I’m going to start this review by mentioning that I received a free copy of “Revealing Heaven,” by John Price, for participating in the TLC Book Tours campaign for the book, in part to get the whole legal disclaimer thing out of the way, but also because the fact that this book came to me without me looking for it is relevant to what I got out of it.
The primary focus of the book deals with near-death experiences, how they relate to scripture, and what they say about God and heaven. Price, an Episcopal pastor and a hospital chaplain, has taken great interest in the subject, and in this book combines the results of both his readings and research on the subject and personal interviews he has conducted with those who say they have had near-death experiences.
I’ll be honest, I approached that primary focus with a large degree of skepticism. I have to admit that if you taken his explanations of his research as true, he makes a very convincing case. I also have to admit that I don’t have a strong counterargument to his conclusions. However, being honest, I don’t know that I’m ready to fully take the leap of accepting that his explanations and the stories he was told are infallible. The implications of the case he makes here would be huge, and it’s hard to fully understand how they could be true without having had that huge impact. However, I am forced to leave the book with a much more open mind on the subject, and imagine I’ll be paying it much closer attention in the future.
Equally intriguing to me was the meta-story of the book, a look at the reality of the modern church. Price began his career as a pastor not truly believing in heaven or an afterlife, and had been trained that way in seminary. It was interesting to discover new aspects of the diversity of the modern Christian church, and to read about large elements thereof that believe in a very mundane supernatural. On the other end of the spectrum, he recounts stories of pastors who lost their job because they stopped preaching an angry God in favor of a loving one. The book brings home just what a wide array of beliefs the word “Christian” covers.
I was particularly either challenged or encouraged by his final analysis — that the lesson to be learned through all of this is that, as scripture says, God is, quite literally, love. Challenging because I like his conclusion without necessarily being ready to fully buy into the math that got him there, encouraging because, as I said, this book found me at a time that it echoes a place my personal journey has been taking me.
Whether you agree with it or not, “Revealing Heaven” is a fascinating book with challenging ideas for those interesting in having their horizons broadened.