This review appeared in the Oct-Dec 2005 vol. 162 no. 4 issue of Biblotheca Sacra, DTS’s quarterly academic journal.Subscribe Today
HeavenTyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, IL October 1, 2004
According to Alcorn, author of over twenty books and founder of Eternal Perspective Ministries (EPM), the subject of heaven rates as one of the least accurately discussed subjects in the whole of Christendom. Alcorn is astounded that the majority of Christians possess faulty, nonbiblical assumptions about heaven. In part one, “A Theology of Heaven,” Alcorn, however, discusses these and other questions: Is heaven beyond one’s imagination? Can a person know he is going to heaven? What is the nature of the intermediate heaven? Is the intermediate heaven a physical place? What is life like in the intermediate heaven? Why is earth’s redemption essential to God’s plan? Why is resurrection so important? Will the old earth be destroyed or renewed? Will the new earth be familiar? What will it mean for God to dwell among His own people? How will believers worship God? What does God’s eternal kingdom involve? Will believers actually rule with Christ?
Part two follows with chapters on these and other questions: Will the new earth be an Edenic paradise? Will there be space and time? Will the new earth have sun, moon, oceans, and weather? Will people eat and drink on the new earth? What will Christians know and learn? Will there be marriage, families, and friendships in heaven? Will infants and children be in heaven? Will animals inhabit the new earth?
Part three addresses the adventure of heaven and believers anticipating it as their home. The two appendixes are insightful: “Christoplatonism’s False Assumptions” and “Literal and Figurative Interpretation.” “Christoplatonism” is a term coined by Alcorn to refer to a blend of Platonism with Christianity that “blunts the distinction of Christianity from Eastern religions” especially in relation to the afterlife.
Alcorn’s convictions about heaven are tempered by his willingness to be corrected if his conclusions prove incorrect. When speculating or assuming, he clearly states that he is doing so. Being biblically correct is his utmost priority.
Heaven can be an extremely helpful ministry tool for grieving Christians, people facing terminal illness, counselors offering biblical hope, Christian study groups, and unbelievers. The book is extensively footnoted and has a well-selected bibliography.
—Larry J. Waters