A couple months ago I blogged on the notion of a fear of heaven. What follows below is a much longer discussion of the same topic. It is an autobiographical excerpt which I originally wrote for a book I am currently writing on the concept of heaven. Once I decided that the passage would not be included in the book, I opted instead to post it on the blog. And so here it is, “The Confessions of an Ouranophobe, or How I got over my fear of heaven.”
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Believe it or not, “ouranophobia” is a real, bona fide condition. Deriving from the Greek words “ouranos” (heaven) and “phobia” (fear) the condition is characterized by a deep fear of heaven and the prospect of going there. Now I’m not saying I was ever clinically diagnosed with ouranophobia. I wasn’t. But I will say that while my church friends growing up spent a lot of energy in fear of going to hell, I found myself surprisingly fearful of going to that other place.
Ouranophobics fear heaven for different reasons. I feared it because of what it required me to give up. But don’t get the wrong idea: I’m not referring to some deeply-seated unconfessed sin that I was loathe to surrender. Nor did I have any objection with God being in charge. Indeed, I always thought the devil’s infamous line in “Paradise Lost”, “Better to reign in hell than serve in heaven”, had to be one of the dumbest declarations in all literature. My problem with heaven, and my fear of it, traced to very different sources. In short, I feared that heaven would require the surrender of some very good things, things that I desperately
wanted to keep.
Perhaps the best way to explain what I thought I’d lose in heaven is by explaining what I thought heaven was. So here it is in brief, the understanding of heaven that I gleaned from having grown up in the church:
When Christians die their bodies go in the ground but their souls go to be with Jesus in heaven forever. The End.
That’s pretty much it. Over the years the picture was modified in some respects. Most notably, as I’ll note below, I added a healthy emphasis on worship during my teens. But beyond that the basic picture I held throughout my youth remained static and terribly unsettling. So what was it that left me so worried? What exactly did I not want to give up? In fact there were two things. According to this picture of our souls going to heaven I’d have to surrender both my body and the world. And I was not happy about either prospect.
Let’s begin with the whole body thing. Heaven seemed to imply that we become hybrid angels at death. Now don’t get me wrong, I have never had any objections to angels per se. I think they’re fine creatures (the unfallen ones anyway). Indeed, as a kid I was particularly attached to my guardian angel, who I envisioned as being 6’6’’ with a flaming sword, rippling angel muscles, and a shock of blond hair. (Looking back, I suspect the image was more deeply influenced by Schwarzenegger’s “Conan the Barbarian” than any biblical imagery.) And I was especially happy to know that my angel was leading the way on those nocturnal trips to the bathroom when bogeymen seemed to be hiding in every closet. So I definitely liked angels. I just didn’t want to become one. By way of an illustration, imagine a wolf mother telling her little cub “After you die you’re front paws will become wings, your fur will turn into feathers, and you’ll become an eagle.” This is how I picture the cub responding: “Mamma, I like eagles. I think they’re beautiful. But pardon me, I don’t want to become one.” That would pretty much sum up my response to angels. I was created to be a physical creature, not a hybrid angel. Okay, so I wasn’t exactly Michelangelo’s David. (Think more in terms of a doughy slab with average looks, a winsome grin, and tousled brown hair.) But even if I wasn’t movie star handsome, that didn’t mean I was ready to trade my modest assets in for a spectral body and a pair of wings, even if I did get a flaming sword.
The same sentiment summarized my feelings about the loss of the world. I know that at times the world seems like a doughy slab all its own, broken and disordered with suffering in abundance.
But even so the world also seemed to have goodness in abundance for those with eyes to see. Think of the time when you were camping up in the mountains. You climb out of your warm sleeping bag and emerge from the tent into the chill morning air. There’s frost on the grass and your breath comes out in puffs of steam. And as you look up far above, you can see the first rays of the sun hitting the snowcapped peaks, illuminating them in a pink alpenglow. It’s beautiful. And what about that visit to the seaside? You’re standing on the beach, the wet gritty sand between your toes as the cool water rolls in, curling around your ankles. The mist rolls off the surf while seagulls screech and you breathe in the salty air. It’s beautiful. And don’t forget that time standing still in a field and watching the snowflakes tumble down, each one a latticed work of art deserving of public display at the National Gallery. One by one they silently pile up on a weathered fencepost as the landscape is put to sleep for another winter under a quilted, sparkling blanket of white. It’s beautiful. You can’t help but think what a wonderful world! (Cue Louie Armstrong followed by Ray Stevens’ “Everything is Beautiful” for good measure.)
