Another Book On Heaven

Dan S. shared this article on Facebook.

It was an interesting read wrestling with a subject that I struggle with; however, I don't think he answered it to my satisfaction. Maybe you can help me out with a comment.

Heaven Tourism by Tim Challies.

I also struggle with how to interact to people recommending me these books about the people going to the afterlife after a near-death experience.

I thought the article was a good read, but I think his whole second point is off.
In the second place, the very idea of God calling a person to heaven and back and then having that person share his experience in order to bolster our faith is the exact opposite of what the Lord desires for us. We have no reason to look to another person’s experience of heaven in order to prove that heaven is real or hell is real. The Bible promises blessings on those who do not see and yet believe. Our hope is not to be in the story of a minister or toddler or doctor or anyone else who insists they have been to heaven; our hope is to be in Jesus Christ as God has graciously revealed him to us in the Bible. Faith is believing that what God says in his Word is true and without error. You dishonor God if you choose to believe what the Bible says only when you receive some kind of outside verification. You dishonor God if you need this kind of outside verification.
He discounts these stories of afterlife experiences because they are someone else's experience and then says we should just steer toward the Bible. But honestly, isn't the Bible a compilation of the experiences of others? We believe the stories shared in the Bible are inspired, but, nonetheless, they are the story of experiences.

Maybe we could argue that these experiences aren't what the afterlife will be like, but then we are taking a firm position on something that doesn't seem that significant nor clear in Scripture. It's making an issue of division out of a minor issue.

In the last paragraph, Challies flirts with the territory of saying that only Scripture is worth reading. He wrote, "The Bible insists that it is enough, that it is sufficient, that we have no need for further special revelation from God; these books insist that it is not." The Bible is all sufficient; that is true. But that isn't the reason to ignore these books. I am inspired to be more passionate toward God and his work through reading other books nearly every day. I know many of us are. That doesn't mean they are superior to Scripture. Heck, this guy is writing an article that is not Scripture trying to encourage me to think something. I wonder if he sees the irony in that. Obviously, there is room for articles and books outside of Scripture.

I would argue against these books with a different approach. Do they actually encourage people to be better followers of Jesus? If they don't, then discard them. If they do, then praise God for the experience being shared. Unfortunately, I don't see people responding to these books with a fervor to do the work of the kingdom of God. Instead, people seem to be content to receive the frosting on the cake, eternal life.

The two ideas don't have to be opposed to one another. But many who focus on the latter seem to ignore the former.