A recurring criticism of Catholic theology by other Christians is our belief in the communion of saints. More specifically, we believe that there is a spiritual bond uniting believers on earth, souls in purgatory, and the blessed in heaven. We believe that those who are “saved” and are now in the presence of God are aware of what’s happening on earth and in fact can be counted on to pray for us.
For that reason, I thought an article appearing last week at christianpost.com was pretty interesting. The article is about Protestant Evangelist Greg Laurie, who lost his son in an automobile accident four years ago. Since that time he has been reflecting on heaven as well as the virtue of hope. While he limited the scope of his inquiry to Scripture alone, he still came to the conclusion that people in heaven know what’s going on here on earth. Here’s an excerpt:
Pointing to scripture found in Revelation [and] Luke chapters 15 and 16, Laurie explained that he believes that people in heaven have knowledge of what is happening on earth.
“Let me take it a step further. I think people in heaven know a lot more about earth than we may realize,” he said.
“People in eternity are aware of the fact that loved ones are not saved. This is based on Luke 16 . . . In the afterlife we are the same person with real memories of earth. You will know more in heaven than you will on earth, not less. We don’t all get a collective lobotomy when we go to glory.”
A second point he made during the sermon is that when people come to believe in Jesus it’s “public knowledge in heaven.”
“There is joy in heaven whenever one person repents,” he said. “Whenever someone turns to God on earth they break out in applause in heaven.”
His third point about heaven is that people there know about the time and place of events on earth as evidenced by passages in Revelation. . . .
Again, pointing to verses in the Bible, he added as a fourth point that there will be a connection between those in heaven and those on earth. Those in heaven will be aware of the spiritual status of their loved ones.
He doesn’t seem to be too far removed from a Catholic understanding of the communion of saints.
Laurie assures his listeners that heaven is not one long church service. He reminded of a quip I once heard from Dr. Peter Kreeft, who said in effect that hell is an eternal church service without God, while heaven is eternity with God without the church service.