“All of us will spend eternity somewhere. It stands to reason, therefore, that we know precisely what that entails.” (9) But how do we know? There has been much written by people who died and returned to tell about it. Hank argues that we must get our information from the bible.
He writes about the three phases of life: life now, the transitional state (immaterial soul), and heaven and hell (when the soul and body are reunited).
He spends quite some time on the transitional state, something new to me. It is important to note, I think, that Hank takes the parable of Lazarus and the rich man (Luke 16) as an actual description of this transitional state.
Hank has an excellent section on the “near death experiences” and their divergent accounts. He also has a good section on the reality of hell.
Other issues Hank addresses include animals in heaven, ghosts, soul sleep, reincarnation, cremation, people who commit suicide, proof of the resurrection, the secret rapture (not biblical), the millennium (none), salvation, spiritual growth, sacraments, and much more.
There are a couple of areas where I think Hank does not do a good job in answering the question. One is the meaning of 1 Peter 3:19, Jesus speaking to the “spirits in prison.” The other is Matt. 24:30,34 where Jesus says “this generation” will see the “Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven.”
It was interesting to me to read that Hank appealed to the “plain and literal sense” of a passage (176) but then disagreed with an author for taking a “woodenly literalistic interpretation” of a passage (171). We like a literal interpretation when it serves us.
And something else to be aware of when reading this book. Hank uses phrases like, “The New Testament unambiguously communicates” (80), and “as is obvious from the account of Stephen” (81), and of Matt. 24:30, Jesus “was obviously not speaking of his second coming” (173), and “It seems obvious that” (173). Just be aware that some authors use phrases like those to intimidate the reader. If an interpretation is “obvious” and I don't agree with it, what does that say about me? In each of the above cases, Hank's interpretations were anything but “obvious” since the issues have been debated by people for years.
Hanks steps on lots of toes. He is certainly not a fan of those who write about their trips to heaven while dead, Christians included. And he is not a fan of the pretribulation rapture and all that dispensational teaching entails.
A glossary is included at the end of the book as well as suggested reading for further study.
Hank Hanegraaff serves as president and chairman of the board of the Christian Research Institute. He is also the host of the nationally syndicated Bible Answer Man radio broadcast. He is the author of more than twenty books and has won several book awards. He is a regular contributor to the award-winning Christian Research Journal and is a widely sought after speaker. Find out more about Hank and his ministry at www.equip.org.
Worthy Publishing, 256 pages.
I received a complimentary egalley of this book from the publisher for the purpose of this review. The opinions expressed are my own.