QUICK HIT: Bringing Heaven to Earth is a great book for the fact it challenged me and made me think. I agreed with 95% of it, argued with it on the other 5%, and, at book’s close, probably agreed with 96% of it.
Sanctification. That’s probably favorite word in all of language. At the very least, it’s the greatest challenge in all of language. Sanctification: Growing closer to God by aligning your will with His Spirit. Sanctification is the kingdom crashing down into earth via the human heart. The Holy Spirit as the deposit of heaven with us, a down payment on the full glories yet to come, and we here in the church—that embassy of the kingdom—ready to go out and spread the kingdom the world over.
Or at least it should be.
In recent times, we’ve become a people enthralled with the afterlife, with near-death experiences. Books that I like to call “afterlife travel guides” have saturated the market and been made into movies. Heaven is portrayed as this ethereal, other-worldly place…and while that’s not incorrect, it’s not correct either, and it keeps Christians from this idea of bringing heaven to earth.
Now stop. Pause for a moment. This is a great idea but it can go too far in the other direction. Postmillennialism teaches that the return of Jesus is contingent upon the coming of the Kingdom through the power of man. That is, the kingdom comes to earth through you and me. When Christians have conquered, then Christ comes. That’s not an idea I see in Scripture (instead I see the opposite). Ross and Storment never actually advocate this directly, but are rather vague on where their eschatologies lie. Instead, they manage a fairly good middle ground, calling out pre-mil theology’s predilection to be so heavenly minded that they’re no earthly good.
Throughout the book, Ross and Storment challenge readers to get out and make a difference. They even make the wild claim that the Gospel is more about this world than the next. While I don’t agree with that exact statement, I understand their sentiment. The Gospel isn’t just for going to heaven, it’s about revolutionizing our lives and the lives of others right now in this life.
I’ve long said that if Christianity was about getting to heaven, then when I baptized someone, I’d hold them under until I got them there. But the Christian has a purpose in this life now…and that’s to spread the kingdom.
Overall, Ross and Storment have written a solid book that captures the heart of what Christians need to hear today, but I think they go a bit too far and get a bit too off-balance. They counter the extremism of the “heaven tourism” trend with a less extreme error on the other side of making Christianity too much about this life. Granted, they didn’t go to the extremes they could have, and I think they were, ideally, trying to find the balance, but in my humble opinion they do end up a bit off-center.
Bringing Heaven to Earth is a great book for the fact it challenged me and made me think. I agreed with 95% of it, argued with it on the other 5%, and, at book’s close, probably agreed with 96% of it. It was a provocative discussion starter and that’s exactly what Christianity needs.