According to the Oct. 10 Advocate, Billy Graham, at age 95, offers a vivid description of hell that’s an actual place, an eternal burning inferno. He’s pretty sure about that. “Just as there are no words to adequately describe the grand beauty of heaven, we cannot begin to imagine just how horrible the place called hell is.”
Actually, Graham and his ilk, and humans in general, are pretty good at imagining how horrible hell might be. Lakes of fire, brimstone that burns forever, or maybe freezing cold and outer darkness. Dante Alighieri wrote a whole book describing his vision of the nine circles of hell. One thing humans are good at is figuring out how to make other humans suffer.
Imagining heaven in a meaningful way that makes it halfway palatable is Graham’s and others’ weak suit. Your review of Graham’s book casts little light on his vision of heaven. The Bible describes what it isn’t, a place of suffering, illness and pain. Plus endless, continuous worshiping of God. Most specific descriptions, such as the Bible’s city of pure gold garnished with precious stones sound ridiculous and trifling if you’re planning to hang around for eternity. Perhaps heaven’s another hell of boredom after a few googolplex years. Preachers mostly dodge the question and play the “heaven is far too glorious for us to understand” card, as Graham has in the past. Preachers such as Graham don’t want to be too specific about heaven because folks may decide they’re not that interested in the deal on offer. Better to scare the “bejesus” out of them with hell.
Ron Sammonds Jr.