Heavenly Books - A Suggested Reading Guide
In preparation for the sermon that I preached last Sunday, I re-read, and referenced several books on life after death, heaven and the coming kingdom of God--what theologian N.T. Wright calls "life, after life after death."
I thought it would be helpful to offer a bibliography of sorts, along with a brief critique of the books I referenced in the event anyone out their in TV Land might want to do some extra reading on the topic.
The Heaven Promise: Engaging the Bible's Truth About Life to Come by Scot McKnight (Waterbrook Press, 2015)
This was one of the new books that I read over the course of the last couple of weeks. McKnight is the author of over fifty books and is a professor of New Testament at Northern Seminary in Illinois. I found The Heaven Promise to be an incredibly hopeful, accessible and comprehensive view of what the Bible actually says about heaven and life after death. McKnight covers all of the big questions (Who gets to heaven? What will we do in heaven?) and some of the not-so-big, but burning questions that many of us have about heaven (Will we be married in heaven? Do dogs go to heaven?). I highly recommend The Heaven Promise for both pastors who are preaching on the topic and for lay people who want to learn more.
Heaven: Our Enduring Fascination with The Afterlife by Lisa Miller (Harper Collins, 2010)
Miller is an award-winning journalist in the field of religion, and the religion editor of Newsweek. She also was on staff at the New Yorker and Wall Street Journal. Heaven is comprehensive look at how many of the major religious traditions view heaven, and a brief glance at how views on heaven have influenced human history--and continue to do so. Miller, who happens to be Jewish, offers a measured and fair analysis of the variety of views on heaven and the afterlife. I recommend this book to anyone who is interested in seeing what the various religious traditions (including Christianity) believe and teach about what happens to us when we die.
Surprised By Hope: Rethinking Heaven, the Resurrection, and the Mission of the Church by N.T. Wright (HarperOne, 2008)
Although Surprised by Hope isn't quite as accessible as Scot McKnight's book on heaven, it is by far the work that I would recommend if someone only had time to read one book on the topic. Wright is perhaps the preeminent New Testament scholar in the world, and his thoughts on what happens to us when we die are completely grounded in his understanding of Scripture, which is amazingly astute and incredibly broad. What Wright does for Christian hope and visions of the future in Surprised by Hope is nothing short of marvelous. This is a must-read for Christians who want to go deeper into their faith, and understanding of the resurrection hope.