Friday, November 20, 2015

Seeing the World (and Heaven) in a New Light

Background — A couple of months ago I invited a few friends from across the country (and beyond) to join me in reading Randy Alcorn’s masterful study, HEAVEN and then engage in some dialogue about what we read and think about it. Even though I've re-read the book a few times, I'm again taking notes and praying through key points...and there are a gang of those!

Previous posts can be found by scrolling down through the blog.

Here is the latest in that conversation, some very stirring thoughts from Dr. Greg Gardner in England, a physician, pro-life activist, and family man for whom Claire and I feel a great deal of admiration and gratitude.

Dear Denny,

Thanks so much for recommending this book. I’ve enjoyed reading every page and have learned a lot. The concept of heaven being ‘heaven on earth’ was not new to me but Randy’s knowledge of and application of scripture was really impressive. What confirmed to me that this is a remarkable piece of research and scholarship is the number of scriptural references – nearly 800 from a rough calculation. And from 51 out of 66 books in the Bible.

Frank Viola has a list of the ‘100 best Christian books ever written’ but HEAVEN is not on the list. I think that’s a serious omission. I think Randy Alcorn has shown that his knowledge of scripture is considerable. I would put it in my top 10 Christian books, possibly in the top five.

After reading the book it feels like you have put on a new pair of glasses and see the world in a different light. The chapters on animals were brilliant but there were other highlights too. I’m going to look at language learning in a different light. Also the whole concept of continuity between now and then. Even simple comments like his observation about sweat has great potential for understanding. Randy points out that our resurrection bodies will contain sweat glands so sweat as part of exercise or hard work will still be something that we will experience on the new earth.

You can let your imagination run wild. I regret not being a better tennis player but that won’t be an obstacle any more. Hiking, or what the New Zealanders call ‘tramping’ will be on another level. Humour will be even better and jokes will get funnier. Continually. Music will develop in as yet unknown ways.

Peter Kreeft points out that just as numbers have no limit, there is no such thing as ‘the best of all possible worlds’ because there is no limitation to goodness. Our knowledge of and love of God will literally have no end and will keep growing. So will our love of each other. What will politics be like without politicians?

The irony is that all this is basic Bible teaching. How can we have been so blind for so long? The Christoplatonists have a lot to answer for. The question is, in what other ways have they messed up the church? For an answer to that question, read PAGAN CHRISTIANITY by Viola and Barna. It’s very good in a different way but challenges a lot of deeply ingrained assumptions.

I’m on page 416 so nearly finished but I think the book deserves a slower re-read at some point.