Psychologist Susan K. Perry writes that books like Heaven for Kids by Randy Alcorn with Linda Washington that make heaven seem appealing can be dangerous. (Alcorn is described on the book jacket as ‘a leading authority on heaven’, which prompts the question of how anyone could earn such a title.)
But Alcorn makes heaven sound very cool to kids, and tries to answer all possible questions a child might ask (rather pathetically, in my opinion).
If you don’t know the basics, I understand them to be this, based on Alcorn’s book: you die, go to temporary heaven, then at some point Jesus comes (back) to earth, really nasty things happen to nonbelievers, then you go to real heaven, a.k.a. New Earth, where you live forever in the presence of Jesus and God and whoever you want to spend time with, maybe even a pet you once had, you will have a really good body, and you’ll keep learning new things, you can dance (but not in the way that causes impure thoughts), you can be with your wife or husband, but probably only as best friends, and you will never want to do bad things and you will be unbelievably happy doing only good things forever.
As to who we get to hang out with in heaven, other than Jesus, Alcorn writes, “Death isn’t the end of our relationships. It’s just an interruption. It’s like the people who have died have gone on a trip ahead of us, but later we’re going to join them. And then we’ll always be together.”
Heavens may be a harmless fantasy for most but can be a dangerous temptation for a few. As Perry says:
[A]nytime a group extols the extraordinary rewards of death and what comes after, you’re skimming the edges of being a death cult. That’s how terrorists happen, if the timing and culture align a certain way.
Perry says that we should stop teaching children about heaven, at least in such rosy terms that makes our one and only life on Earth seem so miserable by comparison.