Heaven, Hell, and Purgatory: Rethinking the Things That Matter Most
by Jerry L. Walls
“Walls may not tell us everything we would like to know about what happens after death, but he tells us what we need to know and much of what we want to know, and does it with style and verve. This book clearly explains why heaven and hell are crucial if human existence is to be fully meaningful, and it even gives an account of purgatory that should be acceptable to Protestants. This is a wonderful book that inspires hope by clearly showing what God’s love for humanity means for us.”
—C. Stephen Evans, University Professor, Baylor University
Will heaven be boring? How can a good and loving God send people to hell? Is there such a place as purgatory? If so, why is it necessary, if we’re saved by grace?
Questions about the afterlife abound. Given what is at stake, they are the most important questions we will ever consider. Recent years have seen a surge of Christian books written by people claiming to have received a glimpse of the afterlife, and numerous books, films, and TV shows have apocalyptic or postapocalyptic themes. Jerry Walls, a dynamic writer and expert on the afterlife, distills his academic writing on heaven, hell, and purgatory to offer clear biblical, theological, and philosophical grounding for thinking about these issues. He provides an ecumenical account of purgatory that is compatible with Protestant theology and defends the doctrine of eternal hell. Walls shows that the Christian vision of the afterlife illumines the deepest and most important issues of our lives, changing the way we think about happiness, personal identity, morality, and the very meaning of life.
Jerry L. Walls (PhD, University of Notre Dame), a world-class expert on the afterlife and a sought-after speaker, has written for Christianity Today, First Things, and Christian Century. He has appeared on NPR’s Talk of the Nation and in the documentary film Hellbound. Walls, professor of philosophy and scholar in residence at Houston Baptist University in Houston, Texas, is the coauthor of Why I Am Not a Calvinist and the Christianity Today Book Award Winner Good God: The Theistic Foundations of Morality. He has authored or edited a dozen books, including a trilogy on the afterlife–Hell: The Logic of Damnation, Purgatory: The Logic of Total Transformation, and Heaven: The Logic of Eternal Joy–and is a senior speaking fellow for the Morris Institute for Human Values.
Praise for Heaven, Hell, and Purgatory:
“No one in our time has worked more diligently to understand heaven, hell, purgatory, and the related cluster of issues than has Jerry Walls. And no one is more talented than he at expressing in vivid, accessible prose the conclusions of top-level scholarship. This book will answer an entire handful of the Big Questions and deserves a wide readership indeed.”
—John G. Stackhouse Jr., Sangwoo Youtong Chee Professor of Theology and Culture, Regent College, Vancouver
“Jerry Walls has spent much of his academic career providing an account of the Christian story of the afterlife from a rigorous, analytic-philosophical perspective. He has subjected the doctrines of heaven, hell, and purgatory to careful and ingenious scrutiny. He has also considered questions about the grounds for morality. In this book he condenses much of this research into one accessible volume that deals with all these issues as well as the problems of evil they raise and the question of personal identity beyond the grave. It is a terrific resource that will be of use to all those for whom such things are pressing theological and existential concerns.”
—Oliver Crisp, professor of systematic theology, Fuller Theological Seminary
“Jerry Walls has written a book that should be read by anyone interested in the personal, philosophical, or religious significance of death and whether it is reasonable to believe that there is life after death. I wager that there is no living philosopher who has thought more deeply or written with such clear, engaging prose about the prospects of a Christian philosophy of death and afterlife.”
—Charles Taliaferro, professor of philosophy, St. Olaf College
“Jerry Walls offers an insightful, accessible defense of heaven, hell, and purgatory. Though still unpersuaded about the latter, I would urge the reading of this book, first, for the important theological and philosophical insights it affords concerning hell (the realm of the illusory triumph of the creature’s will) and heaven (the new, transformed—though still physical—earth and heaven that are permeated by God’s presence and blessing); indeed, much wisdom on these doctrines alone is to be found herein. Second, concerning purgatory, Protestants have a unique opportunity to more fully understand the arguments for and then to properly assess the merits (!) of this doctrine. The book is sure to generate much lively discussion and deepened understanding.”
—Paul Copan, Professor and Pledger Family Chair of Philosophy and Ethics, Palm Beach Atlantic University
“Never resorting to overbearing jargon or convoluted arguments, Walls provides readers with insights that are clear, concise, and penetrating. He sorts through the various stances on a number of issues related to the afterlife in a way that is respectful and courteous. This book, which makes the afterlife as solid and as real as this life—not stiff, sentimental, or founded upon fear—will be a more than welcome addition to a Christian’s library.”
—Devin Brown, author of A Life Observed: A Spiritual Biography of C. S. Lewis
“Jerry Walls shows once again that on the four last things—death, judgment, hell, and heaven—he is by far the most thoughtful evangelical philosopher. His mastery of Scripture, historical theology, and the philosophical literature is unmatched.”
—Francis J. Beckwith, professor of philosophy and church-state studies, Baylor University