Paula Gooder talked about heaven at a Theos event last night in London, with passion, verve, an impressive grasp of the details (the gentleman behind me was certainly impressed), and a robust determination not to let theological tradition get in the way of honest biblical interpretation.
Her leading argument was that in the modern era the concept of heaven has been privatised, spiritualised and postponed. All that most people are interested in—if they’re interested at all—is whether they will go to heaven when they die and what it will be like when they get there. Gooder insisted that these are not biblical concerns. The New Testament has very little to say about people going to heaven when they die. In scripture heaven is the place where God dwells. It is a created space above the firmament, no more remote from the earth than it needs to be. It can be visited by people: Paul at least entertained the possibility that he, or somone known to him, had been caught up bodily to the third heaven (2 Cor. 12:2).