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Roberts Liardon, We Saw Heaven (2000)
on April 24, 2005
This book is a compilation of four accounts of visits to Heaven- that of the author himself (which took place in 1974 and was previously published as I Saw Heaven (1987)) (at pp. 23-70), that of Marietta Davis (which occurred in 1848 and appeared as Caught Up Into Heaven (1999)) (at pp. 73-95), that of Rebecca Springer (n.d., published as Intra Muros (1898) and Within Heaven's Walls (n.d.)) (at pp. 99-134), and a compilation of accounts from Chinese beggar boys at the Adullam House (n.d., published as H.A. Baker, Visions of Heaven (n.d.)) (at pp. 137-45). (Liardon also refers to Kenneth A. Hagee, I Believe in Visions (1984) and Jessie Duplantis' Heaven: Close Encounters of the God Kind (1996), as well as books by Lester Sumrall and Norvel Hayes (see p.21), although none of these are assessed at any length.)
None of the accounts herein resemble Dante's Paradisio, perhaps not surprisingly considering the Protestant background of the authors. More disturbing, however, are the variations between authors. Are the "Pearly Gates" of pearl (see p. 25) or jasper (see pp. 77, 139)? Are the streets paved with gold (see pp. 28, 139), pearl (see p. 100), or marble and precious stones (see p. 120)? And to the degree that the details differ, how much can the full accounts be trusted?
Ironically, the most thoughtful part of this book is Appendix A (at pp. 153-62), which discusses these and other questions about Heaven from a Biblical perspective. I do not agree with every answer that Liardon reached, but feel that this important Scriptural evidence should not have been relegated to the back of the volume. While the author does offer some background for understanding visions (at pp. 16-20), his work would have been much more powerful had he explained why accounts were included- or excluded- and provided an evaluation of the "insights" offered by the various visitors. As it is, unless someone provides a more comprehensive and critical approach to the question, I guess we'll just have to wait and see.
Samuel Pyeatt Menefee