It’s odd and troubling that the best-selling evangelical book of the past decade is a fanciful account of heaven spun from the imagination of a four-year-old boy. (Believe it or not, The Purpose-Driven Life and The Prayer of Jabez are both now more than a decade old.) Peddling fiction about the afterlife as non-fiction is the current Next Big Thing in the world of evangelical publishing.
Those books are part of a burgeoning genre, currently one of the hottest trends in publishing: imaginative tales purporting to be eyewitness accounts of heaven and the afterlife. (Blogger Tim Challies has labeled the genre “Heaven Tourism,” candidly dismissing one bestseller in the category as “pure junk, fiction in the guise of biography, paganism in the guise of Christianity.”)
What’s different about the current crop of afterlife testimonies is that they are being eagerly sought and relentlessly cranked out by evangelical publishers. They are bought and devoured by millions who would describe themselves as born-again Bible-believing Christians. Every book I have named in the above list comes from an ostensibly evangelical source. Many of them are old-guard mainstream ECPA publishers, not vanity presses or dilettantes from the charismatic fringe.
But the larger issue is one no authentic believer should miss: the whole premise behind every one of these books is contrary to everything Scripture teaches about heaven.
In an upcoming book dealing with this subject, John MacArthur says…