Not a rhetorical question. Christians keep telling us that he’s alive, so where is he exactly? If he’s alive he has to be some place. The old hymn, ‘I Serve A Risen Saviour’, which I sang many times in my younger days, thinks it knows:
He lives, He lives, Christ Jesus lives today!
He walks with me and talks with me along life’s narrow way.
He lives, He lives, salvation to impart!
You ask me how I know He lives?
He lives within my heart.
This isn’t much use though, is it. All it’s saying is ‘I’ve convinced myself Jesus is alive because I feel him inside me.’ That’s the extent of it, and this being so, it’s really no evidence at all that Jesus is alive in any sense the word is usually understood, let alone that he has an independent on-going existence.
Perhaps the bible will be of more use. Acts 7.55-56 has Stephen see Jesus alive in heaven, standing at the right hand of God. Well, that’s great. Now we’ve got two problems. Not only do we still not know where Jesus abides, we don’t know where God lives either. They’re both together somewhere, ‘heaven’ according to Acts says, but we’re no closer to knowing where this is either.
According to the preceding verse, Acts 7.54, Stephen is ‘looking up’ when he has his vision of heaven. This is significant because for early Christians, God’s abode – heaven – was in the sky. The New Testament speaks of different levels or realms of heaven, all of them up in the sky.
In 2 Corinthians 12, Paul claims to have visited the third (and highest?) level, while the Paul-imposter who wrote Ephesians helpfully explains that the lower level, the one nearest the earth, is occupied by demons and Satan’s minions whom he refers to as ‘the powers of the air’, ‘cosmic powers’ and ‘powers and principalities’. These are the very beings whom Paul claims in 1 Corinthians 2:8 killed Jesus (betcha thought it was the Romans) and 1 Peter 5:8 says seek to devour men’s souls.
Next is the heavenly realm inhabited by angels and the original perfect copies of everything here on Earth (Hebrews 9:22-24).
Then, finally, there’s the highest heaven (alluded to in Luke 2:14)) where dwells the CEO, God himself. If Jesus stands or sits at his right hand, then presumably that’s where he is too. But where is this highest heaven, or indeed any of the levels the early cultists believed existed? There’s no evidence for any of them.
In fact, the Bible’s heavenly hierarchy (which you can read about in detail here) is absolute drivel. Above us, as John Lennon was known to say, is mere sky – the stratosphere, mesosphere, thermosphere and the like – followed by the endless vastness of largely empty space. If Jesus is alive in an imaginary highest heaven somewhere out there, then he, like it, is similarly non-existent.
But let’s not write a living Jesus off just yet. It’s possible that he, his Father and all those lesser supernatural beings – the demons and devils, powers and principalities as well as the angels and snoozing saints – are hidden away in some other invisible and undetectable alternate dimension.
Other dimensions are, according to some scientists, theoretically possible. There may, they say, be as many as 11, but unfortunately for Jesus, none of the Bible authors knew of them. Those who wrote about heaven in the early days of the Jesus cult, were convinced it was overhead and, as ‘intellectual’ Christians are fond of pointing out, we need to read and interpret scripture as the ancients themselves did, not with a modern sensibility. Certainly not with an understanding of ‘dimensions’ derived from Star Trek.
Despite this, theologians have to work mighty hard to transplant such theoretical dimensions into the Bible in order to claim that heaven, and therefore Jesus, exists in one of them. And work hard they do, at what is little more than a god-of-the-gaps argument: ‘we know Jesus is not a few (or even many) miles up above us, therefore we must find a location for him somewhere that science appears to allow.’
(Interestingly, when it comes to the fine-tuning argument, apologists are quick to dismiss the idea of other dimensions, multiverses and parallel worlds; these make the earth less special, less ‘just right’ for life, less designed by God specially for us.)
Locating the living Jesus is like finding Wally/Waldo in one of those cluttered pictures, except this time he hasn’t been included. So tell us, Christians, where is Jesus? And where is the evidence he’s where you say he is?