Kingdom of Heaven
Kingdom of Heaven research papers may give a detailed examination of the Gospels, it becomes clear that there are far more references in Jesus' remarks to fostering spiritual fulfillment and community good will through an adherence to ethical values than there are references that directly link ethical behavior and eternal life. This observation supports a common interpretation that has been advanced by theologians in recent years, namely, that part of the "Kingdom of Heaven" that Jesus often refers to was the sense of well-being, virtuousness, and fulfillment that can be attained within each individual believer through a life-long dedication to promoting and adhering to a Christian system of ethics.
Possible topics beyond the one above for a research paper on the Kingdom of Heaven include the following:
- What other New Testament prophets discuss the "Kingdom of Heaven"?
- What specific descriptions are included regarding the "Kingdom of Heaven"?
- How does Jesus describe the "Kingdom of Heaven"?
While the promise of life after death is a major component of the covenant between God and believers, many scholars point out that the references Jesus often made to the "Kingdom of Heaven" have as much to do with the personal spiritual fulfillment of living ethically as with the conveyance to a separate realm in the afterlife. This belief can be traced to pre-Christian doctrine in the Jewish tradition, which emphasized good works and ethicality without focusing extensively upon the specific promise of an eternal reward for earthly behavior.
Although the connection between ethical actions on Earth and eternal life is an important doctrinal issue, there are many more pressing concerns that Christians must address in applying Christian ethics. Perhaps the most profound challenge that believers face in seeking to live and act within a framework of Christian ethics is reconciling the teachings and actions of Jesus with the harsh realities of our own contemporary cultural and social context. Because the secular norm of socially expected behavior has come to diverge so sharply from the ethical standards set forth by Jesus, finding a path that balances a faith-based ethicality with deference and loyalty to society and the community can often prove to be an extremely arduous task.
However, in spite of the fact that Jesus' teachings of unconditional love, mercy, and compassion were highly radical in His own historical context, many of His statements directly address the problem of cultivating ethical behavior in a secular society that values outward status and material wealth above all else (cf. Matthew 19:24, Luke 12:16-21, Mark 10:25). Jesus, too, was forced to reconcile the tenets of His faith within a particular social, cultural, and historical moment.