Matthew Robert Payne. Great Cloud of Witnesses Speak: Old and New. Litchfield IL: Revival Waves of Glory, 2017. E-book.
Great Cloud of Witnesses Speak: Old and New is different from any book I have read for one simple reason. The author says this is a record of conversations that he has had with departed Christians who have returned to earth from heaven to speak with him.
I used to work in a Christian bookstore. I have read testimonies of conversations with angels, of visits to heaven and hell, but never something with this narrative frame. In this volume, Payne interviews Bob Jones (the Kansas City prophet, not the university founder), John Paul Jackson, Madame Guyon, and the two biblical Josephs (of Egypt and of Nazareth).
The conversations are actually pretty straightforward and do not strike the reader as being unorthodox in any way. The Word is our test. Jones and Jackson both frequently quote the Bible. A passage they both emphasize is I John 2:15-17 (“Love not the world…the world is passing away…”) which certainly sounds like something someone in heaven would point to. Both men encourage the reader to seek the eternal and focus on Jesus.
Jackson (a speaker I once heard at a conference in Massachusetts) noted three things that are important in a walk with God: humility, childlike faith, and teachability. That certainly sounds like something a preacher might preach. Do I hear an Amen?
Joseph son of Jacob speaks quite a bit about prophecy and how his personal prophecies and his awareness of God’s love maintained him and gave him favor even in captivity. No doubt such things may have encouraged David as well.
The other Joseph still seems amazed and blessed that was allowed to raise Jesus. He says, “God told him [Jesus] once that he was to respect and honor me because I was chosen to be his father.” He also mentions in passing that he was in “paradise,” then taken to heaven. That reflects a certain biblical interpretation that says the blessed dead went to a pleasant waiting place called paradise until Jesus opened heaven after his death.
The conversation with Madame Guyon, the 18th century French mystic, was mostly about Mr. Payne and his calling. Having never heard of the Australian author until I received this book, I cannot say much other than she also sounded orthodox. It may surprise some readers what one of the figures says about President Trump.
Can this happen? Payne notes that Moses and Elijah appeared to the disciples during the Transfiguration (Matthew 17:2-3) and that saints who had died appeared in Jerusalem to many people when Jesus rose (Matthew 27:51-53). There is nothing to indicate that Payne was calling upon the dead as Saul did to his own destruction (I Chronicles 10:13-14). Let the reader decide. Certainly I John 2 is well worth meditating on. The Lord is eternal.
Disclosure of Material: We received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through the BookCrash.com book review program, which requires an honest, though not necessarily positive, review.