Will there be scholarship in heaven?

Library-BooksThis would make for a fun journal article. And it would be a window into some important larger issues, like continuity/discontinuity between creation and new creation.

Here’s my tentative answer: certainly there are some realms of scholarship that are only necessary in a fallen world—for example, the study of medicine will no longer be necessary when sickness and death are extinguished. And certainly there are some characteristics of scholarship in a fallen world that will need to be purged—the pretentiousness, the elitism, the (at times) dishonesty, and so forth. But at its best, scholarship simply represents an apparatus in which human beings think and learn. Thinking and learning are good, noble activities. They are part of God’s creation. They can be done in love for neighbor, and for the glory of God. So why should they not be in heaven? Why can they not be redeemed along with other aspects of fallen human culture (Revelation 21:24)? In the same way, I think there will be art in heaven, since art at its best represents human creativity and imagination, which are good and noble qualities. Why can art not be redeemed? I’m sure that we can’t fully understand what it will be like, and we should be careful about envisioning art and scholarship in heaven carried on along the same lines as in a fallen world—but it would be strange to think that these wonderful parts of God’s original creation would have no place in His redeemed creation.

And how amazing to think of art and scholarship (and I presume, business and technology and relationship and play and music and all aspects of created human society that are not inherently sinful) being organized around the glory of God! Imagine what going to the library will be like when the world is freed from the twisting, diminishing effects of sin. Imagine reading a book when love for neighbor, genuine curiosity, and zeal for the glory of God are the driving forces animating the book. And we will never run out of things to learn and think about. Just as we will never grow tired of enjoying God’s presence, so we will never run out of exploring God’s truth. It will be an infinite ocean of beauty to explore.

I wonder what kind of implications this should have for our pursuit of scholarship here? Hmmm. If nothing else, I think it should make us value truth all the more. I wonder if its fair to say this: all thought that genuinely seeks the truth will matter forever insofar as truth itself will last forever. Maybe that’s too strong, I don’t know.

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