Monday, August 29, 2011

Heaven Revealed by Paul Enns

The title of Paul Enns book,  Heaven Revealed makes a pretty bold claim.  Especially bold are the promises to inform the reader about specific aspects of Heaven such as "What it is Like?" and "What Will We Do?" as well as "11 other things you've wondered about" according to the subheading.  As far as marketing, this book will draw in many curious reader- religious and secular, alike.  Perhaps many people may feel it is best not to speculate or speak with authority with such specific details when talking about Heaven. Nevertheless, many readers, filled with curiosity- most of which probably have only  limited experience or a superficial grasp of the actual text of the bible, will find it hard to resist a book with such claims. 

The author, Paul Enns was motivated to write this book after the death of his wife of 45 years.  On page 10 he recounts some details of the last time he saw his wife, and his premonition of knowing the moment she died.  This anecdote, as well as the other anecdotes about near death experiences or supernaturally derived information where the dying individual gets a glimpse of heaven on his/ her deathbed seem to reduce the credibility of this book. It is as if private visions and sixth senses are equated with the divine revelations of the biblical prophets.   Page 44 tells an account of a death bed experience of the well known Christian speaker and author, Dwight Moody. While it is inspirational, its authenticity as being divine and biblical is questionable, nonetheless.  As Paul himself suggested in his letters, it is wise to be skeptical of private visions, and he himself never endorsed or encouraged any believer to believe any private vision or revelation.  They are of minimal value.  In a book about heaven, for the purpose of credibility and fidelity to bible, I believe any extraneous visions, dreams, experiences etc that are not divinely inspired/ biblical should have been left out of this book.

Page 13 starts out by offering false comfort to the bereaved by stating that everyone has someone in heaven.  Such as statement is misleading.   Biblically, this assertion can not be true and if one is using the authority of the bible to describe heaven that private revelations, anecdotes and other non biblical statements must be left out! In fact, the author does acknowledge later on in the book on several occasions, that Heaven is reserved for the believer.  Understandably, given the circumstances which promted him to write this book, the author focuses on human relationships and reuniting with spouses, family and loved ones in heaven.  Nevertheless, Jesus taught in heaven there are no marriages, and that we will be like the angels in this respect. Another issue is that not everyone has family or spouses with whom they will be reunited with.  The unsaved do not go to heaven, and regrettably, not all believers have a Christian net-work of friends, much less a Christian spouse.  Nevertheless, we will no longer require relationships in any form to be happy since God is really all we need.  On the other hand, the author did do his biblical research, correctly dispelling false claims of other false religions such as the ideas of purgatory and soul sleep. 

There is no mention of hell, and no sense of urgency in encouraging the believer to share the gospel message to those who are still unsaved.  This book is encouraging, yet I feel it would be  even more complete if it conveyed the sense of urgency of the need to spread the good news of the gospel.  As a blogger for Moody publishers I recieved this book for the purpose of writing a review.  The views expressed are my own.

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