Wednesday, June 20, 2012

What Do I Need to Know About Heaven?

There have been quite a few books released lately about people taking supposed trips to heaven and back.  Each of these authors have claimed have visited heaven as a result of a near-death experience and claim that the visit was for the purpose of God giving new revelation about what heaven is like.  I have several problems with these books, and I would warn Christians to stay away from them.  They are completely unnecessary, as you will see, and are, for the most part, untrue (and I can say this with certainty).

One thing that I've made a habit of over the past few months is daily reading Tim Challies' excellent blog site.  If you're not familiar with Tim, you should be.  He's an excellent writer and he runs a great blog.  In addition to his theologically deep and sound reflections, he has a daily "a la carte" post in which he shares interesting things he has found on the internet. I highly recommend his site.

Anywho, yesterday Challies wrote a piece on all of these "I've been to heaven" books and he explains from scripture why they are, for the most part, bunk.  He's got a lot of great points, and rather than summarize them here, I'll just refer you to Tim's post.

I would like to point out what I think is the biggest problem with these books, in addition to the problems that Challies points out, although Tim does touch on this issue in his treatment.  It seems to me that all of these accounts of visiting heaven necessarily implicate the Bible as being an insufficient source of revelation.  In other words, when it comes to the subject of heaven the supposed necessity of having people visit heaven for the purpose of describing it to those of us who have never been, seems to suggest that the Bible is incomplete, at least when it comes to this issue.  That is, hasn't God told us enough (or all we need to know) about heaven?  Isn't God's word complete?  Do I really need more information about heaven?  And if I do need to know more, doesn't that imply that the word of God is at least somehow insufficient?

Challies makes a great point that at the end of the book of Revelation, John asserts that the canon of scripture is closed - nothing more can be added to it.  In fact, if anyone does add to it, he is cursed.  What does that say about these folks telling us they have the "real scoop" on heaven?

I have the same problem with the couple of books that supposedly tell the tale of people who have been to hell and back for the purpose of warning the masses of the atrocities of eternal damnation.  Wait, doesn't the Bible already do that for us?  Do we really need someone to tell us that hell is bad?  I'm pretty sure that subject is already closed.

God has told us all we need to know about heaven.  And if our information is incomplete, it is so for a reason.  What reason?  I don't know.  But God knew what he was doing when he inspired scripture and gave Paul and John visions of heaven.  That's all we need.

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