by Arthur O. Roberts
YOU MAY HAVE ASKED yourself or others, “Will there be animals in heaven?” But you probably haven't asked “What will it be like to play basketball in heaven—especially if there happen to be eleven dimensions there rather than earth's mere three, and people have more than five senses?” Or how about, “Will we retain our digestive system in heaven?” Or, “Can we play golf at six-thirty on a summer morning? Or enjoy games of Scrabble on long winter evenings?” Arthur Roberts asks and speculates about these and many other questions in this book.
The subtitle—What Great Christian Thinkers Tell Us about Our Afterlife with God—is perhaps a bit misleading if it causes us to assume this is a book only for historians and theologians. Though they will surely enjoy it, this is really a book for all those who wonder whether there is a heaven at all, and if there is, what it might be like for ourselves and those we love. That must be why Arthur Roberts used the word “Exploring” in the title. The book is in one sense an exploration of the various historical and theological interpretations of the biblical teaching about heaven. But it is much more than that. Though Roberts is genuinely fair to other views about heaven, early in the book he declares his own view that heaven is an actual place in which people will have an actual body, however different from our present body. And from that point on he explores with great fascination what heaven might be like, given what we know from Scripture, from science, and from human thought.
Along the way through this exploration, the author takes time to discuss deep matters that probably all of us have felt troubled about one time or another. Roberts guides us in thinking about who may be in heaven and who may not, and why. He raises the matter of how earth and heaven are related and wonders about the social order and justice of heaven and what that says about the prayer, “Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”
This book stimulated my thinking and my curiosity to know still more about heaven, but it also encouraged me greatly. The encouragement was not of the proverbial “pie in the sky by and by” variety, but came through well reasoned and clearly articulated explanations of why it is that “the software of eternity lodges in our systems.” It is thrilling to think that we have good reasons to believe that “heaven won't diminish but rather will enhance the values and experiences we enjoy on earth.”
Those familiar with Arthur Roberts's poetry will be grateful that some of it finds a place in this work, but they will also want to see a companion volume of his poems on heaven entitled, Prayers at Twilight, available from Barclay Press.