A mountain peak illumined by alpenglow, a seaside visit, and a snow-covered fencepost: just three of the abundant treasures from the vast stock of goodness to be explored down here. By comparison what did heaven offer? Well since heaven was in the sky I presumed the dominant motif would be clouds: soft, blurry, puffy, cottony clouds. And whatever went with those clouds would be equally soft and blurry, with the hard edges hewn off and bright colors softened to a palette of warm pastels. Everything would smell like baby powder and every solid surface would be covered with crib-like bumper pads. Our lot would be to exist as flittering disembodied spirits resembling a collection of Precious Moments knick knacks come to life. Abraham, Moses, and of course Jesus would be all there, ethereal angelic beings, their blurry spectral bodies dressed in ankle length spectral robes with sandals and blue or red sashes in accord with the familiar flannelgraphic images of Sunday school. Beyond that my childish image of heaven devolved into a mishmash of biblical themes and pop cultural images – a giant cube shaped city, a vast, meticulously landscaped subdivision of grand mansions, towering gates, and sparkling streets of gold.
Interesting? Perhaps. But exciting? Not particularly. Better than earth? No way. Again, I didn’t want to disrespect heaven, but neither did I want to give up all the good things that God created on those six days.
As I entered my teens my ouranophobia continued to fester. But by this time one central image of heaven emerged as dominant and took precedence over the others. That was the image of divine worship. At this time I came to view the mansions and streets of gold as mere cosmetic accoutrements to the main show: heaven was really concerned with praising God as in the following picture from Revelation 6:
11 Then I looked and heard the voice of many angels, numbering thousands upon thousands, and ten thousand times ten thousand. They encircled the throne and the living creatures and the elders. 12 In a loud voice they were saying:
“Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!”
13 Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them, saying:
“To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honor and glory and power, for ever and ever!”
14 The four living creatures said, “Amen,” and the elders fell down and worshiped.
The streets of gold would still be there, but their primary purpose was to ensure smooth traffic flow between the suburban mansions and the cosmic sanctuary where billions of people and angels would be praising God forever with a never-ending round of hymns, choruses, and more hymns, punctuated by the occasional shout of acclamation or humble prostration. The picture of heaven as worship was very helpful as a means of pulling in all the disparate images that were jumbled in my mind into one more biblical whole. Heaven was about worshipping God, about giving the good Lord his due. And who could possibly disagree with that?
Unfortunately centering my understanding of heaven on worship didn’t help matters much. In fact, if anything it seemed to make them worse. Mark Twain was a frequent critic of Christianity and the Christian conception of heaven was one of his most prized targets. In one of his writings he critiqued the description of heaven as a never-ending church service. The problem, as Twain observed, is that Christians describe heaven, a place of supreme joy, in terms of a place that struggles to hold our attention for even one hour a week:
As you have seen, that singular show is a service of divine worship—a service of praise: praise by hymn, praise by instrumental ecstasies, praise by prostration. It takes the place of “church.” Now then, in the earth these people cannot stand much church—an hour and a quarter is the limit, and they draw the line at once a week. That is to say, Sunday. One day in seven; and even then they do not look forward to it with longing. And so—consider what their heaven provides for them: “church” that lasts forever, and a Sabbath that has no end! They quickly weary of this brief hebdomadal Sabbath here, yet they long for that eternal one; they dream of it, they talk of it, they think they think they are going to enjoy it—with all their simple hearts they think they think they are going to be happy in it!
The understanding which Twain so effectively critiqued looked disturbingly like the one I had come to adopt. And that only added to my existential conundrum: I had to admit that Twain had a point. There is a tension, if not a downright inconsistency, between the Christian’s attitude toward church services and the picture of heaven as a never-ending church service. Was there any way to resolve this tension?
