In recent times, Christians have felt embarrassed to talk much about heaven, lest they seem too unconcerned about life on earth. Walls shows why heaven is a necessary doctrine in solving such thorny problems as personal identity, theodicy, and the meaning of life. 272 pages, hardcover. Oxford University.
The Christian doctrine of heaven has been a moral source of enormous power in western culture. It has provided a striking account of the ultimate good in life and has for two millennia animated the hope that our lives can be fully meaningful. Recently, however, the doctrine of heaven has lost much of its grip on the western imagination and has become a vague and largely ignored part of the Christian creed. Not only have our hopes been redefined as a result, but our very identity as human beings has been altered.
In this book, Jerry L. Walls argues that the doctrine of heaven is ripe for serious reconsideration. He contends not only that the orthodox view of heaven can be defended from objections commonly raised against it, but also that heaven is a powerful resource for addressing persistent philosophical problems, not the least of which concern the ground of morality and the meaning of life. Walls shows how heaven is integrally related to central Christian doctrines, particularly those concerning salvation, and tackles the difficult problem of why faith in Christ is necessary to save us from our sins. In addition, heaven is shown to illumine thorny problems of personal identity and to be an essential component of a satisfactory theodicy. Walls goes on to examine data from near-death experiences from the standpoint of some important recent work in epistemology and argues that they offer positive evidence for heaven. He concludes that we profoundly need to recover the hope of heaven in order to recover our very humanity.
Jerry L. Walls is Professor of Philosophy of Religion at Asbury Theological Seminary in Wilmore, Kentucky and Senior Speaking Fellow for the Morris Institute for Human Values. His first excursion into eschatology was Hell: The Logic of Damnation.
"...a valuable and welcome contribution to a question that has received far less attention in recent years than it deserves." --Journal of the NABPR
"A contribution to contemporary discussions of echatology that will stand the test of time . . . Consistently unafraid to reconcile the philosophical and theological implications of an omnibenevolent Deity with the clear deliverances of historical Christianity, Walls provides a roadmap to navigate through one thorny dilemma after another among questions of the utmost importance. If you want to read impeccably orthodox, analytically rigourous philosophical theology at its best, I heartily recommend this book."-- Philosophia Christi
"Walls has done a fine job of showing us how the study of the afterlife deserves to be featured more prominently in contemporary theological discussion."-- First Things
"This is easily one of the best works on heaven in recent years. Walls demostrates the right way to explore it, developing a rich, Christian-specific account of what heaven might be like."-- The Journal of Religion