Do Christians go to heaven immediately when they die?

Heaven or Hell

(image courtesy ChristArt)

By Spencer D Gear PhD

What do you think Christians believe about this critical topic? I found a sampling on a Christian forum on the Internet that may give some insights into what the evangelical Christian community believes. There are a few grabs from that thread. A person started the thread with:

cubed-iron-sm ‘Many old hymns of the church, and some new ones, talk about going to heaven when we die. Crossing over. Pearly gates etc…. Why is that, when clearly heaven is NOT the Christian’s destination? Jesus said no one has seen the father, so why do a lot of Christians espouse this?’[1]

cubed-iron-sm ‘I would say that since heaven is “My Father’s house”, and since Jesus Himself said “I will come back and take you to be with that you also may be where I am”, that pretty much tells me that the saved will indeed one day cross over and see the pearly gates. That is… heaven.  So clearly heaven is our destination’[2]

cubed-iron-sm ‘People don’t go to heaven when they die.  They must already be there before they die’.[3]

cubed-iron-sm ‘The Father’s house [John 14:1-10] is the NEW Jerusalem, not heaven’.[4]

cubed-iron-sm ‘Just because no one accended (sic) to Heaven except Jesus doesn’t mean no one ever will’.[5]

A. What about Stephen at death?

I’m not convinced by that last statement.[6]

Stephen was proclaiming the Gospel and was being stoned to death. What did he see as he was dying? This is what we read in Acts 7:55-60 (ESV):

But he, full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. 56 And he said, “Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.” 57 But they cried out with a loud voice and stopped their ears and rushed together at him. 58 Then they cast him out of the city and stoned him. And the witnesses laid down their garments at the feet of a young man named Saul. 59 And as they were stoning Stephen, he called out, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” 60 And falling to his knees he cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” And when he had said this, he fell asleep.

Stephen saw the Lord – the Son of Man – in the heavens, at the right hand of God. This is where Stephen was going at death. There is no soul sleep here or Abraham’s bosom (rich man and Lazarus) or Paradise (thief on the cross). When Stephen was dying, he ‘gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God and Jesus standing at the right hand of God’ (Acts 7:55). Stephen saw ‘the heavens opened’ and the Son of Man was there with God himself.

Concerning death and heaven, here we have Stephen dying and he knew he was going into the presence of the Lord and Stephen said, ‘Lord Jesus, receive my spirit’. Stephen saw Jesus in heaven and asked Him to receive Stephen’s spirit.
This sounds very much like what Paul wrote in 2 Cor 5:6-8 (ESV):

‘So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, 7 for we walk by faith, not by sight. 8 Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord‘.

There seems to be evidence here that Stephen went to heaven, where Jesus was, at death. Therefore, we should not be adamant about no heaven at death for Christian believers.

The person who started this thread challenged what I wrote here:

Jesus received Stephen’s spirit in the same place that He did the thief’s spirit, in paradise. I’d be careful to not take literally the wording used in Acts 7, otherwise you will have a tough time dealing with v 60 where it says Stephen “fell asleep”.

As far as what Paul writes in 2 Cor 5, this is often taken out of context, as Paul states he would “prefer” to be with the Lord, it does not indicate ones death accomplishes that, otherwise who is Jesus coming back for?
The best indication we have of where believers go when they die, is in Luke 16, formerly called Paradise.[7]

B. What happens at death?

Image result for coffin public domain(courtesy

I replied to this person’s objection:[8]

Jesus received Stephen’s spirit into heaven as Acts 7:55-56 indicates.

I have covered the meaning of ‘sleep’ at death in my article, ‘Soul sleep – a refutation‘. ‘Sleep’ is a metaphor for death. It does not refer to sleeping after death, instead of going into the Lord’s presence, as seen in my exposition. There is no ‘tough time’ as an exegete in dealing with Stephen who ‘fell asleep’ at death (Acts 7:60) when one knows the meaning of why OT and NT used ‘sleep’ for death.

I have not taken 2 Cor 5:8 out of context as 2 Cor 5:1-10 is dealing with the heavenly dwelling. Some of Paul’s emphases here are that ‘we know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord’ (2 Cor 5:6:ESV). AND, ‘we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord‘ (2 Cor 5:8 ESV). When will we be away from the body and at home with the Lord? That happens at the Christian’s death. The topic is leaving this body to be home with the Lord. When does that happen? At death. That is what verse 6 states, which I’ve quoted.

