Sunday, December 6, 2015

Book Review: The Heaven Promise
The Heaven Promise
(by Scot McKnight)

Here is yet another book to add to my "books about the Kingdom" shelf (one of my favorite topics). In The Heaven Promise, Scot McKnight (who is quickly becoming a favorite author) cuts past our cultural images and wild imaginations to see what does the Bible say about heaven? The answer is, actually, quite a lot.

Both the premise and the organization of the book are quite simple--you won't need a PhD to understand it. McKnight starts with some background about why we think about heaven and what various ideas are out there. Then, he moves into the six heaven promises that form the foundation of how we should think of heaven. These are pretty simple ideas like "God will be God" and "Heaven will be the utopia of pleasures."

What I love most about this book, thought, occurs in the next few chapters where McKnight brings heaven into the here and now. He explains that heaven will have a first hour and we are invited to begin living in that first hour today. He then goes into some detail about how heaven-minded people should live today. This is a foundational idea in my beliefs--what we believe about the future affects how we live today. A vision of hope should propel us toward a walk of love rooted in faith.

The final chapter is arranged in Q and A format, where McKnight builds on the principles discussed earlier to answer common questions about heaven (such as "Will there be pets?" or "What about purgatory?" or "Who will be there?").

One other idea I really appreciate McKnight bringing out is the tendency for people to go toward one of two extremes: the God-centric heaven and the Kingdom-centric heaven. Those who tend toward a God-centric heaven tend to imagine it as a place of eternal worship and they focus on their individual relationship with God. Kingdom minded people, on the other hand, imagine heaven as being much like today (except without sin and death) with work and community. The worship part is sometimes neglected. I immediately recognized myself as falling into the Kingdom camp, so reading through this book helped me realize my need for a little more balance.

If you've never given a lot of thought the heaven or don't really see how it connects to life today, I would highly recommend this book to you. McKnight does an excellent job of laying a Biblical foundation for our imaginings of the world to come and draws all of it back home into what heaven means for how we live today.

If you get a chance to read this book, be sure to share your thoughts below. I always love a good conversation about a good book =)

Also, I'm curious...which camp do you tend to lean toward when it comes to imagining heaven (God-centric or Kingdom-centric)?

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I received a free copy of this book as part of the Blogging for Books program in exchange for my honest review here.

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