One could always retort that the concerns about an otherworldly church-based heaven were rooted in a sinful lack of imagination. In short, it is our fault that we can’t get excited about a never-ending church service in the clouds in the same way that it is the meat lover’s fault that he is unable to imagine the culinary delights of a gourmet vegetarian meal. That may be, but I still didn’t find the “your problem is your lack of imagination” response particularly satisfying. I didn’t have any problem imagining how wonderful a vacation at Disneyland would be. So why did heaven seem to be such an enormous stretch? Despite the promise of church 2.0 (or 7.77) in heaven I still found myself wanted my body and the creation that goes with it. As I looked toward graduation from high school I found that I resonated with the half-hearted lament of theologian Anthony Hoekema: “Are we to spend eternity somewhere off in space, wearing white robes, plucking harps, singing songs, and flitting from cloud to cloud while doing so?”
The Resurrection of the Body
Not long after high school I matriculated at a Christian university though I admit that I neglected to mention my ouranophobia on the registration forms. Not that the issue was a major concern for me at the time. Indeed if anything it was squeezed out by the pressing concerns of new classes, dorm life, assignments, tests, talent shows, banquets, and a thousand other things. With so much to worry about in the present I hardly had any time to be concerned with the heavenly future. As a result, my misgivings were left for a time burbling on the backburner of my faith.
All that began to change with an unexpected meeting in my sophomore year. The catalyst that ultimately led to the revolution in my understanding did not come (as you might expect) from a campus pastor, senior student, or one of my Christian professors. Rather it came from, of all people, a Mormon missionary. My college roommate and I had both just completed a course in apologetics and were looking for some intellectual debate with a person from another faith, so when the Mormon missionaries came knocking on our door it was just too good to pass up. We warmly invited them in. But behind our friendly smiles our minds were working overtime, planning the various ways we intended to lampoon their beliefs. The Mormons settled themselves into a couple chairs and pulled out their handy flip chart as they smoothly transitioned into the story of how the angel Moroni had visited young Joseph Smith in upstate New York to inform him that all the churches on earth were false. Every few minutes they’d flip the booklet to a new picture, pause, and then ask us about our feelings. “We feel fine,” one of us would say, “But we’d like to talk about evidence rather than feelings.” And with that we’d launch into an argument about the historicity of the Book of Mormon or the credentials of Joseph Smith. It wasn’t long before they started getting a little irritated. Finally one of them put her hands on her hips and said, with a distinct note of irritation, “What is your real purpose in inviting us in today?!” At that point things began to degenerate until they pulled down their flip chart and left a short while later, having concluded that ours was a soil too hardened for the Mormon gospel.
Although it may not have looked it, the day wasn’t a complete washout for the Mormons. In fact, in the midst of our abortive attempt at apologetic debate one of those missionaries scored a major point that shook my Christian faith. However, the real irony was that after the shaking, the faith that emerged was much more thoroughly biblical and Christian. The challenge to my faith was so subtle that had you been there you probably would not even have noticed it. All the missionary did was to ask me a simple question in the midst of the discussion. “Do you believe in the bodily resurrection?” she inquired.
“The resurrection?” I replied. “Of course I believe Jesus rose.”
“No, not of Jesus,” she replied. “Our bodily resurrection.” I must have looked confused because the missionary then added, “You know, the resurrection Paul talks about in 1 Corinthians 15.”
“Oh yeah…,” I said, “of course I believe in that.” And with that the conversation quickly progressed onto other matters. But did I believe it?
Frankly, at that moment I didn’t know what it was I was supposed to believe. I racked my memory banks in a vain attempt to place the question. Upon reflection I thought that maybe I’d heard something about the resurrection at some point. But I couldn’t be sure. In my confusion I did know one thing: whatever this “resurrection” thing was, it didn’t accord very comfortably with my hybrid angel theology.
In university I was an English major so it seems fitting to summarize my view of the afterlife at the time with the aid of the eloquent eighteenth century poet Alexander Pope’s poem “On the Dying Christian to his soul”. The poem begins with the soul, a “Vital, spark of heav’nly flame”, longing to leave “this mortal frame!” The poem then narrates the process of dying as the angels call to the soul “Sister Spirit, come away.” As death takes the body, heaven opens to the eyes and ears of the soul. And as the angels sing the soul cries out “Lend, lend your wings! I mount! I fly!”
