Book Review – “All Things New” by John Eldredge

all things new

For a few years now, I have been very interested in understanding what will happen in the end according to Christian theology.  I am not talking primarily of various eschatological views, but of our eternal future in the end.  Several authors, such as N. T. Wright, Randy Alcorn, and even Dallas Willard have contributed to my understanding that what we normally think of as “Heaven” falls far short of what Scripture seems to say.  In reality, we are not going to live somewhere “out there,” but right here, on Earth.  A new Earth with no weaknesses or sin, to be sure, but Earth all the same.

When I saw an offer to preview and promote John Eldredge’s new book All Things New, I jumped at the chance to read and review it.

Eldredge’s main point is that we must have an accurate understanding of what eternity will be like if we hope to have it influence our lives here and now.  He tackles what Earth will be like, the fact that evil will be overthrown, and what we will do forever once everything is restored.  And he does so in a very readable way.

Let me address those who have read much on this before.  For those who have studied the issue, you will probably not find anything strikingly new here.  You will also not find as much Scripture referenced as you would in a book by Alcorn, for example.

What you will find is what, in my opinion, Eldredge is known for: painting a picture in a very elegant way.  Where other books offer perhaps a deeper, more theological and Scripture-saturated understanding of the future, Eldredge also uses movie and story references and takes a cue from them to help us imagine what things will be like.  That is not to say that he never uses Scripture; he does.  But it appears that Eldredge wants us to take more time to dream and imagine about what everything will be like, to get us to desire it from what we imagine it will be like.

It is here that Eldredge succeeds.  Let me provide just one example from the book:

“If you woke each morning and your heart leapt with hope, knowing that the renewal of all things was just around the corner–might even come today–you would be one happy person. If you knew in every fiber of your being that nothing is lost, that everything will be restored to you and then some, you would be armored against discouragement and despair.  If your heart’s imagination were filled with rich expectations of all the goodness coming to you, your confidence would be contagious; you would be unstoppable, revolutionary.

“Friends–don’t let anyone or anything cheat you of this hope; it is your spiritual lifeline. You have barely begun to take hold of it. Do not let anything diminish the beauty, power, and significance of this hope above all hopes. Jesus lived the way he did in this world, for this world, because his hope was set beyond this world; that is the secret of his life…” (p. 200; emphasis in original).

Amen!  One can’t help but be stirred by the above.  And that is Eldredge’s claim to fame, in my opinion: the ability to stir us up in our imaginations and get us excited again.  Whether he is writing about prayer, the heart, holiness, or, now, the renewal of all things, Eldredge has a way of making us desire again.

I believe the best way to develop our understanding of the future is to take the more theological works and combine them with the imaginative ones, blending them together to create a Scripture-founded hope that resides deep within us.  Eldredge’s new book is a great addition to this goal.

*Note: I was provided a complimentary advanced copy of the book by the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

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Book Review – “The Story of Everything” by Jared C. Wilson

story of everything

Ever since I read Randy Alcorn’s Heaven, I have been extremely interested in deepening my understanding of eternity and how the current world fits in to God’s plan.  The Story of Everything by Jared C. Wilson is an excellent addition to my library and my thoughts in this area.

In the book, Wilson examines multiple aspects of the world to arrive at a theological understanding of how it all fits in to the story God is telling.  He examines history, creation, politics, culture, evil, pain, fun, and marriage (along with sex and family).  By looking it at from the view of a story God is telling, he manages to unify these things and tie them together with the gospel of Jesus Christ.  He also points out that all of these aspects will ultimately not be overturned in total, but will find their fulfillment at the end of all things, when all things are made new.

I found the book to be very biblically sound and gospel centered.

I think my biggest takeaway is the chapter on “God’s Plan for Romance, Marriage, and Sex.”  Wilson does a tremendous job of examining how the gospel orients husbands and wives and provides that guidance and union necessary to make a marriage work.  He reminds us that marriage is a covenant, not a contract, and that, as such, we can love no matter what, just as Christ has loved us despite our shortcomings and failures.  The entire chapter is a pointed reminder that ultimately we are to serve our spouse rather than being served, and that ultimately our marriage is about God:

“The story that God is telling with the world calls us back to a radical reshaping of what we think marriage is for.  Personal happiness and romantic fulfillment can be the by-products of a healthy marriage, but the husband’s and wife’s primary purpose in marriage is not happiness and romance.  The primary purpose of marriage is giving God glory by bearing witness to the gospel. The primary purpose of marriage is to make Jesus look big.” (Kindle location 3135)

If we could keep this in mind, really if we could memorize the whole chapter and live it out, our marriages would be transformed.  To me, the chapter on marriage alone is worth getting the book.

So, what do we do with the information in Wilson’s book?  We remember this quote and live it out: “Jesus is indeed making all things new. The purpose of life now is to live in such a way that everything we do with everything points to his remaking of everything.” (Kindle location 3665)  We orient our lives so that we are constantly living out the reality that everything is working toward a renewal that God will bring about.  Imagine how attractive the gospel will become in our lives if we live this out daily with everyone we meet!

I would strongly encourage everyone to pick up this book and read through it slowly, soaking it in.  You won’t regret it!

Note: I received a complimentary copy of this book from Crossway through their Blog Review Program in exchange for my honest review.