You’ve probably noticed the recent popularity of books detailing people’s trips to both heaven and hell, ostensibly intended to warn the future inhabitants of hell and comfort the future inhabitants of heaven. The most recent addition to this genre is Heaven Is For Real—not to be confused with Choo Thomas’ Heaven Is So Real! or Heaven Is Fo’ Real Dawg, a soon-to-be-released album by a Christian hip-hop artist. (Just kidding.)
If you accept the often divergent travel accounts of these post-mortem tourists, there are two biblical passages with which you must deal:
1) The ONLY biblical example we have of a person apparently traveling to heaven and returning is the cryptic account offered by the Apostle Paul of “a man” (who many scholars think was Paul himself) who visited “paradise” and was strictly forbidden to share what he saw.
2) The ONLY biblical example we have of a first-person account of hell is that of the rich man in Jesus’ story in Luke 16:19-31 who pleaded with Abraham to return to earth and warn his living brothers of their plight. Abraham noted that even if someone visited them from hell, they would not repent.
Please tell me: What has changed?