I don’t want to take away something that is precious to another but I no longer believe there’s a heaven.
I used to count heavily on the hope of a hereafter. I preached about it often and referred to it in my funeral sermons. But as I said, I’m done with the concept.
For those who regard the Bible as indisputable… scripture doesn’t give substantial descriptions of heaven. Most of our images come from Revelation which is highly figurative and kind of useless in giving us a real concept. So our discussion of heaven is speculative.
It’s supposed to be an incentive for people to aspire to goodness. But we made it unattainable and so we had to figure out another way to get there—hence all the talk of the Only Begotten Son and the Great Sacrifice. In that context, motivation for doing good became a bit harder to explain.
For some, heaven is a great reward after an unhappy life. The idea provides comfort in times of grief and hardship. But I’ve known many people who work hard to be unhappy. They deny themselves joyful experiences because their religion smothers them with disapproval, harsh discipline and guilt. No sex, no celebration, no parties, no dancing—if it’s joyful then it’s wrong. Better to focus on hard work, grim worship, and self denial. And be sure to make everyone else’s life miserable too (it’s their form of evangelism). The one hope they have is that things will be wonderful in the next life. But will they be able to enjoy things then? No matter… they probably won’t make it anyway, even after all their efforts.
Many Christians use heaven as an excuse for not taking responsibility for the problems of this world. Since everything is going to be okay eventually, we don’t have to fix global warming, poverty, and human trafficking. It’ll all be made right in the sweet by and by.
From now on, I’m going to assume that this life is what I have. I need to take responsibility for it. I’m not going to close my eyes to the world’s problems. I’m going to try and make things better if I can and I’ll cut myself some slack if I don’t find a grand solution. I just want to be part of the process.
I’m also going to enjoy my life more. I’m going to see new sights, walk on the seashore, hike in the mountains, take naps, go on adventures, eat good food, have music, binge on Netflix, and make love often.
I’m going to make this life count. And if heaven turns out to exist after all… well, that’ll be great, too.