In My Opinion…
A Book Review of Heaven by Randy Alcorn
On the back cover of Dr. Randy Alcorn’s book Heaven, a quotation reads, “The next time you hear someone say, ‘We can’t begin to imagine what Heaven will be like,’ you’ll be able to tell them, ‘I can.’” This description is a microcosm of this weighty 473-page (not counting the appendices and notes) book. Written by a pastor and seminary professor who has devoted twenty-five years to researching Heaven, this text attempts to do something so unusual, it may be shocking even to adherents of the Christian faith: it describes, explains, and prepares the reader for Heaven.
I can’t believe how much information Dr. Alcorn has uncovered, all derived from scripture, about a topic that is very rarely discussed in Christian churches. I had never heard a sermon or participated in a Bible study about Heaven. We hear a great deal about how to get to Heaven, but surely everyone has wondered what it will be like once we are there. It is a subject cloaked in obscurity for most believers (and non-believers). This is particularly strange when one considers Dr. Alcorn’s observations of the numerous descriptions of Heaven in the Bible.
Heaven seeks to disillusion people from the mundane images of Heaven that are so popular in the media. Honestly, it turns out that most people picture Heaven as a spiritual realm in the clouds, full of spirits and white-robed angelic figures playing harps, a place of extreme holiness and extreme dullness. Even true believers have made statements expressing fear of Heaven, or at least fear that they will be terribly bored and unsatisfied in such an ethereal existence. Dr. Alcorn paints a picture of a very different place, a Heaven that is full of life, light, relationships with God and fellow people, a place where we will live in perfected physical bodies and enjoy eating, drinking, working, worshipping, playing, and living as God intended us to do. I can’t believe that in all of my years as a Christian, I have lived in such total ignorance about Biblical revelations of eternity. According to Dr. Alcorn, scripture reveals the existence of a temporary Heaven in which God, Jesus and the souls of deceased believers reside. At the end times, God will establish a New Earth, and Heaven and Earth will become one. In other words, our eternal dwelling place will be here, in the same place we’ve always been, only it will be perfected and renewed. It’s all in the Bible, folks. You’ve got to read it to believe it!
This is a fascinating book, jam-packed with information about the present Heaven, the promise of resurrection, and the New Earth and Heaven. Alcorn includes a lengthy question and answer section that covers a wide variety of common fears, worries and misconceptions about Heaven. To the best of his knowledge, he answers everything from “Will there be space and time?” to “Will we drink coffee in Heaven?” Alcorn doesn’t claim to have perfect knowledge about Heaven, and in the cases where he surmises an answer, he freely confesses doing so. While the length of the book may seem daunting at first, this book contains Biblical facts and valuable research that everyone needs to see. Furthermore, Heaven offers something even more precious: a clear picture of the hope that we can have, the hope of a great adventure when this life is finished. This hope belongs to all who call on the name of Jesus Christ.