Recent Magazine Articles

17 Nov 2014

Another stop on the glory train?

by Jerry L. Walls | Issue 112

The most famous WORK ever written about heaven, of course, is Dante’s Divine Comedy. Only its third book, however, is explicitly about heaven: Paradiso . Ironically, even more famous than Paradiso is Inferno , Dante’s colorful account of hell. 

Heaven and hell are like salt and pepper, or better yet, good and evil, or Batman and the Joker. After all, right in the middle of the most glorious account of heaven in the Bible (Rev. 21–22) comes a brief, somber description of the lake of fire (Rev. 21:8). To think of one naturally leads to thoughts...

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17 Nov 2014

A garden, a city, a home, and a judgment

by Jennifer C. Awes Freeman | Issue 112

Nowadays, talk of heaven often brings to mind images of golden gates and smiling cherubim reclining on puffy white clouds. Perhaps the chubby cherubim pluck some innocuous tune on their harps, or there’s a Muzak version of Eric Clapton’s “Tears in Heaven” permeating the airwaves. But such images and songs depart significantly from historic Christian pictures of heaven in music and art.

Artistically, much church architecture was originally intended to speak of heaven. Adapted from the design of the Old Testament Jewish Temple, Christian...

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17 Nov 2014

“God’s love that moves the sun and other stars”

by Jeffrey Burton Russell | Issue 112

Where do we get modern ideas of heaven as a place replete with bright light, glory, sky, clouds, harps and song, dance, garden, pasture, walls and ladders, gates, a temple, and living waters? These come from visions experienced by saints and martyrs in the first few centuries of the church. The martyrs Perpetua and Saturus, who died together in 203, saw in visions angels, unending light, a vast meadow, an immeasurable garden with trees and flowers, singing leaves, high walls made of light with a golden ladder, a throne, white garments, and...

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17 Nov 2014

Heaven’s fire department?

by Rebecca Price Janney | Issue 112

Early in the morning of August 31, 1997, Americans awakened to the startling news that Princess Diana had died in a Paris car crash. Even as the world mourned that week, another iconic woman passed away; eighty-seven-year-old Mother Teresa died quietly after a long and meaningful life of Christian service. The two women had met each other through their shared passion for alleviating suffering, and many media personalities commented on the irony of their dying at the same time, adding that they are “up there now, looking down on us.”  

At the...

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10 Oct 2014

Watershed: Los Angeles 1949

by Grant Wacker | Issue 111

IN 1997 BILLY GRAHAM was a year shy of his 80th birthday. He had lived an extraordinary life. In the previous half-century, he had grown from an obscure itinerant preacher into a national leader of the emerging evangelical movement and an international icon accustomed to golfing with presidents and dining with prime ministers. By many accounts he ranked as the most influential evangelist since George Whitefield in the eighteenth century. So on the eve of his 80th birthday, he agreed to the requests of many people and put it all together in...

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10 Oct 2014

“Go forth to every part of the world”

by Uta Balbier | Issue 111

ON MARCH 19, 1946, leading US newspapers published an image of five members of Youth for Christ (YFC) kneeling in prayer in front of an American Airlines plane. Among the five young men in the picture was 27-year-old Billy Graham. The plane took the young evangelist on his first missionary trip to Europe. It was the first ever commercial flight from Chicago to London, and the Youth for Christ team took advantage of the publicity surrounding this historic event. 

Together with fellow evangelists Chuck Templeton, YFC president Torrey Johnson,...

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