Exploring Heaven: What Great Christian Thinkers Tell Us About Our Afterlife with God
Arthur O. Roberts
Harper San Francisco, 240 pages, $21.95
With logic and vivid imagination, Quaker philosopher, academic, and poet Arthur Roberts eschews heaven as a static destination and instead offers his own compelling vision of the afterlife.
Where is heaven? What is it like? Who will be there? What will we be? What will we do when we're there? As Roberts tackles each question, he lays out historical and contemporary theories that he gently critiques before unfolding his own views. He believes that heaven has a continuity with the created order we now enjoy (without evil and suffering), and that in the afterlife people will be truly present in bodily form, retaining their identity and personality, but with their abilities enhanced.
"We'll be more than information bytes downloaded onto an eternal supercomputer," he writes. "We will do things like caring for our bodies, working, playing, socializing, sharing affection, and worshiping."
Nothing is too small in his reflection, from the nature of angels to the possibility of animals in heaven (he confesses he is perplexed, but hopes they will be there). This lucid, beautifully written book will inspire Christians to exult with Roberts as he writes, "What a wonder, that God lets us share the glory!"
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In June, John Stackhouse wrote an essay for Christianity Today called "Harleys in Heaven" that looked at what Christians have thought of the afterlife, and what difference it makes now.
"Harleys in Heaven" looked at several heaven books including: Colleen McDannell and Bernhard Lang's Heaven: A History, J. Edward Wright's The Early History of Heaven, Paul Marshall's Heaven Is Not My Home, Alister McGrath's A Brief History of Heaven, and Jeffrey Burton Russell's A History of Heaven.
Previous Christianity Today articles on heaven include:
Hell's Final Enigma | Won't heaven's joy be spoiled by our awareness of unsaved loved ones in hell? (April 24, 2003)
Christian History Corner: How the Early Church Saw Heaven | The first Christians had very specific ideas about who they would meet in the afterlife. (August 9, 2002)
What's a Heaven For? | C.S. Lewis saw belief in heaven not as wishful thinking, but as thoughtful wishing. (Oct. 26, 1998)
The Eternal Weight of Glory | If only we could have the positives of earthly life without the negatives. By Harry Blamires (May 27, 1991)
Afraid of Heaven | We do not yearn to be near God because we do not find sin utterly repugnant or goodness rapturously attractive. By Kenneth Kantzer (May 27, 1991)
What Will Heaven Be Like? | Thirty-five frequently asked questions about eternity. By Peter Kreeft (from Tough Questions Christians Ask, 1989)
Heaven: Not Just an Eternal Day Off | As if anticipating the question, "Will life on the new earth be boring?" the Bible points to much activity there. By Anthony Hoekema (Sept. 20, 1985)
Heaven Can't Wait | I have seen the electrifying results of what can happen when the reality comes alive. By Philip Yancey (Sept. 7, 1984)
Illusion or Reality? | Heaven is a place. There is a city we are going to see and walk in. By Edith Schaeffer (Mar. 12, 1976)
The Hope of Heaven | Have Christians forfeited their rightful anticipation of eternity? By L. Nelson Bell (May 24, 1968)
The Glories of Heaven | While heaven will be glorious, the greater glory will consist in our transformation. By Stanley C. Baldwin (May 22, 1964)
The Believer's Final Bliss | The regeneration of man requires that old things must pass away and all things become new. By John Murray (July 7, 1958)
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