Pros:Deals with just about every topic you could imagine regarding Heaven
Cons:Toward the end, it seems like he's stretching subjects to meet a page count
The Bottom Line: An excellent overview of the subject by a man who has read over 150 books on it. You need to read this book to understand Heaven.
A friend and I started reading books together last year. We read a section of our current book each week, then get together on Sunday over a beer to discuss it. We started this project with Randy Alcorn's Heaven.
I've read several of Randy Alcorn's fiction books, and really enjoy his writing. I bought Heaven for a few reasons. 1) I was interested in the subject. 2) Heaven is well reviewed by readers. 3) I wanted to see how well Randy Alcorn writes non-fiction.
I bought the Kindle edition, which didn't come with a page count. It has "8980" sections, whatever that means. Amazon lists the page count for the hardcover edition at 560 pages. Heaven is divided into 3 parts and 12 sections. It includes 46 chapters and 2 appendices.
Part 1 is "A Theology of Heaven". This is the introduction and meat of the book. The first few chapters are fairly basic and foundational, but not insufferable. Randy Alcorn presents his material in a way that does not annoy a reader who has already studied the subject somewhat, and my friend and I gained some new perspective in the foundational chapters of the book. This is also kind of a "mythbusting" section of the book; dealing with subjects like Christoplatonism and the belief that we'll all just sit around on clouds playing harps or singing or boring stuff.
Part 2 is "Questions and Answers about Heaven". This gets a little more into the meat of the subject, although much of the material is based on things we can't see yet. This section explores topics like space and time, eating and drinking, work, fun, animals, and even if we'll see our pets in Heaven. (The last subject gave my friend and I plenty to talk about. If our pets will be in Heaven, that opens up a huge logistical challenge. Who gets the pet? In a family where a dog or cat bonded strongest with one member, would the animal go to that member? It was a fun discussion that week).
Part 3 is "Living in Light of Heaven". Considering the wonders that we'll look forward to, how should we then live?
Overall, we enjoyed the book. Heaven is not without criticism though. Although the chapters were fairly long, my friend and I found them to be slow going. We were reading a chapter a week in the beginning, but discovered in order to have material to discuss, we needed to read 2 or more chapters. Some topics required Randy Alcorn to repeate material, and toward the end, it felt to us like he was reaching to make an arbitrary page count. We felt he could have combined a few topics, which would have shortened the book by several chapters without a loss of material. It didn't seem like "Will there be pets in Heaven?" deserved an entire chapter to us.
The two appendices are "Christoplatonism's False Assumptions" and "Literal and Figurative Interpretations", both of which are important to consider in light of the subject of Heaven. Is this all just a misunderstood allegory, or are there wonders awaiting us we cannot imagine with our current understanding of space and time?
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