This objector stated, ‘Jesus received Stephen’s spirit in the same place that He did the thief’s spirit, in paradise’. He was imposing ‘paradise’ on the text in Acts as that word is never mentioned in Acts 7:55-60.

Who is Jesus coming back for at his second coming? The body that is turned to dust after death is not at home with the Lord. It will be the time of union of spirit and body. The resurrection body is described in 1 Cor 15:35-49 (ESV).

Ecclesiastes 12:7 (NLT) tells us what happens at death, ‘For then the dust will return to the earth, and the spirit will return to God who gave it’. So, at death our spirit returns to God and the body becomes dust in the grave.

What, then, is the meaning of 1 Thess 4:16-17 when it states that ‘the dead in Christ shall rise first’?

As indicated with Stephen, when he died from stoning (Acts 7:55-60) and looked into heaven, he saw Jesus standing at the right hand of God in heaven and Stephen’s spirit was received there (Acts 7:59). Whether one calls it paradise, heaven, ‘my father’s house’, at death, the spirit of Christians goes to that place and the body goes to the grave to become dust. At the last day when Christ returns, the body as dust will be raised and there will be a union of the resurrected body and the glorified spirit. Then we will be with the Lord forever.

C. Heaven and eisegesis

What is eisegesis? See Exegesis v. Eisegesis. Here is a quote from Dr. James White’s forth-coming book “Pulpit Crimes” on eisegesis, which indicates that it means:

The reading into a text, in this case, an ancient text of the Bible, of a meaning that is not supported by the grammar, syntax, lexical meanings, and over-all context, of the original. It is the opposite of exegesis, where you read out of the text its original meaning by careful attention to the same things, grammar, syntax, the lexical meanings of the words used by the author (as they were used in his day and in his area), and the over-all context of the document. As common as it is, it should be something the Christian minister finds abhorrent, for when you stop and think about it, eisegesis muffles the voice of God. If the text of Scripture is in fact God-breathed (2 Tim. 3:16) and if God speaks in the entirety of the Bible (Matt. 22:31) then eisegesis would involve silencing that divine voice and replacing it with the thoughts, intents, and most often, traditions, of the one doing the interpretation. In fact, in my experience, eisegetical mishandling of the inspired text is the single most common source of heresy, division, disunity, and a lack of clarity in the proclamation of the gospel. The man of God is commended when he handles God’s truth aright (2 Tim. 2:15), and it should be his highest honor to be privileged to do so. Exegesis, then, apart from being a skill honed over years of practice, is an absolutely necessary means of honoring the Lord a minister claims to serve. For some today, exegesis and all the attendant study that goes into it robs one of the Spirit. The fact is, there is no greater spiritual service the minister can render to the Lord and to the flock entrusted to his care than to allow God’s voice to speak with the clarity that only sound exegetical practice can provide (in Reformation Theology, emphasis added).

The person who started the thread did not like what I wrote above so he interjected:

It doesn’t say that, you’re inferring it.

Jesus had already established the pattern, which was consistent with the thief on the cross. Nothing changed between those two events. Paradise is NOT the same as heaven, otherwise Jesus lied. Stephen had a vision, he did not actually SEE God.

My point is the whole thing needs to be interpreted from within scripture, NOT on it’s (sic) own. Heaven has NEVER been the believers destination, Eternal Life is.[9]

This is a false accusation against what I wrote. He has invented here my views. He is an expert in building a straw man logical fallacy, which is a false view of a person’s position.

