Are we in Heaven now?
This question may seem silly, but it is one that is being asked in preterist forums. In fact, at a recent debate that I attended, one of the participants asked the other if they were in Heaven now, and he responded with a resounding yes. This may be shocking to some, but allow me a few short paragraphs to explain why some answer yes to this question.
First, I believe that the question is valid, but I do not believe that it is wise to answer this question with either a dogmatic yes or no. My reason for this is because of the term “Heaven”. This term is loaded with history and assumed meaning, so answering the question without using the Socratic method to extract the precise meaning behind the word “Heaven” will only lead to unnecessary difficulty. The one who is asking the question usually means, “Are we in the postmortem state of eternal bliss?” Or you could word it, “Is this really all there is?” The answer to the first question is an obvious no.
While we have all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ now (Ephesians 1:3), we are all at varying degrees of awareness of those blessings. For example, I may have a theological definition of eternal life, but I think it would be presumptuous to assume that any of us is fully aware of what exactly that state is like. While we all, as believers, possess eternal life (John 11:25-26), our understanding of what that is can only be ever-increasing until we experience it without the burdens of this current state – if that is even an accurate understanding of the after life. So, is this all there is? In reality, for the individual believer, yes; in perception, no. In terms of the kingdom and life on this earth as a species, this isn’t all there is, for the kingdom of God is ever increasing.
So one could say, if they were so inclined, that In this present life, believers are in Heaven while the unbelieving are in Hell (Ephesians 1:3; Ephesians 2:6; Jude 23). This exact wording is problematic because of the history of these terms (thus, the issue). It would be better to say that, in this present life, believers are in the presence of God while the unbelieving are not (John 14:23).
This entire controversy, which is a distraction from the real issues, is one of miscommunication. This miscommunication, unfortunately, seems to be intended in particular cases, but one should do their best not to call into question someone’s motives. The three elements of logic are 1) definition of terms, 2) truthfulness of premises, and 3) validity of the structure of the argument. In this instance, people are jumping into numbers 2 and 3 without ever solving number 1. One of my mentors recommend to me that one should be able to explain their position in the most simple terms possible (read “non-theological”). Not being able to do so, he said, is an easy indication that one doesn’t fully understand the topic. Dialogue and debate is most beneficial when both participants abide by the three guidelines above. Recent discussions online have revealed that not all are trained in these principles.