Eternity In Their Hearts is a book, which I’ve heard quoted and recommended on several occasions and has been on my reading list for some time. During a recent illness someone sent it along to me via my wife saying they knew it was a book I’d mentioned wanting to read. I’ve plodded through the book slowly, not because of lack of interest but it’s not always so easy to concentrate and take things in when we don’t feel well. Anyhow, I’ve digressed already! On to the book…
Its main premise is that tribes and cultures around the globe have in their traditions an underlying belief in the ‘one’ God, despite the fact that actively, on the surface, such groups of people may be steeped in animism, spiritism, pantheism, etc.
The book has two main sections. Part one subdivides into four parts and deals with:
- Beliefs in an ‘ultimate’ God – be he called the ‘Sky God’ (universal and up there in the heavens) or known by some other tribal name.
- Beliefs that there is a divinely inspired ‘book’ missing among the tribe – on some occasions coupled with a prophecy that such a book would one day be brought among them.
- The practice of some seemingly strange customs – such as in one case a custom very similar to that of the two goats used for ritual purposes on the Day of Atonement. Where did this come from?
- The final part of this section deals with secular theories that arose during the past couple of centuries that promulgate the idea that animism, spiritism, pantheism, etc. were the earlier forms of religious belief and that monotheism came later. As per in tune with the general movement towards evolutionary belief at the same time.
In essence this book is addressing the forth point above and seeking to make clear in all of the various above manners that monotheistic belief has been ingrained into all cultures from the earliest days and that in this respect the peoples of the world, however remote and however different looking on the surface, have been long since prepared for the Gospel.
Part two takes a different tack and is entitled, ‘The Gospel Prepared for the World’ and begins with Abraham and his ‘mission’ and calling being twofold. God would bless him IN ORDER THAT he, and his descendent(s), might be the means of blessing coming to the whole world.
The final part of the book looks at Jesus’ ministry and words to and about Gentile peoples, and places for that matter. The point being that the ‘great commission’ – “go into all the world” – i.e. take the gospel to the Gentile peoples (every ethnic group) is no mere afterthought. It was integral to all that Jesus was teaching his disciples. And finally, there’s a further extension to this point looked at in the book of Acts.
Conclusion: All in all, this is a very enlightening book from every angle.