Friday, May 31, 2013

Heaven on Earth: A Must Have Book

I do not know nor have I ever met author Alan Streett, PhD (University of Wales, UK),  Senior Research Professor of Biblical Exegesis and the holder of the W. A. Criswell Endowed Chair of Expository Preaching at Criswell College (Dallas, TX). I was given his newest book  Heaven on Earth: Experiencing the Kingdom of God in the Here and Now as a gift. My library is filled with nearly 10,000 antiquarian theological books from which I have received a great deal of spiritual encouragement--much more than what I've been able to receive from modern theological works. For me, Alan Streett has hit the proverbial homerun in writing a book that can be devoured like ice cream, but satisfies like steak. I could not put it down. I've already ordered over a dozen copies and am giving them away as gifts. Some of our men's groups are going to be  using Heaven on Earth for a small group study, and the book is entirely appropriate for study in women's or mixed groups as well, but the primary benefit will come to the Christian who takes time to read it personally and think through what is being said by the author. Alan has made the subject of the Kingdom of God a ten-year personal study and Heaven on Earth is the product of that study. I would like to briefly give the top seven reasons why I am naming Heaven on Earth the best contemporary theological book I've read this millennium.

(1). Heaven on Earth takes the concept of the kingdom of God from the Garden of Eden in Genesis to the Tree of Life in Revelation and gives the finest survey of the subject from the biblical text I've ever read. The survey makes sense--biblical, logical, rational sense. The light goes on for the reader.

(2). Heaven on Earth is easy to read without being puerile (childish), serendipitous, or (for lack of a better word) silly. Most modern theological books aimed at the layman that are as easy to read as Heaven on Earth have style without substance, but Dr. Streett has managed to partner a crystal clear and colorful writing  style with an astonishing depth of substance which is a rare feat for modern authors.

(3). Heaven on Earth destroys the teaching of a truncated gospel so often heard in modern evangelicalism without attacking or impugning people who may be living a Christian life believing a warped gospel. In other words, Heaven on Earth corrects without chastising, straightens without slamming, and deconstructs error without denigrating those in error.

(4). Heaven on Earth gives the reader an ability to understand how the kingdom of God is given to us to be enjoyed and experienced now, not just then (heaven). The knowledge that there is supposed to be enjoyment of His kingdom now transforms the reader from a church going religious person waiting for heaven into a Christ-honoring relational person transforming his world.

(5). Heaven on Earth takes the phrases "kingdom of God" and "kingdom of heaven" and makes them so stunning in meaning, that they will turn out to be phrases often repeated by the reader in his thoughts and conversation after setting the book down.

(6). Heaven on Earth convinces Christians that the King is to be personally heard now, so that the reign of Christ in the individual life of the believer becomes the focus of faith. In short, Heaven on Earth creates a desire in the reader to fulfill the call as an ambassador of His King - who reigns now.

(7). Heaven on Earth is like a key that opens the door to a vision of the kingdom that astonishes the key holder. The book is saturated with Scripture, heavy in history (albeit written in a captivating style), but most importantly, it targets the believer at the core of his or her soul. By that I mean, when you read Heaven on Earth it is like the powerful presence of the King of Kings begins to take up residence--I mean REALLY takes up residence--in your little piece of earth, what the Bible calls your earthen vessel or clay (i.e. your body and soul). The treasure of the gospel becomes truly a treasure within you.

In short, Heaven on Earth presents the gospel in the fullest sense of the word since men like C.S. Lewis and his mentor George McDonald wrote of the transforming power of the kingdom on earth in the 1900's and 1800's respectively. Yet, Dr. Street does not use imagery or allegory like those two amazing authors--he uses Scripture. People like me who are not as visual or artistic as Lewis and McDonald have longed for a writer to capture the essence of the kingdom of God on earth in language that is rational, logical, and most importantly, supremely biblical. Al Streett has done it.

Buy the book. You will not be disappointed.


John Wylie said...

I was looking at that book last night and I saw your recommendation of Amazon. I think I'm going to get it soon.

Bookbolter said...

The youth at my small church are without leadership and desperate. They have little to no understanding of scripture or spiritual things. Do you think this book would be understandable to a young person? Thank you for everything you do.I appreciate it more than you know.

Matt said...

Anyone who can boast favorable reviews by both OS Hawkins AND Brian McLaren is worth reading, if for nothing else, sheer curiosity!

Wade Burleson said...


Yes, I do.

It is not a youth book, but with the aid of an adult, young people will greatly profit.

The fact that some youth may not be able to understand it is an indictment on our culture not the author.

Wade Burleson said...


I noticed that too. :)

Chuck Andrews said...


I was a student at Criswell College when Dr. Alan Street came there to be a professor. If I remember correctly he was coming from a Methodist background and had never been immersed in baptism. With his systematic understanding of scripture it did not take much persuasion till he understood baptism by immersion and submitted himself to that truth. He was sought out due to his doctoral thesis work on evangelism which became the book "The Effective Invitation" and his comprehensive knowledge on Cults.

It was not long after he came to Criswell that he became a favorite professor of most of the students. In my opinion, the fact that he did not come from a Baptist background has allowed him to approach scripture without the presuppositions that sometimes come with Baptist indoctrination. I believe he is a theologian first and a Baptist second. Unfortunately, sometimes authors write with more effort at defending their denominational position than a truly Biblical position.

Thanks for the recommendation. I'm headed to the book store now to pick it up. I've read a great amount of his books, articles, papers and have no doubt will enjoy his latest work, too.


John Wylie said...

I picked it up this afternoon at Mardel in Denton. I am looking forward to reading this because the subject of the kingdom of God is one of the most misunderstood concepts in the Bible. Anyhow, thanks for the recommendation.

