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Heaven in the American Imagination$
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Gary Scott Smith

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780199738953

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199738953.001.0001

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New Currents and Old Streams, 1960–2000

New Currents and Old Streams, 1960–2000

(p.177) 9 New Currents and Old Streams, 1960–2000
Heaven in the American Imagination

Gary Scott Smith

Oxford University Press

During this period, many Christians emphasized several long-standing themes about heaven, most notably the majesty and glory of God, the splendor of paradise, and heavenly worship and rewards. More than any previous era, stress was placed on the temporal and eternal benefits of focusing on heaven. Numerous developments made American portraits of the afterlife more diverse and complicated: the efforts of the Catholic Church after Vatican II to adjust its theology and practice to modern times; the rise or growing importance of new theological positions and religious movements that held distinctive perspectives of heaven, especially process theology, liberation theology, Death of God theology, the New Age movement, and Mormonism; the vastly larger number of reported near-death experiences and the public's substantial interest in them; and the depiction of the hereafter in movies, television shows, and novels. To counter these alternative perspectives, evangelicals reasserted the traditional Christian conception of heaven.

Keywords:   heaven, rewards, Catholic Church, process theology, liberation theology, Mormonism, near-death experiences, evangelicals

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