"Believers and unbelievers have strong views about what happens when you die. For centuries, Christians have believed that their destiny after death is heaven: a spiritual place where they -- along with a myriad of angels, -- sing praises to God for eternity. But is it possible that Christians may have gotten that part of their faith badly wrong"
"Wright points to films like the romantic comedy "Four Weddings and a Funeral" where, in the absence of a clear grasp of what happens when you die, people invent ideas about the afterlife that are not in scripture.
"I think we have allowed ourselves to drift in what we say about the dead," Wright said."There are a lot of funeral services sadly which go that route these days, [where] death is nothing at all, I've just slipped away into the next room and so on. Anyone who's grieved and anyone who's worked with anyone who's grieved knows that it's a lie. Death is a monster, death is horrible."
"In a radical departure from traditional belief, Wright says that Christians are not ultimately destined for a spiritual place called heaven. He says that at the end of time as we know it, God will literally remake our physical bodies and return us to a newly restored planet."
"Heaven is important but it's not our final destination," he explained. "If you want to say that when someone dies they go to heaven, fine. But that's only a temporary holding pattern that is life after death. And what I'm much more interested in, or the New Testament is much more interested in, is what I've called life after life after death."
"But this interpretation is the exact opposite of what many American Christians believe. The hugely successful Left Behind series of movies and books is an apocalyptic vision of the end of the world -- a view shared by many evangelicals. According to those who believe it, the end of the world will start with the so-called "rapture," when all Christians will be taken up to heaven in one momentous swoop. The earth then enters a period of cataclysmic wars until it eventually disintegrates, in a final chapter of fire. Wright says that is more mythical than Biblical."
"It's a myth," Wright said. "It is an attempt to make sense of some bits of the New Testament. It was always the literature of the dispossessed ... it's now become the literature of the rich masses in parts of America."