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This remarkable and unconventional description of the Christians’ afterlife in the New Jerusalem is based on Ida Craddock’s strict interpretation of Bible passages (from Ezekiel, Elijah, Daniel, and John) that describe the heavenly city and on the words of Jesus relating to life after the Resurrection. She advances scriptural arguments to show that Heaven is a substantial place where the inhabitants with physical bodies eat, drink, work, defecate, have sexual relations, and go naked.

“The idea, all too prevalent among Christian people, that Heaven is ethereal, unsubstantial, and intangible, with little or no likeness to earth and the earthly life, has not the least support in the testimony of Scripture. On the contrary, every glimpse the Bible gives us of Heaven and of its inhabitants goes to prove that the life of angels and of the blessed dead is but the old earth-life writ large and purified, plus additional capacities of which we are at present ignorant. … There is not one word said about the world beyond the grave being a ghostly place, peopled with misty shadows. It is, apparently, a tangible, actual, material world, where people live healthy, physical lives; where they love and beget children as they do here, but only in accordance with righteous laws; where communion with God is far more intimate and ecstatic than here; and where, finally, temptation to wrong-doing must still be met and overcome, and the moral nature kept uppermost, if a man’s Heavenly citizenship is to be a permanent thing.”

Ida C. Craddock (1857–1902) was an American spiritualist, theosophist, freethinker, yogic practitioner, and sexologist. A Philadelphia Quaker by birth and training, she championed women’s rights and enlightened sexual relations within marriage, but she was repeatedly convicted of sending “obscene” literature through the mail. This work, published in 1897, has none of her sexual researches or advice, but illustrates her conventional—even fundamentalist—approach to Christianity.

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American Studies

The Heaven of the Bible