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Ever hear someone pooh-pooh the existence of God and the afterlife? Ever wonder what really happens after we die?

Hi, I’m Rex Rogers and this is episode #93 of Discerning What Is Best, a podcast applying unchanging biblical principles in a rapidly changing world, and a Christian worldview to current issues and everyday life.


As he got older, beloved Bible teacher, the late Dr. Warren Wiersbe, used to share the joke, “I think more and more about the hereafter. Whenever I go into a room, I think, what am I here after?”

Of course, idea is that as a person gets older, his or her memory typically becomes less sharp, less trustworthy. And the idea, too, is the play on words, thinking about the “hereafter.”

Recently, the global movie star, former body builder, and former governor of California, Arnold Schwarzenegger, 75, responded to a question posed by fellow actor Danny DeVito, 78. Danny asked, “What’s in the future for us?”

In a conversation for Interview Magazine, Schwarzenegger said, “It reminds me of Howard Stern’s question to me. ‘Tell me, governor, what happens to us when we die?’ I said, ‘Nothing. You’re 6 feet under. Anyone that tells you something else is a f–king liar.'”

‘We don’t know what happens with the soul and all this spiritual stuff that I’m not an expert in, but I know that the body as we see each other now, we will never see each other again like that.'”

“’When people talk about, ‘I will see them again in heaven,’ it sounds so good,

but the reality is that we won’t see each other again after we’re gone. That’s the sad part. I know people feel comfortable with death, but I don’t,’”

The former California governor said he had lost about 15 friends from back in his bodybuilding days in the last two decades, and said the tragic news forced him to shift his perspective on an afterlife.

“To me, heaven is where I put a person who I love dearly, who is kind, who is generous, who made a difference in my life and other people’s lives,” he explained.

Schwarzenegger recently participated in a three-part Netflix documentary called “Arnold,” released May 2023.

This sort of autobiographical television program statement follows a trend – as successful individuals approach advanced age, much like former presidents write memoirs, actors, athletes, entertainers, or assorted famous people want to have their “say.” It’s partly about making money and partly about getting their own interpretations on record.

Like “David Crosby – Remember Me” (2019), “Tina” (2021) from Tina Turner before their deaths, and “Moonage Daydream” (2022), David Bowie, or “Donna Summer – Love to Love You” (2023), long after their demise.

Schwarzenegger is particularly pointed. He asserts heaven is a fantasy.

Schwarzenegger’s take is a bit of a departure from what we usually hear from celebrities thinking about their mortality. I remember John Wayne saying he hoped the “good Lord” would tally the good things he’d done as more than the not so good things. That was it. He had no assurance of where he was going other than that wishful thinking.

Near the end of his life, an emaciated Mickey Mantle, a sad decimation of the incredible athlete he once had been, sat down for a 30-min video interview in which he said, “Don’t be like me.”

“All you have to do is look at me and see where (my life) was wasted,'…’I want to get across to the kids not to drink or do drugs. Mom and dad should be the role models. That's what I think. 'I was given so much and I blew it.'”

Mantle was an unbelievable baseball talent, but he squandered his health, talent, fame, and fortune on illicit liaisons, drugs, and alcohol abuse, resulting in liver cancer that took his life.

Fellow major leaguer and Christian speaker Bobby Richardson said, “I believe what drew Mickey to me was that I had the relationship with Christ that he was searching for, even if he didn’t realize it. He often attended our baseball chapel services.”

When the time drew near, Bobby and his wife Betsy walked into Mantle’s hospital room, and Mantle said, ‘I can’t wait to tell you this. I have accepted Christ as my Savior.’ Bobby was elated, but wanted to be sure, so he went through the plan of salvation with Mantle again. Betsy later asked him, ‘Mickey, if you were to stand before a holy God today and He asked you, ‘Why should I let you into my heaven?’ what would you say?’ Mantle replied, ‘We are talking about God, right?’ Betsy acknowledged they were. He then quoted John 3:16.”

Richardson noted, “Mickey found that peace in his last days…In those last days, he told the doctors he was ready. Mickey was not afraid to die. He was at peace.”

I remember when Frank Sinatra died and a person at his funeral said, “Boy, heaven will be rockin’ tonight,” like it was some Brat Pack reunion. It was not clear on what basis the man thought Frank was singing in heaven.

British physicist and famed atheist Stephen Hawking said, “’There is no heaven...That is a fairy story for people afraid of the dark.’” Hawking passed away in 2018, so it seems snarky to say, “Well, he knows better now,” but it is nevertheless true.

Meanwhile, in 2011, “92 percent of Americans said they believe in a god or universal spirit, and 74 percent said they believe that there is a heaven.” In 2021, 73% believe in heaven and a few less, 62%, believe in hell, and belief in God has dipped to 81%, the lowest since Gallup first asked this question in 1944.

Of course, saying you believe something exists and acting in a manner that makes an impact upon your life are different things. I believe Neptune exists, but as near as I can tell I’ll never go there, and its existence does not change anything about my day to day. This appears to be how a lot of people think about God or the hereafter, might be there but so what? Or as Arnold sadly thinks, just a fantasy.

According to Christian social researcher George Barna, “Most Americans (68%) still consider themselves to be Christians. Among these self-identified Christians, though, only 6% have a biblical worldview. Less than half of the self-identified Christians can be classified as born-again, defined as believing that they will go to Heaven after they die but only because they have confessed their sins and accepted Jesus Christ as their Savior. Within the born-again population (just 33% of the adult population), a shockingly small proportion (13%) hold a biblical worldview.”

Americans are generally educated, tech savvy, in many ways, “with it.” We’re sophisticated. But insofar as many reject God and the truth – and accountability – of the hereafter, we might better be understood as “sophisticatedly ignorant.”

We’re like the ancient intellectuals at Athens to whom the Apostle Paul spoke as recorded in Acts 17. We believe in an unknown God but in terms of everyday application, many are now practical agnostics. Our affirmation of a god does not amount to the same thing as faith in the God. 

Thinking about the afterlife is not a popular pastime. This is understandable in one sense. We are living our lives today. But thinking about the afterlife is also a matter of wisdom and good stewardship, because, as the old saying goes, “the only thing certain in life are death and taxes.” With taxes you might find a loophole, legal or otherwise, but with death, there is no off-ramp to a detour around it. Death is the great equalizer. One day it comes to us all, and as Scripture says, after that the judgment (Heb. 9:27).

So, I’m glad for that story about one of the heroes of my youth, Mickey Mantle, coming to Christ on his deathbed. It is heartening.

And by the same token, I feel for another hero of my youth, Arnold Schwarzenegger. But for him, there is yet hope for he yet breathes. I pray someone reaches him with the Gospel – though my guess is he already knows the truth.

I pray the same for you. Have you thought about the afterlife, not in abstract, out there terms, but in personal, “Hey this is me” terms? The Apostle Paul admonished young Timothy to pray for leaders, saying, “This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth” (1 Tim. 2:3-4). That’s Arnold and that’s you and that’s me.

I heard evangelist Billy Graham speak in person one time at old Cleveland Municipal Stadium when I was a teenager. His text was: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).


Well, we’ll see you again soon. This podcast is about Discerning What Is Best. If you find this thought-provoking and helpful, follow us on your favorite podcast platform. Download an episode for your friends. For more Christian commentary, check my website, r-e-x-m as in Martin, that’s

And remember, it is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm.

© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2023  

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