Bringing Heaven Down To Earth

blog for the book by Nathan Bierma • > Heaven > Blog

Friday, October 27, 2006

Response from Jeff Tigchelaar

Jeff Tigchelaar led a small group study of BHDTH at his church and offers these reflections:

Heaven Gets Grounded

While Nathan Bierma’s new book explores concepts relating to eternal heaven and life after death, it also manages along the way to tackle less-lofty topics – such as, say, the nature and purpose of work, ways of achieving peace and wholeness with and within creation, what it means to love God, and how this all ties in to the meaning of our earthly existence.

But to call the afterlife lofty after reading Bierma’s account would be selling the author short, since doing so fails to acknowledge what may be the book’s key accomplishment: living up to its title by challenging the “harps and clouds” conception of heaven and making it relevant to the here and now.

My small group at church found Bringing Heaven Down to Earth both pertinent and engaging. The book served as a springboard for lively discussion, but also encouraged its readers to slow down and take time to consider the things that matter most – in this life and the next.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Amazon UK review

I was delighted and humbled to discover this very thoughtful and generous review of my book at I equally appreciate the constructive criticism as much as the commendation. Yes, I need to get around the globe more! Yes, I probably should have read more lit and fewer newspapers in college. And yes, I should have quoted Schaeffer and identified his influence on these ideas about living in creation and culture. But earnest thanks to this reviewer.

This life 'shot through' with grace - aka Francis Schaeffer, 15 Dec 2005

Nathan Bierma’s “Bringing Heaven Down to Earth” is a good book from a remarkable author.

If we can see it, Everything is Illuminated. Heaven will be urban “Any city is always at one time both Babylon and Jerusalem”. Bierma challenges us to walk a third-way. Don’t flee from engaging with this messy world into an escapist ethereal picture-book cliché. Don’t abuse and devalue creation, especially the rich diversity of culture teeming in God’s world.

Rather “we must be earthly without being worldly” exercising the Hebrew notion of tikkum olam repair of the world. Bierma invokes CS Lewis, expanding on The Great Divorse’s Heaven, which is more real - greener grass and more solid matter than we experience now. But there’s more – citing Michael Wittmer’s ‘Heaven Is a Place on Earth’ and using Bible references, Bierma forefronts God’s restoration, not replacement, of planet Earth. “We must show the world that we are expecting what Revelation says: that heaven will come down to earth forever. God is not giving up on the planet. Neither should we.”

Bierma hammers his message home using films, modest autobio sketches, an interest in city architecture and commitment to civic participation. References section is a treasure trove of entries for your Amazon wish list! As a journalist, he writes eloquently, e.g. “This cycle of consumption, this material madness, surely speaks to a deeper spiritual searching among people living in a confusing age, taking up a dance with the fleeting as a diversion from the lasting”. And, commendably for a book on Heaven, the author covers application, introducing mindfulness of the Hope of Heaven, applied to daily life.

Some criticisms. This book is so USA/Chicago focused. Travel, Nathan, please! Given his journalistic base, there’s a dearth of drawing on English literature, though the film references are useful. A yawning gap is any reference to Francis Schaeffer – many parallels here to Schaeffer’s work, especially True Spirituality.

So, a great read, which I covered over a week. One final quote rang true - “Hope comes not from an ironclad, flawless belief system that one forces on others, but from the cautious formation of belief that is coherent if not certain, sound if not always sure. This formation, fraught as it is with frustration, seldom goes unrewarded. It can bring continual moments of awakening and arouse hope for the coming of heaven.”