Can Heaven be Real if Hell isn’t?
A new book, Heaven is for Real, details Colton Burpo’s near-death experience while critically ill. Months later, he began telling his parents the details. He recalled being above his doctor in the operating room and then seeing his mom praying in the hospital chapel while his dad was sitting in a nearby room. Then he told about sitting on Jesus' lap, and meeting his great grandpa. But the real clincher, was meeting the sister he never knew he had.
His parents knew he wasn't fabricating the story--how could he have known their location in the hospital? They had never told their son about a miscarriage years before. And they hadn't known that their baby was a girl. How could a four-year-old make up those kinds of details? Heaven is very real to this family.
Dealing with the opposite spiritual realm, is Rob Bell's new book, Love Wins, which assures readers that no one goes to Hell. Pastor of the 10,000-member Mars Hill Bible Church in Grand Rapids, Michigan, Bell considers the Christian message of Hell to be toxic and misguided. He thinks it's unfair that just a select group of Christians get a ticket to Heaven while everyone else deals with an eternal torment. In his estimation, God just wouldn't do that.
Christian pastors routinely have to answer why a loving God would send people to a horrid, terrifying, excruciating and unrelenting punishment. The short answer: God doesn't. People make the choice not to believe.
I was listening to a popular conservative evangelical pastor preach on TV: "If you don't believe in Hell go ahead and die. You'll find out. But then it's too late." He doesn’t doubt that Hell is a real place for real people.
Love Wins argues that Hell happens right here and now, not when we die. Intriguing concept, but what if Bell's wrong? Heaven is for Real describes a place that is beyond amazing, but requires our choice to believe in Jesus before we die.
Easter celebrations honor the tremendous sacrifice Jesus made. Why was the sacrifice necessary if Heaven and Hell aren't real? While this all makes a lively debate, our beliefs won’t change this truth: we all die and that's when we find out who was right.