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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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(p.227) Conclusion
Heaven in the American Imagination

Gary Scott Smith

Oxford University Press

While some themes have been perennial—heaven's spectacular beauty, communion with and worship of God the Father and Jesus, fellowship with family and friends, heavenly rewards, and growth in knowledge and spirituality—other aspects of American depictions of heavenly life have varied significantly. Particular cultural conditions, problems, needs, and tendencies have powerfully affected American portraits of heaven. These factors especially helped determine which themes received the most emphasis in different eras. Americans have also disagreed about how people gain admission to heaven. Conservative Christians have argued that individuals gain entrance by trusting in Jesus Christ as the divine-human savior whose death on the cross atoned for their sins, while others have asserted that admission depends on people's upright conduct and goods deeds or a combination of faith and works. Still others have insisted that everyone will go to heaven regardless of their belief and conduct.

Keywords:   heaven, Jesus, cultural conditions, admission to heaven, faith, works

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