From that person’s statements, this is the false information:

blue-satin-arrow-small His view was that nothing changed after the thief on the cross. This is false because the thief on the cross died under the Old Covenant and before Jesus’ resurrection.

blue-satin-arrow-small I never said Paradise was the same as heaven. The fact remains that Paradise was the term Jesus’ used under the Old Covenant with the thief on the cross. Heaven is the term used of Stephen when he was dying and he ‘gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God’ (Acts 7:55 ESV). Jesus didn’t lie. Paradise was an Old Covenant term while heaven is that used under the New Covenant.

blue-satin-arrow-small This person’s claim that Stephen had a vision is false as Act 7:54-60 doesn’t describe it as a vision. Stan invented what I did not say in his response to me.

blue-satin-arrow-small Stan’s claim is that Stephen ‘did not actually SEE God’. What does Acts 7:55 (ESV) state, ‘ But he [Stephen], full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God’? How can one see the glory of God if God is not there? Acts 7:56 (ESV) states, ‘I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at he right hand of God’. So he saw the Son of Man and God. Otherwise how could he know that the Son of Man was at God’s right hand?

blue-satin-arrow-small I agree with this person that it needs to be interpreted ‘within Scripture’ if that means comparing Scriptures, but his claim is false that ‘heaven has NEVER been the believers destination, Eternal Life is’. Heaven was Stephen’s destination. Being present with the Lord at death was Paul’s goal (2 Cor 5:8).

This fellow engaged in eisegesis when he pushed his view that believers do not go to heaven at death and tried to gloss over the biblical evidence provided.

Robert Morey’s summary of the view espoused in Scripture is:

That the Epistles would further develop what happens to the soul after death and go beyond the gospel material is also expected. The apostles were conscious of the fact that their understanding was clouded during their sojourn with Christ (John  12:16). It was only after Pentecost and the final revelations given to the apostles that they could, at last, speak of death and the afterlife with clarity. It was only after the last pieces of the cosmic puzzle of revelation were given that they could see the whole picture.

Before Christ’s ascension, believers as well as unbelievers were said to enter Sheol or Hades. After Christ’s resurrection, the New Testament pictures believers after death as entering heaven to be with Christ (Phil.  1:23), which is far better than Hades. They are present with the Lord (2  Cor 5:6-8), worshiping with the angelic hosts of heaven (Heb.  12:22, 23) at the altar of God (Rev.  6:9-11). Thus believers do not now enter Hades but ascend immediately to the throne of God.

In the New Testament, there is, therefore, a development of understanding which took place after Christ’s resurrection. Before Jesus was raised from the dead, the apostles assumed that everyone went to Sheol or Hades. This Hades had two sections, one for the righteous and one for the wicked. But Christ’s resurrection changed this picture. Thus Paul uses the language of transition when he speaks of Christ taking the righteous out of Hades and bringing them into heaven (Eph.  4:8, 9).

That Christ went to Hades, i.e., the world beyond death, is clear from Acts  2:31, While in Hades, Peter pictures Christ as proclaiming to “the spirits now in prison” the completion of His atonement (1 Pet. 3:18-22). Whereas “paradise” in the gospel account (Luke 23:43) referred to the section of Hades reserved for the righteous, by the time Paul wrote 2 Cor. 12:2-4, it was assumed that paradise had been taken out of Hades and was now placed in the third heaven.

According to the post-resurrection teaching in the New Testament, the believer now goes to heaven at death to await the coming resurrection and the eternal state. But, what of the wicked? The wicked at death descend into Hades which is a place of temporary torment while they await the coming resurrection and their eternal punishment (Robert Morey, Sheol, Hades, and Gehenna, Faith Defenders, based on Morey 1984, ch 3).

D. Ecclesiastes 12:7, death and the spirit[10]

(image courtesy


There is an interesting OT verse that speaks of what happens at death: Ecclesiastes 12:7 (ESV), “And the dust returns to the earth as it was, and the spirit returns to God who gave it”. Other translations are:  “Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it” (KJV); “and the dust returns to the ground it came from, and the spirit returns to God who gave it” (NIV).

Some who support annihilation for the unbeliever at death want to translate ‘spirit’ as ‘breath’. None of these translations uses “breath” instead of “spirit”. Why? Because that is not what the word means in context. See the support for “spirit” translated as “breath” by the Seventh-Day Adventists HERE.

How do we know that “spirit” in Eccl. 12:7 does not mean “breath”?

If we look at the context in Eccl. 12:5, it states what is happening at death, “Man is going to his eternal home, and the mourners go about the streets” (ESV). What happens at death as breath ceases is not what is stated in Eccl. 12. It is referring to human beings going to their “eternal home”, which means at death, “The dust returns to the earth as it was, and the spirit returns to God who gave it” (ESV). How do we know?

