In a hypothetic Q&A, panel discussion between the Anglican bishop N.T. Wright and the Pentecostals Duffield & Cleave, it could easily happen that an audience might be leaving such event more puzzled than upon arrival. Based on their publications on the topic of eschatology they persuasively argue for their perspectives. While overlapping in some of the rough outlining, they offer two widely different interpretations of the scriptural data. A thought-out critic now offers his fabricated record of this speculative happening.
Immediately after opening words and a presentation of the speakers, the debate was innitiated with a question “what happens to a person immediately after his physical death?”
Both parties joined in a co-operative rejection of the Roman Catholic notion of purgatory. While Dufield & Cleave argued that the concept is based on extra-canonical apocryphic material of the book of Maccabees (Duffield 1983: 523), Wright pointed out its 13. and 14. century origin in the works of Aquinas and Dante. (Wright 2008: kindle location 2643). Further on Cleave warned us against additional two misconceptions of soul sleeping and spiritism. Then Duffield continued in describing the distinct paths first for the wicked, who will abide in a place called „Hades“, based on the Hebrew and Greek interpretations of the words Sheol and Gehenna, and supported by the account of the rich man and Lazarus (Lk.16:23; 1 Pt.3:19). And secondly the righteous who will spent the intermiediate state between the death and the final resurrection in a place called „paradise“. Among else he based this claim on Jesus‘ words on the cross “today, shalt thou be with me in paradise“ (Lk. 23:43)(Duffield 1983: 520-521). Wright appeared to be more discreet in his assertions saying that Christians will without a difference of status be in a place we can call heaven. (Wright 2008: kindle location 2680-2706). On the condition of the unrighteous he remained silent.
As second, were the debaters asked about the rapture and the second coming. Here once more Cleave took the word and defended the traditional pre-millennial and pre-tribulational view in which Jesus should come again, literally descending from heaven, taking deceased and living saints to a place He prepared for them (Acts 1:11; John 14:3,1; Thes. 4:16-17)(Duffield 1983: 535-536). To everyones surprise Wright answered with questioning the very notion of “snatching up” believers into heaven. In showing that the Greek word parousia does not mean “coming“ as much as “presence“ he began to explain the widely neglected meaning of transformation behind these allegedly misrepresented verses (Phil. 3:20;1.Cor. 15:51-54). Adding three powerful metaphors of Moses coming down from the mountain, Daniels persecution and an emperors visit he showed the meaning of the used illustrations of trumpets, clouds and meeting the royalty to escort him into the city. Namely, that it is not about us going elsewhere but about the King in the sound of trumpets appearing in His kingdom, being present in his mother city and restoring it to its true identity (1.John 2:28; 3:2). In saying that the heaven and the earth will join, he refused his colleagues’ “spaceman descending from sky” theory (Wright 2008: kindle location 2085-2184).