Thursday, August 12, 2010


In 2004 Eternal Perspectives Ministries copyrighted the book Heaven by Randy Alcorn. On the front of the book jacket, just above the title is this quote from Stu Weber: "Other than the Bible itself, this may well be the single most life-changing book you'll ever read." That's a huge claim to make- unless you only expect people to read one book. Other endorsers of this book include Joni Earekson Tada, Hank Hanegraaff, and Rick Warren.

I found the book to be tremendously helpful in causing me to think about a Christian's eternal future in heaven and how to prepare for it during this life. In particular, Alcorn's ideas showed me that the New Heaven will be a restored earth that is far greater than we currently experience. I had previously thought that the New Heaven would be separate from the New Earth and that Christians would be able to travel between them. Alcorn shows from Scripture that God will be reigning on earth and that wherever God is present and ruling is Heaven.

One strength of this book is in dispelling false ideas about Heaven. People tend to associate Heaven with boredom of sitting on a cloud and strumming a harp. Alcorn disproves this and other stereotypes and whets our appetites for the sheer thrills and excitements that we will experience throughout all eternity.

Another myth that this book disproves is the idea Alcorn terms "Christoplatonism." Alcorn uses this term to refer to the idea that many Christians have that heaven will only be "spiritual" and not "physical." Many people seem to believe that what is physical is evil and won't last for eternity. This book handily disproves such false assumptions. One easy argument against this concept is that God created our current earth and deemed it "very good." Alcorn shows that heaven will be a very real, physical location- and that location will be on a literal earth.

I certainly recommend this book to all Christians. While the claim to be possibly the most life-changing book you'll ever read certainly seems overblown, I would agree that this book is certainly in the discussion of the top ten most helpful books for Christians in America today. If heaven is our eternal destination, then we ought to know about where we hope to go. In addition, we should learn how to use our lives productively now in order to assure our greatest reward when we arrive in heaven.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

More Missions Thoughts

In the previous post I mentioned some of the strengths and weaknesses of a missions philosophy that was proposed in the book Revolution in World Missions by K.P. Yohannan. One aspect of the his proposal that I did not mention before involved the likelihood of missionaries from Western countries to be involved in ministries that were not related to evangelism or church planting. I appreciated Yohannan's analysis of the situation. Of course ministries of mercy such as schools and hospitals and providing food are good things to do. But Yohannan was concerned that we have more missionaries involved in these ministries than in proclaiming Christ to people. The proclamation of the gospel is mankind's greatest need, so it is problematic when we ignore this need in order to meet lesser needs.

I am not against ministries of mercy. Neither is Yohannan. But we both agree that these ministries need to follow the gospel and must be given less priority than the gospel. It is not enough to have a hospital if we never tell the sick people about Jesus. In my opinion, this focus on the evangelism and church planting is a strength of Yohannan's philosophy.

Friday, August 6, 2010


I recently finished reading Revolution in World Missions by K.P. Yohannan. Yohannan is an Indian man who now serves his people from America by raising money and prayer support for national missionaries throughout Asia. Yohannan started the agency "Gospel For Asia" which publishes the missions magazine Send.

Gospel For Asia primarily spreads the gospel through Asia by training and supporting local Christians to be missionaries to their own people and to other people groups within their reach. Yohannan seems to have written this book primarily to raise additional funds for the work. In fact, the book was sent to me for free. He provides compelling reasons why this ministry is worthwhile and effective. He points out that Asians are more likely to give a hearing to the gospel if it is shared by someone from their culture. He shows that the cost of a national missionary is vastly less than the cost of a foreigner travelling to a new location, learning language and culture, and travelling back. In fact, for the price of supporting one foreign missionary, Yohannan claims that about forty nationals can be supported. Yohannan also claims that the nationals are reaping a huge harvest of souls and starting churches with a far greater effectiveness than foreign missionaries.

While this author convinced me for the most part of the reasonableness of his thesis, I do still have a few concerns. The tone of the book is often accusatory of Western Christianity for living like people in the West. Yohannan wants us to give a lot of money to help Asians reach other Asians through Asian methods. He doesn't seem to recognize that the church in the West must also use culturally accepted methods in order to reach the people closest to them. Yohannan seems to try to make us feel guilty for enjoying food at our fellowship dinners. He is also very critical of the money spent on church buildings in the West when that same money could have purchased more church buildings in Asia. The fact of the matter is, life and building materials simply cost more here. In my community the church building itself can be a very real hindrance to people coming to church; therefore, it makes sense to us to spend a reasonable amount of money in order to serve the people of our community.

The other disagreement I had with this book was that Yohannan seems to blame each Western Christian for every Asian who dies without Christ. My understanding of the Bible is that each person is responsible to God for his own sin. Of course it is our joy and duty as believers to share the wonderful good news of God's grace through Christ with the world. But the fact that certain parts of the world have not been reached as effectively as we would like is not necessarily an indictment of Christians from other cultures. I find that this accusation lacks theological precision.

Despite these critiques, I still found the message of this book to be compelling. I know that I would appreciate an infusion of cash in our church. I can make the case that outside money would greatly aid our effectiveness. So it doesn't take any imagination to prove to me that an infusion of cash into the ministry of the gospel in Asia could also be highly useful. If it is true that God's money can be better used by supporting national workers, then we should give careful attention to this program.