I’ve thought a lot about heaven lately, partly because of our book club’s study of The Five People You Meet in Heaven and partly because Dr. Watson, the Minister of Education I worked under for 6 years in Guam, entered into eternity last week. Whenever someone I know passes away, heaven seems much more real.
I decided to do some more research about what the Bible says about heaven. Recently, some long-accepted beliefs of mine have been challenged and sometimes I found that I was holding to ideas that were not in Scripture, so I wanted to investigate what the Bible has to say about heaven and try to look at the Scriptures with a fresh perspective.
Now, when people talk about heaven, they’re not always referring to the same thing. They may use the same term, but they explain it in different ways. A quick Google search shows that
- Ancient Egyptians believed “departed souls would undergo a literal journey to reach Heaven, along the way to which there could exist hazards and other entities attempting to deny the reaching of Heaven. Their heart would finally be weighed with the feather of truth, and if the sins weighed it down their heart was devoured.”
- Maria Shriver believes heaven is “a beautiful place where you can sit on soft clouds and talk… If you’re good throughout your life, then you get to go [there]… When your life is finished here on earth, God sends angels down to take you heaven to be with him.”
- Notre Dame’s Jesuit Biblical Scholar John McKenzie says, “The traditional views of heaven and hell are about 95% mythology.”
- Barbara Walters says, “Heaven is a place where you are happy.”
- According to researchers at Baylor University, “U.S. adults [were polled] about who (and how many) will get into heaven, 54% of respondents said at least half of average Americans will make it through the Pearly Gates.”
- “Everyone is going to hell according to someone’s religion.”
I clicked on six links and found six different views. I suspect I could keep clicking on links and only find differing perspectives.
I thought this video segment was really interesting. Stephen Colbert interviews Lisa Miller, Newsweek’s religion editor and author of Heaven: Our Enduring Fascination with the Afterlife. They discuss the many views of heaven and which ones they think are the best. I think it’s interesting that Lisa credits Dante with the best heaven and says the Jews “invented” heaven.
I couldn’t embed the video, so here is the link: http://www.colbertnation.com/the-colbert-report-videos/310027/june-02-2010/lisa-miller
Well, this post became a long introduction to the topic of heaven. I plan to write several posts that look at Scripture passages that refer to heaven and to share some quotes, essays, and songs that I’ve read about heaven.
What are some views of heaven you’ve heard others describe? How would you describe heaven?