I saw this book advertised on facebook and it caught my attention but then Len Sweet mentioned it in a tweet and I was in. Leonard says we should read fiction as preachers for many reasons but the main one being it helps us be better story tellers. As a preacher I have the greatest story that has ever been told by the greatest story-teller who ever lived.
Until 2012 I didn’t place any real emphasis on reading works of fiction and then I read “The Hunger Games” and my mind was changed. In 2013 I would like to read at least one fiction book each month and that is almost 12 more than my previous years. I believe I read 6 total last year.
This is a great story. Of course it is about the Bible and about Hell. The writer goes to great lengths to say that he is writing a work of fiction and not a biblical account of the place we know as Hell. If one reads it as though it is scripture then one will walk away saying people should burn this book, at least if you are just a bot uptight, lol.
Here is what Michael Phillips says about the work.
“I have tried to set forth possibilities about what may be in God’s heart to accomplish in eternity, but not in any way to predict how he might work toward such ends. If this story can open doors of new and expansive thought about God and his ways, then I will be happy. But to read this as a doctrinal tract would be a mistake.”
“I beg my readers to remember that this is a fantasy… the transmortal conditions are solely an imaginative supposal: they are not even a guess or a speculation at what may actually await us. The last thing I wish is to arouse factual curiosity about the details of the after-world.”
With the authors note above, I have gained new perspective on Heaven and Hell from reading this book. It is well written, it is intriguing, it is a story that I wish were true without a doubt but it definitely goes further than God has gone in scripture on describing what happens after a person leaves this earthly life.
I have found with a busy life without a lot of down time, reading fiction that is this good causes me to get away right where I am. It is a way of escape and by the way, it should make me a better story teller.
I will close with sharing a couple of things I got from that book that are very thought provoking and have caused me to dream big dreams and pray bold prayers.
“What do you have for me?” he said. I stared back. He waited expectantly, then extended his hand toward me. I noticed the scar on his wrist. It was clear he meant me to place something in his palm. “I’m sorry,” I said. “I don’t know what you mean. I have nothing.” “That is not true, my son. You have what all have when they arrive here.” “But I came with nothing. Only myself.” “The Self of your character is indeed what made the journey with you.” “Is that what you want to see?” “I do see it. I have always seen it. It is now time for you to see what you have made of it.”
“Everything in life was put before you for that purpose—every person you met, every choice you faced, every happiness, every sorrow, every frustration, every disappointment. Why else would your Self have been given you except to be made something of?
“Hell is no one’s fate. Its fires may be your destiny. When that time comes, you will welcome them as the purifying fires of healing and wholeness.”
“Even hell lies in his domain?” “Of course. All lies in his domain. The purifying fires are his, for the accomplishment of his purposes. And now the first decision of your new life is at hand.”
“God’s judgment must fall on our sin,” he went on, “that we, along with all his creation, may be purified and restored. It is the fire of loving judgment. His prophet wrote, I will thoroughly purge away your dross and remove your impurities. I will refine you. I will test you in the furnace of affliction. I will bring you into the fire. I will refine you like silver and test you like gold.”
“The fire is not our enemy,” he had said. “It is the agent of God’s work.”
“We are all products of many good influences we allowed to take root within ourselves and good choices we make, as well as those elements of selfishness and selfish choices we allowed to grow along with them.”
“He is easy to please, but hard to satisfy. Therefore, you must choose to be purified.”
“All is God’s,” he added. “Heaven is God’s home. Hell is his workshop. Why else do you think he invented the fire than to cleanse his creation from sin?”
“I stepped back. “I think I am now ready to give you what you asked for when you first met me,” I said. “I had nothing to give you then because I had spent my life thinking I was something. I still have nothing to give you, for I am nothing. But what I am, I now give. I give you myself… all of me.” “You shall give it to your Father and my Father,” he replied. “You are in his country now. He will be well pleased with your gift. For it has been purified in the refiner’s fire and is of pure gold.”
“We were all ageless because the age of the aions had entered into us all and had transformed us. We were now of the age of the ages. And though they were greeting me, they were greeting one another and ten thousand reunions took place together.”
I hope that you are intrigued by the quotes and that you will give this book a read. It would make for a great conversation piece.