Is your goal eternity with Christ or heaven itself?

Many readers find comfort in Alcorn’s exhaustive description of heaven, alleviating fear of what happens after mortal death. What is the source of such fear? That Jesus Christ in’t enough without knowing the specifics of new living arrangements?

I admit, I’m puzzled by the growing interest in heaven’s details when many aren’t that familiar with God’s Word. Maybe that’s the problem. Folks aren’t enjoying close enough relationship with the Lord Jesus himself, leaving the tangibles of heaven a major point of interest.

Why do people want to go to heaven? Why the need to preview coming attractions? Are there truly options worth comparing?

Would you hesitate marrying someone without knowing how your bride or groom will look in 40 years? The gift of marriage is spending 40 or more years with the one you love, not weighing future life with an old man or woman. 

Do you need to know the type of home you’ll have? Furniture? Entertainment? Do you need to know how much you’ll have to spend? How long you’ll be expected to work?

Spiritual Prenuptial Agreement

Prenuptial agreements are insurance policies against broken promises and broken dreams. The NEED to know specific details about heaven is a form of spiritual prenup. Would you marry someone who expected you to sign one?

It’s not such a ridiculous analogy. We are the Bride of Christ. Heaven follows the wedding feast.

There’s a reason God’s Word provides few details about heaven. I doubt humans could absorb the enormity of the truth and maybe, just maybe, God wants us to look forward to eternity because He’ll be there – not because it meets with our pre-approval.

“Tragically, most people do not find their joy in Christ and Heaven. In fact, many people find no joy at all when they think about Heaven. A pastor once confessed to me, ‘Whenever I think about Heaven, it makes me depressed. I’d rather just cease to exist when I die.'” – “Heaven”, page 6

What kind of spiritual inspiration comes from a pastor who is depressed at the thought of eternity with Jesus Christ? Little wonder some of the flock are nervous about the unknown.

Marriage isn’t what it used to be. It was a commitment till death do us part. Now there’s no-fault divorce. If folks find it hard to make a deep commitment here, I understand why eternity is a problem. Jesus is full committed and expects our yes to be just that, yes.

No deal breakers.

All in.

Forever.

Which is hugely problematic if you don’t believe Christ’s promises are true. He prepares a mansion for each one and guarantees arrival. Is the color scheme important? I’m more concerned about being ready on this side than what awaits on the other.

It’s heaven. Jesus is there. Count me in. No details required.

A highly imaginative and speculative heaven

If someone harbors fear because Jesus Christ isn’t real enough, why think an imaginative and highly speculative description of heaven by someone who’s never been there can close the deal? In John 16:33, Jesus says, “in this world you will have tribulation, but fear not, I have overcome the world.”

Jesus did not say, “I know life is bad and I wish I could do more for you while you’re alive, but just wait until you read Mr. Alcorn’s book! You’ll see that I’m a risk worth taking.”

Why do seminaries teach so little about heaven? Because getting to heaven is 0% about knowing the specifics and 100% about knowing the Savior who welcomes you home. If you delete all the parts of this book the author admits are debatable, what remains that is new or earth-shattering?

Precious little. And you already have it in your Bible.

Mr. Alcorn has every right to share his opinions and interpretation of scripture, but I find many narrow and repetitive. A skillful editor could cut 300 of the nearly 500 pages without losing the book’s essence.

God is not constrained by linear time. God is outside of time. Heaven and eternity do not follow earthly calendars or wait while clocks tick off seconds, minutes, and hours. Many of the author’s suggested explanations of scripture assume that God’s time and conditions are linear and constant. His discussion of intermediate bodies seeks to fill the time gap between earthly death and resurrection bodies.

There is no gap in time for God. Can I explain that to your satisfaction? No. God is eternally present. He is past, present, and future – always. I can’t explain it and neither can Mr. Alcorn.

“That which has been is what will be,That which is done is what will be done” – Ecclesiastes 1:9

“Indisputable Proof” about heaven not found in Scripture

A warning siren screams when someone claims “indisputable proof” for his opinion regarding God’s Word. (pg 59) There is too much “what if” offered here as truth – a problem for me. Much of what remains isn’t offered as truth, but points to ponder.

This book is a huge investment by the author, which I appreciate. But rather than discovering new and astounding theories, I found it simplistic and frustrating. I expected something more from this author. 

Alcorn offers this work to satisfy the fears, concerns, and curiosity of supposed believers and to fill some perceived void. I submit there is no void. The central topic of Christianity is Jesus Christ, not heaven.

“What if’s” and a spiritual prenup didn’t hang on the cross. Heaven didn’t pay a debt on your behalf. Jesus Christ is the beginning and end of the Christian walk. The only appeal of heaven is that it is the dwelling place of Christ. 

And we will share it with Him.

Conclusion

My issue with Heaven is more about feeding the wrong fear than the work itself. If a significant portion of ordained leadership is concerned about eternal boredom on sterile puffy clouds (from the book), that’s a serious issue for the institutions that determine fitness to minister and preach and the congregations that call them to serve.

Jesus Christ made it possible for us to spend eternity in His presence. That’s good enough for me. I don’t care about the details and don’t need a salvation prenup. There will be no sun nor moon. Just the Light shining from His face.

I look forward to the day!

Review originally published November 2014

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