Eccl. 3:21 asks, “Who knoweth the spirit of man that goeth upward, and the spirit of the beast that goeth downward to the earth?” (KJV). The implication is that the spirit of beasts perishes with the body (goeth downward to the earth), but the human spirit survives death (as in Eccl. 12:5-7). It is inaccurate contextually to say that “the breath of man goeth upward”. Why? Because at death, the breath ceases but the person lives on.

Psalm 104:29 also emphasises that the breath ceases at death: “Thou hidest thy face, they are troubled: thou takest away their breath, they die, and return to their dust” (KJV). Cf. Gen. 3:19; Job 10:9; Ps. 90:3; 103:14; and Eccl. 3:20.

The person pushing his view that a person does not go to heaven and meet with God did not like this emphasis.

E. Solomon no longer believed in the God he once knew

Therefore, this fellow on the Christian form imposed this meaning on what I wrote:

I think it’s important to keep Ecclesiastes in context, it was written by Solomon as an old man in a depressed, back slidden state. His perceptions were not those of the wisest man in the world, but of a man who had lost hope. It is one of a very negative and lonely King who no longer believed in the God he knew in his glory days. His wisdom had turned to fatalism. NOT an accurate depiction of the reality of ETERNAL LIFE, as Jesus promised us.[11]

Note his emphases regarding Solomon who was the human author of the book of Ecclesiastes:

design-blue-small Keep Ecclesiastes in context;

design-blue-small Solomon was an old, depressed, back-slidden man;

design-blue-small He had lost hope;

design-blue-small This very negative and lonely King no longer believed in the God he used to know.

design-blue-small His wisdom was fatalism;

design-blue-small So, Eccl 12:7 is not an accurate depiction of eternal life that Jesus promised.

My immediate response was:[12]

From where did you gain that information? You did not refer to the content of what I wrote.

The fact that this book of Ecclesiastes is contained in the OT indicates that it is God-breathed Scripture (2 Tim 3:16-17). Even though it is a view from ‘under the sun’ (Eccl. 1:3), it comes with the stamp of God’s authority on it.

The fact remains that this is what happens at death: ‘the dust returns to the earth as it was [the human body], and the spirit returns to God’ (Eccl 12:7). This is confirmed by Paul, ‘away from the body and at home with the Lord’ (2 Cor 5:8 ESV). To the Philippians he wrote: ‘My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better’ (Phil 1:23 ESV).

The response was:

F. Did you read Ecclesiastes 1:1-4?

(King Solomon & the Ark of the Covenant, image courtesy


His reply to the above was that he had gained his information,

From years of study … just like you.

So you’re advocating /asserting that there is NO negative content in scripture? Did you read the first four verses of Ecclesiastes 1? Do you agree that life is meaningless and that the earth remains forever? Do you accept that the sun hurries around the earth to rise everyday?
Come on Oz….I expected far more proper exegesis from you then you evidence here.

As far as 2 COR 5:8 is concerned, what Paul states as a desire does in no way imply what you assert. He knew full well we would only see Jesus when He returned, as he states throughout his letters. Inferring what you do into this verse is NOT supportable. Both verses refer to Paul’s desire, NOT what will happen when He dies. The same holds true for Heb 9:27… because we do not get judged immediately after we die, anymore than we see Jesus or God after we die.
http://www.truthabou…t-with-the-lord [13]

Note the link. He obtained his information from this Bible teacher online.

G. What happens when another invents your or my views about life after death theology?

This applies to all attempts to give a false view of a person’s statements or perspectives on any topic.

My reply was to tackle him head on as he had invented claims against my view that were false.[14]

You are inventing a straw man fallacy again. You state: ‘So you’re advocating /asserting that there is NO negative content in scripture?’ At no place in my post did I state that. You’re engaged in eisegesis of my post. If you continue to do this to me, I’ll not reply again.

When we use logical fallacies, we need to understand that

a fallacious argument can make productive conversation impossible. Logical fallacies are often used by politicians and the media to fool people because they have the deceptive appearance of being reasonable—despite their exploitation of our emotional, intellectual, and psychological weaknesses (Lumen Learning: Writing Skills Lab).

