I have actually avoided books on the topic of Heaven. Mainly because a friend had read many and it was all she talked about. I prefer to live in the present and not think too much about what comes next. Not because I have zero interest, I do, but I have enough to learn about how to live for Christ now. I do understand the ‘why’ of her reading so much about it. She is in her late 70’s and is getting excited about where she is going next.
Scot McKnight’s book The Heaven Promise turned out to be a very good read with a lot of Biblical backing for all of his beliefs on Heaven. Unfortunately, for me, I almost stopped at page 10. Unfortunately, because what came after that was well worth the book. You see I got sidetracked by his discussion on page 10 about the Apostles Creed. Mr. McKnight was explaining how there is not a whole lot stated in the Bible about Heaven or Hell. Here he is talking about “the classic creeds of the Christian faith – the attempts by the best thinkers in the church to get back to the basics of the faith –“He points out “The grand-daddy of all creeds, the Apostle’s Creed, where we learn that Jesus descended into hell and ascended into Heaven, where he now rules, and that he’ll come again to judge the living and the dead.” I was sidetracked by this because even though I was raised in Catholic school and had memorized this creed, I had never given any thought to what it actually meant or implied. Seeing this in The Heaven Promise threw me off and started me on a goat trail.
I have never seen it in Scripture that Jesus descended into Hell. I also was not sure what the definition of a Creed was. A Creed is meant to highlight important facts from the Bible. As I researched I found some comments by John Piper. One of which was that he refused to say this line when it was recited as it is NOT in Scripture and it is not true or fact. He listed some Scriptures that others have interpreted as ‘hell’ but I, Piper and others strongly disagree. Also the fact that Creeds are written by man uninspired by the Holy Spirit so they are not to be followed and used as if they were Scripture. OK end of goat trail.
It took me several days to get past page 10 but I did! I am also very happy that I did. Let’s jump to Chapter 6 about God’s 6 promises. Scot McKnight puts all the focus on what the Bible DOES say about Heaven. “These are the big ideas about the Heaven Promise as found in the Bible:
First Promise: God will be God
Second Promise: Jesus will be Jesus
Third Promise: Heaven will be the utopia of pleasures
Fourth Promise: Heaven will be eternal
Fifth Promise: Heaven will be an eternal Global fellowship
Sixth Promise: Heaven will be an eternal beloved community”.
I love the way he lays it out like that. There is nothing extra painted in this picture. As writers often do, they will add words to make it more appealing, fancier or more exceptional. However, the Bible does it for you and does it beautifully. Mr. McKnight goes into some great detail on each point including stories from his personal life and other historical stories.
As he moves past the 6 promises he leads us through some great chapters, or should I say great-er? For instance:
- The First Hour of Heaven
- What about near-death experiences?
- Who will be in Heaven?
- What about children who die?
- What about cremation?
- Will there be pets in Heaven
Several more I did not mention but are well worth reading.
This book The Heaven Promise by Scot McKnight is great, no question. I feel he stayed right on target with what the Bible has to say on the subject and did not add any fluff or sugarcoat anything to make it ‘feel’ better. There were many places that he left open for the reader to decide their thoughts on things that are not black and white. I like that. We will never know, during this lifetime at least, all that God has, can and will do. There is a lot that remains a mystery but He has proven trustworthy. Let’s leave it at that.
I received this book from the Blogging for Books program in exchange for this review.