When you die you, go to heaven.
That is the story we tell about those who die. (I mean story not in a bad sense but in the sense that academics use when they employ the fancier word "narrative". )
The sentiment is true, of course, as far as it goes. But it doesn't go very far and that is the problem. Here is what I have against the sentence "When you die you go to heaven."
In its bare form it is not Christian. With no other sentences to surround it or supplement it, it is non Biblical. It is not part of the Biblical witness that "all" who die go to heaven. The sentence becomes a common sub Christian fairy tale we tell our children and ourselves to make us feel good.
Even assuming a Christian context for the words they tend to replace or compress all other Biblical data about death and the afterlife. The Biblical witness to the death of the saints is a rich and deep mine full of treasures and Gospel comfort that ought to be mined for the benefit of the faithful. The burial of the body, the return of Christ, the judgment, the astounding, sumptuously physical, concrete images of temple and Jerusalem and new heaven and earth are all shunted aside for this thin tale.
The generic story of Christian death is that the person dies and then "he/she" goes to heaven. The "he/she" is, presumably, the soul. That is it. There seems to be nothing left to say. We are in heaven. What more can there be? But this is just not how the Bible talks. Yes, believers who die are "with Christ", they rest or sleep in God's care, they are as the thief, in paradise. But the emphasis and the far greater weight is on the body and the resurrection at the return of Christ. What the fairy tale leaves out is what the New Testament is about and what the Creeds confess to be paramount and to be related in one string : the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body and the life everlasting. The generic "go to heaven" story leaves no room for coming of Jesus and no bodily resurrection, no Old Testament temple, no Jerusalem, no saints, no throne, no lamb and lion lying together. We substitute egoistic images of the faithful dong whatever they enjoyed in this earthly life (Grandma is sitting by the fire knitting up there with Jesus) and are done with it. There is no waiting, no rising from sleep.
The sentence is partakes of the great gnostic direction religious thought always seems to take when cut loose from its biblical moorings. We want to be spiritual, free from bodily restraints, physical sufferings, decomposing bodies. But these things are the very stuff of God, the stuff of the Incarnation of the Word and the object of his saving work on the Cross and in the tomb.