In the middle of October 2012, John Blanchard has done a tour of some congregations in the North of England. I was fortunate to hear him speak at Bury, where his topic was the resurrection. He began with an anecdote about a conversation that he had with an unbeliever in South Africa which had concluded with the comment that it all depends on whether or not he rose from the dead. He then spent the majority of the talk on whether or not it was reasonable to believe that he rose from the dead. I had hoped to hear in speak in Liverpool, but Mr Blanchard was taken ill. Instead, the Church recovered the situation superbly by playing a DVD that was Blanchard talking directly to camera (on a talk in the USA) on the topic of can we be good without God. Both of these talks refreshed my memory of his abilities as a speaker. He writes and speaks in a most refreshing and direct manner.
This booklet is the latest production from his pen. One of the things that attracted me to it, was that it opens with the lines from John Lennon’s song, Imagine. In the previous week, a 6th form student had mentioned the song in class and said that he enjoyed it - this had started a short discussion where I said that I had disagreed with the lyrics and why.
He begins with the lyrics and the atheist content of that song and from this develops the conceptions of an afterlife in the various world religions. Blanchard then moves to the Christian concept of heaven.
He then looks at the importance of heaven and the problem with the concept of annihilation from a Christian and moral perspective. After this it looks at what heaven is and this tackles in his usual forthright fashion the arguments raised against heaven.
Typically, he then moves onto the ideas of universalism and the idea that everyone goes to heaven. This allows him to speak evangelistically about the problem of sin and the need for salvation.
The booklet is a popular production that could be used for outreach. It is accessible and doesn’t shy away from the key concepts of heaven and hell, sin and salvation.