The last stanza closes with a triumphant quote drawn from the Apostle Paul:
“O Grave! where
is thy Victory?
O Death! where is thy Sting”
Before meeting that Mormon missionary I would have met a reading of this poem with an unqualified Amen for its literary merit and orthodox doctrine. Certainly its literary credentials are unimpeachable as Pope provided hauntingly beautiful account of the soul’s release from the decaying body. But to my surprise, its doctrinal orthodoxy was considerably more suspect. When I followed up on reading 1 Corinthians 15 I immediately discovered a serious problem with the poem. You see I found out that when Paul made the declaration “O Grave! where is thy Victory? / O Death! where is thy Sting” he was not speaking about the soul’s release from the body as Pope implied. Rather, his victory was located in this notion that we would be resurrected in the future just like Jesus. With growing surprise I discovered in this letter a picture of future hope which had little to do with the immortal soul going to heaven and everything to do with the body one day being resurrected. Paul’s understanding of our future hope was bound to the down payment of hope that had come in the resurrection of Christ. As he explained in 1 Corinthians 15:
20 But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21 For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. 22 For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. 23 But each in turn: Christ, the firstfruits; then, when he comes, those who belong to him.
This passage brought me to recognize that the resurrection of the body was essential to the future Christian hope. In fact, it was, as Paul said, the first fruits of the future resurrection of all people.
This doctrine of future resurrection was clearly of great import. We don’t become transformed into hybrid angels at death so that we can flitter off to be with Jesus in heaven forever. Rather, God will disinter our dry bones, attach new tendons, add flesh, cover the grisly assemblage with skin, put breath within us, and through it all bring our very bodies back to life. And that includes my own modest doughy slab with the winsome smile and tousled brown hair. This was big news indeed! But it also raised all sorts of questions. Here was the most glaring one: if this was really what Paul and the early Christians believed then why hadn’t I heard about it before? Seriously, how could I have been raised in a Christian home, attending church, Sunday school, youth group, Christian summer camp, and even a Christian university, and yet have heard nothing (or next to nothing) of this doctrine of the resurrection?
Looking back now I have a better sense of the problem. It was not that the doctrine was explicitly denied so much as that it remained hidden, obscured by incautious confessions that moved seamlessly from death to victory with no mention of resurrection. For an excellent example consider the Bill Gaither hymn I often sang in my youth: “Because He Lives”. The song begins with a triumphant declaration of hope based on the resurrection of Jesus thereby establishing that resurrection is a fundamental theme in the song. Yet despite this fact by the time we arrive at the third stanza we find no mention of our resurrection:
And then one day I’ll cross the river;
I’ll fight life’s final war with pain.
And then, as death gives way to vict’ry,
I’ll see the lights of glory and I’ll know He reigns.
Just as in the Alexander Pope poem the Gaither song moves seamlessly from death to victory. If there is a resurrection in this stanza, you’ve got to look very carefully to find it because it is under cover. With such a distorted picture it is not surprising that Christians like myself drew erroneous conclusions about the afterlife such as my theology of hybrid angels. And this erroneous theology in turn had left me thoroughly ouranophobic.
While I was initially peeved about having grown up with such a distorted picture of the afterlife, that feeling was soon lost in the overriding relief that I’d be able to keep my body after all. I felt like the one-time bachelor who got married with the assumption that he’d have to sell his favorite motorcycle, only to learn that his new spouse had every intention of letting him keep it. In my case I had learned that I’d be able to keep the body I thought I’d have to give up forever. And that’s not all. I wouldn’t just get my body returned merely “as is”. Rather, according to 1 Corinthians 15:42-44, that doughy slab would be thoroughly refurbished from head to toe and then returned as a “spiritual body”. That’s like the bride returning the bike the groom thought he’d given up with new chrome, paint and tires. Good news indeed!
