Heaven By Randy Alcorn: Some Observations -- By: Thomas A. Howe
CAJ 6:2 (Fall 2007) p. 67
Heaven By Randy Alcorn: Some Observations
Thomas A. Howe is Professor of Bible and Biblical Languages at Southern Evangelical Seminary in Charlotte, NC.
The book, Heaven, by Randy Alcorn has become extremely popular. It is the talk of the town, so to speak. This is not, however, a review of Alcorn’s book. Rather, it is a critique of two parts of the book, Appendix A and B. Because of the popularity of this book, it is important that a couple of misunderstandings and misrepresentations set forth in these two appendices by Alcorn be addressed. This article will briefly point out the misunderstanding of Plato by Alcorn, a misunderstanding that is, unfortunately, quite popular in its own right. However, the bulk of the article will be directed toward Alcorn’s misrepresentation of the doctrine and interpretive methodology of Thomas Aquinas.
I am in complete agreement with the thesis, or at least one of them, that the resurrection body will be physical. I am also in agreement with Alcorn’s commitment to literal interpretation. He is certainly right about the tendency of some to allegorize, particularly when it comes to the Old Testament. Alcorn makes these points with great passion
CAJ 6:2 (Fall 2007) p. 68
and emphasis, and I believe rightly so. Indeed, there has been no greater advocate for the doctrine of the bodily resurrection than Norman Geisler. Alcorn, and Geisler before him, attributes the rejection among contemporary Christians, both among lay persons and scholars alike, of the physical, bodily resurrection to the influence of Platonism—another thesis with which I agree. Alcorn calls this influence “christoplatonism,” in order “to distinguish the version of Platonist seen among Christians from secular forms of Platonist.. . .”1
Alcorn’s Misunderstanding of Plato
Alcorn does, however, misunderstand Plato. The reader ought to take note of the fact that not once does Alcorn actually quote from the works of Plato. He refers to the “Platonic assumption that body is bad and the spirit good.”2 Plato does refer to the soul as imprisoned in the body, a point, the only point, that Alcorn believes merits an actual reference to Plato’s writings: “What, he said, about the statements we made that learning is recollection and that, if this was so, our soul must of necessity exist elsewhere before us, before it was imprisoned [ἐνδεθῆναι] in the body?”3 Unfortunately for Alcorn’s thesis, Plato does not say that the body as a priso...
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