statement that involved two hilarious jokes, a deep insight into human nature, and a reference to a popular rock band. Unfortunately, as we were recording him, a fight broke out at the refreshment table over the subject of drums in the Heavenly Sanctuary, and the ensuing noise obscured all of Wilson’s answer on the recording except for the last two words, “pish posh.” Clyde Upland, an elder at Limited Atonement Presbyterian Church, summed up the attitude best when he said to us, “Pardon me, but do you by any chance know where the men’s room is?”

Nathan Wilson was unable to comment.

Current Listenings, “Black or Red” by Dr. Dog, “How Long Must I Wait” by Dr. Dog,  The Ringing Bell by Derek Webb.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. jerry tritle permalink
    November 20, 2012 5:44 pm

    so very glad I gathered my family, gifts, and cash, and left all of that ten years ago to join the Roman Catholic Church. What a rest in, as the prophet says, A Broad Land.” I see you folks are still kickin’ in Idaho. Wow.

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