“Listen, Peter. When Aslan said you could never go back to Narnia, he meant the Narnia you were thinking of. But that was not the real Narnia. That had a beginning and an end. It was only a shadow or a copy of the real Narnia, which has always been here and always will be here: just as our own world, England and all, is only a shadow or copy of something in Aslan’s real world… It’s all in Plato, all in Plato: bless me, what do they teach them at these schools!” -C.S. Lewis, “The Last Battle” (Pg. 169-170)
The idea that God created the universe in two, distinct realms (heaven vs earth, natural vs. supernatural, spiritual vs. physical, etc.) finds its origination in Plato, not the Scriptures. Plato viewed reality through a lens of “metaphysical dualism” (the division of existence into two distinct realms), which involved the perfect, unchanging, and unseen “intelligible world” and the corrupt, ever-changing, and inferior “perceptual world” which we see around us.
Before long, Plato’s two realms of existence became integrated into Judaism and Christianity, the unseen world equated with the spiritual (or heaven), while the perceptual world was equated with the physical (earth).
This Platonic way of viewing reality (what Randy Alcorn terms “Christoplatonism”) has permeated the Church to such an extent that the goal of the gospel has become either “getting to heaven” or “bringing heaven down” or a mixture of both.
Simply put, these ideas are foreign to the Scriptures. There were never two distinct realms of existence that needed to be joined together or from which one needed to escape. As C.S. Lewis said, that’s “all in Plato”. Let us look to Scripture and define our worldview there.
“In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth” as one unified house within which He sits enthroned upstairs, actively overseeing all that goes on inside (Is. 40:22, Ps. 11:4-7). At creation, “God saw all that He had made, and it was very good” (Gen. 1:31). Wrap your minds around this: Physicality is “very good”. Furthermore, who is to say that the invisible things of Creation (that which we can’t see) are any less “physical” than the visible things? In His heavenly temple, why should we assume God’s throne is any less “physical” than a chair on earth (Ps. 11:4, 103:19; Is. 6:1)? Or how could the angel of the Lord physically kill 185,000 Assyrian soldiers (2 Kings 19:35)? Plato’s worldview makes things complicated.
While it seems God has made a thin and delicate veil between what humans can see and cannot see (cf. Num. 22:23-31, 2 Kings 6:17), nowhere in the Scriptures is creation described with a division between a “natural realm” and a “supernatural realm” or a “physical realm” and a “spiritual realm”. These are modern thoughts descended from Plato.
Under a proper and Biblical worldview (unified heavens and earth), the goal of the gospel does not concern two realms (escapism or assimilation), but one unified “heavens and the earth” being restored (“new”, cf. Is. 65:13-25, 2 Pet. 3:13, Rev. 21:1-7) to its original and intended state of righteousness and blessing (life, joy, peace, abundance, etc.).
Biblical hope always assumes a biblical worldview. Platonic hope (escaping materiality or assimilating immateriality) always assumes a Platonic worldview. Paul could say that his hope was to attain the resurrection (Acts 24:15-16, 26:6-8; Phil. 3:11) because within his biblical worldview, creation was indeed “very good” and the human body was not evil.
From another angle, I have written more thoughts on biblical hope within a biblical worldview in my post, “Misplaced Hope”.