In a sense, heaven isn't the hero of this book—the authority of God's Word is. Evangelical stalwart John MacArthur spends a lot of time in this second edition of The Glory of Heaven demonstrating that Scripture, and not the word of human beings, is the final test for true doctrine. Anyone can write a book about going to heaven (or hell), but only the Bible is inerrant and infallible. All of this is in the context of the nature and reality of heaven, but all we know about heaven is found in God's Word.
MacArthur begins with an overview of the rise in popularity over the last twenty years of books claiming to document the authors's experiences in the afterlife (or whatever it's called when you die and come back). He discusses the philosophical materialism that has driven many to look to such accounts for reassurance, the attempts of many to confirm their validity scientifically, and the links between near death experience accounts and ancient gnosticism.
Chapter 2 is all-new in this edition, and engages directly the wildly popular book Heaven Is for Real by Todd Burpo and Lynn Vincent which claims to document the experiences of Todd's then-3-year-old son Colton in heaven. MacArthur reminds us that heaven is for real, but shows from Scripture that the heaven Colton claims to have visited is either the result of a child's imagination coupled with the power of suggestion, or a hallucination, or a demonic experience.
The problem with these accounts (or a prominent problem among many) is that they bear no relation to the majestic and utterly incomprehensible descriptions we have of heaven in the Bible. Neither do they take into account the fact that the four (count 'em, just four in the whole Old and New Testaments!) descriptions of heaven we have in Scripture are recorded as visions experienced by living men, not as trips made out of the body by dead or nearly-dead heaven-trippers.
The rest of The Glory of Heaven is a careful and thorough construction of a biblical theology of heaven. MacArthur describes heaven as a stunning juxtaposition: the complete absence of sin and sinful desire, and the eternal experience of everlasting pleasure. As Christians, he asserts, we should absolutely dwell on our eternity in heaven (or on the new earth, as the case may be), but we should only do so with Scripture as our guide.
Specific questions include, What is the New Jerusalem? What is heaven like? Is there a temple in heaven? Why does the Bible say there's no sea in heaven? What will we be like in heaven, and will I still be married? These and many, many more are answered with MacArthur's trademark biblical emphasis, pastoral care, and frequent humor (actually funny humor, at that). Unlike other books on heaven, theological or otherwise, you'll find no conjecture or extrabiblical arguments.
At the end of the book, three appendices look directly at three particular "to heaven and back" books. These are very helpful analyses, but it's probably best to read them right after chapter two (on the Burpos's book); that way, you can end on the glorious note of heaven as God himself has described it in his Word. This is an excellent resource for anyone wanting to know more about heaven, refute unbiblical visions of it, or simply celebrate our glorious inheritance in Jesus Christ.
Review by C. Hollis Crossman
C. Hollis Crossman used to be a child. Now he is a husband and father, teaches adult Sunday school in his Presbyterian congregation, and likes weird stuff. He might be a mythical creature, but he's definitely not a centaur. Read more of his reviews here.
Review by C. Hollis Crossman
C. Hollis Crossman used to be a child. Now he's a husband and father who loves church, good food, and weird stuff. He might be a mythical creature, but he's definitely not a centaur. Read more of his reviews here
Did you find this review helpful?