I began to grow frustrated with the typical Christian explanation of Heaven and the life hereafter when I was young. It all seemed so ethereal and foreign, less like paradise and more like a fluffy, cloud-filled wonderland full of harps, flying, naked baby angels, and bad pictures of stereotypical Jesus. At the time, I never took the time to really search out through the Bible to hear what it had to say about what would happen and what it would look like after Jesus returned.
A few years ago, someone introduced me to N.T. Wright and I dove into his book, “Surprised By Hope.” It gave the picture of a new heaven and new earth that I had always been suspicious was out there but had never heard anyone describe and support the way that Wright did. Wright, a theologian and pastor, eloquently and thoughtfully laid out and explained, not based on personal preference or feeling, but by pulling straight from the Bible’s own descriptions of what was to come.
What N.T. Wright did with his eloquent and theological approach, John Eldredge has done with his provocative, artistic, edgy, and creative linguistic paintbrush in his new book, “All Things New.” Eldredge even makes reference to Wright’s book among other works by well-known Christian writers such as C.S. Lewis, Dallas Willard, and G.K. Chesterton. He paints a picture of what is to come that aligns better with what we read in the prophetic images of the Bible as well as the words of Jesus.
John Eldredge has always been an honest writer. There have been times, as I’ve read his books, that I wondered whether he wrote some of the things that he did more out of provocation and instigation. Eldredge’s honesty and edginess comes through in “All Things New,” but it doesn’t feel forced or contrived. He shares from his own experiences of loss and grief. He is honest, real, and authentic.
From his experiences of grief and loss, Eldredge points to the fact that our hope needs to find itself firmly in the grips of Jesus Christ and the hope of the resurrection and the life to come. When we put our hope in other things, we find false hope rather than real hope. As he describes our hope in Jesus and in the kingdom come, he writes, “That is the only hope strong enough, brilliant enough, glorious enough to overcome the heartache of this world.”
Eldredge reminds the reader that the coming renewal is a renewal of ALL things, not just some things. He describes just what that means, in that our creator God is not about the annihilation and destruction of what he has created but the restoration and renewal of things. Eldredge says, “If God were wiping away reality as we know it and ushering in a new reality, the phrase would have been “I am making all new things!” He refers here to Revelation 21:5, where God says, “I am making everything new.” The Bible speaks of a new heaven and a new earth and Eldredge gives the reader images of just what that might mean. Contrary to traditional pictures and descriptions of heaven (the fluffy, naked baby ones), Eldredge describes just what that might look like.
“All Things New” is full of descriptions of what is to come straight from Scripture. Edredge also uses the fantasy tales of C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien and how they have allegorically imagined what is to come. But I never get a sense throughout the book that Eldredge is trying to paint an extra-biblical picture of what is to come, he is just using pictures from others whose imagination or description enhances the pictures already set forth within the Bible.
Having gone through my own grief in losing both of my parents within a 21 month period, hope has been elusive at times. God has constantly pointed me back to Paul’s words in Romans 8. Eldredge’s book has been another step in reminding me that what is to come is something to look forward to with great hope and expectation. Although his own experience has been full of grief and loss as well, I never get a sense that his projections of what is to come are contrived out of a fabricated emotionalism. I appreciate his pointing the reader back to a more biblically grounded picture of what is to come.
If you have struggled with traditional pictures of heaven and the life hereafter, I would encourage you to pick up “All Things New” and hear not what Eldredge has to say, but the hope that he found in the words of the Bible. This book is a book of hope, pointing us to the only hope that is unchanging, steady, constant, and eternal.
(This review is based upon a copy of this book which was provided free of charge from Booklook Bloggers. These opinions are my own; I was not required to write a positive review, nor was I compensated for this review.)