Monday, June 29, 2015

Book Review: Bringing Heaven to Earth

Bringing Heaven to Earth 
(by Josh Ross and Jonathan Storment)

How do you imagine heaven? Golden streets and pearly gates? Clouds and rainbows and harps? According to a survey cited in this book, "81 percent of Americans...said they thought heaven was going to be nonmaterial, and that we would be ethereal or ghost-like."

What we believe about heaven affects how we live today. That's one of the main points that Ross and Storment try to drive home in their book, "Bringing Heaven to Earth." If we see heaven as our escape from this earth, then we will find little motivation to try to make this world a better place. Why does it matter? It's all going to burn up anyway. But, if instead we see that heaven is not an escape from earth, but rather a reality coming down to earth, there we will find a vision for bringing heaven to earth.

Ross and Storment divide their book into three parts.

In part 1, Ross and Storment re-introduce us to heaven. Instead of the popular picture of harps and clouds, the picture they paint is one of dirt. According to Storment, "God has never given up on His original creation....We have overlooked the vocabulary that the Bible gave us....: redeem, resurrect, restore, renew, recover, regenerate." The focus in not on the destruction of and escape from this earth, but the renewing of this earth. That means that this world matters. Ross and Storment use the language of "heaven-earth collisions" to describe the way the reality of heaven should be affecting our walk today. Each time brokenness is healed, or relationships are restored, or life is uplifted--at that moment, heaven collides with earth. To put it in their words, "Heaven is a reality defined by God's will being done." I couldn't agree more.

Part 2 moves the conversation toward practical living of the Gospel. Despite the authors' overuse of the "Jesus Party" metaphor (I felt like I was back in the teen services of a megachurch again), their central point in this chapter is sound: heaven extends an open invitation to the broken. We should too. That is how we bring healing. That is how we bring heaven to earth.

Part 3 brings the argument back around to the beginning, emphasizing the vision of hope we have in the resurrection and restoration of all things. Because, "your view of tomorrow determines how you live today."

As one who has read Eldredge's "Journey of Desire" and Wright's "Surprised by Hope," I found a lot of what Ross and Storment had to say to be familiar, but there were a few new ideas as well. For example, they explain the main point of God's judgment as being "that He will reverse the curse: He will place His judgment on death in all its forms." To me, this is a much healthier view of judgment than the typical "getting what you deserve" paradigm.

Overall, I believe the message Ross and Storment present is one of immeasurable importance to the church. Those who know me know that my passion is the vision of the Kingdom and finding ways to make that Kingdom a reality in our lives today. That's what this book is about. That's the message that we need to hear today.

Buy from Amazon (Affiliate Link)

I received a free copy of this book as part of the Blogging for Books program in exchange for my honest review here.

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