Johnny D. said...

Ordered and on the way! Thanks for the review.

Wade Burleson said...

You bet John.

You will enjoy it. There are some tidbits of information that are priceless. For example, the ancient practice of divination to select a future king, called augury, involved in Roman times the release of an eagle, the Roman national bird. The shoulder upon whom this warlike, vicious bird (who sometimes eats its own)rested, was inaugurated (notice the root word augur) as the new Emperor. Jesus, appointed King of Kings at His birth, was anointed by the Father at his baptism with the descent of the DOVE that rested on His shoulder. The reign of the King of Kings in His Kingdom now is a reign of peace, a reign of serving, a reign of gentleness - so that if you wish to know what "God's kingdom looks like" as opposed to a national kingdom, an institutional reign, etc..., then you look at the characteristics of the augur that inaugurated Jesus - the dove.

Pretty good stuff.

Wade Burleson said...

Great Johnny D!

Off The Cuff said...

I am waiting and hoping that it will soon be available on Kindle.

Aussie John said...


I ordered the book. Sounded like a reasonable price -$10.98, but by the time it arrives in Australia Shipping & Handling adds $29.98.

Total:$40.96 U.S. $44.35 AUD.

Wish I waited for Kindle edition :)

Rex Ray said...

Today, I received 3 of these books…2 for our church library and 1 for me.

I hate to admit it, but it’s the first book I’ve bought in many years.

Wade Burleson said...

OUCH Aussie John!

$10.98 is reasonable.

Shipping is crazy.

Wade Burleson said...

Good for you Rex!

Rex Ray said...

I’ve read the 8 comments printed on Streett’s book, and I noticed there is not one person that referenced their name with “Dr.”

Makes me believe there are no “Drs.” in Heaven or any with extra long hems on their clothes.

Rex Ray said...

I like Streett’s language such as “country mile”. Now days, the speed is 60, but as a kid a big clap of thunder would empty the church with members trying to get home before the roads got muddy.

Once, my dad was in the ditch and a wagon passed him. The husband must have been deaf because his wife shouted, “You’d think any fool would know to stay in the middle of the road!”

Rex Ray said...

Aussie John,
On the shipping is free for an order over $25. My 3 books cost $10.98 each. Therefore, the total cost for 3 books with tax cost $35.16.

I’m going to order 3 more for my 3 kids.

Victorious said...

I called my local Christian bookstore this morning and their computer indicated 2 copies in stock. 1/2 hr. later upon my arrival, 3 employees were frantically looking for the books to no avail. I was given a $5 coupon for my inconvenience and told they would order it for me. But, they said, what would likely happen is that it would be found later in the day on a shelf where someone put it by mistake....which is exactly what happened. :)

I went back and picked it up and am ready to read! Thanks, Wade, for the recommendation!

Mary Ann

Off The Cuff said...

I just checked Amazon. The Kindle edition of the book is now available for $9.99.

Wade Burleson said...

Thanks Off the Cuff!

And you, too, Victorious

Wade Burleson said...

Good for you Rex!

Paul Burleson said...

Just got mine on Kindle. 9.99$

Ramesh said...

I just bought this on Kindle. Amazing that I am able to do this half way around the world in India in 1 minute. And I have the book on my Kindle. I am sorry about the shipping charges for Aussie John in Australia.

Anonymous said...


I sometimes wonder why the Kingdom of Heaven does not appear to feature in any major creeds, confessions or Christian doctrinal statements. It is often noticeable by its absence.

Perhaps it is because the writers conveniently, but erroneously, see the organised and institutional Church as being the visible expression of the Kingdom of God on earth.
Did the leadership, having a vested interest in perpetuating this illusion, wish to maintain a status quo lest the hope of their gains should be lost? The Kingdom of Heaven requires personal faith and trust in the King, Jesus Christ, and the free rule of the Holy Spirit in the heart of each believer. But this unregulated situation could have been seen as a threat to the desire for having clerical positions,and exercising power and authority in the lives of the people.
The Kingdom of Heaven grants its citizens the grace of freedom of individual conscience in following Jesus, in personal practise and accountability. But this is considered dangerously incompatible by those who have an agenda of strict social, cultural and political uniformity and control in both religious and civil areas of life.
The institutional Church and the civil authorities worked in a cosy Constantinian model partnership in earlier days to support each other's domain, and woe betide anyone who was perceived to be undermining the foundations. William Tyndale's translation of the Bible into English was a case in point. He omitted and corrected loaded words that had been used to support traditional Catholic Church teaching, such as 'The Church', priests, penance, sacraments and others. Like Luther in Germany, Tyndale paid heavily for bringing the biblical light of salvation to the people of England.

Margaret Thatcher once said there is no such thing as 'society', only individual citizens acting in a responsible manner. To me, the Church too is not an animate entity, but is composed of the numerous individuals of the faithful and responsible citizens of the Kingdom of Heaven. These individual believers willingly congregate with others to enrich their worship of and service for the King. We should note that the Greek word 'ekklesia' (church) is a collective common noun, and not a proper noun. Satan too has his 'church'... his team of followers(Rev.3.9)

To my mind, we should be talking far more about the Kingdom of God than using the misleading term 'Church' that was wrongly established in our theological vocabulary by the AV/KJV.

The emphasis on the Kingdom of Heaven is to be greatly welcome, both the 'Yes Now' aspect, and the 'But Not Yet' !


Already/Not Yet said...

I want to thank everyone who ordered HEAVEN ON EARTH in paperback or as a Kindle edition. This is a real encouragement. You are the salt of the earth. I now pray the book will be a real blessing to you and your church.

My heart's desire is to see churches everywhere transformed by the message.

Alan Streett