To Gaze upon God

To Gaze upon God

The Beatific Vision in Doctrine, Tradition, and Practice

by Samuel Parkison

To Gaze upon God
  • Length: 240 pages
  • Dimensions: 6 × 9 in
  • Published: September 03, 2024
  • Imprint: IVP Academic
  • Item Code: A0766
  • ISBN: 9781514007662

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Today, the doctrine of the beatific vision has been woefully forgotten within the church and its theology.

Yet, throughout history Christians have always held that the blessed hope of heaven lies in seeing and being in the presence of God, of beholding the beatific vision. With lucidity and breadth, Parkison reintroduces the beatific vision and affirms its centrality for the life of the church today. Parkison argues for the beatific vision's biblical foundations and reminds us—through close readings of theologians such as Anselm of Canterbury, Thomas Aquinas, Dante, Gregory Palamas, John Calvin, and Jonathan Edwards—of the doctrine's historical and contemporary significance. The beatific vision is about seeing God, and as Christians have acknowledged across the tradition, seeing God is our ultimate end.

"This is easily the best primer on the beatific vision today. Samuel Parkison's scholarly yet wide-ranging treatment—Scripture, history, philosophy, theology—makes To Gaze upon God a valuable resource and accessible textbook. Grounded in a realist metaphysic, Parkison's moderate Reformed approach judiciously encourages evangelicals to take seriously the tradition's teaching on the transformative vision of God. Parkison effectively puts to rest the notion that the Reformation did away with belief in the beatific vision. Here is a book sure to rekindle our longing for happiness in God."

Hans Boersma, Nashotah House Theological Seminary, author of Five Things Theologians Wish Biblical Scholars Knew

"This is a book written from the heart, and it demonstrates a fruitful reception of the Christian theological tradition on eternal life. Samuel Parkison has put his finger on a doctrine that should animate the entirety of Christian life. He shows beautifully why and how this is so. Guided by the scriptural and theological testimonies he adduces, let us strive to attain the beatific vision, by God's grace and through the saving cross of Christ."

Matthew Levering, James N. Jr. and Mary D. Perry Chair of Theology at Mundelein Seminary

"What is the end—the telos—of classical theology? The beatific vision. What could give the weary pilgrim greater comfort and hope than this promise: one day we will see God. Sadly, the significance of the beatific vision for Christian theology has been lost on the modern imagination. But if anyone can recover this lost jewel of Christendom, it is Samuel Parkison, who is one of the best young theologians today. In a breakthrough book, Parkison lets the beatific vision's pedigree in the great tradition shine. With exegetical rigor and theological precision, he also demonstrates why the beatific vision puts all of Christian theology in motion, from creation to Christology to participation in God. No student of theology can afford to ignore Sam Parkison's invitation to retrieve the beatific vision. This book is an irresistible summons to contemplate the beauty of the Lord himself."

Matthew Barrett, professor of Christian theology at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and author of The Reformation as Renewal

"Much of evangelical theology languishes in a captivity to a pragmatist and naturalist understanding of the nature of salvation. Thankfully, significant efforts are underway to recover the doctrine of the beatific vision as the supernatural end of our faith. Parkison lends his convincing and balanced voice to these efforts, arguing that the beatific vision is central to the biblical notion of salvation and consistent with Protestant and Reformed priorities."

Adonis Vidu, Andrew Mutch Distinguished Professor of Theology at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary

"This book traces the full, long lines of the beatific vision from the Bible to today, with special attention to the near side, where the classic doctrine makes direct contact with evangelical Protestant commitments such as sola Scriptura and imputed righteousness. Late in the book, Parkison asks himself, 'Is it right for a Baptist to talk in this way?' It is a question worth pressing, and this is the book that answers it with a carefully considered, critical, and clear 'yes!'"

Fred Sanders, systematic theologian and professor at the Torrey Honors College at Biola University


1. Introduction: What is the Beatific Vision?
Why a Book on the Beatific Vision?
Theological Foundations: Divine Blessedness
Setting the Metaphysical Stag
Participating in God
2. Biblical Foundations for the Beatific Vision
Old Testament Developments
Old Testament Theophanies
Exodus 33-34
Old Testament Eschatological Promises of the Beatific Vision
Isaiah 24-27
New Testament Developments
1 John 3:2
1 Corinthians 13:12
2 Peter 1:16-21
Revelation 22:3-5
3. A Cloud of Witnesses Pt. 1: Pre-Reformation Historical Witness
Gregory of Nyssa
Anselm of Canterbury
Thomas Aquinas
Dante Alighieri
Gregory Palamas
4. A Cloud of Witnesses Pt. 2: Reformation and Post-Reformation Historical Witness
John Calvin
Johann Gerhard
Francis Turretin
John Owen
Jonathan Edwards
5. Retrieval for Reformed-Evangelicals
What Went Wrong?
Contemporary Debate
The Way Forward: Inseparable Operations
Protestant-Reformed Contribution: Some Positive Proposals
Getting Justification Right
"Superadded" Gift or "Concreated" Gift?
Ocular or Intellectual Vision?
Does the Beatific Vision Cause Deification (or Vice Versa)?
Christ's Experience of the Beatific Vision
Synthesis and Definition
6. The Beatific Vision and the Christian Life
Corporate Worship
The ministry of the Word
The ministry of the Sacraments
Sin and Sanctification
Postscript The Beatific Vision and Global Christianity


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Samuel G. Parkison (PhD Midwestern Seminary) is Associate Professor of Theological Studies at Gulf Theological Seminary in the United Arab Emirates. He is the author several books, including Proclaiming the Triune God: The Doctrine of the Trinity in the Life of the Church (co-author), as well as Thinking Christianly: Bringing Sundry Thoughts Captive to Christ, and Irresistible Beauty: Beholding Triune Glory in the Face of Jesus Christ.