While Albom makes sure to open his book with a disclaimer; "Everyone has an idea of heaven, as do most religions, and they should all be respected," the imagery in The Five People You Meet in Heaven is undeniably based on the Christian tradition. Albom writes about “Heaven,” “God” and “Adam and Eve,” all of which are easily identifiable crucial elements of the Judeo-Christian tradition, especially in the Western World. However, these images have also pervaded popular culture, thus allowing them to extend beyond secular boundaries. As a result, Albom is able to use Christian theology as a framework for his novel while still maintaining the universality of the narrative.
C.S. Lewis, while best known for his fantasy series Narnia, also wrote adult fiction. In The Great Divorce (1945), the narrator finds imself on a bus in what turns out to be purgatory; his fellow passengers are also ghosts. In order to complete their journey into God's Kingdom (Heaven), each of these individuals must first come to know him or herself better by addressing any unfinished business left behind on Earth. Similar to The Five People You Meet in Heaven, the characters in The Great Divorce work through their guilt, anger, and regret over the course of the narrative. Both novels espouse the belief that releasing earthly pain is required in order for a soul to go to Heaven. While Lewis took direct inspiration from Christian allegories like Dante's Inferno and Pilgrim's Progress, Albom's piece highlights the metaphysical aspects of these Christian ideals without specifically citing the Bible.