Reading about the New Earth Changed Her View of All Creation and Gave Her Hope

Our ministry received this letter from a reader of the Heaven book. In her own way, she captures the essence of what has happened in the lives of countless people who for many years were held in bondage by the false view of Heaven and eternity that has been widespread in Bible-believing churches. There are still many people who think that way, though I would say definitely less than 20 years ago when I wrote Heaven. I am very, very grateful that the message is getting out. But I can’t tell you how many conversations, letters, emails and texts I’ve received—including from pastors and other serious Bible students—that echo what this woman wrote to tell us.

I wanted to tell you how much your ministry has touched me. I was a veterinary assistant for three years, and I’ve had to be a part of many euthanasias. As much as you become used to it, the pain you see in the owners’ eyes as they say goodbye to their beloved pets will never stop affecting you. I’ve seen horrific things as a VA, and every time it reminds me it was never supposed to be this way. We were never meant to watch people and animals suffer like this.

I used to believe what you’ve coined as Christoplatonism. I was utterly devoid of any hope for the world, and I just thought the only creation that will benefit is those who follow Jesus. I always thought that was so unfair because in reality, animals and plants and the globe itself never did anything wrong—it was us. Even some non-Christians have a sense of how the world suffers because of the sins of people.

For 22 years of my life, I believed that God would just destroy the earth one day and then Christians’ spirits would be taken to Heaven, and we’d forget everything that ever happened and be disembodied spirits that only sang for the rest of our lives. I did not understand why Christians so anticipated the second coming.

My dad actually recommended your book Heaven to me to help understand the physical and spiritual redemption of not only humanity but the whole world. I was shocked! It changed my perspective on a lot of things. I started realizing that there are a lot of very good things in the world that are often just polluted with sin. Things like reading, writing, painting, laughing, athletics, drama, etc. All of these things are good, but sin often pollutes them into being used for evil.

I had thought, “Well, God wants me to use my gifts now, but that won’t be a thing once we are in Heaven with Him. We’ll just be too focused on Him that we won’t do anything else.” Once I learned we will work, eat, worship, and experience endless pleasures (I learned this from your book and Scripture) my mind was completely changed. I started seeing God in a different perspective, and not as a dictator who wants to punish mankind and whose original idea lost to Satan. I realized God doesn’t have a plan B; He’s going to make sure His original plan is reinstated and much better. I see that as a huge win!

I used to think (because my Sunday school teachers who didn’t care for animals told me so) that if I ever had a dog, when they died, that was it, and there’s no way I’d ever see them again. They just cease to exist. It never settled well with me. I prayed about it many times and when I’d pray about it, it never felt like God was affirming what these people told me, quite the opposite. I’m not saying God ever told me directly what He plans to do; more that He gave me this sense that what I’ve been told wasn’t exactly true.

The older I’ve gotten and more I’ve studied and read, I firmly believe that God will redeem all of creation. I sincerely hope and am fairly certain all the animals I’ve had to watch suffer and eventually be put to sleep will one day get to play on God’s New Earth and many will be reunited with the owners they made so happy here!

Even with my own dog, who as of now is still fairly young and very healthy, it makes me sad to know someday he’ll pass away, but I have hope that it’s not the last time I’ll see him. I’m not someone who would put my dog’s life over another person’s, but I surely do love him. He’s been a great comfort to me and companion to me as a single woman. I truly believe God sent him to me, because I got him when I was going through an extremely rough time. I believe that God wouldn’t just let him cease to exist, and I think animals who bring joy and comfort to humans here and now are special to Him.

Basically, I just want to thank you for helping me change my perspective and for seeing the value in all creation. It’s disheartening to hear Christians speak so terribly about animals and treat them like trash. It’s lovely to see a fellow Christian who believes in the humane treatment of animals and loving them the way God loves them. May God continue to bless your ministry!

When I was reading over 150 books and researching the subject of Heaven in 1999-2003, it was remarkably difficult to find much at all about the New Earth, and especially much that was biblically grounded and made sense. It was maybe 1% of what I read, if even that. What I did find jumped out to me as biblical truth that I had never been taught in an evangelical church, Bible College, or seminary. In my conversations with people, it was shocking what pastors and Christian leaders believed and did not believe about Heaven.

I have had people tell me (and I hope they’re right) that the Heaven book has had a major effect on changing the perspectives of evangelical pastors and laypeople on the subject of the New Earth. I’m humbled and grateful. When the book came out in 2004, it was regarded as unique and radical. Some thought it was off-the-wall, but others resonated with it, and began looking into what Scripture had taught all along. I think I believe more in its truth now than I even did when I first wrote the book. (I would not have written it had I not believed it!) But it was so different than 98% of what I was reading. I could only find references to the New Earth in mostly obscure books and a few reformed systematic theologies. 

Many have been influenced not only by my book but by Surprised by Hope, by N. T. Wright. It came out four years after my book Heaven, and to my surprise and delight, world-class theologian Tom Wright not only read my book but wrote to me to express his agreement. (He only objected to me calling the New Earth the future Heaven, since he thinks only the present Heaven should be called that, though I think Heaven won’t cease but be relocated to the New Earth, where God’s dwelling place with His people and this throne will be—hence the New Earth will be Heaven on Earth.)

I’ve had many people ask if I based my book Heaven on N. T. Wright’s Surprised by Hope. Fortunately, mine was published in 2004 and his came out in 2008, otherwise given the number of times we cite the same quotations about the New Earth it might appear that I leaned heavily on it! But I really do like what Wright did, and he’s an excellent and creative communicator with an audience that includes many readers not in mine.  

I have noticed a striking difference when I speak to groups today than when I spoke to them 20 years ago. Despite the clear teaching of Scripture, the  pushback against the New Earth used to be very strong, now it’s milder and some are totally onboard. I still have many people say, “I’ve never heard that before,” but noticeably fewer. When people ask me what I consider my most influential books, I often say those related to Heaven and the New Earth. I add to that my books on giving, prolife issues, those on suffering, and those on happiness. (Though many people have been more influenced by my fiction than my nonfiction, and I’m grateful for that also.)

But more than anything, I hear from people that they have a transformed picture of Heaven and the New Earth that’s helped them fear death less and focus less on bucket lists and more on the blood-bought promises of Jesus about the wonders of eternal life with Him and His people. If the belief that God’s people will never pass their peaks and really will live happily ever after as resurrected people living on a resurrected earth is a significant part of my legacy as a writer, I’ll certainly be happy and grateful to God!

If you’d like to read more about Christoplatonism, here’s a video, and here’s the appendix I wrote about it in Heaven. (I coined the term “Christoplatonism” to capture how Plato’s notion of a good spirit realm and an evil material world hijacked the church’s understanding of heaven. From a Christoplatonic perspective, our souls occupy our bodies like a hermit crab inhabits a seashell.) And here’s an excerpt from the book: Will Animals, Including Our Pets, Live Again? And in this article, I address Eight Myths Many Believe about Heaven.

Photo by Patrick Hendry on Unsplash

Randy Alcorn (@randyalcorn) is the author of over sixty books and the founder and director of Eternal Perspective Ministries