The Resurrection of the World
As good as things looked, a serious problem continued to obscure my horizon. My discovery of my own resurrection body was tempered by the fact that it would still be placed in that otherworldly locale known as heaven. Think again of the husband who discovers that he gets to keep his motorcycle. He’s excited by the news until he remembers that he and his wife are moving to the North Pole. In a moment his relief at getting to keep his motorcycle is replaced by the realization that it will be nothing more than a burden in the environment to which they’re moving. After all, motorcycles fair poorly as a means to navigate snow drifts. That was like the dilemma that I now seemed to face. What good was a newly refurbished, remodeled, refashioned, redesigned resurrection body if I was still consigned to live in an ethereal heaven of clouds and angels? At least a disembodied soul was at home in this environment. But donning a physical body in ethereal heaven seemed to make about as much sense as strapping a fat suit on a mountain goat.
Given the resurrection body vs. heaven tension that now existed in my view of the afterlife, it was inevitable that I would have to proceed to a closer analysis of the concept of an otherworldly heaven. The first step in this process was a look at my assumptions about the future of the earth. The picture that I had assumed growing up was bleak indeed. My view of the earth’s faith can be summarized with the phrase “massive apocalyptic destruction” (MAD for short). In short, I had long assumed that while the soul was redeemed for heaven, the body’s earthly home would be consigned to a fiery end. I viewed human beings as mere sojourners on earth, a view captured in the title of Christian rock pioneer Larry Norman’s magisterial 1972 album “Only Visiting this Planet”. For all its musical brilliance, the album conveyed a very unfortunate picture that I came to call “parachute theology”. According to parachute theology God dropped us onto the earth for a brief sojourn and that he will pull us back out when the mission is complete. If Norman’s “Only Visiting This Planet” drove home the view that human beings were mere visitors on the earth, another album from my old Christian rock collection vividly highlighted the sobering implications for the earth.
The cover of Christian heavy metal band Stryper’s debut 1984 album “The Yellow and Black Attack” says it all with the image of a glowing blue divine hand directing four giant missiles toward the earth. The old saying “a picture is worth a thousand words” is certainly apposite in this case. Stryper’s cover vividly illustrates a “MAD” theology with four missiles pointed at earth about to destroy the planet. Most striking is the extraordinary presumption of the band members in allowing their initials to be emblazoned on the four missiles (OF, TG, RS, MS), as if they had been commissioned to fulfill the role of the four horsemen of the apocalypse!
Perhaps you can chalk that detail up to the hyperbolic pretensions of hard rock album cover art. But the overarching picture of God destroying the world cannot be excused so readily.
While I had assumed for years that the earth was going to be disposed of forthwith, I now began to sense a tension between this assumption and the picture of the resurrection body. To begin with, a non-physical heaven didn’t mesh with the physicality of the resurrection body. Make no mistake, while Paul referred to our resurrection bodies as spiritual that did not mean not-physical. After all, Jesus’ spiritual resurrection body, the first fruits of ours, could eat food and could be touched. The message of the gospels seemed pretty clear: the spiritual body was not less than physical; rather, if anything it was more so.
But then shouldn’t our heavenly environment be more than physical as well? Birds live in aviaries, fish live in aquariums, and human beings lived in a physical world, not an ethereal heaven. But if I accepted this reasoning then I had to consider a second problem: if God was going to restore every atom of my body why wouldn’t he likewise restore every atom of creation? It seemed perplexing that he who restores us to fullness would crumple up creation and throw it in the cosmic wastebasket.
I soon realized that if I were going to consider rethinking heaven I would have to address two difficult verses in 2 Peter 3:
“By the same word the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly.” (v. 7)
“The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid
bare.” (v. 10)
These two verses seemed to describe creation as being destroyed in fire. So was that the end of the story? Maybe the Stryper album was correct after all (sans the four initialed missiles of course).
When I looked at the passage closely I was relieved to realize that it didn’t support the traditional picture of heaven. In verse 13 of the same chapter Peter explains that “we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness dwells.” In other words his alternative to an earth destroyed was not a picture of being whisked off to heaven. Rather, his vision centered on a new heaven and new earth. As I looked through the witness of scripture I realized that Peter was picking up on a familiar vision (see Isaiah 65:17) of a new heaven and earth.
