Book Review: “Heaven” by D.L. Moody (1900)

Where It Is, Its Inhabitants, and How to Get There

heavenHaving already read Randy Alcorn’s encyclopedic masterpiece by the same title, I entered this book with higher expectations than likely should be awarded a devotional-type work of collected sermons. D.L. Moody after all was a preacher, an evangelist who touched nerves and sent shivers down the spines of his audience with his messages, not necessarily an academic theologian. Thus, this book spends far less time describing what Scripture implies that Heaven looks like or what believers will do when they get there, though he does mention it here and there. Instead, Moody describes in great detail the ultra important topics of how a person can know that he’s going to Heaven and why anyone would be wise to desire such a destiny more than anything. Moody’s book is filled with biblical accounts of saints who lived with such eternal values in view, people like Paul and Stephen, and he describes the lives of many other saints on earth who also pointed “to the gates yonder,” emphasizing what a person ought to do in order to get there and how to make it more enjoyable.

It seems clear that listening to Moody’s preaching (or reading their transcripts) must have been entertaining indeed, at least to a person from the same time period. He uses a great deal of personal stories and illustrations, bringing his words and Scriptural topics alive. These days, however, his illustrations seem a bit sappy and forced, for example children dying in their beds and yet speaking of Heaven in the high words of well-versed adults. It’s hard for me to imagine such statements were made the way he says, but maybe back in the day, they were. Or maybe back in the day, preachers like Moody felt a bit more free to use creative license than we do today, hindered as we are by fact-checkers and the internet and all. One anecdote from the text I enjoyed was when one man told another who was dying, “At least you’re still in the land of the living,” and the man responded, “Nay, but I am in the land of the dying. I am headed to the land of the living.”

This was a good little book to at least bring my focus back onto something important: the prospect of Heaven and how to live until I get there. Though we might not know fully what’s beyond “the gates yonder,” that just makes it all the more appealing to discover and enjoy.

©2015 E.T.

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