Ghost (1990) & its Lie about Heaven

The film Ghost sums up the 1980s. Pedants might point out that it was released in 1990, but the characters really evoke that previous decade. The bad guy is a well-paid yuppie working for a bank; the couple around whom the story is based sport over-sized jumpers and mullet hair-dos. 

Sam, played by Patrick Swayze, is murdered; his beautiful young partner played by Demi Moore is alone in the world, sad and tearful. Sam’s ghost comes back to her, but he can neither communicate nor offer her comfort. Eventually, he brushes up his ghost skills and rescues her from the murderous yuppie and his associates. The bad guys, when they die, are dragged away by shadowy ghouls for punishment in hell; the good guys are carried up to heaven in a sparkles of light. It therefore perpetuates the old lie- that heaven is a reward for being good. 

A lie?! Surely this is a sincerely held belief and offers hope to a great many? No, it really is a lie. Thinking we can go to heaven because we have earned a place there, means we are blinded to our sin. We are only good enough by our own standards, whereas entry to heaven requires being good enough by God’s. Can you imagine sitting an exam for which you assume the pass-marks is 20%? If the examiner sets it at 100%, your sincerely-believed pass mark is worthless. No matter how good you try to be, you’re never going to be good enough. Heaven should therefore be lacking all humans. We have all sinned and none of us deserve to be there. Each one of us deserves to be dragged off by shadows into a godless eternity.

Thank God for the gospel! The God of love, wishing heaven to have humans reside therein, offers it freely, without cost or hard work. We call this grace- God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense. As Paul writes in Ephesians 2:8-9:

For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.

Ghost has a satisfying storyline, but its theology is misleading. It assures us that we are better than we are and that we have an entitlement to a pleasant afterlife. The real gospel says we are entitled to nothing but hell and judgement; therefore Christ offers us salvation for free. Now that is good news.