Randy Alcorn, founder and director of Eternal Perspective Ministries, sat down with CT senior associate editor Stan Guthrie to discuss the release of Heaven Study Guide, 50 Days of Heaven, and Heaven for Kids, all based on his popular 2004 book, Heaven (available from Tyndale). Next year, Multnomah/RandomHouse will publish Alcorn's latest thriller, Deception, which continues a series that began with Deadline (1994) and Dominion (1996).
Are Christians more focused on heaven now than they used to be?
There was a time when there were almost no books on heaven. Now a number of pastors have said they're preaching a sermon series based on the book. The book has sold close to 300,000 copies, which just breaks the rules. It's too big, in a hardback, with too much theology and Bible.
But in a sort of counter-trend, emergent church leaders such as Brian McLaren, especially in his new book, The Secret Message of Jesus (W Publishing, 2006), say that Jesus was focused on building the kingdom of God here and now, and that focusing on heaven or hell when you die is a distraction.
It's true that some people get caught up in things that make them unconcerned about life in this world. And Jesus is concerned about the poor: "The kingdom of God is among you." But he also makes clear that the kingdom of God is coming. So if people are only focused on the coming kingdom of God, then they're wrong. And if people say, "The kingdom of God is not about what is coming, it's about what we do here and now," they're also wrong. There's that already-but-not-yet emphasis in theology. We reign with Christ now, but we will reign with Christ forever in heaven or the new earth. So which is it? It's both.
God has called us to be stewards, and we should not wait ...