Randy Alcorn has objected to the claim of some that when people go to Heaven, they will forget everything about their previous life on earth.
The author of the bestselling 2004 book Heavenpenned a column for Desiring God detailing misconceptions about the afterlife.
In particular, Alcorn took issue with the claim that people who go to Heaven will not remember anything about their former life on earth, labeling it a “Hindu, not Christian” idea.
“You will be you in heaven. Who else would you be? Since we’ll give an account of our lives on earth, we must remain us, and our memories will have to be better, not worse,” wrote Alcorn.
“Scripture gives no indication of a memory wipe causing us not to recognize family and friends. In fact, if we wouldn’t know our loved ones, the comfort of an afterlife reunion, taught in 1 Thessalonians 4:14–18, would be no comfort at all.”
Alcorn argued that “Christ’s resurrection is our prototype” when dealing with how memory will work with entry into Heaven, pointing to Christ identifying Himself to His disciples after death.
“He proclaimed, ‘It is I myself’ (Luke 24:39). When Thomas said, ‘My Lord and my God,’ he knew he was speaking to the same Jesus he’d lived with for years,” continued Alcorn.
The question about memory and Heaven was one of a short list of misconceptions that Alcorn hoped to rebut, including the idea that Heaven will not have a culture, that the Bible seldom mentions the topic, and that Heaven will be “boring.”
“God made our taste buds, adrenaline, the nerve endings that convey pleasure to our brains, our imaginations, and our capacity for happiness and excitement,” he stated.
“We can worship God now by working, painting, playing, reading, writing, and enjoying every other innocent activity. How much more on a new earth where righteousness reigns?”
Some within Christianity have argued that when believers enter Heaven they will forget their lives on earth, sometimes citing Revelation 21:4 and its promise to end suffering as evidence.
“He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away,” reads the verse.
The apologetics website GotQuestions.org also rejected the claim that people entering Heaven will forget their past lives on earth, recently critiquing the usage of that verse.
“The fact that the former things will not come to mind does not mean that our memories will be wiped clean. The prophecy could be suggesting the wondrous quality of our new environment,” stated the site.
“The new earth will be so spectacular, so mind-blowing, that everyone will quite forget the drudgery and sin of the current earth.”