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Monday, May 9, 2011

Randy Alcorn on Heaven books

I pretty much stay away from books that talk about personal visits to Heaven and Hell, unless I happen across it for free or flip through it in the bookstore. Why? Because they seem rather pointless in that they tend to be superficial glances at our future destinations. The problem also occurs that people will base what they think about Heaven on those books, rather than the Bible. Randy Alcorn has written about Heaven and offers his insights on the recent phenomenon of books about Heaven:
As for Heaven is Real, I certainly don’t see a false gospel in the Burpo’s account of Heaven. I rejoice that Jesus is portrayed as the only way to God, in keeping with John 14:6 and Acts 4:12. I could have wished for a greater emphasis on confession of sin and repentance, but on major biblical issues I don’t think Heaven is For Realcontradicts Scripture. Yet on some details, such as wings and halos, I’m just…uncomfortable. Still, God uses many things without my permission, and despite my reservations! I emphatically agree with the title: Heaven is for Real. Not because Colton Burpo or Don Piper say they have been there, but because the Bible says so.
Agreed. Heaven is for real. We know that. We don't need a book about some personal encounter of a four year old to know that, do we? I'm dubious about that book to begin with because it is a four year old's account. Alcorn says this:
I do believe that something is seriously wrong if people take more time to contemplate and discuss Colton Burpo’s account of petting Jesus' rainbow-colored horse, or of Jesus wearing a crown with a pink diamond, than they do studying what the Bible actually says about Heaven. The back cover of the book says "Heaven Is for Real will forever change the way you think of eternity.” I would say, “Seek to let the Bible alone change the way you think of eternity.”
Exactly. We cannot base our view of eternity off a book outside the Bible. That there sounds like Colton was watching My Little Ponys right before he got his vision of Heaven. In either case, I'm not going to doubt that God may give people glimpses of Heaven or Hell, but we should be discerning as whether their accounts line up with scripture. Alcorn concludes:
By the way, I first wrote about Heaven in my novel Deadline in 1993, back before it was cool to do so. :) Of course, everything I’ve said about other people’s books applies to mine, despite the fact that I make no claim to having seen or been to Heaven (in fact I make the explicit statement that I haven’t). Don’t base your theology of Heaven on my books except where you believe they line up with Scripture, which makes the Bible the authority, not me. And while curiosity is understandable, don’t base your theology of Heaven on any book that tells of someone’s personal experience and memories, no matter how sincere they may be.
You can read the full post here.