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In Lieu of Heaven: A Novel

InLieuBookCoverFinalIn Lieu of Heaven explores the notion that the true villain of the Bible–and therefore in Western culture–is none other than God himself. Part Socratic dialog, part religious allegory, but all incendiary. (Here’s Chapter 2.)

Reviews have been abundantly exuberant.

There is an excellently written review at:


“IN LIEU OF HEAVEN” was selected as one of the best fiction titles of 2004! Thanks, Rebecca’s Reads!

Others’ thoughts:

Midwest Book Review:
…enthusiastically recommended, especially for those who prefer their literary entertainment to be thoughtful and thought-provoking. (See the full review below.)
Kevin Archer unapologetically explores this new idea of God as the villain of the Bible, using the Bible itself as his ammunition, and the results are mind-blowing to say the least. In Lieu of Heaven will have your jaw dropping down to the floor. This is a daring and gut-wrenchingly honest book.

The Phoenix:
“…the implications for recovering addicts are startling to consider.”

Writer’s Digest:
“The writing is striking and vivid. Its figurative and allegorical quality reminds me a great deal of C.S. Lewis.” (In response to this philosophically amusing comparison, I wrote Resurrection.)

From Wild Violet, Spring 2004:

Allegory, as in the classic example, Pilgrim’s Progress, is a literary technique typically used to teach religious truths. In an allegory, the protagonist goes on a journey, meeting people who represent abstract concepts that relate to the principles being taught.

In Lieu of Heaven by Kevin Archer takes this technique in an entirely different direction, using allegory to unwind religious truths. The unnamed protagonist, embarked on an undefined journey, sidetracks into what appears to be a heavenly garden. There, he meets a man who calls himself Adam and who, as it turns out, is the biblical Adam.

Through Adam’s tales, the protagonist experiences the Old Testament and the New Testament of the Bible, identifying flaws in logic and reasons to believe that the biblical God is neither as kind, nor as forgiving, nor as praiseworthy as Christians have been led to believe.

In fact, Adam contends, the Bible serves as an indictment of the selfish, cruel behavior of the biblical God.

Biblical contradictions are not new, and biblical scholars and theologians are well aware of them. They account for discrepancies by the fact that these books, while believed to be divinely inspired, were written by many different hands over centuries, and then edited and put into canonical form by the Catholic Church.

If In Lieu of Heaven is aimed at believers, the logic-based argument, though using some emotional appeals, such as Adam’s emotional descriptions of the fate of those who fail to please God, is not likely to convince them, particularly when Adam alleges that Jesus of Nazareth is simply the same selfish Old Testament God, in corporal form.

But perhaps Archer does not seek to change the mind of the true believers but, instead, to raise questions and then to change the mind of those, who like the protagonist, are on a spiritual journey, looking for their own truths.

In Lieu of Heaven could be useful at a seminary for pastors to understand what sort of objections and questions nonbelievers may have about the faith. Equally, it could be interesting for a comparative religions class or philosophy class, fueling discussions. Likewise, for those who wish to view the Bible as literature, since it evaluates the consistency of characters and the logic of plot lines.

In Lieu of Heaven is well worth reading and could fuel discussion among a number of different groups. The allegorical structure, as ironic as it might seem, works well to clarify the argument and frame it in an entertaining way.


From Midwest Book Review, April 2004:

Author Kevin Archer does not identify with any specific religious group, preferring to practice Zen and meditation, and the power of the profound world view that “It takes much more will to be a man than to be a god” is unforgettably expressed within In Lieu Of Heaven, a philosophical and deftly probing novel about two men who meet in the wilderness – one of whom is on a tireless quest to meet God, while the other claims to have already done so. The crossing of their paths brings about difficult examination of each other’s beliefs, and will lead the reader down a personal path of self-examination concerning the concepts of God and individual faith. An exploratory and unapologetically deconstructive narrative ponderance, In Lieu Of Heaven is an enthusiastically recommended novel — especially for those who prefer their literary entertainment to be thoughtful and thought-provoking.


Available at, or any independent bookstore with these numbers:

ISBN Hardback 1413421865, ISBN Paperback 1413421857