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.