During the latter half of the nineteenth-century, due in part to the tremendous loss of life during the Civil War as well as the encroachment of German rationalism and interest in spiritism, many were struggling with questions and doubts concerning the afterlife. In response a number of books were written, some based on Scripture, others on supposed dreams and visions, to provide answers about heaven. Springer’s book, originally entitled Intra Muros, was among the latter, but has distinguished itself by being published and read over a hundred years later, while most of the others disappeared rather quickly.
Springer takes pains to make clear that her near-death experience was not inspired by God and carries no divine authority (pp. 155-157). Still, much like today’s near-death accounts, she believes her supposed trip to heaven will offer valuable insight into eternity and give hope to the reader. However her revelation is riddled with flaws. Even her modern day, strongly Pentecostal editor, Vicki Jamison-Peterson, admits that Springer’s “Victorian sentimentality took her into views of marriage which the Bible does not support” and “sometimes her heaven is bound by nineteenth century ideals and prejudices” (p.177). This small volume made me think of what might happen if the ladies of Little Women designed heaven.
More importantly, whatever Springer experiences they are not of heaven for she comes back with major contradictions with regard to biblical revelation. Some examples:
· The joys of heaven are somewhat predicated on events on earth (pp. 34, 76).
· Seemingly everyone’s loved ones will be saved (pp. 94, 123).
· There will be sorrow in heaven (pp. 51-52, 123).
· There will be a sea in heaven (pp. 51, 146-150).
· Our pets will be in heaven (pp. 58-60—even cats—yikes!).
· Men will preach in heaven (p. 81).
· Families will stay together in the same communities in heaven (pp. 94, 145).
· There will be marriage in heaven (pp. 96, 118-119, 139-144, 164).
· We will weave clothes, have retail stores and manufacturing companies in heaven (p. 101).
· We win rewards in heaven (pp. 107, 109).
· There are no creeds, or theology in heaven (pp. 109-111).
· There will be a temple in heaven (p. 114)
· Glorified humans are sent on missions to earth (p. 120).
· Some do not feel forgiven in heaven (pp. 128-130).
· Fatigue can still occur in heaven (p. 134).
· Heaven will be segregated by nationalities (p. 161).
Read as an imaginary book, much like Pilgrims Progress, My Dream of Heaven could be interesting. But read in order to get an authentic glimpse of heaven would lead to serious error.
Reviewed by Gary E. Gilley, Pastor-teacher, Southern View Chapel