An Early Resurrection by Adam Miller is the book every Mormon needs to read right now. It is short, pithy, contemplative, and oh so necessary. In a time where spiritual burnout is plaguing some members of the Church, An Early Resurrection comes not a moment too soon. The entirety of the book is a meditation on one single idea: life in Christ saves us in the future and the present.
To Miller, the crowning idea of the Book of Mormon is that of living in Christ as if he were already present. With the exception of the tiny sliver of time of Christ’s mortal life, people have been waiting for Christ to come in one way or another. Such was the Nephites’ lot in life and such is ours. Miller says, “whether I’m waiting for Christ’s first coming or his second, my job is to live in Christ as if he were already here. My job is to live, right now, as if I had already passed through death’s veil and into the presence of God.”
This is beautifully simple prose but it kind of dwells in the abstract. Luckily, Miller knows this. He spends the bulk of the book teasing out this one idea. An entire chapter is spent discussing what life in Christ feels like. “Life in Christ feels like being alive. It feels—in all its ordinary sensitivity, difficulty, and complexity—like what being alive feels like.” And being alive feels like doing the dishes. It feels like enjoying a meal with company. It feels like what I’m already doing. I just have to be presently aware that I’m alive.
Miller continues this discussion by weaving in the ideas of Law, Love, Ordinances, Symbols, and Types. Various chapter titles include “The Rest in the Lord,” “Baptism is a Time Machine,” and “Think of Yourself as Dead.” If I could include the entirety of each chapter in this review, I would.
An Early Resurrection is one of the finest books I’ve had the pleasure of reading. It is the kind of book that can reorient the way you experience the ordinary life you are currently living. As one who has spent a great deal of time fretting about my place in the world to come, the message Miller brings is a soothing balm to an achy soul.
We are fortunate, in Mormonism, to have so much scripture about what takes place after this life. But the weight of glory can be heavy when it hangs over our plain old ordinary daily lives. In fact, it can make the daily business of being human to seem like something to be endured. Miller speaks directly to this world-weariness in us.
I’ve read a few of Miller’s books like Letters to a Young Mormon and Grace is Not God’s Backup Plan to Future Mormon: Essays in Mormon Theology. He has an extremely readable style. As a professor of philosophy, it would not be hard for him to obscure ideas behind huge words. But consistently, Miller’s writing is not just accessible, but easy to read. He is in no great hurry. This makes the abstract idea of living as though you had already died seem simple.
It is my prediction that An Early Resurrection will become a darling of Mormonism—an instantly timeless piece. God doesn’t want to wait until judgment day to let us rest. If we hold life with care, God can show up and deliver eternal life right now. Each day of our lives we can enter into the presence of the Lord. This is no magic trick. It isn’t just some abstract idea. It is something that can be felt. And it is something that can make any plain old ordinary life into something intensely sacred and beautiful.
I couldn’t recommend this book highly enough. And while you’re at it, read through Miller’s other books above. You’ll be glad you did.