Every once in a while a publisher or author asks me to do a review of a book and post it to my blog. They give me a copy of the book but there are no expectations as to what I will say about the book. Of course they are hoping I will say good things. In the case of Revealing Heaven by John W. Price, I can certainly say good things.
Price has traveled an interesting road of faith. He was what I would call a mainline liberal Episcopal priest who become confronted by something far more mysterious and wonderful than he could ever imagine and it changed him forever. In his early days of ministry, talk of life after death seemed like so much pie-in-the-sky. What really mattered was making the lives of people better. The social programs of the 60’s fit very nicely with his theology. But God seemed to have other plans.
Price was confronted by people who confided in him that they had died and experienced something wonderful before being resuscitated or even simply reviving without the aid of anyone else. At first Price found such tales somewhat embarrassing and uncomfortable. But for some reason he was confronted enough times and eventually by credible people that he knew something was up. He had to investigate. And investigate he did. He has spoken with more than 150 people about their experiences and come up with some fascinating similarities.
The sub-title of the book is, A Christian Case for Near-Death Experiences. While Price is clearly a believer in Christ who has moved away from his early mainline liberal positions in many ways, he does not present a theology that all evangelicals will embrace. There is not the clear call for a faith in Jesus Christ in the way many evangelicals would think is needed in order to have a blessed near-death experience. But this is not about what happens to people when the finally die, only about what has happened to many who saw beyond the curtain of this life, encountered something/someone glorious who in most cases sent them back with a mission to accomplish or changes to make.
But all was not beautiful light and pleasant encounters with the holy. Price talks about twelve people who had hellish near-death experiences. The accounts are often demonic and brutal. In a few cases the people who related the accounts experienced amazing change in personality and behavior. In some cases the person did not change, in spite of people warning them that what they say was their future in hell.
This is a well written book taking the form of stories more than a theological treatise. That is part of it’s appeal. You get the stories of real people, recounted by a man who at one time discounted such talk of life beyond death. It is a small book but one I suspect with give encouragement and hope to many who read it.
You can order the book from Amazon.
4 thoughts on “A Book Review: Revealing Heaven, The Christian Case for Near-Death Experiences”
Dan: Please do not wrongfully believe that this is in any way critism, but I’m confused over being a liberal Episcopalian. You earlier wrote the following: “I had a seminary professor who was what I call a true liberal. By that I mean, she really believed in and lived according to the idea that we all have the liberty to hold our own opinion of things, live by them, and express them. Our differing opinions, when shared and engaged, make us wiser and stronger. To her, disagreement was an opportunity for learning and growth. Being a true liberal she was always open to hearing what others said and even when she disagreed with them it was as a learning experience, characterized by respect in the midst of disagreement. The disagreements could at times be serious and important, from the nature of God, to the reality of the resurrection of Jesus, or even if the crucifixion was necessary for the forgiveness of sin. In a seminary those are hot topics and could at times produce a shower of sparks in debates between liberals and conservatives. But not with this professor. She had the respect of the conservatives because she would engage in serious dialogue and treat others as people made in God’s image and worthy of being treated with dignity.”
I discerned that in this case being a liberal was a very good thing. Open dialog that was not pre-conceived or manipulated.
Was this gentleman more an Episcopalian sceptic as opposed to liberal? I fully concur with your earlier expression of liberal because that is what I consider myself to be and the term is tossed about now days with abandon and loses its actual meaning. Since I came from the Episcopalian church and they have over the past 25 years adopted some very controversal positions on things like the bible being a guide and not the inspired word of God, that some sin is okay while other sin is not etc… I attribute that more to “enlightened sceptics” than being liberal. There have been several books on this subject before with multiple views of a glimpse of heaven – is this book in your opinion superior to what was written before?
Not meant to be critical simply wanting to erase my confusion… Thanks, Bruce
In speaking of Price as a liberal Episcopalian I was reverting back to the common usage in terms of theological position. I certainly understand your thought of him being more a sceptic than a liberal. Given the social positions of the mid-sixties that he connected with and the less than evangelical positions on things like life after death, I am comfortable with using the tag “liberal”. The point was to show that his theological postion moved more to the center/right on the issue of life after death.
BTW, good to know that you as a liberal in the classic sense I wrote about have been reading the blog. I look forward to hearing more from you
Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this book for the tour!
Books or articles about near-death experiences are always interesting since we are curious about what lies beyond this life. But we have to stay grounded in God’s Word even as we read this kind of materials