Preachers and The Lies They Tell About Heaven

heaven and hell

Heaven and Hell

Several years ago, 3 young Ohio boys fell through the ice on the Sandusky River and drowned. What a terrible, terrible tragedy. Two of the boys were brothers.

The pastor of the church where their funeral was held said the following: (link no longer active)

A minister has told mourners that three Ohio boys who fell through ice and died together in a river are now playing together in heaven.

This statement is restated many different ways during countless Christian funerals.

  • Granny is running around heaven now with no pain!
  • Gramps is in heaven now and doesn’t need a wheelchair to get around any more.
  • ________is in heaven and there is no more pain, sickness, disease, suffering, etc.

Here’s the problem…

Statements like these are not true.

Historic, orthodox Christian doctrine teaches that when people die, they go to the grave. They are DEAD. The body remains in the grave until the resurrection. At the resurrection those who have died will receive a new body (1 Cor 15).

So why is it that preachers lie? Why did I lie?

Sentimentality.

Families are grieving. They have lost a loved one. They want to believe there is a divine purpose, and they want to believe that life continues after the grave.

So preachers concoct grand stories about heaven and the immediate transport of the dead from earth to heaven.

Belief in the afterlife requires faith. No one has ever come back from the dead to tell us the what lies beyond the grave (if anything). Anyone who says he has is a liar.

Even Jesus himself didn’t talk about the afterlife after his resurrection from the dead. His disciples did, the apostles did, but not Jesus. He told his disciples that wherever he was they too would be some day. He never mentioned one time any of the things commonly heard in Christian funeral sermons.

Even the notion of spending eternity in heaven is not taught in the Bible. Search all you might, it is not there.

What IS taught in the Bible is that followers of Jesus Christ will live forever in God’s eternal kingdom (on a new earth). On this point the Jehovah’s Witnesses are probably closer in belief to what the Bible teaches than many Evangelical Christians.

The same could be said about hell. Those who are not followers of Jesus will NOT spend eternity in hell. The Bible doesn’t teach that. The Bible DOES teach that unbelievers will spend eternity in the Lake of Fire (Revelation 20:14).

Sentimentality allows preachers, who are supposed to be guardians of Christian doctrine, to ignore what the Bible teaches in favor of telling stories to comfort a grieving family.

I understand WHY they do it but let me be clear here…

Preacher, if you can’t tell the truth when it really matters the most, how can you expect people to believe anything you say? If sentimentality allows you to ignore what the Bible teaches about heaven (and hell) how do we know that you are telling the truth any other time? Not telling the truth in hard circumstances results in a loss of credibility.

As an atheist, I have serious reservations about the notion of an afterlife. At this point in life I lack the requisite faith necessary to believe. I am of the opinion that each of us had best get to living life because it is the only one we have. That said, if you are a Christian you are bound by what the Bible teaches. As a preacher you are obligated to tell the truth. In fact you owe it to your congregants to tell them the truth, even when it is hard to do so.

06/04/16

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5 Comments

  1. Van

    Good post Bruce. On a related topic, does the scripture support the claim that Christians will clearly recognize each other in heaven?

    Reply
  2. John Arthur

    Hi Bruce,

    I just wish that pastors would be honest with their congregations. The pastor might say “I believe …”, not “I know…” No one knows what happens after death. Yet pastors continue the charade that they know. They are a either self deluded or lying to themselves when they say “I know…” with no empirical evidence to support their claims.

    They ought to resist dogmatic claims that they know that God exists, that they know that the bible is the Word of God, and that they know what happens after death. They would be better off making it known that “they believe, by faith” and let churchgoers decide for themselves whether they want to follow such beliefs or whether they want to look at evidence and take an agnostic position relating to an after life.

    Shalom,

    John Arthur

    Reply
  3. Becky Wiren

    One reason I was a Seventh-day Adventist, was the belief that the damned were thrown into the lake of fire, and burned up. Because I never could believe a truly loving God would burn people for eternity. Now, since I’m a theist with very tenuous ties to Christianity, I don’t worry about an afterlife. I’ll worry about it if I get there. 🙂

    Reply
  4. Charles Palmer

    Based on the Truth of God’s Living Word I totally agree with you. Whenever I tell people the truth about death I am rebuked and pushed aside. A certain man who was a brother of a pastor got drunk one night and after leaving the party he attended, he got into his car and that night he caused a fatal accident, killing a whole innocent family of four. He also died two days later in hospital. His brother being a Pastor buried him and at the funeral the Pastor praised his brother for being such a good and hard working person. He further claimed that his dearest deceased brother is now walking the streets of gold having discussions with Jesus. If this is the case that every person who dies goes straight to Heaven, then God’s Living Word is a lie and we can all continue to live a life of sin and wickedness, because there is no judgment day as God had vowed, and we all going straight to Heaven when we die anyway. Like the Angel of God told me in September 1988, “Estana ekorto empera mastriato jeshmet, Jesu prianto kantoro kara katoshea montroto Kana zontra castro Eli capatina.” Which means; The day is coming, it is near, the judgment day of the Lord, where each one will give account unto God of what he or she did in the body, whether good, or whether evil.

    Reply
    1. John Arthur

      Hi Charles,

      “The angel of God told me ….” . How? Bible, audible voice, experience of presence, a feeling, or some pastor?Angels , as supposed heavenly messengers of God, are invisible entities, though the bible does speak of angels appearing in the form of humans. How do we know that they actually exist and that they are messengers of God? There is no more evidence for angels than for fairies .

      Sometimes the word angelos (Greek), in the bible, refers to a human messengers of God rather than heavenly messengers (e.g. John the Baptist). These earthly messengers are not what most Christians call angels .

      So how did you receive this supposed revelation from God in September 1988 and how can you prove that it was, in fact, an angel?

      Shalom,

      John Arthur

      Reply

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