Why is it impossible to have a logical discussion when logical fallacies are used? It is based on the person’s use of fallacious (erroneous, faulty, distorted) reasoning. When illogic is used, reasonable conversation, debate and writing cannot be pursued in a logical manner.

Eccl 1:1-4 (NIV) reads:

The words of the Teacher, son of David, king in Jerusalem:

2 “Meaningless! Meaningless!”
says the Teacher.
“Utterly meaningless!
Everything is meaningless.”

3 What do people gain from all their labors
at which they toil under the sun?
4 Generations come and generations go,
but the earth remains forever.

‘Everything is meaningless’ is the view from the perspective of those who ‘toil under the sun’ (1:3). The RSV translates v. 2 as, ‘Vanity of vanities, says the Preacher, vanity of vanities! All is vanity’. That seems like a fair estimate of the world if one is looking at it from a secular point of view, i.e. ‘under the sun’. However, this is also the view expressed in Ps 90:3-10; 102:24-26; 35:5ff; Gen 5:29; 47:9. Solomon is affirming what is stated elsewhere in the OT.

The word translated as ‘vanity’ or ‘meaningless’ is hebhel. What does it mean? Hebrew exegete H C Leupold explained:

The exact force of the word “vanity” (used thirty-one times in the book – BDB) must be ascertained most carefully. We have retained the traditional rendering “vanity of vanities,” but this was done because it is the least objectionable of the available translations. The word “vanity,” hebhel, really means a “vapor” or “breath,” something like the breath that condenses as we exhale into the cold winter air, condenses and disappears at once. Now the point is, shall hebhel be translated “transitoriness” or “vanity”? Does it refer to that which is fleeting or to that which is utterly futile? That latter connotation is the one usually associated with the English term “vanity” in connections such as these.

It is our conviction that hebhel connotes primarily that which is fleeting and transitory and also suggests the partial futility of human effort. Certainly, to construe that the verse in such a way as to make it mean practically that life is futile and utterly empty would mean to put a pessimistic meaning into the term that is not warranted by facts. The word emphasizes rather how evanescent earthly things are, how swiftly they pass away, and how little they offer while one has them (Leupold 1969:40-41)

So, Stan, the exegesis of the term ‘meaningless’ or ‘vanity’ is not what you want to make it. More than that, I was dealing with Eccl 12:7 and not with Eccl 1:1-4. When I do the hard yakka with accurate exegesis of Eccl 1:1-4, I do not conclude as you do. I urge you not to accuse me about information that has no basis in fact when compared with what you posted. Your straw man included imposing on me the need to exegete Eccl 1;1-4 when I did not mention it.

You have demonstrated what happens when you try to exegete the OT from an English translation with your statement from Eccl 1:4 (NIV), ‘the earth remains forever’. The earth remaining forever means nothing more than

the earth is the permanent ground on which this coming and this going of generations actually takes place.

The connection being what it is, there cannot be an assertion here about the eternal duration of the earth, for the expression “forever” (le’olam) is frequently very relative in its meaning and here signifies little more than “a good long while.” One need not, therefore, fear that this verse contradicts Ps. 102:25f. – “Generation” (dor) being the new and important issue in the thought development, though a noun here stands first in the sentence (Leupold 1969:45).

You state, ‘Do you accept that the sun hurries around the earth to rise everyday?’ You are referring to Eccl 1:5 (NIV) that states, ‘The sun rises and the sun sets, and hurries back to where it rises’. That is a perspectival observation for any human being and when Solomon gives his human view of life ‘under the sun’, that is an accurate view of what human beings see. It is not meant to be a scientific explanation that would satisfy the demands of cosmologists. Ecclesiastes is referring to ‘the ceaseless round of rising, setting, and hastening back to the starting point’ (Leupold 1969:46).

Stan, I think you ought to quit bragging about your exegetical prowess. You have failed in your examination of these passages from Eccl 1:1-4.

