He did it again!
John Eldredge has produced one more of those delightful books to read, exciting and that provokes reflexion.
I found out Eldredge when I was expecting my first child, almost 8 years ago. The book I read was “Wild at Heart” which I read twice in a row at the time! Needless to say, I enjoyed it very much. Over the years I have read this and other books by him and it was with great satisfaction that I received his new book, “All things new.”
When I read the synopsis of the book I was already anxious for reading, because it is a subject that has interested me a lot. My academic research has been on the relationship between science, technology and visions of progress and how certain world views are more optimistic and others more pessimistic. From the beginning I realized that Christians, even in the midst of catastrophes and hecatombs like the Great Wars, had a more positive view of reality, without falling into an optimism disconnected from reality. That hope they carry is due to the understanding that this Earth will be transformed and that the work we do here, even if small, will not be in vain.
So, as the subtitle itself announces, “heaven, earth, and the restoration of everything you love,” the subject is what we expect from the future, but also what we do with this hope here and now.
The book is divided into 10 chapters, where Eldredge seeks to define Christian hope and how will be life after fulfilling the promise of renewal of all things. Throughout these chapters the author breaks down a series of false hopes, such as hope in technology, science, progress, and even the erroneous Christian concept of “going to heaven.” Drawing on scholars such as NT Wright and Dallas Willard, and historian Christopher Lasch, Eldredge emphasizes that passages that speak of “doing all things new,” as Isaiah 21: 1-5 do not refer to paradise alone. In Revelation John makes this clear when he describes the New Jerusalem coming down out of heaven (Rev 3:12). This is important to note: the city of God descends to earth!
It should also be noted that in the Bible it is stated that all things will be renewed and not that new things will be done.
Thus, Eldredge comments that “the renewal of all things simply means that the earth you love – all your special places and treasured memories – are restored and renewed and given back to you” (p.35).
Animals, cities, musical instruments, arts, science and technology and even ourselves, name whatever you want, everything will be restored and renewed to show even greater glory.
Imagine what education will be like in God’s city! Eldredge recalls that Jonathan Edwards believed that knowledge will be one of the great pleasures of the Kingdom. We will have all eternity to grow and develop in the Kingdom through learning, with strengthened and renewed minds!
There are two kinds of good Christian books: the more academic ones, with footnotes and complex ideas, which are sometimes not very accessible to the general public and there are books that talk to the reader, which walk you as a guide in the midst of marvelous journeys and full of insights. “All things new” fits into this second category, without being shallow (since the author had access to cutting-edge theological books), but also without being arid.
The allusions and quotations to the films and books of the universe of C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien are present to make theological concepts even more pleasing to understand, something that is the trademark of the author.
Of course, there are elements that could have been better explored, such as the question of the cities themselves. (I suspect that, as Eldredge loves the rural world, he has not emphasized cities so much). How will these human things be renewed is something we can only speculate, even though we know it is a biblical promise, then many points are highly speculative in the book. But nothing that diminished the value of the work; the author did not intend to exhaustively explore these subjects (which can be deepened by the authors cited) but to bring relevant insights to think about our attitudes and ways of thinking.
A very nice book with a pressing message: Everyone needs to know these ideas and put them into practice. The message of Christian renewal of all things is one of the most original ideas of humanity and with incredible potential, since we are called to be co-creators in this Kingdom, right now!
Eldredge was once again able to write a book with a fundamental message, using pleasant language; we have here again a beautiful journey in the company of an excellent guide.
The book is read as a devotional that leads us to marvel at creation and things to come … things that are already here but not yet completely restored.
Eldredge invites us to dive into the wonders of the Kingdom. It’s like a pleasant conversation, like those that take place at special moments, like a camp in the mountains.