heaven and hell: places or not

Tony Jones has a new blog post today, Christian Universalism: Cosmology, in which he goes from being one of today's intelligentsia who look "curiously at earlier cultures, in which people believed that there was a physical place populated by damned souls and governed by demons. No longer can we say that Hell is “down” and Heaven is 'up.' ” I'm already feeling like the un-intelligentsia. He then tells us "it’s impossible to think of Heaven and Hell as places in the universe as we know it." I do have to interject that part of how I know the universe is from what God tells me about it. In some way, Jesus descended to hell to proclaim the gospel (1 Peter 3:19) and he ascended to heaven after 40 days in his resurrection body. He told the believing thief on the cross he would be with him in paradise, Luke 23:43. Those prepositions seem to indicate location and proximity. Since his body was physical, Thomas touching him and all, eating meals with his disciples and all, yet able to appear in rooms with locked doors, John 20:20-28 his body was supernatural. So when he ascended, did his body explode when he left the atmosphere if he went "up" in a physical body, or did he not achieve escape velocity and is still floating around? He went somewhere. Paul tells the Corinthians about our new body.
1 Cor. 15 51 Listen, I will tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed – 15:52 in a moment, in the blinking 31 of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. 15:53 For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. NET
It's still physical in some way. So physical bodies will be resurrected and will occupy space so they will be somewhere, some place. There are other options in Christian Orthodox theology as well, especially Eastern Orthodoxy on what the afterlife in hell and heaven will be like. In fact, I think all universalists should look at the Orthodox understanding of hell before committing to heretical theology. I first learned about it from the Huffington Post this past fall from an orthodox blogger there. I would think Mr. Jones would not have missed a religious post at that popular liberal news site.
However, this doctoral candidate in theology at Princeton, has not researched a major branch of Christianity, so he seems unaware of his orthodox options about hell. But he won't be stopped there. He tells us that since Jesus taught on heaven and hell with prepositions and directions, he was not as cosmologically informed as today's intelligentsia. This leads Mr. Jones to an important crisis,
So we’re left with this conundrum: What do we make of Jesus’ teachings on Heaven and Hell if he believed that he existed in a geocentric universe and lived on a flat Earth? This is not unlike the conundrum regarding the Gospel writers (and Jesus) diagnosing “Legion” with demon possession, when today we would most likely consider him beset by schizophrenia.
I think I got whiplash there. Where in the Bible did this doctoral candidate in theology at Princeton find out that Jesus believed in a flat earth and geocentrism? The Greeks understood the earth to be round 5 centuries or more before Jesus. As far as geocentrism, possibly, although I doubt it ever came up in conversation, however, spiritually, God, and therefore Jesus, loves the world very much, so God is focused, indeed, in a sense, on the earth. Furthermore, if Jesus's diagnosis of the man possessed by a legion of demons was wrong, why did his exorcism work? See Mark 5:1-20 and Luke 8:26-29. Again, Mr. Jones might benefit from associating with missionaries and priests who have dealt with demonized people. He could start with Anthony Hopkins popular movie, The Rite, recently reviewed by Ben Witherington. I'd say he could start by giving Jesus the benefit of the doubt. Maybe that gets driven out of doctoral candidates of theology at liberal seminaries. Since that option is not available to Mr. Jones, instead he concludes, "we must put their teachings in conversation with what we now know about the nature of the universe and the cosmos. We have to make them relate to our current understandings." So scientism wins. Yay for scientism. It must be better than Christianity, because we can see it with our own eyes, sort of. Some contemporary prophet sang,
All he believes are his eyes
And his eyes, they just tell him lies.
A guy healed by Jesus said, "I was blind but now I see." John 9:25. The intelligentsia of the day refused to give Jesus credit for the miracle. Jesus responded to them, John 9:40 Some of the Pharisees who were with him heard this and asked him, “We are not blind too, are we?” 9:41 Jesus replied, “If you were blind, you would not be guilty of sin, but now because you claim that you can see, your guilt remains.” NET Guilt means unforgiven, which means unrighteous, which means an eternity of hell. I'll stick with admitting my ignorance, my brokenness, my need for a great physician, who can heal my soul, who can grant me eternal life, who has a prescription for a lifestyle that reflects his holiness in increasing measure. But some highly educated theologians disagree with Jesus. History tends to repeat itself because we refuse to learn from other's mistakes. We tend to believe we are the exception. Only Jesus is exceptional


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