Thursday, January 3, 2008

90 MINUTES IN HEAVEN by Don Piper with Cecil Murphey

90 Minutes in Heaven is Baptist minister Don Piper's account of a horrific accident he suffered in 1989 during which he had no pulse for at least ninety minutes, and his agonizing recovery. While he was dead, Piper says, he went to heaven briefly and saw all his departed friends and loved ones. When he came back to life, he was on the verge of death because of his injuries, which gave him chronic, debilitating pain. During this time Piper experienced severe depression.

The title is somewhat misleading: only fifteen pages are about his experiences in heaven; the vast majority of the book is about his recovery. More than anything else, this book is about prayer. The power of prayer here is evident not only as Piper comes back to life, but as he deals with constant pain, crippling injury, and depression. Piper also shows how support of the Christian community, the true Church, really is. Piper's book is encouraging about heaven, as well. He means it, to steal the words from the hymn, to give us strength for today and hope for tomorrow.

Piper gives a frank, humble, and relatively unflattering account of things. His story is incredibly inspiring without that elephant in the room, his purported trip to heaven. Did he really go? The skeptic in everybody says "Hey, wait a minute." But it was nothing short of a miracle that Piper survived in the first place. And there wasn't anything in Piper's brief account of heaven that raised any major red flags. So yeah, why not? I don't usually do this, but yeah, I'll buy it.

God never promised that things would be easy, and those who argue that God should have healed Piper completely miss the point. The point of life isn't healing; it's to do the will of God. Piper has reached many people with the Gospel because of his experience, and he is able to relate to people with similar conditions because of it.

One brief complaint: particularly toward the end, the book tends to get bogged down in minute detail and slight repetition, and the reader may find himself skimming at times.

The Doctrine Police are delighted to issue no tickets for this one.

90 Minutes in Heaven
is a fascinating account of physical recovery, and gives excellent perspective on how to deal with pain and illness. It emphasizes the power of prayer, the value of the support of other Christians, and the reality of heaven.