review: Destined for the throne, by Paul Billheimer
At 134 pages, Destined for the Throne is not a big book, yet it took me nine months to read it. What it lacks in length it more than makes up for in depth and power.
I came across Destined while review-hopping at Amazon. When I finally got around to reading the book I had forgotten why I had bought it. But it didn’t take me long to remember.
Billy Graham forewords the book by saying that “every” Christian looking for a deeper witness should study this book prayerfully and apply its principles. Billheimer himself introduces his work as what some will consider a “totally new and unique cosmology”.
I’ve got to say that most of what Billheimer has written is not new to me at some level, but never have I seen it stated so clearly and powerfully. He puts his case together so thoughtfully, logically and circumspectly that the book’s immediately huge impact only grows as one continues to read.
Basically, Billheimer’s thesis is that “the primary purpose of the universe… is the production and preparation of an Eternal Companion for the Son”, and that “since she is to share the throne of the universe with her Divine Lover and Lord… she must be trained… for that role”.
The ramifications of this understanding are astonishing. If the thesis is true, then all our experiences must be viewed through its lens. Trials and sorrows aren’t merely to be somehow borne with a nebulous otherworldly patience, hoping for some vague reward in heaven. Rather, they are to be spiritually assayed according to how they can be used to conform us in Christlikeness and prepare us for our heavenly dominion as kings.
I found Billheimer’s angelology amazing. I know that because of the incarnation, man in Christ actually has become greater than the angels. But Billheimer sees further into this mystery, saying that the angels are “not made in the full image of God”. I initially found that very hard to accept, but the more I think about it, it is the only explanation I can fathom for God choosing to make man the focus of His redemptive program1. And after all, God is not impressed with power or grandeur. It is entirely consistent that He would show His greatest work in a very blind, impoverished being. That would be us.
Billheimer progresses from cosmology to the mystery of prayer, and relates the two. Why, he asks, “did God center the entire building of His Kingdom around the medium of prayer? Why would God, who knows everything and has all power, voluntarily limit Himself to working through the prayers of His church?
The answer is twofold. First, it is in prayer that we draw near in manifest organic union with God. This is our priestly role. If we had power of ourselves, we would employ it independently of God, which would lead to disunity, chaos and evil. So it is necessary that we continually draw near to God and conform our will to His in order to tap into the power available to us. The forms of prayer that most effect this reality are repentance, thanksgiving, praise and worship.
Secondly, through prayer we engage in a spiritual warfare that not only brings Kingdom victories in the temporal realm on earth, but which also raises us up in authority and power, making us fit to rule the universe. This is our kingly role in Christ. It is a task to which we are destined, just as the book’s title asserts.
Billheimer thus constructs a theology of prayer in which prayers prayed in God’s will simply must be answered – with the one proviso that the church persists in praying. Not surprisingly, this is exactly what Jesus tells us in Mark 11, Luke 18, John 15, and several other places.
The book ends on the power of praise. As we exalt God, we ourselves are lifted out of our sodden earthly perspective, and we begin to see according to the truth of higher eternal realities.
This actually has been a difficult review to write. I think that it took me so long to read Destined because its subject is an area I need to do a lot of work in. Just as Billy Graham stated, this is a book to be studied carefully and digested prayerfully.
If you’re looking for an excellent theological challenge and some amazing encouragement to your prayer life, I strongly recommend Destined for the Throne. This is a book to be carefully read and reread.
1I’ve had other thoughts since writing this review. It occurred to me that Angels could be in the image of God as are we, but were not selected for redemption because they sinned while in a perfect state – with eyes wide open – whereas we have inherited our sin nature and our choices are generally clouded.