Here are the eleventh and twelfth questions of Matador’s “20 Questions For Every Spiritual Seeker“:
11. What happens to you after you die?
12. Describe heaven and how to get there.
In a recent blog, I contemplated the difficult question of who goes to heaven following Pope Francis’ statement that even atheists had been redeemed by the death of Jesus. This view is not unique. In 2011, Rob Bell’s book Love Wins: A Book About Heaven, Hell, And The Fate Of Every Person Who Ever Livedjumped onto Amazon’s best seller list three weeks before it was published, as a result of scathing pre-publication reviews. Bell’s premise, based partly on scripture, is that God’s love is deep enough to redeem everyone. Everyone who chooses to will be allowed to enter heaven’s open gates, and surprisingly, not everyone may choose to enter. That simple idea generated a firestorm of controversy. The debate over who will go to heaven will rage on; I wonder what God thinks of our debate?
As to what heaven will be like, Randy Alcorn’s book Heaven uses scripture to make a case that heaven will be, literally, heaven on a New Earth. His view is that God created Earth to be our eternal home and will renew it to his original plan as he renews us for eternity. I like Alcorn’s vision of heaven: it’s familiar, comforting, and–happily for me–quite logical. Also in the camp of logic, there is increasingly evidence that many people, including leading scientists, believe points to a reason to believe. My book, The Best Possible World: A Search For The Nature Of Heaven, examines some of this evidence. The premise of the book is that Earth is a poor, imperfect reflection of heaven. Therefore, the things we find meaning in here on Earth will be important aspects of heaven. The three aspects examined in the book–order, beauty, and love–may present us with glimpses into the nature of heaven as well as into God’s very nature. Earthly examples can be evidence, though never absolute proof, in the search for belief. Faith will always require us to take a leap of, well, faith.
“Heaven is under our feet as well as over our heads.” –Henry David Thoreau