As for 2 Cor 5:8 (NIV), the souls of believers go immediately into God’s presence. What Paul asserts as a desire would make no sense in the God-breathed Scriptures if that is not what happens at death. Your view lacks biblical exegesis. Evangelical theologian, Wayne Grudem, explains:

Death is a temporary cessation of bodily life and a separation of the soul from the body. Once a believer has died, though his or her physical body remains on the earth and is buried, at the moment of death the soul (or spirit) of that believer goes immediately into the presence of God with rejoicing. When Paul thinks about death he says, “We would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord” (2 Cor 5:8). To be away from the body is to be at home with the Lord. He also says that his desire is “to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better” (Phil 1.23). And Jesus said to the thief who was dying on the cross next to him, “Today you will be with me in paradise” (Lk 23:43), The author of Hebrews says that when Christians come together to worship they come not only into the presence of God in heaven, but also into the presence of “the spirits of just men made perfect” (Heb 12:23)…. God will not leave our dead bodies in the earth forever, for when Christ returns the souls of believers will be reunited with their bodies, their bodies will be raised from the dead, and they will live with Christ eternally…. (Grudem 1994:816-817).

As for Heb 9:27 (NIV), it states, ‘Just as people are destined to die once, and after that to face judgment’. What do you want that to mean? You state: ‘we do not get judged immediately after we die, anymore than we see Jesus or God after we die’. This plainly is a false statement. Nowhere in Heb 9:27 (NIV) does it state that people will be be ‘judged immediately after we die’. That is your invention. It’s eisegesis with your imposing your beliefs on the text. Heb 9:27 (NIV) does state that people will die once and after that face judgment but nowhere does this verse state when that judgment will happen after death. Nowhere! That really is very poor exegesis by you, Stan.

This is another false statement by you: We will not ‘see Jesus or God after we die’. Jesus proved you wrong when he said to the thief beside him,  “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:43 NIV). At death, the thief ‘saw’ Jesus because he was with Jesus. We know from 2 Cor 5:8 that Paul would be ‘absent from the body and present with the Lord’. In Phil 1:23 (ESV) Paul affirms his desire to ‘depart and be with Christ, that is better by far’ rather than remain on earth. His desire would be pointless if such a reality of dying and being with Christ was not possible. When Stephen was being stoned, he ‘gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God…. And as they were stoning Stephen, he called out, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit’ (Acts 7:55, 59 ESV). Where was the Lord Jesus? He was standing at the right hand of God, so Stephen at death had his spirit received by the Lord Jesus.

The exegetical evidence from OT and NT overwhelms your false position that believers do not go directly into the Lord’s presence at death. At death believers go to be with the Lord and their bodies rot in the grave (returning to dust) only to be resurrected at Christ’s second coming when the resurrected body will be joined with the spirit (1 Cor 15 NIV).

Before Christ’s resurrection, both believers and unbelievers went to Sheol/Hades – two separate places in that location (see Isa 14:9-20; 44:23; Ezek 32:21; Lk 16:22-23). After the resurrection, believers go to be with Christ (Phil. 1:23) which is better than Hades. According to 2 Cor 5:6-9, believers are present with the Lord and are worshipping with the angelic hosts in heaven (Heb. 12:22-23).

Dumbing down my exegesis doesn’t work. This fellow erected a straw man fallacy. I have sound biblical grounds for the position I maintain. What he created was a false view of my theology on life after death.

If you want to read this fellow’s response to me, see StanJ#63. There are way too many red herring logical fallacies in his posts for me to address them. A red herring fallacy happens when a person doesn’t deal with the specific issues I raise but is off and running with what he/she wants to talk about. In this case, this fellow was pushing his own agenda of no heaven at death for the believer and that Solomon was not an inspired author when he wrote the Book of Ecclesiastes. His view denigrates the authority of the Old Testament and makes him the superior judge of what is authoritative.

H.  How red herring fallacies work

My assertions about Stan’s using a red herring fallacy are not fallacious but are truthful. I find the following explanation of a red herring fallacy to be helpful in what this fellow does. Let’s examine what he does, based on this explanation of the red herring by The Nizkor Project.

Fallacy: Red Herring

Also Known as: Smoke Screen, Wild Goose Chase.

Description of Red Herring

A Red Herring is a fallacy in which an irrelevant topic is presented in order to divert attention from the original issue. The basic idea is to “win” an argument by leading attention away from the argument and to another topic. This sort of “reasoning” has the following form:

  1. Topic A is under discussion.
  2. Topic B is introduced under the guise of being relevant to topic A (when topic B is actually not relevant to topic A).
  3. Topic A is abandoned.

