Heaven

Posted: June 22, 2006 in Book Reviews

Heaven

by Randy Alcorn
hardcover, 516pp
Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.
Copyright 2004 by Eternal Perspectives Ministries

For readers interested in living with the end in view, Randy Alcorn has written a book that should be high on our “get” list–Heaven.

Believe it or not, the Christian Heaven has received a bad rap. (Randy capitalizes the word because it’s a real place.) Too many people believe Heaven will be boring. We’ll strum harps and lounge about on clouds with nothing to do. Others think we’ll float bodiless in a formless, timeless void, stripped of all our personality. Heaven is pictured as such an alien country that it repels, not attracts. After all the struggles in this life, this is all we have to look forward to?

Piercing the smoky haze of uncertainty shines Alcorn’s beacon, Heaven. The cover unabashedly proclaims, “Other than the Bible itself, this may well be the single most life-changing book you’ll ever read” (Stu Weber). The book inspired me to speak on Heaven for my next Bible study at the local Rescue Mission. My talk generated more positive responses than usual.

I must confess I had misgivings about a book titled Heaven. In my studies, the Kingdom of Heaven will take place on earth. The Millennial Reign of Christ takes place on earth. The saints will rule on earth. The Lamb’s throne will be on earth. Even the Heavenly City, the New Jerusalem, comes down from Heaven. Thankfully, I wasn’t disappointed. Randy shows how Heaven will be only a temporary abode, that this world, with all its familiarity, will indeed be our future home (did not God look at His creation and say it was “very good”?).

Randy addresses many popular questions about Heaven with answers that were more satisfactorily answered here than I’ve seen elsewhere. Where Scripture does not plainly state an answer, Randy still manages to tease out clues from the Word and common experience to convince us that whatever the final answer is, Heaven will be extremely satisfying.

Will our pets be in Heaven? Now about dinosaurs? (Why not dinosaurs?) Will we still eat and sleep? Will we enjoy arts, entertainment, and sports? Will we be married? What will happen with the relationships we’ve developed? These questions and more are covered extensively in the second half of the book.

Noteworthy to me, because of my studies on living with the end in view, is Randy’s observation that stepping from this life into the next is like stepping though a door. We will retain our personalities and abilities gained in this life. If we died faithful, we will enter faithful. If we buried our talent here, we will be empty-handed at the judgment.

I’ve always wondered whether we’d be so perfect in the Kingdom of Heaven that everyone will hit home runs with every swing, or sink hole-in-ones on any fairway. Some people think Heaven will be boring because of lack of conflict. Randy’s answer: It’s a lack of challenge that creates boredom, not of conflict. We will probably be perfect in the sense that we’ll be what we should be, not because we’ll be like Superman.

Finally, Randy traces our muddled, metaphysical concepts of Heaven back to several Church Fathers who thought the physical body was evil. From them we learned to allegorize the many physical descriptions of Heaven. This corruption of the plain biblical text robbed us of genuinely looking forward to the next life.

If Heaven is near the bottom of your list of places you’d like to see, you should get this book. If Heaven has always summoned a sense of unease or confusion, this book is for you. Indeed, this book may well be the single most life-changing book you’ll ever read.

If you were living with the end in view, wouldn’t you want to know more about where you’re going?

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Comments
  1. Terra says:

    Your review has inspired me to read Randy Alcorn’s book.

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