Alcorn, clearly one of evangelicalism’s most gifted writers, often turns his attention to the glories of heaven. He has written several novels dealing with heaven including, Deadline and The Edge of Eternity and a rather large study on the subject entitled simply Heaven. In Light of Eternity is a scaled down or abbreviated version of Heaven.
Overall, the book is quite helpful. In a Christian publishing world wrapped up with life on earth and best selling authors such as Joel Osteen promising us our “Best Life Now,” it is refreshing to read a solid book on the next life. Alcorn interacts with much Scripture, offering moving illustrations, valuable quotes and insights worth pondering. It should be mentioned that some of his insights are closer to speculation than fact (e.g. pp. 30, 48-49, 79, 94-101). For example, when Billy Graham is asked by a child whether or not her dog would be in heaven he remarks, “If it would make you any happier, then yes, he will be” (p. 30). Nice sentiment, but there is no biblical proof of this and the better answer would have been, “If it pleases God, he will be…” There are a handful or two of similar assertions which are worthy of consideration but cannot be proven from Scripture. However, most of Alcorn’s understanding of heaven has biblical base.
It helps, in understanding Alcorn’s view of heaven, to realize that he sees five phases to heaven: original pre-sin heaven, Old Testament paradise, post-resurrection of Christ heaven, the millennial kingdom and eternity (pp. 36-37). This is how he can confidently find animals in “heaven,” at least during the millennial phase (pp. 29-30).
An interesting feature of the book is that Alcorn often quotes his own novels as documentation for his views. Usually an author quotes a source that gives additional validity to his own thoughts and Alcorn does this, notably quoting C. S. Lewis over a dozen times (pp. 37, 33, 128, 139, 143, 144-145, 152-153, 157, 158, 159, 163-164). But you seldom see an author attempting to strengthen his case by so often quoting himself. Having not read his novels the quotes did little for me, but perhaps for some who have they are helpful.
In light of Eternity is a quick read that should encourage the child of God to live on earth from the vantage point of heaven. Some of Alcorn’s ideals are speculative but most flow from the clear teaching of Scripture