The Unseen Realm by Michael S. Heiser
The Unseen Realm by Michael S. Heiser suggests that as theologians and pastors, we need to recover a supernatural worldview. The Bible can only be interpreted correctly when one understands the worldview of the writers. Instead of basing one’s interpretations on Christian history or tradition, Heiser suggests recovering the supernatural worldview of the original writers and readers.
By doing so, the reader will be able to understand many of the “problem” passages in the Bible. This book addresses these problem passages (that many pastors and teach gloss over). Heiser says that people read the Bible with theological and social filters that make reading the Bible “safe” and predictable. He suggests removing the filters to discover the epic battle between the unseen forces of good and evil.
Heiser takes the reader through this “unseen realm.” As one reads the book, Heiser guides the reader through the problem passages as he builds his case for this different hermeneutic. Along with the companion website, which Heiser uses to supplement the chapters in the book, he shows how the Bible reveals a supernatural worldview. Heiser takes us to the following places (and much more) in this “unseen realm”:
Genesis 6:1-4 where we meet the initial confrontation in the supernatural realm
Psalm 86 where we see the divine council that God has set up to oversee the world’s affairs
Deuteronomy 32 where we encounter the unseen realm worldview.
Psalm 74 where we see a commentary on the unseen forces that were defeated during the creation of the world in Genesis 1.
I do not have enough room in this review to reveal all of the reasons one should read this book. I found it very challenging, yet at the same time, rewarding. It is as if Heiser reveals another way of looking at the Scriptures. When he shows this, it is a completely new understanding of God’s Word. One begins to see how the original authors would have understood the text. This dissolves the filters one has used to interpret the text. While I agree that the historical-grammatical method of interpretation is a valid way to see the Scriptures, Heiser’s “unseen realm” idea explains many of the mysteries that go unresolved with other forms of interpretation.
I highly recommend this book if for no other reason than to challenge one’s views about the way to see the Bible. By encouraging the reader to see the “unseen realm,” Heiser does a great job in providing a cohesive view of the entire narrative of the Bible.