But it was Revelation 21 that really brought to that vision into focus with the opening image of the chapter being the vision of the New Jerusalem descending down to earth so that we may be his people and God himself will be with us and be our God (v. 3). This was yet another exhilarating discovery. If there was going to be a new heaven and earth, then I had absolutely no reason to think my eternal home would be a puffy environment of cottony clouds. If the biblical writers could speak in hope of a new earth why couldn’t I speak about the towering peaks, rolling surf and snowcapped fence posts as part of the new earth? Perhaps I could look forward to praising God in a perfect world after all. And with that the final vestiges of my ouranophobia finally began to dissolve into an unqualified liberating anticipation for the future. Now I could finally say that I couldn’t wait to get to heaven.
Except for just one thing.
There was still that second point. It just seemed inconsistent that God would redeem every atom of my body and yet consign his own good creation to destruction. Why wouldn’t God resurrect the very same creation as surely as he will resurrect our bodies? While that made sense to me, I could anticipate the following rejoinder: “If your car was damaged in an accident you’d prefer to the insurance company to provide a brand new car. That’d be much better than repairing a damaged vehicle.” I agree that this rejoinder made sense for objects like cars. The only problem was that creation wasn’t an inert hunk of metal like a car. On the contrary, creation was something good which the psalmist described as praising God even in its fallen state:
1 The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
2 Day after day they pour forth speech;
night after night they reveal knowledge.
3 They have no speech, they use no words;
no sound is heard from them.
4 Yet their voicegoes out into all the earth,
their words to the ends of the world. (Psalm 19:1-4)
If creation praises God despite the disorder that we have brought into it then it is all the more puzzling to think that God would give up on it.
While this all made good sense, I still found myself held back by the picture of creation being destroyed in 2 Peter 3. But all that changed when I came across an amazing section in Romans chapter 8, a passage where Paul explicitly discusses the redemption of creation in the same terms that he describes the future resurrection of our bodies.
19 For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. 20 For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope 21 thatthe creation itself will be liberated
from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God. We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. 23 Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies. (8:19-23)
Here Paul makes the point that while creation has been subjected to the effects of the fall, it also anticipates its own eventual liberation. But this would make no sense if the present creation were to be destroyed and replaced by another. If you don’t believe me, imagine how you’d feel if you discovered that the Christian “hope” of resurrection consisted of the promise that after you died somebody else would be resurrected in your name. While I’m sure you’d be happy for them, that would be little consolation to you. By the same token, if creation was awaiting its own redemption then the conclusion was inescapable: creation would be redeemed just like our bodies. Indeed, Paul drives this point home by drawing a direct comparison between the restoration of creation and the resurrection of the body. Following the interpretive principle that scripture interprets scripture, I took my insights from Romans and reread 2 Peter 3 in light of them. Could it be that when Peter spoke of the fire that would engulf creation in verses 7 and 10, the focus was not on a fire of destruction but rather one of refinement? And thus could it be that the reference to a new heaven and earth in verse 13 was in fact another way of saying a renewed heaven and earth? Exegetically this was possible, and in light of the promise of Romans 8 this interpretation now seemed all but necessary. God, I realized with amazement, so loved the whole world that he sent his Son.
With the promise of a resurrected body and a resurrected world at last I saw the remaining vestiges of my ouranophobia melt away like an ice cube in the parking lot of an Arizona Walmart. I no longer needed to worry about heaven being the denial of the best I had known. On the contrary, heaven now represented the embrace of all the best I had known infinitely quantified into unfathomable perfection. My body would not only exist, but it would be multiple orders more real and more mine than it is in this present mortal coil. And the same was true of the world. I didn’t have to say goodbye to the mountains and ocean and even the snow covered fencepost. Rather, I could trust them all in the hands of their loving creator and master builder, knowing he would restore his creation in a form more real, more there, than I could imagine.
 For a definition of ouranophobia see Ronald Manual Doctor, Ada P. Kahn and Jan Fawcett, The Encyclopedia of Phobias, Fears, and Anxieties, 3rd ed. (New York: Facts On File, 2008), 270.
 Twain, “Letters from the Earth,” The Bible According to Mark Twain: Irreverent Writings on Eden, Heaven, and the Flood by America’s Master Satirist, ed. Howard G. Baetzhold and Joseph B. McCullough (New York: Touchstone, 1996), 225-26.
 Anthony A. Hoekema, The Bible and the Future (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1979), 274.