Glenn T. Stanton:
A handful of Christian authors have created a bit of a cottage industry peddling the scary news that the odds are not good that our young people stay strong in their faith into adulthood. Untrue.
One of the challenges of being a book reviewer, and especially a Christian book reviewer, is knowing what to do when a good guy writes a bad book or when a bad guy writes a good book. Of course the categories of “good guy” and “bad guy” are not very helpful since they are far too broad, but they can at least give us a starting point. Book reviewing is easy when D.A. Carson releases another exegetical masterpiece or when Benny Hinn releases another absolute trainwreck. But let’s imagine for a moment that Joel Osteen suddenly releases a book that is really, objectively good.
For a few years now, I’ve been beating the drum about the need for artistic, beautiful portrayals of truth. We need to draw out the inherent beauty of truth whenever we proclaim it, whether it’s in our sermons, our non-fiction books, or blog posts.
Likewise, I’ve expressed concern about those of us in conservative Christian circles who tend to pick apart works of art without offering something better. We can write 50-page criticisms of The Shack, but we can’t come up with a better story. We grasp the issues, but others grasp the medium. The same is true of movies, music, spoken word videos, and other forms of art.
Late last year, a sense of dissatisfaction stirred up in me. I wondered if perhaps I was doing the very thing I despise: critiquing without creating. Only this time, I was critiquing the other critics.
So, I began to pray about writing a fictional story, something that would put forward traditional Christian theology within a compelling narrative.
Apparently, we are sanctified by meditating on both seeing Jesus face-to-face and the transformation we will experience when we see him. In other words, it is good to think about heaven.
So I started asking people how they imagine heaven. I can’t say that people’s responses have always been sanctifying. Many have been hysterical, some have been spooky (with relatives peering over clouds and seeing our every move), and some have been sad. But the enterprise, as a whole, has been a blessing.
Most of us have our own versions of heaven and they change (and hopefully mature!) over time. I will use myself as the case study.