Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Book Review: AfterLife by Hank Hanegraaff

From the author’s website:

If there was ever a need-to-know book, AfterLife is it. On his daily call-in radio show, the most common questions Hank fields are about the hereafter. For instance, millions are voraciously reading about the near-death experiences of young children. Consumers are desperate for knowledge and reassurance about what comes after life on this earth. Hank Hanegraaff, one of the most remarkable theological minds of the 21st century, explains the marvelous way this physical life connects our past to our eternal future. AfterLife gives readers a clear and concrete understanding about what happens after death to us and to those we love.

*          *          *

In recent years, the literary market has been flooded with revelatory titles related to heaven and/or near-death experiences (NDE’s).  While this genre has been in existence for decades, it became much more noticeable after Don Piper’s 90 Minutes in Heaven was released in 2004.  And following the mega-bestselling Heaven is For Real by Todd Burpo, publishing houses have been rushing to publish almost anything they can get their hands on in relation to this topic.

Along with the aforementioned titles, I’ve also read Proof of Heaven by Dr. Eben Alexander and To Heaven and Back by Dr. Mary Neal. And while I don’t have the theological expertise to dissect all of these NDE-themed books, this latter title I found to be particularly off base when comparing it to the truth of God’s Word. After questioning quite a bit of the worldview that Dr. Mary Neal presents in her book, I began to long for a solid, Bible-based work that could really be trusted by a traditional, conservative Christian like me.

Author Hank Hanegraaff is known for his work as an apologist, answering tough life questions and concerns about the Bible and the Christian worldview.  While he hasn’t had an NDE himself, he does have quite a bit of knowledge when it comes to what the Bible has to say about life, death, heaven, hell and other related topics.  In his latest book AfterLife, Hank addresses many of the concerns that come to mind when thinking about the afterlife.  Here are just a few of the issues he discusses:
  • Does hell exist?
  • Does heaven?
  • Do pets go to heaven?
  • Do we float around with wings? 
  • How much good work is required for entry?
  • Have people been and come back to tell the tale?
  • Will there be sex in heaven?
  • How old are we there?
After so many subjective testimonies from well-meaning authors, it was refreshing to have these issues addressed while looking through the lens of scripture, not based on anything else.  Hanegraaff’s content is not as sensational or titillating as the other works in this genre, but as I was reading, I had a sense of comfort, knowing what he had to say was Biblical and not based purely on his own experience.

I can say that Hank’s writing, while solid, is very textbook-like, complete with a useful glossary and bibliographical notes.  He communicated truth in every chapter, but I didn’t really feel the sense of wonder and amazement as I did in the previously mentioned titles.  It came off very dry and even sometimes condescending.  He didn’t seem to have a large amount of compassion for what happened in the lives of the other authors.  But I suppose his task is different.  He is not here to entertain, sensationalize or amaze in any way.  He is here to put a spotlight on scripture and ultimately point his readers to Christ, not to any mind-bending story that will knock our socks off.

AfterLife is not the most entertaining book on the hereafter that I’ve read.  But it’s certainly the most Biblically solid one, and the one I trust the most out of all the others on the market. For a Bible-believing Christian who plans to read any of the other NDE-related titles, I’d highly encourage that reader to either read AfterLife immediately before or after taking in the testimony of the others.  This is not to say that everything the other authors have to say is 100% off base, but AfterLife is a solid, Biblical lens with which we can filter the many varying, subjective experiences out there.  And in the end, all truth is God’s truth, and it will line up with His word every time.  Hank Hanegraaff has given us a quality tool with which to do this, so that we can have many of our questions answered as we live on this side of heaven.

Review copy provided by Glass Road Media & Management

About the Author

Hank Hanegraaff, is host of the Bible Answer Man broadcast, heard daily throughout the United States and Canada via radio, satellite radio Sirius-XM 131, and the Internet. He’s author of the runaway bestsellers The Prayer of Jesus and The Complete Bible Answer Book—Collector’s Edition. He and his wife, Kathy, are parents to twelve children. www.equip.org


  1. Thank you, Laura, for reading and so very thoughtfully reviewing AfterLife! I appreciate your candor and especially your exhortation to test the personal testimonies of subjective experience in light of biblical truth. Indeed, Hank encourages us all to test everything in light of Scripture and, as he's been saying lately, in light of eternity!
    Stephen Ross
    Christian Research Institute

    1. Stephen:

      Thanks for your thoughts and for stopping by. Your name sounds familiar-- any relation to Marcus Ross, or perhaps you know my mother Christina Woodside, who works at Southern Evangelical Seminary?

      I'll shoot this message to you via CRI as well, in case you don't peek in over here any time soon.



  2. Hank's remarkable mind is clearly visualized in his books. Thanks for taking the time to tell us about his work specifically about his book. I have been meaning to buy a copy but was hesitant. You have erased my doubts. Thanks again for sharing your thoughts.



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