Earlier this week I reviewed the notable book Christy, the novel based on a true story of a woman teacher set in the fictional Appalachian village of Cutter Gap, Tennessee, in 1912. It was released as a faith book, and as such, aside from the wonderful descriptions of the scenery and well-drawn mountain folk characters, I reviewed it on that basis. It came up short.
One issue I’d had with the theology in the book was the ending. It ended with an illness and a trip to heaven, lengthy descriptions and all of what appears on the other side. In one scene, the character peering beyond the veil sees her friend who had died previously, noting that her worry lines were removed from her face and her youthful appearance and bounce in her step as she cavorted among the hillside flowers. The problem is that we don’t have our resurrection bodies yet, and no one knows what we “look” like in the current intermediate state, dead but awaiting resurrection into glorified bodies.
Leaving Christy aside for a moment, I’d like to focus on heaven tourism in general. It’s a cottage industry of late, many authors tout their trips to heaven, having claimed a visit there. Or hell, some have said they went to hell and returned to tell the tale.
Heaven is God’s abode. It is where he sits enthroned in majesty and power. It is where the holy angels worship Him, where the souls of the dead abide, where things are expressed and seen that no man may utter, as Paul noted in 2 Corinthians 12:4.
was caught up to paradise and heard inexpressible things, things that no one is permitted to tell
And yet, they tell.
Foremost, heaven is God’s abode. It’s where He dwells in His home.
Now, you, dear reader, have a home. You love your home. You pay for it, upkeep it, decorate it, raise children in it, have your life in it. As humble or as grand as your home may be, it’s yours and you are rightly proud of it.
Let’s imagine that you have a friend, maybe she lives across the country or she is an internet friend. She has never been in your home. She has never seen a photo of it. You’ve described it to her in words a few times, here and there but she has has no real knowledge of what your home is like in any real way.
Now let’s say that your friend has a popular blog with a million subscribers, or writes a book that sells millions of copies. She writes about your home. She writes that you have diamonds sewn into your curtains so as to make the sunlight twinkle as it streams in. You have gold faucets and a gold dipped bathtub, in which you bathe nightly in milk and honey. She writes that you have special light bulbs to make a lovely yellow-gold glow in the home, even though that costs you $1,000 a day. She writes that you have a thousand butlers lining the driveway to simply wave at you as you drive in, and an elevator pad to lift you and your car to the third floor of your home where when you step out, you are given champagne and a tiara served on a ruby-edged silver platter.
All these are fanciful lies, of course, but your friend wrote it anyway. She never referred to any of the letters you had written, describing your home the few times you mentioned it. She simply went forward and made up ridiculous scenes and wrote stupendously outlandish claims. Now she is getting rich from the lies.
How would you feel? Angry? Violated? Upset?
How does GOD feel when these people do that about HIS home? When people never consult the Bible, His love letter written to humankind, with the actual scenes from the Homeowner describing what it is like? How does He feel when people make money off their outlandish lies about His home?
We know the biblical reasons that the heavenly tourism books and blogs are wrong. No man has seen God…no man may express…No one who has No one has ascended into heaven except the One who descended from heaven… (John 1:18, 2 Corinthians 12:4, John 3:13).
I live in a two-room apartment all of 400 square feet. It is humbly filled with second hand furniture and hand me downs. I am proud of it and I like how it looks. I want it to appear homey and be comfortable in case someone comes over to visit. I’d feel angry and upset if someone wrote about what my home looked like if their writing was full of lies and delusions. That’s treachery. When such lies involve God’s home, it’s blasphemy.
What about respecting the honor and dignity of the Holy One of Israel? The Ancient of Days who sent His Son to die a cruel death and be separated from His Father and become a curse, so that He can make a way for us to be given a heavenly home? Do we disrespect it with fanciful tales of imaginary joyous reunions and large gates and sunlight on a hill? With lies and imaginings? Is this how we repay Him who is preparing a place for us?
Please avoid books and essays about visits to heaven. They are lies upon lies and they are not only unbiblical, they dishonor the Homeowner, our precious and loving Father God, His Son Jesus, and His Holy Spirit.
The End Time: Heaven tourism books are bad; some heaven books are good
A Justin Peters video teaching: Heavenly Tourism (one hour)
Tim Challies on the topic of Heaven Tourism