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Where Is Heaven Located?

Jimmy Akin

Jimmy Akin explains the various senses of the term “Heaven,” what we know about its location, and how to best describe these concepts to an inquisitive four-year-old.


Host: Robert in Raleigh, North Carolina, listening on EWTN, Robert, you are on with Jimmy Akin, what’s your question?

Caller: Good evening, gentlemen. I just want to give my four-year-old’s question, and I had a slightly separate one. Of course, kids say the darndest things, and my daughter Katherine, she came up to me, right after Mass, and asked, “Where is Heaven?” And I gave a brief explanation that Heaven isn’t a physical place, that there’s souls there, but obviously there’s at least three bodies there already, with the Assumption, Ascension, and Elijah’s resurrection.

Jimmy: Elijah actually never died, so he wasn’t resurrected.

Caller: Oh. Oh, well, thank you.

Jimmy: But, so you want an answer for your daughter, of “Where is Heaven physically located?”

Caller: Heaven, yeah.

Jimmy: Okay, well, it depends on the sense in which you’re using the term. Now, historically, and this is true in Hebrew and Greek and even English, the term for Heaven is the same as the term for the sky. And so that’s why we talk about the stars of Heaven, because that’s where stars are located. We also talk about the atmospheric Heaven, like when we talk about the birds of Heaven, because the birds are also in the sky but they’re in a different part of the sky than the stars are.

But then there’s the place where God is. And we use the term “Heaven” as a way of talking about where the place God is, but we really can’t assign it a physical location. You can have a map of–or a diagram, with, like, the Earth at the bottom, and then the atmosphere above that, and the stars in outer space above that; and you could picture God as being outside of all that. And in fact if you go back a few hundred years, you’ll actually find diagrams just like that, that depict God as being in Heaven that’s beyond outer space. But really, that’s not literal. That’s just a picture to help us understand that God is in a different place, He’s outside of the created world. He’s not part of the created world, like we are.

So in terms of where the bodies of Jesus and Mary and Elijah and/or people like Enoch or Moses might be, there’s no real way to answer that confidently. It’s obvious that Heaven in that sense is capable of receiving physical bodies. They may not manifest the way they do in this life, like our bodies are stretched out in space and time–and I know I’m going beyond what a four-year-old could understand here, but I’m trying to give an informative answer. So obviously Heaven in that sense could contain bodies. You could speculate that it’s in what you might call another dimension, but if so, we don’t have any way of accessing it. It’s something that can only be accessed by God’s grace, and you couldn’t build a rocket ship or a TARDIS or anything like that to take you there. We’ll have to wait until God comes to us to be able to have access to that kind of Heaven.

So if I were talking to a four-year-old, I would say, “Well, we don’t really know for sure, but God knows where it is and one day He can take us there.”

Caller: Alright, thank you very much.

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