Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Heaven Can't Wait

Why rethinking the hereafter could make the world a better place
By Jon Meacham

Jesus had asked the angels to sing. In the parking lot of an Arby's in North Platte, Neb., 4-year-old Colton Burpo told his father, Pastor Todd Burpo, that he'd visited heaven while undergoing appendicitis surgery. Colton had climbed into the lap of Jesus, who was dressed in a white robe with a royal purple sash. The Son of Man then summoned winged angels and requested music. There were halos and bright colors, a rainbow horse and a throne for the Son at the right hand of the Father. Colton met John the Baptist (whom he found "really nice") and saw the Virgin Mary (who was acting like "a mom" to Jesus).

Recounted in the best-selling book Heaven Is for Real (written by Lynn Vincent, who ghosted Sarah Palin's memoir Going Rogue), Colton Burpo's story has given fresh energy to a long-standing Christian view of life after death. For the Burpos, heaven is the place you go when you die.

But for some Christian leaders, the Bible points to a different view of heaven. "I don't believe we are going to be floating around with little wings looking like Cupid playing harps for all eternity," says John Blanchard, executive pastor of the 4,000-member Rock Church International in Virginia Beach and founder of Planet Rock Youth Ministries. "Heaven isn't just a place you go--heaven is how you live your life," says Blanchard, whose late father-in-law, Bishop John Gimenez, was a key figure in the rise of the religious right. "What's trending is a younger generation, teens, college-aged, who are motivated by causes--people who are motivated by heaven are also people motivated to make a positive difference in this world."
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