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Monday, April 21, 2014

"50 Things You Need to Know about Heaven" (Dr John Hart)

TITLE: 50 Things You Need to Know About Heaven
AUTHOR: Dr John Hart
PUBLISHER: Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House Publishers, 2014, (144 pages).

With the recent release of a movie about heaven, which was based on a bestselling book a few years ago, interest has been heightened about all things heaven and the afterlife. One observation of the book, "Heaven is For Real" and the movie based on that is that the book (and movie) contains a lot more personal experience than biblical explanations. It is hard to prove or disprove another person's experience. It is also difficult to tell the difference between biblical, non-biblical, or extra-biblical material from it all. Enters this book of 50 things that we can learn about heaven from a biblical perspective. In it, we learn about what kinds of people go to heaven, in particular, Hart asserts that from a biblical perspective, the entrance requirement is not based on ourselves or our good works. Believers enter into heaven in the name of Christ. The Bible does not say that non-believers will definitely get a second chance.

There are various descriptions of the language used to describe heaven, like the "mansions," "home," "sky," and Hart says finally that heaven is about being with God wherever He is. There are questions about whether there will be work in heaven and how life would be there. Other things include the basic questions we normally asked from day to day, comparing life on earth and the celestial lifestyle in heaven. These includes:

  • Will animals be in heaven?
  • Will we be bored in heaven?
  • Are there marriages and families in heaven?
  • Will we be singing and playing harps all the time in heaven?
  • Will there be time in eternity?
  • Will we live with the angels in heaven?
Other questions are a little more theological, like the question between reincarnation and resurrection. There are several questions on the topic and reality of hell, comparing and contrasting eternal life and death. Other questions center on judgment, hades, heavenly rewards, and others. 

Written like a brief question and answer format, this book can easily comprise of fifty separate booklets that answer every of the question directly. When compiled as a book, the questions are made available conveniently for readers to ponder and to reflect upon all things heaven and hell, life now and life after. Let me make three comments about the book.

First, the book is a convenient mini guide that answers a lot of common questions about the mysteries of heaven and hell, from a biblical perspective. With clearly worded questions and well explained answers, Hart is able to draw from the many references to heaven in the Bible and sees the questions from a reader's point of view. By drawing from his own personal experience, readers can sense a very down to earth presentation and explanation of what heaven is about. Some of the questions could have been better classified into various sections, like heaven, hell, judgment, afterlife, and so on. That way, there will be a better framework to use the book as a proper handbook. 

Second, I enjoy the way the author often begins with a story or an illustration for contemporary times. It makes for easy reading and clearly aimed at the popular audience. After all, with the interest in heaven hitting the popular scene, this book will definitely fit the expectations of most people.

Third, the questions pretty much demand a deductive answer instead of an inductive one. Understood another way, the chapters begin with a question that strings answers together. Great for topical studies, deductive reasoning can sometimes miss the essence of what the verses actually mean. That is why I appreciate the fair number of  Bible references at the end of the chapter for readers to probe further themselves. It is good not to simply take Hart's word for it. Take time to read the Scriptures for ourselves and to understand the contexts behind them.

Rating: 4.5 stars of 5.


This book is provided to me courtesy of Bethany House Publishers and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions offered above are mine unless otherwise stated or implied.

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