|Heaven by Randy Alcorn, Tyndale Publishing|
This book has changed me. It has changed my thinking, changed my perspective, changed my expectations, and put a different light on unachieved dreams in this life. The author quotes Stu Weber on the book jacket, "Other than the Bible itself, this may well be the single most life-changing book you'll ever read."
It's a thick book of 533 pages, which includes 46 chapters, 2 appendices, notes, a bibliography, a scripture index, a name index, a subject index, and notes about the author. This man has done his homework!
I had heard of this book a few years ago, but people said it would have some things in it that were controversial, so I chose to not pursue it. Frankly, I had done a study on heaven by another author that left me a little depressed, which doesn't seem right, but that's what happened. I just decided that heaven would be more wonderful than I could possibly imagine but my task in the meantime should be to focus on helping others get there.
In retrospect, I really don't know what led me to decide I wanted to read it. I guess I thought I've been a Christian long enough and been through so many Bible studies that I could handle whatever it said and make a good decision as to if I thought it was biblically sound or not.
At any rate, I found a copy at my public library and began to spend long amounts of time reading it every day. With 533 pages to cover and only three weeks before it would be due back, I had no time to waste.
Beloved got intrigued by all the things I learned and was sharing with him, so he began picking it up to read whenever I didn't have it in hand, so we had two bookmarks in the pages. In spite of all that time with my nose in the book, as the due date loomed close, we decided the book was good enough to go buy our own copy (about $25 in hardback), which we did. I turned in the library copy and was so glad to have our own book so I could underline meaningful passages. Now after three and a half weeks of steady reading, I have read it cover to cover. As I said at the beginning, I am changed -- for the better.
Part I is titled, "A Theology of Heaven." The author explains that most of us have a skewed view of heaven because of how it has been interpreted to us for so many years. We have been taught to take what is meant to be literal as something else (spirit-like, wispy, ethereal).
I don't want to steal his thunder (or infringe on copyright), but I will say this section of the book is very lengthy, very deep (as in over-my-head in some places), and very, very interesting.
Part II is titled, "Questions and Answers About Heaven." I was tempted to skip to that (and I confess I did peek at some chapters), but the author strongly urges the reader to complete reading Part I first so we will better understand the answers in Part II. He is right.
But for the sake of a good book review, I will try to whet your appetite with the titles of sections in Part II:
What Will the Resurrected Earth Be Like?
What Will Our Lives Be Like?
What Will Our Relationships Be Like?
What About Animals?
What Will We Do in Heaven?
How did this book change me?
First of all, my understanding of heaven was greatly enhanced to the place of making me genuinely 'homesick' for the day and the place when I can experience it for myself.
Second, my love for this world was put into perspective. Some of my dreams that look like they may not come true in this lifetime, were either realized to be not that special, OR they may come true in the life to come.
Third, I understood better the difference between heaven and hell, both of which are literal and vast extremes, the latter to be avoided at all cost.
Now that I am finished reading the book, I am surrendering it to Beloved, so he can complete it. Then I want to go back to the beginning and re-read sections, underlining and taking notes.
I highly recommend this book.