This could be a weekly post but for now, I refrain. In my writing (as in my thinking in general), I like to “look behind” the obvious. It’s more interesting back there. And in that way (read: way to qualify what comes next), I am not really interested in being right (<—lie), just making people uncomfortably admit to the “perhaps,” that maybe there are more angles to life, the Bible, God, etc. than they were previously willing to admit.
One of the ways I do this as a student of the Bible is to expose how people assume things about the Bible that are not really there. And believe me, there are plenty. The classic example, in the holiday spirit, is of course the song “We Three Kings of Orient Are” where the Bible says nothing of there being 3, of them being kings, or of them being from the Orient.
One of the most common that I hear is the argument that the garden of Eden is perfect and that heaven (more accurately, the new earth, but whatever) will be just like the garden of Eden. I am not sure about your views of perfection or heaven, but I prefer mine not to include talking snakes that love to deceive, a tree that leads to soul-death, and the chaotic waters of the great deep. But maybe that’s just me.
But we gloss over all that because we have accepted another perplexing assumption: that the basic phrase “good,” topped off with a very feminist “very good,” is somehow supposed to be understood as “perfect.” Perhaps it just means “good” and “very good.” When I eat ice cream and say “this is good” and then add chocolate syrup and say “wow, this is very good” everyone around me does not assume that I have just attributed metaphysical perfection to my ice cream, do they?
I think John understood. He made sure that when he painted a picture of the new Eden/Heaven/Earth in Revelation he added an extra tree of life so that there are now 2, one on either side of the river. We don’t want Eden again, we saw where that got us. We want Double Eden!