A few weeks ago a reporter from Macleans magazine got in touch to ask if I would be willing to talk about a whole new genre of books—books that claim the author has journeyed to heaven. He had been assigned the story and was baffled by their popularity. I am baffled too. He saw as well that even as authors are insisting that heaven is real and that they have seen it, hell is on the downgrade. He understood readers want the assurance that heaven exists and they want to believe that hell does not.
These books crowd bookstore shelves (as evidenced by this snapshot I took at a local bookstore). Every couple of months there is another book telling the story of a near death experience followed by a journey to the afterlife. Every couple of months one of these books hits the list of bestsellers. 90 Minutes in Heaven, Heaven Is For Real, Proof of Heaven, To Heaven and Back…it just goes on and on. While bookstores are now full of these books, there have been very few responses to them.
Enter the second edition of John MacArthur’s The Glory of Heaven. The first edition was written to combat New Age themes that were pervading the church in the early to mid-90’s. The second edition is angled specifically at exposing this genre of heaven tourism. While much of the content is the same, there is also much that is new, refreshed and updated.
In some ways this is two books: a look at what the Bible says about heaven and the afterlife, and a pointed critique of the many heaven tourism books cluttering bookshelves. In both ways it is successful.
As MacArthur sketches out a brief a theology of heaven, he is in his element, looking to Scripture and simply teaching about the glory that awaits us there. His views are traditional, orthodox and at times very literal. He shows again and again that the greatest promise of heaven is not meeting those who have gone before or being free from sickness and pain, but being in the presence of the Savior. He is equally strong in exposing and critiquing heaven tourism books. He pulls no punches as he points out the massive contradictions between the various books in this genre and as he draws attention to just how often they contradict not only the facts of what the Bible says about heaven, but also the Bible’s whole theme and tenor. This is classic MacArthur, looking to the Bible, showing contradictions, and saying, “No way!”
While there are many excellent books on heaven, this may be the only one that specifically addresses the heaven tourism books. MacArthur models how to think biblically–how to go to the Bible, how to think critically, and how to exercise discernment. This alone makes The Glory of Heaven a book you would do well to read.