A customer was browsing our store recently and as she was passing by an end cap displaying Randy Alcorn’s book Heaven she said, “Ooh, another story of someone who went to Heaven?” as she took it off the shelf and began to read the back. “No”, I said. “It’s a book about heaven, but Alcorn has not gone there himself.” “Eww” she said as she promptly repositioned the book on the shelf. “Why would anybody want to read a book about Heaven written by someone who hasn’t even been there?”
No joke. She actually did just say that.
Although her question was meant to be rhetorical, I decided to answer it anyways. “Well because in those other books people will tell you that they went to heaven, but in Alcorn’s book you will find out what the Bible actually says on the subject”.
“Oh“, she snarled, “there’s that.” Conversation ended.
Ya, there’s that. You know. This little thing we Protestants like to call sola scriptura. My concern – and desire – is not to pick on this one customer, but to observe a growing trend among conservative evangelicals. When books like 90 Minutes in Heaven and Heaven is For Real rise to the top of Bestseller charts in North America, and sustain their presence there, while those very same buyers avoid books like Alcorn’s Heaven or Wright’s Surprised by Hope, there’s a problem. A serious problem.