This sort of “reasoning” is fallacious because merely changing the topic of discussion hardly counts as an argument against a claim.

This is what Stan does over and over with others and me on this forum. This is an example of Stan’s red herring with me, using this Nizkor Project explanation:

  1. I (Oz) was discussing topic A: “The fact remains that this is what happens at death: ‘the dust returns to the earth as it was [the human body], and the spirit returns to God” (Eccl 12:7). This is confirmed by Paul, “away from the body and at home with the Lord” (2 Cor 5:8 ESV). To the Philippians he wrote: “My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better” (Phil 1:23 ESV)’ (OzSpen#56).
  2. Topic B was introduced by Stan in the guise of being relevant to what Oz said about Heb 9:27 when Stan said: ‘The same holds true for Heb 9:27…because we do not get judged immediately after we die, anymore than we see Jesus or God after we die’ (StanJ#61). I showed Stan that ‘As for Heb 9:27 (NIV), it states, “Just as people are destined to die once, and after that to face judgment”. What do you want that to mean? You state: “we do not get judged immediately after we die, anymore than we see Jesus or God after we die”. This plainly is a false statement. Nowhere in Heb 9:27 (NIV) does it state that people will be “judged immediately after we die”. That is your invention. It’s eisegesis with your imposing your beliefs on the text. Heb 9:27 (NIV) does state that people will die once and after that face judgment but nowhere does this verse state when that judgment will happen after death. Nowhere. That really is very poor exegesis by you, Stan’ (OzSpen#62). I demonstrated to Stan that his interpretation of Heb 9:27 – that ‘we do not get judged immediately’ is adding to what Heb 9:27 states. That’s because the text does not state when that judgment will take place.
  3. Thus StanJ abandoned Oz’s Topic A.

I’m not holding my breath waiting for this fellow to admit that he used a red herring logical fallacy in this instance or to get him to admit that he used  this tactic with others. I’ll let others expose what he does in inventing his kind of reply, that often does not relate directly to what the other poster stated. Is this how he operates in normal conversation in a church situation?

Brothers and sisters in Christ, are you prepared to sing with and endorse ‘When we all get to heaven (Terry Blackwood, Karen Peck & friends)?

Have I presented enough evidence in this thread to demonstrate that heaven is the Christian believer’s destiny at death?

I’m ready. Are you?

I. Conclusion

Whether in Old or New Testaments, the Bible is clear on where believers go at death. They go into the presence of the Lord God that is called variously paradise, heaven, the Father’s house and Abraham’s bosom.

Some low views of Scripture were expressed in this thread. I understand[15] that this questioning of the authority or denigration of the OT seems to me to be associated with a low view of the attributes of God, especially his truthfulness. If God’s words are not true, he will be treated as a liar or person who can’t be trusted with instructions in the OT. Yet, Scripture affirms that ‘God is not man, that he should lie (Num 23:19 ESV) and ‘it is impossible for God to lie’ (Heb 6:18 ESV).

I consider that a person’s view of Scripture revolves around  his or her view of God. See my series, ‘Can you trust the Bible? Part 1‘.

Works consulted

Grudem, W 1994. Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House.

Leupold, H C 1969. Exposition of Ecclesiastes. London: Evangelical Press/Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Book House (copyright 1952, The Wartburg Press).

Morey, R A 1984. Death and the Afterlife. Minneapolis, Minnesota: Bethany House Publishers.


[1] Christianity Board, StanJ#1, ‘When we all get to heaven, what a day of rejoicing that will be?’ 3 February 2016. Available at: (Accessed 15 February 2016)

[2] Ibid., IAM4JESUS#2.

[3] Ibid., lforrest#3.

[4] Ibid., StanJ#4.

[5] Ibid., Iforrest#12.

[6] Ibid., OzSpen#17. This is my response to Iforrest#12.

[7] Ibid., StanJ#18.

[8] Ibid., OzSpen#19.

[9] Ibid., StanJ#21.

[10] I raised this issue in ibid., OzSpen #53.

[11] Ibid., StanJ#54.

[12] Ibid., OzSpen#56.

[13] Ibid., StanJ#61.

[14] Ibid., OzSpen#62.

[15] Ibid., OzSpen#59, responding to justaname.


Copyright © 2016 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 26 April 2018.